Tag Archives: vegetarian

Crisp Baked Vegetable Wontons

30 Apr

Tiny foods are the best.  Tiny sandwiches, tiny muffins, tiny cookies, tinier than average samosas, tiny, two-ingredient crackers—really, I could go on and on about my love of tiny foods.  The fondness knows no bounds.

But what to make of the fact that making tiny foods can oftentimes seem like a never-ending, cumbersome task?  There’s no way around it.  When you choose to make 36 tiny sandwiches instead of 8 normal-sized sandwiches, you’re going to have to put in some extra time.  But I am all right with that.

Maybe it’s because I am soothed by being in the kitchen, but the task of filling or folding or forming dozens of tiny little foodstuffs has never bothered me.  Truth be told, it can sometimes bother my back and neck (because no matter how much I mentally enjoy the repetitive motion of forming little cookies, standing upright with my head pointed down at a work surface is not the most forgiving posture), but that’s small price to pay for feeling so mentally sound at the end of a long marathon of cooking or baking.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that waiting for you at the end of your cooking trials is something delicious to eat.  When I made these delightful little wontons, filled with carrots, mushrooms, and cabbage, and perfectly seasoned with ginger and mirin, I took that thought to heart.  No, really.  To test the recipe, I made a half batch of crispy, crunchy wontons, and then, when they emerged from the oven, I proceeded to then eat them all.  Every single last one of them.  At first I felt sort of sheepish about what I had done, but I soon got over it.  They were delicious, I took the time to make them, so why shouldn’t I get to enjoy them?  Up until now, however, my husband and son were unaware of what they missed when I made these, because I never told them that I made them.  It was a stealth recipe test.  “Was” being the operative word here, because now, having admitted to the world (and my husband) what I did, I must make amends and whip up another batch of wontons for everyone.  And I do not mind one bit.

Baked Vegetable Wontons Recipe

Adapted from The Healthy Kitchen, by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 cup finely shredded carrot

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (the original recipe called for shiitake or oyster mushrooms, but I used much more reasonably-priced cremini mushrooms and they were great)

2 cups finely shredded Napa or savoy cabbage

½ cup chopped scallions

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons soy sauce

24-30 small, square wonton wrappers

¼ cup toasted sesame oil, for brushing the wontons

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil over medium heat.  Add the carrots, mushrooms, and cabbage and sauté until limp, about 5 minutes.  Add the scallions and ginger and cook for another 1 minute.  Stir in the mirin and soy sauce, and remove from heat.

Lay out 12 wonton sheets at a time.  With a pastry brush, lightly brush toasted sesame oil all along the edges of the wonton sheets.  Drop about 1 tablespoon of the vegetable mixture just a touch off the center of the diagonal middle of each wonton sheet, then fold the sheet diagonally so the opposite corners touch.  Using the tines of a fork, press down the 2 open sides (these would be the non-folded sides) of the triangle.  Fold in the two pointed edges that jut out from the folded sides of the triangle, and press them in place with the fork.  Brush the tops of each completed wonton with a bit more sesame oil.

Very lightly spray or brush a baking sheet with vegetable oil.  Arrange the completed wontons, about 12 at a time, on the baking sheet.  Bake wontons for 6 minutes, then turn them over and return to the oven to bake for an additional 6 minutes, or until the wontons are dark golden brown and very crisp.

Garden Spaghetti in a Lemon Butter Sauce

25 Mar

There are only three people who live in my house, but all three of us have vastly different preferences when it comes to food.  One of us is a former nearly life-long vegetarian who has only conceded to eating meat if it a) hails from the sea, or b) does not in any way resemble something that was once attached to an animal (this means no bones, no skin, and no “chewy bits”).  Another one is a human food depository with the metabolic rate of a hummingbird, a person who, if pressed, will only list one single food that falls into the realm of being not entirely favorable (this food is water chestnuts and, really, it’s not that they are regarded as inedible so much as they are simply relegated to the bottom of the list of preferred foods).  The third person is a child, and this generally means that the foods most highly regarded by his palette fall into the category of being carbohydrates: bread, pasta, rice, crackers, and fruit.

So what’s a person to do, other than try and conjure up a dish that will be eaten—and, in hope, enjoyed—by all three people?  And how does one go about building such a dish?  I’ll give you a hint: the first step is pasta.

The second step is butter.

You’d be hard pressed to find a person who doesn’t enjoy the simple pleasures of a basic pasta tossed with a bit of butter, oil, and sharp parmesan cheese.  The best thing about pasta bianco (or bianca, depending on who you ask and how much he or she wants to show off a perceived prowess for Italian pronunciation) is that it’s like a building block for any number of dishes one might like to construct.

You start with pasta, cooked al dente with a little bit of the pasta water held off to the side.  The sauce starts as gently heated butter or olive oil (or both), perhaps with a bit of garlic and red pepper flakes thrown in.

You can stop there, tossing the pasta with the butter and oil and then adding a satisfying handful of parmesan cheese to the mix, or you can move on, adding flavors and bulking up the dish to see how far you can take things before you meet that good middle ground of having a dish that is still primarily made of pasta (child’s preference), but also bursting with fresh vegetables and crunchy textures (slightly meat-o-phobic former vegetarian’s preference).

The third person, of course, will most likely be happy no matter what, seeing as the dish is plentiful and, you know, made of food, therefore satisfying his basic list of requirements as related to meals and consumption.  The best part about this pasta, however, is the fact that it is highly delicious, which is arguably the most important element of any dish, no matter who is eating it.


Garden Spaghetti in a Lemon Butter Sauce

1 lb dried pasta (spaghetti, linguine, or another long variety)

1 lb broccoli, washed and trimmed into long-stemmed florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

3-4 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, smashed and very finely minced

2 lemons, juiced and zested, the zest finely grated or chopped

optional: 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

6-8 oz fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

1 large handful Italian parsley, trimmed and coarsely chopped

parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then cook pasta according to package directions.  During the last minute of cooking, drop in broccoli florets and briefly swirl around to allow for even distribution and cooking.  Drain pasta and broccoli, setting aside 1 cup of pasta cooking water.  Return pasta to cooking pot, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a small saucepan set over low heat.  When butter has melted, add in minced garlic and gently simmer for about one minute, allowing the garlic to release a lovely smell, but being careful not to let it brown.  Add in lemon juice and lemon zest, and, if using, red pepper flakes.  Carefully simmer for another minute, then remove from heat.  Carefully stir in reserved cup of pasta water.

Pour lemon and butter mixture over pasta and broccoli.  Toss well to mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a handful of spinach on a plate, place pasta over spinach, then sprinkle pasta with parmesan cheese and chopped Italian parsley.

This should make 6 large servings for 6 normal people.  In my house it serves one adult, one preschooler, and one Perfect Eating Machine, with a modest bit remaining for leftovers.

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