by Ernest Barteldes
As I have repeatedly said here before, I went through a couple of vegetarian phases in my life, but they didn’t last due to various reasons; the first would have been menu limitations when traveling (ever try to find meatless choices in Poland?) or simply going out to a restaurant. The other is simply because I love seafood and could not picture life without it.
Though I all but abandoned a full meat-free lifestyle, I often make vegetarian dishes when I cook at home, and I find them quite satisfying. There are countless Italian dishes that take no meat at all, such as eggplant parmesan, zucchini frittata or pasta matricciana. Others are easily adaptable, such as substituting koftas (veggie balls made with cauliflower, chickpea flour and cabbage) for meatballs or making veggie burgers with beans, bulgur or even eggplant. Meatloaf can be easily made a veggie loaf by using beans or chickpeas, and then there is vegetarian chili made with beans and other vegetables in lieu of beef or turkey.
Once or twice I have fixed entire Thanksgiving dinners without any kind of meats. I don’t really recall what exactly I cooked the first time around, but I do remember making assorted international dishes without hearing any derogative comments (even after quite a few guests had a few vodkas too many) about it.
Though I do eat seafood or chicken on occasion, I still don’t eat any red meats (the only exception being hot dogs in Coney Island during the summer). This used to annoy a beef-loving musician friend of mine who always made fun of me when I ordered, say, a falafel sandwich or tofu yakissoba at Dojo on West 4th Street. I mostly ignored his jeers, for I know that there are plenty of foods out there that do not include ribs or steak.
3 cups cubed Italian bread
2 cups chopped frozen broccoli, thawed
8 oz. chopped mushrooms
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash hot pepper sauce (or more to taste)
olive oil to drizzle.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly ovenproof dish, layer the bread, broccoli, mushrooms and top with cheese. Mix the soup, milk, eggs, salt and pepper and pour over vegetable mix. Bake for 40 minutes, serve with a drizzle of olive oil.