Did I hear someone ask for a vegetarian menu?

Oh yeah, I thought I did. It was you! Or maybe you? No? That’s ok, I promise this menu will please even us carnivores. I know my family enjoyed this meal.  Since today is a sauce cooking/meatball making/pasta and bread making day, I wanted an easier meal last night.

(Photo credit)

I said easy? I can honestly say making fresh artichokes is NOT easy. They are labor intensive but worth the effort. Artichokes are very much an Italian vegetable but I never had them growing up. I know my mom, who is Polish and Greek, did eat the marinated hearts in a jar but those did not appeal to me. Since my grandparents passed on by the time I was 13 I have no idea if they made artichokes. I would have to ask. As as child I probably would have turned my nose up to this great vegetable.

My menu consisted of stewed artichokes, cream of potato soup and a tomato and bread salad. I said this was vegetarian but not vegan. I am certain the vegans could adapt the dairy products to meet their dietary needs. I hope!

Stewed Artichokes

Recipe from The Ultimate Italian Cookbook by Carla Capalbo

For preparing artichokes, go here for a great set of instructions and another recipe.

4 large artichokes

2 tbsp butter

4 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

salt and fresh ground pepper

3 tbsp water

6 tbsp milk

6 tbsp white wine

After the artichokes have been cleaned and prepared and have soaked in the acidulated water, blanch them for 4 minutes in rapidly boiling water. In the meantime, heat oil and butter in a  large sauce pan. Add garlic and parsley and saute’ for a few minutes. Add the artichokes, water and milk and season with salt and pepper. Using a medium heat, allow the artichokes to cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is just about evaporated. Pour the wine over the artichokes and cover. Cook until tender on med-low heat.  Serve with a little shaved parmesan if you like.

Tomato and Bread salad

4 or 5 chopped tomatoes

1 can of garbanzo beans

4-6 slices day old Italian bread or any stale bread

2-3 tbsp prepared pesto

parmesan cheese for serving

Chop tomatoes and cube the bread. Drain and rinse the beans. Mix all in a dish with the prepared pesto. That’s it! You’re done and have a very simple and flavorful salad.

4 large peeled and diced potatoes

1/4 cup of milk

1/4 cup of whipping cream

dried dill

salt and pepper

garlic powder

Boil the potatoes in just enough water to cover them for about 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain most of the water. Add in seasonings to taste and mash the potatoes with a hand-held masher. Heat on low heat and add in the milk and cream. If you need to thicken the soup a bit more like I did, use 1/4 cup of flour mixed or shaken in shaker with 1/2 cup cold water. Add to the soup until desired consistency.  Serve with a little sharp cheddar cheese on top. (My hubby and sons added in the bacon bits again!)

*Note: I don’t think I have ever made the same pot of potato soup! I almost always fiddle with and change the recipe based on what I have here. One could use broth to cook the potatoes in or leave out the cream. Some recipes, like the Panera copycat recipe calls for a block of cream cheese. I guess anything goes with potato soup.

What I like about the vegetables I used in this menu is that they are all very versatile and easy to use. In the tomato salad, I could have added in olives or used a simple oil and vinegar dressing. The artichokes could have been cleaned and stuffed with a flavorful stuffing. I could have chosen baked potatoes or potato salad made with olive oil instead of mayo. There are just so many options. Don’t be limited to the recipe ever! Break free and do what feels right for you.

I was one of those “follow the recipe” kind of gals. My dad used to buy those “bag and season” mixes for roasts or meatloaf and then he would use a packet meant for pork on a beef roast. That would throw my rule-follower sensitivities through the roof! I have come a long way from those days. Now I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. I love finding new combinations of foods and seasonings. One of the first dishes I would make as a newlywed back in 1994 was meat and macaroni. That was about as gourmet as I could get. That dish consisted of browned ground beef, a box of macaroni noodles, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and oh get this-dried herbs such as oregano and basil! Or the famous Italian seasoning mix! hehe…I am not downing anyone who makes a dish that is simple but I learned that I can do much better with a little “ingenuity” as my hubby calls it.

Now today is my sauce making day. I am going all out since it’s been awhile. I have some pork country-style ribs to add to the pot. I am making meatballs. I will conjole, threaten, ask the boys the help me with the pasta making. And I will use my fresh rosemary for some rosemary peasant bread since I didn’t make it the other day.

13 thoughts on “Did I hear someone ask for a vegetarian menu?

  1. Stopping by from SITs! Happy SITs Saturday Sharefest! :)

    I ate a lot of artichokes growing up…my mom would stuff them with breadcrumbs and put tomato sauce on top of them. Mmmm…so good.

  2. If I was a vegetarian I would love these … but IDK .. some of them look like a possible test I may have to do in my home! Thanks for sharing these and Happy Saturday – stopping in from SITS!

  3. Can’t find a way to e-mail you, so this is a totally random attachment to an artichoke post, but… we got our twill tape from twilltape.com :)

  4. Artichokes, if you have a microwave, are the easiest thing ever. Rinse the dirt out of the leaves and then wrap them in clingfilm, making sure you leave some water on the leaves to steam them. Zap them for a couple of minutes and then unwrap them. Serve with melted butter and lemon juice, peeling the leaves off one by one, dipping the base into the butter/lemon juice mix and scraping the ‘meat’ off with your teeth. You’ll have butter dripping down your chin and fingers, but that’s part of the fun. Eat it with someone you love and get them to lick the butter off for you. ;)

  5. I am a vegetarian lover of Italian foods so I love that you featured this on your blog. It sounds really yummy :)

    I found your blog via the Lady Bloggers Tea Party Social. Great blog and maybe someday you can feature another vegetarian meal.

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