Farmers Market vegetarian recipes
by Nancy Sweet, LLCC director of culinary programs and operations
I’ve been trying to eat less meat during the week. It’s pretty easy to do during the summer while fresh veggies are overflowing and are perfectly ripe and gorgeous. Between the farmer’s markets and our garden, soon we will have our hands on tomatoes, eggplants, squash, zucchini, onions, okra, peppers of all kinds, beets, carrots, and it just goes on and on. Though my go-to easy summer veggie meal is pasta with assorted vegetables and herbs finished with some white wine and a dollop of butter, I do have a few others that are great for summer but require just a tad bit more work. But, they really let the vegetables shine in these dishes, which I feel is what it’s all about this time of year.
Ricotta Gnudi with Oyster Mushrooms, Fresh Peas and Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s cookbook Mozza Cookbook
Gnudi are gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricotta cheese instead of potatoes, making them much lighter.
Serves 2 entrees
*1 pound whole milk ricotta
*1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
*1 egg, lightly beaten
*2 teaspoons butter, melted
*1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the egg, butter and nutmeg. Sprinkle 1 cup of flour over the ricotta mixture and fold in. Dust the dough with more flour and shape into a ball. If the dough seems really sticky, mix in more flour, a couple tablespoons full at a time. On a floured surface roll the dough out to a 1-inch thick rope with a rolling pin and cut it into 36-ish pieces. Based on space, it may be easier to make 2 balls and make two ropes and then cut it.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, boil the gnudi until tender and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving a cup of cooking liquid.
Mushroom Herb Sauce
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 pound oyster mushrooms, roughly torn into large pieces
*1 cup fresh peas, blanched (if using frozen peas, they do not need blanched)
*1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
*3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
*3 tablespoons reserved cooking water from gnudi
*2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
*1 tablespoon parsley, minced
*1 tablespoon chives, minced
White gnudi is boiling and finishing up, make the mushroom herb sauce.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add cherry tomatoes and cook another minute. Add in reserved gnudi water and let reduce down to 1 tablespoon.
Turn heat down to medium, and start adding butter, one chunk at a time, adding the next when the first one has melted. Add in herbs, stir and taste for any final seasoning of salt and pepper.
Add gnudi and toss to coat, adding just a bit of cooking water if sauce seems too dry. Serve and pass extra grated Parmesan alongside.
Eggplant and Tomato Ragout with Feta over Quinoa Cakes
Serves 2. Adapted from Epicurious.com
For Quinoa Cakes
*1 1/2 cups water
*1 cup quinoa
*1 large egg, beaten
*4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
For Eggplant and Tomato Ragout
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 large eggplant, diced
*3 medium tomatoes
*1 medium onion
*1/4 cup white wine
*2 roasted red peppers, chopped
*1/4 cup vegetable broth
*1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, and oregano, chopped (optional)
*1/4 cup feta, crumbled
To make quinoa cakes, bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Stir quinoa into boiling water and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in a beaten egg.
Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lightly brush with oil. Lightly oil a 1-cup dry-ingredient measuring cup. Lightly fill enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula or spoon to fill it two-thirds full. Then, firmly pack down into cup (will only be about 1/4 full then). Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Make 3 more quinoa cakes, brushing measure with oil each time. Chill cakes, uncovered, at least 15 minutes.
In the meantime, make the ragout. Blanch tomatoes in order to remove skin. To do this, cut out core, and score a small X into bottom of tomato with a knife. Submerge into a pot of boiling water for about 10-15 seconds (double the amount of time if not ripe). Remove from water and put into ice bath. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove from water and peel off skin, starting with the X area. Then, roughly chop tomatoes.
In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant and onion. Season with some salt and pepper. Let cook about 10 minutes. Add wine and let cook down until almost gone, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, roasted red peppers and broth. Season again as needed. Let cook for another 8 minutes to let juices reduce and flavors come together. Add herbs and taste for any final seasoning.
To cook the quinoa cakes, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Carefully add quinoa cakes and cook, turning once carefully and adding more oil as needed, until crisp and golden, 6 to 18minutes total (pat cakes to reshape with cleaned rubber spatula while cooking if necessary). Transfer to plates. Top with ragout and crumbled feta cheese.
Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
*1 zucchini, diced large
*1 yellow squash, diced large
*1 yellow onion, diced large
*1 cup cubed eggplant, diced large
*1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*4 tablespoons olive oil, for roasting veggies and for starting risotto
*1 cup Arborio rice
*1/2 cup white wine
*about 4 cups broth, warmed on the stove
*3/4 cup tomato sauce (recipe below)
*2 tablespoon butter
*1/4 – 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss zucchini, squash, sliced onions, eggplant and tomatoes with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread onto sheet pan in single layer and roast in oven for about 12-15 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and set aside.
In the meantime, heat a large pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sweat (meaning cook on medium until translucent, not browned) about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sweat another 1-2 minutes. Add rice and continue to cook another 2 minutes, or until rice starts to look a little bit “toasted.” Add white wine and let reduce until wine is almost gone.
Keeping heat right about medium to medium low, start adding broth to rice, about a 1/2 cup at a time. Add first 1/2 cup to rice and slowly stir in. Continue stirring rice until all the broth has been absorbed. As soon as the rice starts looking just a bit dry, add another 1/2 cup or so of broth. Keep temperature at a level so that broth/rice mixture bubbles just a tiny bit, but in no way is a vigorous boil.
Though you do not have to literally stir constantly as some risotto recipes call for, you do need to be pretty vigilant with your stirring. Continually stirring helps to release the starches in the rice and create the creamy texture that you want in a risotto.
After several broth additions, start to taste your risotto. You want to season the risotto as you go along – not just right at the beginning or right at the end. Keep tasting to know where you are with seasoning and also to taste the doneness of the rice. Once the rice has just almost reached the proper consistency, add the tomato sauce. Let cook down for about 3 more minutes or until rice is a cooked through and fairly thickened. Stir in the butter. Once the butter has melted in, add the cheese. Taste again for any last seasoning. Add about half the vegetable mixture. Plate the risotto and finish with any remaining roasted veggie mixture on top. Finish with just a bit of shaved Parmesan on top.
This is an easy, versatile tomato sauce than can be used for pasta dishes and pizza. I keep some one hand in my fridge during the summer because it can be used in so many ways.
*1, 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
*1 tablespoon sugar
*2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
*1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
*2 cloves garlic, smashed
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*2 big pinches salt
*2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste for any additional salt/pepper seasoning the may be needed.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in culinary arts and hospitality management and academic credit certificates in culinary arts and baking/pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit LLCC Hospitality and Culinary Arts.