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The Good Earth as Veggie Heaven

March 20, 2014
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White Bean and Radicchio Gratin

Eating vegetarian is one way to lighten your ecological footprint on the earth. Generally speaking, it takes more than 11 times as much fossil ­fuel to make one calorie of animal protein as it does to make one calorie of plant protein.

If every American who eats meat daily committed to eating meat-free one day a week, it would be the carbon dioxide-reducing equivalent of taking 8 million cars off the roads. Eating lower on the food chain can do wonders for the environment.

Myra Goodman, author of The Earthbound Cook: 250 Re­cipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet, is the co-founder of Earthbound Farm and recognized as a pioneer in bringing the organic food movement to the masses.

Beyond the recipes in the book, Goodman educates on recycling, PCR paper products, energy-efficient appliances, reading eco-labels and buying sustainable foods.

Below are a sampling of vegetarian recipes from Goodman’s book. 

Leek and Feta Risotto Cakes
Arborio rice makes a great base for this tasty combination of leeks, feta and Parmesan. If you happen to have leftover risotto, this is a great way to turn it into another meal or a first course. It’s important to note that the cakes need to be completely cold before you cook them, or they will fall apart in the skillet. Chilling the cakes allows the starches to harden and makes them easier to fry. For a satisfying meal, serve the cakes with a vegetable side or two.
4 Tbsps. olive oil
1⁄2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 large leeks (white part only), well-rinsed and finely chopped (about 2 cups)
2 tsps. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup Arborio rice
1⁄4 cup white wine
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1⁄2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1⁄4 cup snipped fresh chives
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the butter and the rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Then stir in the wine and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth, stirring constantly to bring out the starch in the rice. When almost all of the stock has been absorbed, add another cup. Repeat until all the stock has been absorbed, about 20 minutes total. (The risotto is meant to be fully cooked and not al dente for this recipe.) Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 20 minutes.

Stir the feta, Parmesan, eggs, chives and parsley into the risotto. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. When it is cool enough to handle, form the mixture into 12 1⁄2-inch thick cakes, about 1⁄3 cup each, and refrigerate them, uncovered, until they are completely cold, at least 4 hours. (The cakes can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 2 days before cooking.)

Just before serving, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Arrange the cakes in the skillet so that they do not touch (it may be necessary to do this in two batches), and cook until the bottom is crisp and browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the cakes over and cook on the other side until golden and warmed through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.

White Bean and Radicchio Gratin
This dish has its roots in Italy, where both white beans and radi­cchio are popular ingredients. The beans are cooked with onion and garlic to infuse them with flavor. Then half of the bean mixture is pureed with the cooking liquid, which creates a creamy base for the radicchio. A mixture of nutty Gruyére cheese and bread crumbs creates a tasty topping for this unique vegetarian dish that is loaded with protein and nutrients.
1 lb. dried Great Northern or cannellini beans (about 2 and 1⁄2 cups)
4 cups diced yellow onions (1⁄4-inch dice)
1 Tbsp. plus 1⁄2 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tsps. salt or to taste
1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 small head (4 and 1⁄2 oz.) radicchio, cut in half through the core, then thinly sliced crosswise (2 cups)
1 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs
1 cup grated Gruyére cheese
1⁄2 tsp dried thyme
1⁄2 tsp. dried basil

Pick through the beans, discarding any stones, and rinse them in a colander under cold running water. Place the beans in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pan, and cook the beans for 30 minutes.

Add the onions and 1 tablespoon of garlic, and continue to cook until the beans are tender, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the age of your beans.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425˚.

Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and transfer half of the beans to a large bowl and puree them with an immersion blender or by hand with a potato masher. Add the remaining whole beans, the reserved cooking liquid, and the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and radicchio. Stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to an 8x10-inch baking dish.

Combine the bread crumbs, Gruyére, the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon of garlic, thyme and basil in a bowl, and stir to blend. Cover the bean mixture with the bread crumb topping.

Bake the gratin until the mixture starts to bubble and the topping turns golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

The gratin can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave to serve.

Serves 8 to 10.

Roasted Cauliflower Tart
This rich tart puts a new spin on a vegetable that’s often unappreciated. The cauliflower and onions can be prepared up to 2 days in advance of assembling the tart, and the pastry crust can be prebaked early in the day before you fill and bake the tart. The finished tart does not keep well, because if it sits too long, the crust gets soggy, so serve it the same day it’s made.
Crust Ingredients:
1 and 1⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1⁄2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1⁄2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp. sugar
1⁄4 tsp. salt
12 Tbsps. (1 and 1⁄2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into
1⁄2-inch pieces
2 Tbsps. ice water, or more as needed
Filling Ingredients:
1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 lb.), separated into 1-inch florets (about 5 cups)
4 Tbsps. olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 large yellow onion, cut in half through the stem end and then cut crosswise into 1⁄8-inch thick slices (about 31⁄2 cups)
2 large eggs
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1⁄2 cup heavy whipping cream
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup (3 and 1⁄2 oz.) shredded Gruyére cheese
2⁄3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To make the crust: Place the white and whole wheat flours, rolled oats, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until the mixture is combined and the oats have been pulverized to a flourlike meal. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal.

With the machine running, add the ice water and process just until the dough holds together loosely in a ball, 5 to 8 seconds. Do not allow the dough to form a solid mass or it will be overworked. Test the dough by pinching a small amount between your fingers. If the dough sticks together, it is ready. If the dough is not moist enough to form a cohesive mass, add an additional 1⁄2 tablespoon of ice water, process briefly, and test again.

Turn the dough out onto a large piece of parchment paper and divide it in half. Form each half into a flat disk. Wrap a piece of parchment paper around each piece of dough to cover it, and refrigerate until chilled, 20 to 30 minutes.

To prepare the filling: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425˚.

Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and toss to coat. Transfer the florets to a rimmed baking sheet, arranging them so they don’t touch one another, and season generously with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Then flip the florets with a spatula and continue cooking until the cauliflower is tender and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Set the florets aside to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚.

Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. (The remaining dough may be refrig­erated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.) Open the parchment paper to a flat rectangle. If the dough was refrigerated for more than an hour, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes to soften slightly. 

Lightly dust a work surface and rolling pin with all-purpose flour. Roll the dough into an 11-inch round, and transfer it to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Line the tart shell with parchment, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and lift out the paper and pie weights. Lightly prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork, and return the baking sheet to the oven. Bake the pastry until it dries slightly and begins to take on a faint color, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, set the tart pan on a wire rack and allow the crust to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Then, carefully brush the bottom and sides of the pastry shell with the mustard. Set it aside at room temperature.

Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion slices and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften and cara­mel­ize, 30 to 40 minutes. Be patient and do this slowly: The onion should be golden, not brown.

While the onions are cooking, thinly slice the roasted cauliflower florets and set them aside.

Transfer the caramelized onions to the prebaked tart shell and spread them out in a thin layer. Top with the sliced roasted cauliflower. Transfer the tart pan to a rimmed baking sheet.

Combine the eggs, mascarpone, cream, white pepper and nutmeg in a medium-sized bowl, and whisk to combine. Stir in the Gruyére. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and onions in the tart shell, and sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Bake until the tart is puffed, set in the center, and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer the tart to a wire rack and let it cool for at least 15 minutes befores serving.

Makes one 9-inch tart.

Buckwheat Pasta with Tofu and Sesame Vegetables
The key to this recipe lies in having everything prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. This is a perfect budget-friendly recipe that’s great to remember when you need to make a dish for a potluck or a party.
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsps. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbsps. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. garlic powder
14 to 16 oz. firm tofu, drained and cut into 1⁄2-inch thick slices
2 Tbsps. kosher salt
8 oz. buckwheat (soba) noodles
3 Tbsps. plain sesame oil
3 Tbsps. minced shallots
1 Tbsp. finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 cups broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1⁄2-inch thick strips
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1⁄8-inch thick rounds
1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1⁄8-inch thick slices
salt to taste
2 tsps. sesame seeds, toasted

Place the soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, toasted sesame oil, ginger and garlic powder in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the slabs of tofu and let marinate for 5 minutes.

Heat a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat and add the tofu (reserving the bowl of marinade). Cook on one side until browned, about 2 minutes, Then turn the tofu over with a spatula and cook until browned on the other side.

Transfer the tofu to a cutting board and cut into 3⁄4-inch cubes. Return the tofu to the bowl containing the marinade.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large covered pot over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and stir in the noodles. Cook according to the package directions until al dente, about 7 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the plain sesame oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Then add the broccoli, bell pepper, carrot and zucchini and stir-fry until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Cover the skillet and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, another 2 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the noodles and add them to the tofu.

Season the vegetable mixture with salt, and add it to the tofu and pasta. Toss to combine, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

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