Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nizza

Trying to find a good Italian restaurant in the Theater District can indeed be dramatic! What's palatable, veg-accommodating, and reasonably priced? Those criteria alone can rule out many of the Italian spots in the West 40s around 8th Avenue, Times Square, and Restaurant Row.

But if you wander just another block over to 9th Avenue, your options only get better. After ensuring our eyes weren't going to pop out of our heads after glancing at the overpriced Italian menus on 46th Street's Restaurant Row, a friend and I wandered around the corner and found Nizza, and no bug-eyes. And we arrived with just enough time to snag the last table outside. Despite the car horns, crowded sidewalks, and other typical NYC al-fresco dining stipulations, it was nice to finally be outside with a glass of Gavi after a seemingly long winter. With several vegetarian options (and sadly, no vegan options, but to their credit, they do offer a gluten-free menu), Nizza seemed to have promise.

As we weighed our decision of telling the waitress that we weren't rushing to see a show that night (if a restaurant is crowded and you're hungry, you better just say yes!), we were quickly presented with foccacia slices and fresh ricotta in olive oil. The foccacia wasn't particularly herb-y, but that was all well and good with me as I delightedly scooped up ricotta. Even more of a surprise- we couldn't have waited any longer than 10 minutes for our main courses to arrive.

I wasn't blown away by the food, but I did enjoy my ravioli di fava in a creamy, cheesy, butter sauce. To be clear, it wasn't alfredo sauce; I'm not quite sure what you'd call it actually, but it was a bit too cheesy for my liking, and I'd have preferred to cook the sauce with sage in it rather than use it as garnish. The ricotta and fava bean filling was thick and hearty, with neither a strong cheesy taste or bean taste. My pal ordered a personal margarita pizza with a sweet tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella (the only way a margarita pizza should be made!). Nothing particularly standout here as well, but again, it was pretty good.

Considering the neighborhood, I can't argue with the prices at Nizza (all of the entrees were under $20) or the great service from an amiable waitstaff. And considering the neighborhood again, it's a place worth dropping in on- no dining drama here!


Nizza, 630 9th Avenue, between 44th and 45th Streets, 212-956-1800

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sundried Tomato-Basil Tofu Ravioli




This recipe is not like the usual simple grub I've been posting. It took a lot longer to make than I'd like to admit. That being said, I can't decide if the thrill of anticipation or the actual devouring of something delicious is most satisfying to me after spending an hour or two preparing in the kitch. Either way, I'll eat!

After picking up some tofu and some pasta sheets that were on sale, I was inspired to make this veggie version of ravioli. I can't call this vegan, because the pasta sheets contained egg. Be sure to check your ingredients list if you use store bought pasta or won-ton wrappers. (they're not too difficult to make yourself... check out the recipe here). You can make a quick, easy pasta sauce while you assemble your ravioli, and just like some delusional teen wearing a purity ring, you can say, "this is worth waiting for" as you cook :)



The Whats:

* 1 14 oz. package firm tofu, pressed
* 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
* 2 tsp. olive oil
* 2 tsp. lemon juice
* 1 tsp. salt
* 1/2 tsp. pepper
* 5 or 6 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
* 6 sundried tomato halves, diced
* pasta sheets
* 1 tsp. corn starch and 1/4 cup lukewarm water, for assembling ravioli


The Hows:

1) Using your hands, crumble the tofu into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the salt, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and olive oil, and using either your hands or a spatula, mix well until the consistency resembles a thick ricotta cheese. Mix in pepper, basil, and sundried tomato pieces. Set aside.

2) Roll out sheets of pasta on a clean, flat workspace. Using a 2 inch diameter round cookie cutter (I actually used the bottom of my 1 cup measuring cup and pressed hard into the pasta sheet!), cut pasta rounds from the sheets, ensuring you have an even amount of pasta rounds.

3) Whisk together the lukewarm water and cornstarch. Set aside. Place a tablespoon of tofu ricotta filling in the center of the pasta round. Using your finger, or a pastry brush, brush the edges of the pasta round with the cornstarch-water mix. Place another pasta round over the first, and using a little more of the cornstarch mix, seal the edges of the ravioli. Repeat until you have used all the pasta rounds or the tofu ricotta.

4) In a large stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Cook the ravioli for approximately 5 minutes- these cook quickly if using fresh pasta sheets. When cooked, remove ravioli with a slotted spoon and place in a sauce pan with one to two cups of warmed, fresh tomato sauce. Top with your favorite soy cheese and serve hot.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Thought on Swine Flu

Whether you think the CDC and the American media is overreacting to the notion of a swine flu pandemic, or you think we're actually in deep crap this time around, I'll share just one thought here that is certainly blog relevant.

Pigs are considered particularly susceptible to both bird and human viruses- their systems are not very different from ours. If you think the factory farm system is bad in the U.S., I can't imagine what it's like anywhere else- how much more, or how little, are these lovable animals pumped with antibiotics that feed the problem of superbugs that jump to humans? What crap are we putting into our ecosystems to allow superbugs like these to develop in birds and pigs?

As if we needed another reason to take care of our surroundings and go veg. We kinda did this to ourselves. And it makes me mad.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Balducci's

You're probably already heard that this NYC gourmet institution will be shutting its doors this Sunday. Not only the news itself a sad sign of the economic times, but so are the empty shelves and the decimated cheese counter at the Balducci's on 8th Avenue and 14th Street.

Tofu was still on the shelves. So were some fresh pasta sheets. And bags of sun-dried tomatoes. All half off. A sale is a good a reason as any for some recipe inspiration... and so armed with those ingredients, I'm going to experiment with tofu ravioli... stay tuned :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Even if you didn't catch Earth Day Founder Denis Hayes officiating the Green Ball drop this morning in Times Square, and even if you won't be going to the fab EarthNight extravaganza in Soho or the open bar Zipcar Green Confessions party, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate. Be sure to check the Events posting I compiled on this blog last week for green events going on this weekend.

Another cool thing going on this weekend- if you're interested in volunteering for this year's Veggie Pride Parade, be sure to attend their volunteer meeting this Sunday at 4pm at the Veggie Center of NYC, One Union Square West (at 14th Street), room 512. Call 212-242-0011 to RSVP. The 2009 Veggie Pride Parade will be held on Sunday, May 17th.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Man With Opinions on Food With a Face

If you didn't get to check out the Dining Section of this Wednesday's New York Times, you missed out on a fun article with Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of "When Elephants Weep", "Dogs Never Lie About Love", and the recently published, "The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food." The author, who describes himself as "vegan-ish" (a term I'm now apt to use for my own diet!), writes about vegetarian and veganism from a more emotional standpoint- that of animals. I never understood how animal lovers could eat meat- if you're a pet owner, then you're well aware that your animals have real, concrete emotions, like happiness and sadness... how could anyone possibly think that a lamb, a pig, or a cow does not feel the same?

Well, that's just something I'll probably never understand. But as I ponder that, I'll paste the article below so you can check it out for yourself.

-----

A Man With Opinions on Food With a Face

DID you hear the one about the vegan who mistook his anorak for a sandwich? He realized the error only because it tasted so good.


O.K., O.K. Laugh all you like. And Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson — author, former psychoanalyst and Freudian scholar, animal lover and vegan — will probably laugh with you. “You know, we don’t have restaurants like Chez Panisse in the vegan world, not yet,” Mr. Masson said. “A vegan diet takes getting used to, and I’m somebody who was raised vegetarian.”


A matter of particular dissatisfaction for Mr. Masson at the moment is his overconsumption of muesli. “I’m looking for a new breakfast food,” he said. The problem intensified when his 12-year-old son was found to be sensitive to glutens. “They make him aggressive,” Mr. Masson said. “And the thing is, I can’t bring home delicious, wonderful French bread and just eat it in front of him while he has to eat that gluten-free bread that tastes like paper or something.”


Mr. Masson, who came through New York last week to promote his new book advocating veganism, “The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food,” is not exactly known for having a great comfort level in regard to poking fun at himself. Before devoting much of his prolific writing career to the subject of animals and their emotional lives — his books include “When Elephants Weep” and “Dogs Never Lie About Love,” both best sellers — he waged a 10-year libel lawsuit against the writer Janet Malcolm, disputing quotations that she attributed to him. These included one in which she wrote that he boasted that he would someday be regarded as the greatest analyst since Freud himself. (A jury ultimately found two quotations to be false, and one of those to be defamatory, but ruled that Ms. Malcolm had not shown the recklessness required for a libel verdict.)


Mr. Masson began eating meat as an adult and became vegan just five years ago.


“I call myself an aspiring vegan — sometimes I say veganish,” Mr. Masson said. “I make mistakes sometimes.” If he’s at a restaurant and finds out he ate cake made with a bit of butter, he said: “I can live with that. It’s just too weird and too hostile to go ‘blech’ and throw up and say, ‘I can’t believe I just ate that.’ “


But that, Mr. Masson said, is a fairly typical response to accidental dairy consumption by vegans, who will eat nothing produced by or from an animal.


Time — and, undoubtedly, tempeh — have been kind to Mr. Masson. At 68, he is silver-haired and hollow-cheeked, and bench-presses 200 pounds. With his second wife, Leila, a German pediatrician who is 25 years his junior, he has a 7-year-old son in addition to the 12-year-old.


This week, his family is relocating to Berkeley, Calif., from Auckland, where they have lived for the last eight years. “I didn’t make one friend the whole time we were there,” Mr. Masson said. “They ask me what I eat, and when I tell them, that’s pretty much the end of the conversation at a barbecue.”


Over dinner at Angelica Kitchen, the vegan stalwart in the East Village, Mr. Masson was energized by the young crowd. “This place is hopping,” he said. “They don’t have vegan places like this in New Zealand.” The meal included a raw kimchi salad, walnut-lentil pâté and a casserole of cauliflower and string beans.


He chatted with every member of the staff who came near, including a busboy he addressed in Spanish until the young man told him he was actually from Nepal. Mr. Masson began serenading him with the Bhagavad-Gita.


He was curious what percentage of the restaurant’s patrons were vegans, but a waiter he asked said it was difficult to know for sure. “It may come up in casual conversation, but we don’t ask,” the waiter said.


“That’s a lot of tact,” Mr. Masson said a minute later. “I could learn to use some of that.”


For an author of polemics — and “The Face on Your Plate,” though it’s more measured and engaging than most, is definitely that — Mr. Masson has a deep inclination to forgive. He said that the best excuse for eating meat (or butter or eggs) is “because you like the taste.”


What he gets more worked up about are “rationalizations,” such as the argument that animals like cattle and chickens exist only because we eat them and their milk and eggs. “That’s denial,” he said. “We’re the only animal who gets to choose what we eat, so we can choose to do what’s humane and also much healthier.”


Cats, by contrast, can’t make a rational choice — they were made to eat meat. “Cats don’t appreciate it when you give them vegetables,” Mr. Masson said.


Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said: “He’s had great success in breaking down this notion that animals are commodities or automatons. By showing the richness of their emotional experiences, it makes us ponder our responsibilities to them in a more serious way.”


In the book, Mr. Masson draws on the argument that humans evolved primarily as herbivores, as evidenced by our small mouths, flattened teeth and long small intestines. “So I don’t believe it’s natural for us to eat meat,” he said.


One of the epiphanies that led Mr. Masson to veganism came in 2004 when his family took in a puppy, a kitten, two chickens and two rats. “The chickens were very sociable,” he said. “They would come inside the house and watch me writing at the computer. And I would be picking up after them with a box of Kleenex. My wife made me put them outside. And do you know what they did? They banged on the window: ‘Let us in. Let us in.’ They have such strong personalities.”


Suddenly, the idea of raising livestock in cruelty-free environments didn’t hold up for him. “When people say their chickens lead such a good life, I say, ‘According to whose definition of a good life, are parents separated from their young?’ ” he said. “Chickens like to fly. They like to take dust baths. They’re programmed to hide their eggs, so it would be very time-consuming to give them 10 acres and then go searching all over the place for the eggs.”


His mother and father, who were disciples of the British mystic Paul Brunton, raised Mr. Masson and his younger sister as vegetarians in Los Angeles and Uruguay, though Mr. Masson said his parents abandoned the regimen when he was 12.


“They went on a trip to Europe and sent a telegram telling us to get a turkey ready because Thanksgiving was coming up,” Mr. Masson said. “My sister and I sobbed.”


As a Harvard undergraduate, Mr. Masson saw his own demons in a can of tuna. “They put me in Adams House, which had parietal rules, and that wasn’t going to work for me because I was very active with women,” he said. He ended up by accident in a large faculty apartment with a kitchen where he made meals with his best friend, a practicing vegetarian from India.


“One day we were shopping and we saw this tuna fish,” he said. “We looked at each other and we said, ‘We’ll just try this once.’ And before you knew it, I was just like everyone else.”


Avoiding animal products has given Mr. Masson “a purer sense of taste,” he said. He does not cook much. “I make beautiful salads, with lots of avocado and lots of garlic,” he said, adding that if his sons, who are vegetarians, ever started eating meat, he wouldn’t feel right stopping them. He still misses mozzarella.


This summer, Mr. Masson and his wife and sons are going on a bicycling tour of Italy. “I can see a situation where we’ve been riding all day, and we’re going to be hungry and the Italian people are going to give us pasta with cheese and we don’t want to hurt their feelings,” he said. “So I may just not be vegan for two weeks.”



Friday, April 17, 2009

Manducatis Rustica

Though I've yet to sample from their full dinner menu, I can't resist gushing about the molto fantastico eggplant napolitana I had this week at Manducatis Rustica on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City. Long-time LIC resident and owner, Gianna Cerbone, brings classic back to the table with fresh pastas, cheeses, breads, thin-crust pizzas, gelato, and pastries in the cafe section, as well as a more formal dining room with fresh, old-world style Italian dishes. With a few couches and a working fireplace added to the mix, you'll have a hard time decerning whether you're at a cafe or at your nonna's (that's if your nonna lived in hip LIC).

I'll go ahead and brush past the bland farro soup that my honey ordered (I realized after a bite that it was likely made with chicken broth... oh well, guess I should've expected that one!), and the tasty salata misticanza with goat cheese drizzled in oil, and get right to the, um, meat of it... I've never had a more divine eggplant napolitana. Now I've had excellent eggplant rollatini before, and you come to expect the appetizer to be dripping with cheese. Which is fine I guess, but it makes for an awfully heavy appetizer. Here at Manducatis, I was delighted to find perfectly thin eggplant drenched in nothing but fresh tomato sauce, cooked until soft but not to the point where eggplant turns slimy, and broiled (I'm assuming) with some pecorino romano on top. The fresh, light tomato sauce and the layer of grated cheese made all the difference- the eggplant was not heavy, and perfectly crisp on top.

Since that just wasn't enough during our short visit to Manducatis Rustica, we also took a pizza to go... a brick-oven ortolana pie with endive, radicchio, mushroom, and eggplant. The pie was just like the eggplant- thin, perfectly crisp with a wonderful tomato sauce to bring together all the sharp, earthy, and sweet flavors of the veggies. With my honey away for the last few days, I'm lucky enough to savor those true slices of heaven all to myself.

Perfetto!


Manducatis Rustica, 46-31 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, (718) 937-1312

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Upcoming April Events

I may be late in posting this, but there are tons of fun and veg-friendly events happening during the second half of April, many centering around Earth Day on April 22nd!

Friday, April 17th

NetImpact NYC at Greenhouse, 7pm to 9pm at Greenhouse, 150 Varick Street, $20. Two hours of organic liquor open bar and the chance to party with other green folk. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, April 18th

Springtime Vegetarian Cooking: Recipes and Strategies for a Challenging Season
, 3:30pm to 6:30pm at Integral Yoga Institute, 227 W. 13th Street, $65. A hands-on cooking class where you'll learn to use the spring veggies now arriving at your local Greenmarket to cleanse and renew your system. Behold, the power of food!

Integral Yoga Earth Day Celebration, 10am to 7pm, 227 W. 13th Street. Before your vegetarian cooking class, why not enjoy some free raffles, samples, tastings, and free workshops like palm reading and shiatsu massage? Celebrate the earth, AND yourself!

Food for Thought Film Festival, 1pm to 8:30pm at Columbia Medical Center Alumni Auditorium, 650 W. 168th Street. Bringing together what you love about food and film festivals, get ready for some thought-provoking food ideas and filmmaker discussions following each. NYC based films include "New Amsterdam Market" and "Farm to Cafeteria: A Red Hook Lunch."

Queens is Green Fashion Show- 6pm at Green Space Studio, 37-24 24th Street, #301. Back by popular demand, this free event (limited space, so RSVP now!) will showcase work by Queens-based green fashion designers and jewelry makers.

Saturday, April 18th & Sunday, April 19th

4th Annual Coffee and Tea Festival, at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th Street, admission: $21.68. From 11am to 6pm on Saturday, and 11am to 5pm on Sunday, check out a variety of coffees and teas from around the globe and some cool demos on how to cook with coffee and tea, a Korean tea ceremony, and how to make your own tea cocktails . Two for tea please!

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Cookbook Sale, 126 Crosby Street, from 12pm to 7pm. Do something good: treat yourself to some new recipes with a new cookbook at 30% off, and have your sale help people with H.I.V./AIDS and the homeless.

Monday, April 20th

New Jersey Restaurant Week- It might just give us city residents a reason to venture beyond Hoboken! Check out their website for the list of participating restaurants. Running 4/20 through 4/27.

Wednesday, April 22nd

EarthNight Networking Party- 6pm to 10pm at Environment Furniture, 876 Broadway, $20. Open bar, eco-fashion show, and lots of interesting people- these are what fab NYC parties are made of! Co-hosted by GreenDrinks NYC and Earth Day NY.

Thursday, April 23rd

Earth Day with the Rainforest Alliance and Brooklyn Brewery
, 6pm to 9pm at Brooklyn Brewery, 79 North 11th Street, $40. Your ticket includes munchies, open bar, and a complimentary membership to the Rainforest Alliance. A fun way to connect with rainforest enthusiasts and learn more about the Alliance's work.

Friday, April 24th

EarthFair at Grand Central- 4/24 and 4/25- Be sure to check out the website for a complete listing of events, and if you can take a few minutes out of your daily commute, check out the interactive displays from green businesses and organic food companies in Vanderbilt Hall from noon to 7pm, and the earth images projected onto the concourse columns- it beats making a mad dash for your train! While you're there, you'll be treated to live music from NYC bands as well as more known performers- I'm not sure what this means, but since the Fair has now piqued my curiosity, I'll have to go and find out!

Saturday, April 25th

NYC Eco Scavenger Hunt- 1pm to 7pm, $5. Do your inner child some good on many different levels at the first NYC Eco Scavenger Hunt! Only $5 to participate, get your list at the EarthFair in Grand Central, and then find out the winners at the Village Pourhouse.

Sunday, April 26th

First Slow Food NYC Harvest Time Conference, 1pm to 3pm at the Astor Center Gallery, 399 Lafayette Street, $12. Presented by Slow Food NYC and Harvest Time, which has outreach programs across the city about food education. Learn more about helping city children access nutritious and support a good cause!

Wednesday, April 29th

The Green Salon- 5 to 7pm at Klavierhaus, 211 W. 58th Street, $10. A chance to check out eco-art, a presentation on how we can transition to a green economy, and music from composer and pianist Earl Wentz. And don't worry about those awful PowerPoint slides- this program prides itself on it's true salon-like atmosphere.

Thursday, April 30th

Vegan Drinks- 7pm to 9pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street. Celebrate the fact that alcohol is vegan and network with like-minded vegetarians and vegans.


Monday, April 13, 2009

5 Mock Meat Dishes- Veggie Breakfast Burritos




For the last recipe in my mock meat series, I'm cooking up some food for thought for your morning routine: do you drive thru? You probably already know that some of those nasty fast-food breakfast burritos will set you back some 500 calories (half of those calories coming from fat!) and just weigh you down all morning. Do yourself a favor, and just do it yourself!

As with most of the recipes I write, I'm posting several options. You can scramble 3 regular eggs along with some spices; you can drain and press a block of firm tofu, and crumble it into the pan; and if neither of those options appeal to you, prepare some seasoned rice and go with a more traditional rice & beans filling. If you're like me and you're just not a morning person, you can make these breakfast burritos the night before, and just zap in the microwave for a minute before your run out the door the next morning. You'll leave your table, your car, or subway car (depending on how on-the-go your breakfast routine really is!) feeling all the more satisfied!


The Whats:

* half a yellow onion, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, diced
* 3 eggs; or a pack of firm silken tofu; or rice
* 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
* 1 cup black beans
* 2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
* 1 tsp. cumin
* salt & pepper to taste
* 1 cup prepared guacamole (I posted a tasty guac recipe last June!)
* 3/4 cup soy cheddar, shredded
* several sprigs cilantro and jalapeno slices, for garnish
* 4 whole grain tortillas


The Hows:

1) Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

2) Add your choice of eggs or tofu to the pan; if using tofu, add a teaspoon of soy sauce. Add tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, or until tofu/eggs are cooked. Add black beans and spices to the pan, and cook until beans are heated. Remove from heat.

3) Heat tortillas on a separate plate. Spread a few tablespoons of guacamole over the tortilla, top with half a cup to 3/4 cup of scrambled tofu/egg mix, and top with soy cheddar and cilantro and jalapenos if using. Wrap up your tortilla and enjoy!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ask About Local Food

Curious about the NYC locavore trend? Check out this week's Times City Room reader Q&A session with Jacquie Berger, executive director of Just Food, a non-profit dedicated to creating a sustainable food system in NYC by partnering up with CSAs, community gardens, and of course, NYC residents like you.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

5 Mock Meat Dishes- Veggie BLTs



This is one of the few times that you'll enjoy faking it. You've also got a variety of ways to fake it- smoked tempeh strips and the soy-based bacon-like strips (my favorite is LightLife for it's super low-calorie & low fat strips!); though tempeh by far makes for a more filling sandwich, I've used the soy-based bacon in this recipe to keep in line with these National Soy Month themed recipes. Add some more flavor to your not-so-classic lunch by using garlic and dill-based tzatziki sauce or a roasted red pepper hummus. It'll be so good you won't even know your sandwich is faking it!


The Whats:

* 2 slices of Ezekiel sprouted bread, or a whole grain pita
* a small handful of arugula
* 3 or 4 slices of tomato
* 4 or 5 slices of veggie bacon
* 2 tbsp. tzatziki or your fave hummus
* 1 tbsp. olive oil


The Hows:

1) In a small skillet, heat the olive oil, then add veggie bacon to the pan. Cook for a minute or so until browned, then flip bacon and cook opposite side for a minute. Allow bacon to cool slightly on a paper towel before using.

2) Toast the bread or the pita. Spread slices with tzatziki or hummus. Add half of the arugula and tomatoes on one side of the bread; add the veggie bacon, then top with remaining arugula and tomato, and remaining sliced bread. Enjoy!

LMAO!

I read the funniest thing online today- read why this vegan's license plate request was refused. I think the misinterpreted meaning is hilarious!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Foodoro

Foodoro seems to live up to the "Discover Great Food" part of their logo. More than just online food shopping, this relatively new site brings you artisanal chocolates, doughnuts, chutneys, wine jellys, cheese, sea vegetables, gourmet latkes, and coffee & tea from small, unknown producers whose food products might not be big enough to make it to your local grocery store, and shipped directly to the buyer.

I normally love a concept that cuts out the middle man in food, because the end result is that your goods are much cheaper, but that doesn't seem to be the case on this site- $62 for a birthday cake? Seriously, someone has the balls to charge that without shipping & handling? There seem to be more reasonably priced goodies on Foodoro as well, which still make it worth checking out, but still, I'll save this website for special occasions.

5 Mock Meat Dishes- Veggie Sausage & Peppers


While all's fair in love and street meat, you can at least be confident that this mock version of a San Gennaro classic will not leave you with heartbreak or heartburn. There are a number of different ways to prepare this block party staple- some with tomato sauce, some with white or red wine, and I've even seen one with beer! My take on sausage & peppers obviously includes soy sausage links, and I also decided on sherry wine to marinate all the ingredients before grilling- the sweet and crisp taste of an Andalusian sherry boosts the flavor of your sandwich filler. So though you might be curious about that sweet Spanish addition to an Italian soy street treat, it sure beats wondering how dirty water adds flavor to those hot dogs, no?


The Whats:

* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 1/2 package Tofurky veggie soy sausage links, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
* 1 cubanelle peppers, seeded and cut into strips
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
* 1/2 red onion, sliced
* 1/4 cup sherry
* salt & pepper to taste
* 1 tbsp dried basil
* 1 tsp red pepper flakes

The Hows:

1) In a large bowl, add veggie sausage, cubanelle pepper, red bell pepper, and red onion. Add basil, salt & pepper, red pepper, and sherry. Toss to coat. Let the mix sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour ingredients into the skillet and allow sausage & peppers to cook in the sherry mix until reduced and sausage is browned- about 10 minutes.

Use some whole grain rolls to serve 4.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

5 Mock Meat Dishes- Veggie Refried Beans



Don't believe the hype- most refried beans are not actually vegetarian. If it isn't the bacon that's added for a smokier flavor, then it's the lard that the beans are traditionally fried in. And that's what you get in many Mexican bean & cheese burritos too. My alternative? Olive oil is one of the most amazing things you can cook with anyway, so provided you use a quality EVOO, you'll have an even lighter, better taste than animal fat. And even better that bacon? Fakin' bacon- but just a little bit. You can use the rest for veggie BLTs, which I'll be posting soon too.

The Whats:

* 2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
* 1/2 onion, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 cans low sodium pinto beans
* 2 small jalapenos, diced
* 1 tsp. Sazon seasoning
* 2 strips veggie bacon, chopped into small pieces
* 2 tsp. torn cilantro leaves
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) Drain 1 can of the pinto beans; rinse. Place beans in a large bowl. Add second can of beans, undranied, garlic, jalapenos, and veggie bacon to the bowl. Mash together. Mix in sazon, cilantro, salt, and pepper.

2) In a large pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions to pan; cook until brown. Add the mashed bean mix to the pan. Cook for 8 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and serve with tortilla chips and salsa.

Monday, April 6, 2009

5 Mock Meat Dishes- Veggie Bolognese Sauce



One of the more popular types of tomato-based sauces, traditional bolognese is hearty and meaty. But you can still have a hearty pasta dish, minus the meat! As with all of the "traditional" dishes I'll be posting for the next few days, I've added a more personal twist to each- my bolognese just has a few tablespoons of soy milk instead of adding a cup of regular milk or cream, some added rosemary because I love an herb-y, earthy flavor, and this recipe is a quick-version of a slow-cooking tomato sauce. By all means, you can keep this sauce brewing for a few extra hours, but the scent of simmering tomatoes and herbs is just too much for me to handle :)

The Whats:

* 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 small onion, diced
* 3 cloves garlic, halved
* 1 tbsp. dried basil
* 1/2 package of soy veggie ground
* 1 tsp. rosemary leaves
* 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
* 2 tbsp. soy milk
* a pinch of crushed red pepper
* salt & pepper to taste
* 1 package whole grain rigatoni

The Hows:

1) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook for about 8 minutes, or until browned. Add the veggie ground to the pan; cook the veggie crumbles until browned and slightly crisp, stirring occasionally.

2) Add the crushed tomatoes, soy milk, basil, rosemary, red pepper, and salt & pepper to the pan; stir. Allow sauce to bubble before reducing heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Meanwhile, while sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rigatoni, and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta.

4) Add the rigatoni to the sauce; toss to coat. Sprinkle with veggie parmesan cheese. Serves 4 to 5 people.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Holier Than Chow

And just because I found this totally amusing, I'm posting a link to this Time Out New York quiz on food snobbery.

For better or worse, I fell into the food snob category... but then again, if you're a vegetarian or vegan, I hardly think that educating yourself, watching what you eat and demanding satisfying healthy options is snobbery :)

Holier Than Chow Quiz

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mock Meat- April Fool's!

Happy April! And appropriately enough, April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, as well as National Soy Month!

The ASPCA is promoting their annual "Go Orange" campaign against animal cruelty with a variety of events around NYC. Check out their kickoff on April 7th in Union Square from 4pm to 8pm, which will feature live music, adoptable animals, and the animal cops from the show Animal Precinct on Animal Planet. The ASPCA also has a list of other ways to celebrate, so be sure to check out their website for more info!

Additionally, April is recognized as National Soy Foods Month- and why not? Soy is a great source of complete protein, B vitamins, and even some omega-3s, with no saturated fats or cholesterol. In honor of versatile soy, I'll have some mock-meat recipes that'll get your steak-loving friends chowing down!

How are you celebrating? Isn't National Soy Month the perfect opportunity to pledge to be veg for 30 days? Of course, I'll be here to help with plenty of meat-free recipes on this blog :)