that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

it’s like pizza, but not

Posted by culinaryneophyte on November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving is really this week?! I refuse to believe this year is almost over, and therefore, I am sharing something very un-TurkeyDay-like while I can: Italian-roasted chickpeas. These little babies taste a lot like pizza and suffice as a meal or a snack. Give them a try!

italian roasted chickpeas

Warning: I went complete eyeball on this one, so no measurements. Just follow your heart (and taste along the way) and you’ll be happily surprised.

Combine sun dried tomatoes, EVOO, minced garlic, a little bit of parmesan cheese, a little bit of tomato paste, Italian herbs and a squirt of Dijon mustard. You can either use a food processor or an immersion blender (what I did) to blend into a paste.

Drain and dry a can of chickpeas on a sheet for at least 30 minutes. Next, coat chickpeas in the mixture and bake at 350 degrees for a little less than an hour, making sure to flip every 20 minutes or so. The chickpeas will get crispier as they cool.

Total time? 8 minutes prep, 25-30 minutes bake.
Cost? $1 chickpeas, $3.29 sun dried tomatoes, $2.59 parmesan cheese, 79 cents tomato paste
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out of 10. I love the taste of these and was happy to snack on them while I prepared the main portion of my dinner. While I was in Chicago last month, I had fried chickpeas, and while obviously these are a lot healthier, I still couldn’t get the beautiful crispiness of those out of my head. Only other knock here is that they don’t keep as well as leftovers; when I reheated them the next day, the flavor was still good, but the consistency suffered a bit.


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how grating

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 15, 2013

I need to invest in a nice grater. I recently set out to grate three beets with my craptastic grater, got 3/4 of the way through the first one and gave up. Luckily, that was more than enough to feed myself, but it lent itself pretty poorly to a 1/3 yield of the recipe I was making. Boy, were my arms sore. I think I know now how Robert Irvine got those guns.

Those beautiful beets made their way into some quinoa, beet and chickpea burgers — an awesome vegetarian dinner or leftover lunch to take the work. There are a lot of steps in making these, but the payoff is worth it. It’s a healthy, low-cal, vibrant meal. Just make sure you’re wearing old clothes whilst grating the beets because they spray and stain. Sounds like a personal problem.

beet quinoa burger

Adapted from Bojon Gourmet
Makes three large patties
♦1/3 can chickpeas, drained
1/4 c. raw quinoa 
1 beet, grated
1/2 tbs. olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tbs. cider vinegar
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 egg (eyeball it)
1/4 c. quick oats

For serving
Multigrain English muffins (or buns of your choice)
Alfalfa sprouts
Burger fixings (tomato, mustard, etc.)

The original recipe says to cook chickpeas, but recommended 30 minutes, which was too long for my lack of patience, so I went raw with the chickpeas. If you’d prefer they be cooked: Cover chickpeas in medium saucepan with 3 inches of water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender. Add 1/2 tsp salt. Simmer for 30 minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool in water.

Rinse quinoa in mesh strainer. Add quinoa and 1/2 c. water to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until water has been absorbed (10-15 minutes). Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and cover until you’re ready to use.

Peel beet with potato peeler, then grate. Heat teaspoon of oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender (5 minutes). Add garlic, pinch of salt and beets. Stir, then cover until beet is tender (5 minutes). Remove from heat and add vinegar.

In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, quinoa and beet mixture and mash until combined. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, egg, oats and 1/4 tsp. of salt. Divide the mixture into rounds (I got three out of it, but you might get more or less depending on the size of the bun you’re looking to match.) Heat oil over medium heat, add burgers and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. If the burger browns too quickly, reduce heat. Serve on bread and with toppings.

Calories? 260 calories include multigrain English muffin
Total time?
 35 minutes simultaneous prep and cook
Cost? $1 beet, $1.25 chickpeas, $5 quinoa (use only a fraction), $2 English muffins, $1.50 avocado
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out 10. My favorite part of this meal was the color (and the fact that it looked like raw meat on my burger – probably freaked out my coworkers). The flavor wasn’t as powerful as I hoped, so don’t skimp on the lemon. I added avocado and sprouts (not pictured) to mine, and it made for a filling, low-calorie meal. If you’re a meaty burger fan, I wouldn’t recommend these; but if you’re big on veggie burgers and clean eating, they can’t be beet. (Sorry.)

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portobello parm

Posted by culinaryneophyte on February 11, 2013

I’ve been on a vegetarian kick lately, so when I stumbled upon this portobello parm recipe on Pinterest, I had to try it out. This is a super satisfying meatless alternative to chicken or veal parmigiana. It’s easy to make and surprisingly tasty. I paired mine with some quinoa and a red pepper and spinach salad for a healthy weeknight dinner. (And it kept well as leftovers, too.)


Adapted from One Perfect Bite
2 stemmed portobello mushrooms, cleaned (I used pre-packaged from ShopRite)
♦1/4 c. Italian-style bread crumbs
♦1/2 c. Parmesan cheese (I used grated Kraft, but fresh is better)
♦1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
♦1/8 cup parsley flakes, divided
♦1 tsp. seasoned salt, divided
♦1 egg
♦1/4 tsp. fresh ground black peppercorn
♦1/2 tsp. garlic powder
♦1/2 tsp. Italian seasonings
♦1/2 tsp. oregano leaves

♦1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
♦1/2 c. low-sodium tomato sauce
♦Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line roaster tray with aluminum foil. (You can also use a baking sheet with a wire cooling rack on top.) Spray lightly with cooking spray and set aside.

In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, parm cheese, half the parsley, paprika and half the salt. In a separate bowl,  combine egg, remaining salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Dip both sides of each mushroom in egg wash, then dredge in dry mixture, coating completely. Transfer to the roaster rack, stem side down. Spray mushroom tops with cooking spray and bake about 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Set oven to 450 degrees. Carefully turn mushrooms over (stem side up). Sprinkle parm cheese onto mushroom, then top with sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes until cheese melts. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Calories? 177 calories per mushroom
Total time?
 25 minutes cook, 10 minutes prep
Cost? $2.99 mushrooms, $2.19 mozzarella, $1.25 tomato sauce, $1 breadcrumbs + assorted spices.
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out 10. I had no idea how much I would love this dish. The flavor was fantastic (I mean, I felt like I used 75% of the spices in my cabinet.) The gooey insides spilled out on the first cut, but the outside maintained a nice crispness without frying. Definitely a satisfying vegetarian option, and less than 200 calories!


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I love you, sweet “potatoe”

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 25, 2013

NEW: I’m now including calorie counts [as best I can] for my recipes. 

As I’ve mentioned a few times in my last few months of sporadic posting, my housing situation had been quite a mess. Long story short, I ended my lease in anticipation of moving into my new home within two to three weeks. That fell through. Then the next thing fell through. Then the next one got delayed. Finally, three months later, I found myself in my new home. A new home with a much bigger kitchen than I had previously. Of course, the kitchen was the first thing I unpacked. (Made for some interesting outfit choices those first few days.) Now, I’m cranking out new dishes on the reg, and hoping to finally get back to posting at a consistent pace.

The first official meal (meaning one that wasn’t a Morningstar Chik’n Patty or a bowl of cereal) was this sweet potato tahini veggie burger. Coincidentally, in October, I got a strange text message from a number I didn’t recognize saying, “I love you, sweet potatoe.” The first time, I laughed it off (whilst cringing over the misspelling), but just before I closed on my new place, I started getting these “sweet potatoe” text messages more often. I even got a family Christmas photo text. (Precious!) The sender wasn’t bent out of shape I wasn’t responding — and presumably, if they were using that pleasantry to address a significant other, they would expect some sort of reciprocation — so I’m assuming it was just a text here and there that got bounced around in the mobilesphere and found its way to my phone. In any event, this post is dedicated to my new kitchen and my “sweet potatoe” lover, wherever you are.


(a little quinoa photobomb there)

I slightly modified this recipe from Healthy Happy Life. Tahini is fairly expensive and, quite honestly, I couldn’t find it in the supermarket, so decided to make my own (recipe below). And FYI for anyone interested in making the purchase, a week later, I discovered it in the peanut butter section (what?!).

Homemade Tahini – Yields slightly more than enough for this recipe
♦1/4 c. sesame seeds
♦1 tb. olive oil

Toast sesame seeds in a pot over low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. In a food processor, combine seeds and olive oil. Pulse until thick paste forms. Add more olive oil as needed until desired consistency is reached. (Note: I used an immersion blender and made a huge mess. It works, but be sure the shield your eyes from airborne seeds.)

making tahini

Making your own tahini is easy and much cheaper than buying it at the store.

Sweet Potato Tahini Veggie Burgers With Avocado – Makes four large patties
♦1 can of cannellini white beans, drained
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and mashed (1 cup)
1 tb. tahini
1 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/8 c. flour
Dash cayenne pepper and black pepper
1/4-1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
Spoonful of oil
Burger buns

Bake the sweet potato. (I ran out of patience before the potato was cooked all the way through. You can also microwave the potato for three minutes to soften.) Mash potato into large bowl. Add beans and mash together. Add tahini, agave, flour and seasonings. Heat 1/2 tb. oil over high heat. Form either four large patties or eight smaller patties and coat with Panko crumbs. (The patties will be fairly mushy, but do your best to keep it together.) Brown patty on both sides — a minute or less) and drain on paper towel. Add to bun and top with avocado and/or other fixings.

Calories? 203 calories including bun and avocado.
Total time?
 30 minutes to prep, cook and assemble.
Cost? $1.99 hamburger buns, $1 beans, $1 sweet potato, $9.99 tahini (or minimal cost to make at home if you have sesame seeds), $1 avocado.
Overall success relative to expectations? 7 out 10. Based on the consistency going into the pan, I was a little worried this would be a mess, but they came out decently. The panko is a must, and I really preferred the burger with avocado. These things come out huge, so it might not be a bad idea to go the eight small patty route. (I ended up cutting each one in half and eating them for basically every meal throughout the week.)

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avocado spinach salad

Posted by culinaryneophyte on February 12, 2012

Looking back over my last few posts, it’s hard to believe I haven’t spent the last week in a sugar coma. To get back to the savory side of things, I’m sharing this steak and avocado spinach salad with warm mustard vinaigrette. This is an easy weeknight meal whose leftovers can be easily morphed into a satisfying lunch. It also works well as a vegetarian dish by nixing the steak.

♦5 oz. baby spinach (fresh or bagged)
1 ripened avocado
1/2 lb. London broil (or chicken breast, if you prefer)
1 tbs. McCormick’s barbecue seasoning
salt and pepper
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. spicy mustard
Optional: 2 tbs. bacon bits 

Season meat with McCormick’s and salt. Let rest for 10 minutes, then sear on medium-high heat for two minutes per side (or longer for well done). Remove from heat, and slice just before dressing the salad (see below).

While steak is cooking, wash spinach leaves and gently pat dry.  Place in a large bowl. Cut avocado, remove seed and cut into slices. Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add sesame seeds and cook until golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add lemon juice, remaining oil and mustard to mixture.

Add sliced steak to salad. Pour dressing over salad and gently toss. Serve warm.

Total time? 17 minutes prep (includes 10 minutes rest for meat).
Cost? $2 London broil, $1.50 avocado, $2 baby spinach, $3.29 sesame seeds.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out 10. I’m not a big salad person — or a steak person, for that matter — but I loved this. The juicy bits of steak, creamy avocado and tangy mustard vinaigrette worked really well together. I threw in some bacon bits for a crunch, but they’re not necessary. You can also substitute steak for chicken, or nix the meat altogether. This recipes makes enough for two, but if you’re planning for leftovers, reserve some steak and vinaigrette for the next day and warm them both separately before adding to the salad. Also, throw a little lemon juice on the avocado to keep its color.

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burger blitz at PYT

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 23, 2011

Calibunga, dude!

When it comes to mechanics of business diffusion (yeah, I’m getting all Marketing 101 on you), I’m almost always in the “late majority” group, i.e. I don’t care about the latest trends, and I very rarely go out of my way to get the “it” thing until I deem it necessary, and by that time, something more “it” has come out. I was, however, in the “early adopter” group when it comes to PYT in the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. Or at least I’m going to tell myself that.

See, a few months ago, I suggested to a friend that we journey there for their Burger of the Week: the Krispy Kreme Burger. We rearranged our schedules to make it before the gluttonous creation’s stint on the menu was done, and could not have been more amazed by the two patties, two slices of cheese and pieces of chocolate-covered bacon between — yes — two halves of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Turns out the burger was so popular that week, PYT put in on the menu to stay.

Fast forward to a few weeks later: I bring another handful of friends out to PYT, and they all fall in love with the place, too. We feasted on the awesome burgers and their special pumpkin cheesecake pierogies, and chatted with our super cool waitress, who revealed that the PYT acronym doesn’t actually stand for anything. And here we thought it was a shout out to Michael Jackson.

Suddenly, I’m seeing and hearing about PYT all over the place; on Jan. 13, the restaurant was featured on the Rachael Ray Show for “Rachael’s Burger Bash,” and killed it on Groupon this weekend with their $8 for $16 of food deal. I’m worried their little-to-no-wait style I’ve come to love is going to be out the window now that the place is blowing up. (Maybe I can dissuade people by telling them the bathroom is unisex; I know that freaked me out a little at first…)

Either way, if you live in the Philadelphia area, you need to check it out. And if you’re not carnivorous, they have plenty of vegetarian options; in fact, the last time I was there, I got the Calibunga burger — white beans, basil, garlic, tomato and breadcrumb patty topped with avocado, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onion “special sauce” (pictured above) — and it was awesome.

Oh, and don’t forget about their Adult Milkshakes, which their menu calls “a blend of premium ice cream and fine spirits.” Other than being a lightweight and needing to operate a vehicle within the next five hours, I opted out of the dessert beverage in favor of the neighboring gelato shop, Nana Petrillo’s. I recently had their Rosemary Honey Goat’s milk, and it was a sophisticated party in my mouth. If you’re not into the weird flavors that I am, they’ve got all sorts of crowd pleasers that change on a daily basis, as well as lattes, hot chocolate, etc.

Rosemary Honey Goat's Milk gelato from Nana Petrillo's

PYT on Urbanspoon

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