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July COTM (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone): PASTA, NOODLES & DUMPLINGS and SAVORY TARTS, PIES, TURNOVERS & PIZZAS

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Mangia bene!

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  1. Linguine with Onions, Peas and Basil (p. 459)

    Had a late afternoon doctor's appointment which meant I had to do something fairly easy when I got home. This fit the bill. I guess I hoped that this recipe would be one of those "sum better than parts" things, but it didn't really seem to be. Perfectly pleasant, but nothing I'd bother to make again. I must say, however, that my husband and daughter scarfed it up with compliments.

    1. Tossed Spinach Lasagne and Goat Cheese Gratin (page 465)

      Do NOT even think about making this -- it was bad in so many ways. The last time I felt this badly about a dish I'd made was 1969!

      First off, I hate it when authors do not test their recipes as written; obviously no one tested this one.

      Secondly, I wasted $10 worth of great local goat cheese on this, plus time spent making the pasta, etc.

      I realized something might be amiss when the bechamel was the consistency of library paste, so I thinned it with some (low fat) milk. After adding the pasta, it still seemed mighty thick, so I added a bunch of the pasta cooking water.

      The result was dry, bland, and so loaded in saturated fat that I could've had a rib eye and come out ahead. There is simply no reason to cook this way: nutritionally, this is a "bad fat" bomb. And unless you're using organic milk from pastured cows, you're not helping the be kind to animals quotient, either. Lots of older vegetarian cookbooks use inordinate amounts of dairy to make up for the lack of meat, but this dish has the highest fat-to-bad-result ratio of any I've made.

      I am now extremely leery of this book, and will not cook from it unless posters whose opinions I trust make something and report positively.

      Beware.

      5 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        Oh no! What a disappointingly tragic way of wasting good ingredients, an afternoon, and high hopes. Thank you for taking one for the team on this one. I hope some encouraging reports come our way soon and prove this to be an unfortunate exception.

        ~TDQ

        1. re: pikawicca

          Yeah, thats horrible. I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience.

          1. re: LulusMom

            Lasagne with Eggplant and Chard, p.468. Light (for lasagne) yet very flavorful and a lovely way to use the CSA chard. I will definitely make this again.

            Brush both sides of sliced eggplant with oil and roast at 400 til brown. Chop coarsely.

            Saute onion and garlic, add chard and white wine and cook for about 10 minutes. She says "until pan is dry", but that didn't seem like that was going to happen anytime soon, so I used a slotted spoon to scoop the mixture onto a cutting board and chopped finely. To this, I added ricotta, water, one egg and S & P.

            Assemble: Spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish. Cover with layer of cooked lasagne noodles, grated pecorino Romano, some of the chopped eggplant, ricotta/chard mixture, some sliced fresh mozzarella, and repeat, topping with remaining sauce. Bake at 400 for 35 min or so.

            One guest thought it needed more tomato sauce (only 8 oz called for), but I thought it was fine as is and added to the fresh veg taste really standing out.I served it as a hearty side dish to some grilled steaks and it was a stand-out summer dinner.

          2. re: pikawicca

            Thanks for your warning pikawicca! I've been reading and rereading the recipes that call out to me and so far have made very simple dishes which for the most part were pretty good. From the title alone one would think the gratin would be fine. What a shame!!

            1. re: pikawicca

              I had a similar problem with this recipe, but don't give up on the book. I've made loads of fabulous recipes from it. Every book has a few losers in it!

            2. Two recipes from the Savory Tarts chapter that I've made in the past and recommend, one more than the other:

              Green Herb Tart, p. 493
              This is a savory tart with lots of chard and other greens combined, ricotta, gruyere, and eggs (just two), and baked in a double crust. This is a great tart, very flavorful, a perfect vegetarian main dish to bring along to a party. I would suggest making sure you use plenty of salt -- she doesn't specify, other than telling you to add a teaspoon when you cook down the chard, but you definitely need to add some to the custard mixture as well. I also don't love the yeasted dough, it's not that easy to work with, and while it tastes fine, it's hard to roll out as thin as it should be, so it can end up being a little doughy. I think any savory pastry dough would work here. Other than that, I like this recipe a lot, especially because I love chard, and it's a good make ahead dish.

              Eggplant Torta, p. 495
              This I made as a vegetarian main course for a family member who loves eggplant, and she was very satisfied. I thought it was more trouble than it was worth for the taste -- there are lots of steps to this recipe, and while it came out fine, it took a while to slice all of the eggplant, and brown it, and cook the vegetable mixture, then layer all of the fillings, etc. The presentation was also less attractive than I wanted it to be. The eggplant lover adored it, but I've made much better eggplant dishes, and there are other better savory tarts to make.

              1. Spaghetti with Artichokes (p. 447)

                Made this with linguine instead, and used frozen artichoke hearts. Delicious. Used probably double the wine, and maybe didn't have quite the 3 tablespoons of tarragon called for - next time I'd try to make sure I did, but either way we really liked this a lot.

                9 Replies
                1. re: LulusMom

                  Sounds great and I have some frozen artichokes at the moment. Would you mind giving a recipe?

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    Happily.

                    Heat 3 tblspoons olive oil and saute a large onion and the artichokes (I used two boxes - which is probably about 6 artichokes total, just a guess). Saute until the onion is soft, then add 4 cloves (chopped) garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons tarragon (she also says rosemary can work with this) and 1/2 cup (I used significantly more) white wine - simmer until reduced. Add 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt; taste sauce for salt. Cook the pasta, scoop out and toss with the artichoke sauce and add 1/3 (-3 tablespoons if you want to be exact with the recipe - I just eyeballed on this part) olive oil and another 1 1/2 tablespoon tarragon. Season, serve with grated parm.

                    Hope you like it. All that lovely tarragon with the reduced wine just made me think "south of France."

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      I'm going to use the pasta cooking water for that 1 cup of water in the recipe....it will be cooking while the sauce is being made.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Pretty much how it worked for me too - as you slop the noodles from one pot to the other. Its always better that way, isn't it?

                      2. re: LulusMom

                        Sounds scrummy - how can anything with artichokes not be nice? Thanks for taking the time to post that. I will report back...

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Exactly how I feel about artichokes! And always happy to help out - it must be tough having such a hard time getting your hands on the books.

                          I put it down in front of my 2 year old with no explanation about the artichokes, and she ate it without asking what it was, and seemed very happy with it.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Kids today don't know how lucky they are! (Omigod I sound like my mother.) I think I was nearly twenty and living in France before I encountered an artichoke.

                    2. re: LulusMom

                      This is good to know LL....This is my Friday night dinner plan!! Artichokes are waiting in the freezer and the tarragon is growing in the garden.
                      Many thanks.

                      1. re: Gio

                        I've got the tarragon from my back porch ... I can't grow much of anything, but this stuff is growing like a weed. What a nice problem to have, huh? I hope you like it.

                    3. Gnocchi, p. 478:
                      I'd never made gnocchi before and wanted to try. Madison's recipe is similar to others I've seen. You bake the potatoes, peel them while they're hot and pass them through a ricer or food mill. I used an ancient food mill I got on eBay. Then you just add flour and salt, roll the dough into logs and make gnocchi. After you boil them briefly she suggests you bake them in a gratin dish with butter and parmesan. I have to say that for a first effort they were very good. I will definitely make these again.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: NYCkaren

                        I'm impressed. Gnocchi are one of the things I want so much to try, but I'm daunted. And I don't have a food mill or ricer.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          I was in the same boat, LulusMom. I had researched various recipes but had never taken the plunge. But one thing I realized is that I've logged so many hours watching cooking shows on TV that I knew how to form the gnocchi using the tines of a fork.

                          A food mill is a useful item and they don't take up that much space. Mine was cheap but it works. I've used it for jobs like making Concord grape sorbet. You need something to separate out the seeds.