vegetarian recipe



Ratatouille is a French vegetable stew made with eggplant, peppers and tomatoes, along with some other ingredients. I often enjoy it when the garden season is at its peak. For some reason I had not made it in awhile. I am not sure why not.

When a friend gave me 4 beautiful Japanese eggplant- those are the long skinny ones- I suddenly had an urge to make ratatouille. I already had peppers and zucchini. I have been canning tomatoes and I always have onions and fresh garlic.

There are all sorts of variations out there. You can adjust the herbs based on what you have and what you like. You can also play around with the ratio of the vegetables. I sometimes think of ratatouille as an end of season dish, when the last of the garden harvest is just asking to be made into a truly satisfying dish. The first time I had it a friend made it for me. We had been gardening and had a lot of veggies to use. It was so good. I have been making it ever since, although I don’t always measure everything out exactly.

So here is my recipe, the one I measured out!!


1 large onion, sliced in thin wedges

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. oil

1 14 oz. can tomatoes, cut up, I used a pint of home canned tomatoes

1 1/2 t. dried thyme

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

1 bay leaf

2 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed I used 4 Japanese eggplant, which are long and thin

2 medium zucchini, cut in chunks

2 sweet peppers, any color, seeded and chopped

Heat oil in Dutch oven and cook onion and garlic until tender. Add remaining ingredients, except peppers, and cook until vegetables are tender and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. If stew is too runny, remove lid and cook 10 minutes longer. Add peppers and cook, covered 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serves 8-10.  In crock-pot combine all ingredients and cook on low 6-8 hours.

Chili Bean Spoon Bread

Chili Bean Spoon Bread

This is a great dish when you want to go meat free, but still have a hearty meal. It combines the flavors of chili with a cornbread topper. A classic combination, for sure.

The base is a lentil chili that you place in a casserole dish, then top with a cornbread batter. The dish is finished off in the oven until the cornbread is baked.

To serve, spoon some of the cornbread onto your plate and top with the lentil chili. I have made it for friends and it is always a big hit, even for the meat eaters. Perfect to warm you up on a chilly day.

You can serve this as a vegetarian main dish, or  as a side dish.

Chili Bean Spoon Bread

 1/2 lb. lentils

pinch of ground cloves

2 c. milk

1/2 t. salt

2/3 c. cornmeal

4 T. butter

4 eggs

4 T. oil

2 large onions, chopped

1 clove minced garlic

1 T. chopped parsley or 1 t. parsley flakes

1 T. chili powder

1 t. ground cumin

1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

salt and pepper to taste

In saucepan cover lentils with about 2 cups water and add cloves. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook, covered, until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. You may need to add a little more water. Meanwhile in another saucepan heat milk and salt almost to boiling. Stir in cornmeal and continue cooking, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and eggs and set aside. In oil sauté onions and garlic until tender. Add seasonings, tomatoes and lentils and heat until bubbly. Adjust seasonings. Pour lentil mixture into greased 2-quart casserole dish. Spoon over the cornmeal mixture. Set casserole dish in larger pan and add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bread is firm and golden. Serves 4-6.

Corn and Bean Wraps

Corn and Bean Wraps

If you are looking for a different filling for your wraps, you should try this recipe. The filling is a combination of cabbage, corn, beans, green onions and Cajun seasoning. The veggies are all mixed together and served warm, wrapped in a tortilla.

Shredded cabbage is wilted down in oil. I just cut up fresh cabbage, but you could use cole slaw mix, if you like. Once the cabbage is tender, the rest of the ingredients are added. It could not be easier.

This also might be a way to get your family to eat more veggies.  We do like to eat things that are rolled up, wrapped up or stuffed.

I used fresh sweet corn, but you can use frozen corn. I freeze local sweet corn every year to enjoy throughout the year.

So here is the recipe. The ingredients may seem humble, but put together, they really are something special.

Corn and Bean Wraps

1 lb. shredded cabbage or cole slaw mix


1 c. corn, fresh or frozen

1 c. sliced green onions

1 T. Creole seasoning

1 (15 oz.) can beans, drained – I like black beans or kidney beans

1/3 c. mayonnaise

6 (8 inch) flour tortillas

Sauté cabbage, covered, in oil until wilted. Add remaining ingredients (except mayo) and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in mayo. Spoon mixture down center of tortillas and roll up. Serves 6.

Peanut Soup – Vegan

Peanut Soup

This is one of the easiest soups I make. It is also one of my favorites. It’s a rich soup with a creamy texture and just a hint of heat. You could make it spicier, of course. The recipe is very versatile. As written, the soup is vegan, but you could make it with a meat-based stock, if you prefer.

If your only experience with eating peanut butter is on a sandwich or in cookies, you might be surprised at just how good this soup tastes. I have made it with almond butter. If you don’t have peanut butter, the almond butter works fine. Other nut butters would also work. but I still prefer it made with peanut butter. It freezes well, too.

Peanut Soup

2 c. chopped onions
1 T. oil
cayenne pepper to taste
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 c. chopped carrots
1 c. chopped sweet potatoes
1 c. chopped white potatoes
5 c. vegetable stock or water
1 c. tomato sauce
1 c. smooth peanut butter
1 T. sugar, optional
1 c. chopped green onions

Sauté onions in oil until tender. Add seasonings and carrots and sauté 3 minutes more. Add potatoes and stock and simmer until vegetables are tender. Puree soup in blender in batches until smooth. Return to pot and add tomato sauce and peanut butter. Add sugar if soup is not sweet enough. I never add the sugar, but some people do. Warm gently and serve with green onions on top. You could also top with chopped peanuts, for a little crunch. Serves 6-8.

Martha’s Beets

Martha’s Beets

I had picked up some beets from a produce market the other day. I have made this dish many times and it seemed like a good time to make it again. It is so tasty and easy to make. You just have to give the flavors time to develop.

This is a recipe that my friend, Martha, made for us one chilly autumn afternoon, many years ago. The amounts are random for a reason. Just use what you have- more or less – and let the flavors blend together gently. That is what Martha did.

Full of earthiness and great fresh flavors it is always a favorite of mine. I always think of her, with great affection, when I make it. Miss you, my beloved friend.

Martha’s Beets


2 Onions, chopped

Potatoes, cut in big chunks, peeled, if desired

1 bunch beets, with greens*

Chicken or vegetable  stock


Salt and pepper

Cook beets in boiling water for 20 minutes. Cool and slip off skins. Cut up beets into chunks. In large pot, cook onions in oil until tender. Add potatoes and prepared beets with just enough stock to keep them from sticking. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, chop up the beet greens. Add them to the pot and stir in. Cover and continue cooking until greens are tender. Toss in fresh parsley and cook 5 minutes longer.

* If you can’t find beets with greens, or if you like more greens, you can also add red Swiss chard in place of the beet greens.

Ratatouille Salad

Ratatouille Salad

I had all the ingredients for ratatouille, a lovely French vegetable stew. I had eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, onions and fresh herbs. But I was in the mood for a salad. I decided to use the same ingredients that I would use for the ratatouille, but transform them into a salad. It came out quite nice. I could see serving it on toasted bread, or using it like a dip. It reminded me of caponata, in a way.

I decided to cook the eggplant and onion, but leave the rest of the vegetables raw. I also decided to leave the skin on the eggplant. I did not salt the eggplant beforehand. The eggplant was fresh and tender- I saw no need for peeling or salting, but you could do both, if you like.

I always have roasted garlic on hand. I make a big batch and store in smaller containers in the freezer, until needed. The directions for roasting garlic follow the recipe. If you don’t have roasted garlic, you could add several cloves of garlic, peeled and minced. I invited a neighbor to try it- and she ended up taking the rest home.

Ratatouille Salad

1 medium eggplant, cubed. I had about 3 cups of eggplant.

3 T. oil

½ t. salt

1 medium onion, sliced

2 T. roasted garlic*

½ c. red wine vinegar

1 med. zucchini, cut in matchstick pieces, about 3 cups

1 sweet pepper, seeded and diced

1½ c. diced fresh tomato, seeded, if desired


1/3 c. red wine vinegar

1/3 c. olive oil

2-3 T. honey, or to suit your taste

2 T. chopped parsley

1 t. chopped basil

2 t. thyme leaves

Hot sauce to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

In skillet, heat oil and saute eggplant until tender and just starting to brown. Season with salt. Remove from skillet and set in a mixing bowl. In same skillet, saute onion and cook until wilted and tender. Add the garlic and vinegar to the skillet and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. While liquid is cooking down, place remaining veggies in mixing bowl with the eggplant. When most of the liquid is cooked off, place onion in mixing bowl with eggplant mixture.  Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar and whisk to combine. Pour over the eggplant mixture and toss to coat. Adjust seasonings. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 6-8 as a side.

*Once you have roasted garlic on hand for cooking, you will wonder how you did without it before. I get large amounts of freshly peeled cloves. Place the peeled garlic cloves in a roasting pan and pour a generous amount of olive oil over the garlic. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 until garlic is tender and golden. This will take at least 30 minutes, but up to 40 minutes. It depends on how much garlic you are roasting. Be careful not to burn it. Once cooled, place the garlic cloves, and oil, in small freezer containers. Store in freezer.

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice does not get the respect I think it deserves. I know the ingredients are pretty humble, but the  flavor is so good. It can be a main dish, a side dish or even a decent breakfast when reheated the next day. I speak from personal experience on the breakfast thing.

You can change it up by using different beans- I used dark red kidney beans this time. Red beans are traditional. You can use different rice – I used brown jasmine rice. You can also add any number of different seasonings to change it up. It is one of those dishes loved by carnivore and vegetarian alike. To add more interest to the batch I made this time, I cooked the jasmine rice in a vegetable broth with turmeric in it. That added a pretty yellow color to the rice. It tasted good and looked pretty, too.

So if you are looking for a quick and really easy dish maybe make some red beans and rice.

Red Beans and Rice

1 c. brown or white rice
2 c. water or broth
1 can kidney beans or red beans, drained and rinsed – use whatever beans you like
1 T. oil
½ c. chopped onion
¼ c. chopped parsley or cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste*

Simmer rice, covered until tender (40 minutes for brown, 15 minutes for white rice). Meanwhile heat oil in skillet and cook onions until tender. Add beans, cooked rice, and seasonings. Stir until heated through. Serves 4.

* In addition to salt and pepper, I like to play around with adding other seasonings. I sometimes add cumin, oregano, garlic, basil, cinnamon, mace and coriander to name a few.

Basque Soup

Basque Soup

Basque Soup

This hearty soup is easy to make and is really a meal in itself. I made the meatless version by using a vegetable stock but you could use chicken stock, if you prefer. I used tomatoes I canned but store bought canned tomatoes would be fine, too.





Basque Soup

1 c. chopped onions

1 1/2 c. chopped celery

1/4 c. oil

1/4 c. flour

3 c. milk*

1 (16 oz.) jar stewed tomatoes, undrained

1 can whole kernel corn, undrained

3-4 cans butter beans, drained and rinsed

3-4 cups water and 1T. paste-type vegetable soup base

or 3-4 cups vegetable broth

pepper to taste

hot pepper sauce to taste

shredded mild cheese, optional

Sauté onions and celery in oil until tender. Stir in flour until smooth and add milk, stirring to keep lumps from forming. Stir over medium heat until milk has thickened and begins to boil. Stir constantly as mixture simmers for an additional minute or two. Add remaining ingredients, except cheese and bring up to a simmer. Adjust seasonings. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese, if desired. Serves 8-10.

Note: You can use almond, rice or soy milk in place of the dairy milk, if you like.

Cheesy Portobello “Burgers”

Portobello Mushroom "Burger"

Portobello Mushroom “Burger”

I had a chance to have a friend over for lunch. She is vegetarian. Neither of us had a lot of time so I wanted something fast and easy. I had a couple of portobello mushroom caps in the fridge so I used them as my starting point. I also had some whole wheat buns so a sandwich felt like the right choice. I don’t like to use the word burger. Burgers for me will always be meat, but it did end up pretty close. The flavors, appearance and feeling was pretty burger-like, if not a true burger.

I started by  cooking some sliced onion in oil adding salt, pepper and some hot sauce. While the onions were cooking I rinsed the mushroom caps and gave them a drizzle of lemon-infused olive oil and white wine vinegar. Also gave them a dash of salt and some Italian seasoning. I would say I marinaded them, but seriously, it was for 10 minutes while the onions were cooking. Once the onions were getting almost caramelized I added the mushrooms to the pan with the liquids I had been soaking them in. I let them cook, turning a few times, until they were cooked and browning a little. By then most of the liquid in the pan was gone.

The biggest challenge with cooking any mushroom is water. They are full of it. To get a truly strong mushroom flavor you need to get that water out and intensify the mushroom’s flavor. Don’t be afraid to let them cook long enough for that to happen.

I finished the mushrooms off with a couple of slices of sharp white cheddar cheese. I also toasted the buns. To serve it I placed the cheesy mushrooms on the buns and topped each with some of the onions. It was a lunch I would make again, even for my non-vegetarian friends.

Vegetable and Pasta Skillet Dinner

Vegetable and Pasta Skillet Dinner

Vegetable and Pasta Skillet Dinner

If you are trying to get your family to eat more vegetables this is a great way to do it. Lots of veggies with pasta, this is a simple dish that can be a side dish or a vegetarian main dish.

Vegetable and Pasta Skillet Dinner

1 (16 ounce) package whole wheat rotini pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons  sugar
3 T. oil
3 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms, use whatever mushrooms you can find
1 cup shelled edamame (green soybeans) I use organic
3/4 cup  cashews
In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the broccoli, carrots, pepper, mushrooms, shelled edamame, and cashews. Sauté 5 minutes. Mix in the sesame oil sauce. Cover skillet, and cook 5 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender but crisp. Serve over the cooked pasta or toss the pasta right in the skillet and heat through.  Serves 4-6.

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