Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chiles Rellenos

Or, How to Stuff a Pepper

Chiles Rellenos is a pretty simple recipe. The stuffing is made out of cooked brown rice, peas, corn, and mushrooms from the farmer's market stir-fried together with the same Apple Barbecue sauce we used in our No-Meat Loaf, and a little crumbled goat-cheese.

This is just one possible stuffing; you can pretty much just make it up as you go along. Quinoa and veggies works just as well, or salsa and cheese.

Packing the Peppers

Cut the stem off of a poblano pepper and scoop out the seeds, then stuff the rice mixture inside. Roast it in the oven until the pepper is tender, which is about 20 or 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

The side we've got pictured to the left are Dragon Tongue beans, steamed 10 minutes then tossed with a little olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper.

The result? A very balanced meal with just a bit of heat from the pepper, a touch of sweet from the apple barbecue sauce, a little tang from the goat cheese, all combining to complement the savory of the rice and veggies. Perfect.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

No-Meat Vegetarian Loaf

 I, personally, am not a vegetarian. I'm an omnivore. I eat meat. Not a lot, mind you – since my girlfriend is a vegetarian, I rarely if ever eat any at all these days. I suppose a better way to put it might be to say that while my diet is chiefly vegetarian, I myself am not. I don't really miss eating meat, and the less I eat the less I crave it, particularly when there are meat-ish dishes like this available.

This vegetarian meatless-loaf is healthy, hearty, and delicious. We use, as in most of our recipes, locally sourced ingredients. The base for our loaf is firm tofu purchased from Phoenix Bean. I never really liked tofu as a kid, but after tasting some of their demos at the farmer's market, they've really grown on me. We're also using previously cooked brown rice, bread crumbs, and shredded vegetables – a carrot, a beet, a small onion, and a jalapeno for a little kick, but you can basically use whatever veggies you have on hand. We're also mixing in chopped walnuts, and a few spices – garlic (or Dijon) mustard, soy sauce, and a few grinds of black pepper.

We're going to use barbecue sauce, both in the mix and atop the loaf. In this case we went with a surprisingly delicious apple barbecue from Hillside Orchards. Yes, we get a lot of good stuff from them.

Preparations for No-Meat Vegetarian Loaf

Preheat the oven to 350. While it's warming up, blend 16 ounces of tofu with a mixer until its achieved a smooth consistency, and mix in the spices – we used 2 tsp of the garlic mustard, 3 tsp of soy sauce, a quarter cup of the barbecue sauce, and just a few grinds of black pepper. You'll want to mix the chopped vegetables (one of each), walnuts (a cup), bread crumbs (2 cups), and brown rice (1 cup) together in a separate bowl.

Messy Fun – Without the Meat!

This is the fun part. Or the gross part. Probably a little bit of both, depending on your individual predilections. You're going to dump the vegetable mix into the tofu, and sort of squelch it all together with your hands, like you're making mud pies. This is messy. And cold. But it's gotta be done, so enjoy having your hands wrist deep in food that you're going to be serving later. I really wish I didn't have to remind you to wash your hands, but... yeah. Wash your hands first. And after.

Cooking the Meatless Loaf

Grease yourself up a baking pan, pack your goop into it, and top with a layer of barbecue sauce. Bake that sucker for an hour, and let it stand for about ten to fifteen minutes afterwards before serving.

What you end up with is a firm loaf of tofu, rice, and veggies that's good for you and very filling. The fact that it tastes great doesn't hurt too much either.

Bonus Round: Potatoes

As a side dish we cut some potatoes up into chunks and tossed them with olive oil, salt, and herbs (sage and rosemary, but you can use whatever). We let them bake on a baking sheet while the loaf was baking. Man, I love me some potatoes.

Do I miss meat? Heck, most days I don't even remember that I'm not eating any! What about you, readers? Have you gone vegetarian, or thought about it? Has it been difficult for you to make the transition?