Thursday, September 2, 2010
ITALIAN STUFFED VEGGIES AND GRAPE FOCACCIA
Grape Focaccia warm out of the oven!
We had a bit of an Italian day yesterday (and this morning)-- culinarily speaking, I mean (is that even a word?). I don't have alot of time to cook lately, working on The Book, and also anticipating cooking for 11 people over the weekend, as 2 of my daughters and their families are coming for a long weekend visit. But yesterday we had some mushrooms to use up and some lovely greenhouse green peppers grown by one of our neighbors up the road, so I pulled out my own vegan Italian cookbook "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" to look for ideas. I was quickly reminded of how delicious the stuffed vegetable recipe was-- hadn't made it for eons! It was faster to make than I'd remembered, too, and in 45 minutes we were sitting down to lovely hot stuffed peppers and mushrooms (recipe below), roasted new potatoes, and a green salad.
Just before bed, I mixed up a small batch of no-knead olive oil dough (1/4 of the recipe in "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day"-- I added a bit more water than they called for). We had visited my mother in Courtenay the day before and snitched a few purple grapes from the arbor in the entrance of her assisted living home, Abbeyfield House. I thought of grape focaccia the minute I saw them and couldn't help myself!
The dough was supposed to rise for 2 hours before I put it into the refrigerator, but I was going to bed, so I put it out on the front porch in a covered bowl-- I figured it was cool enough so that it wouldn't rise too fast, but not so cool that it wouldn't really get going. Evidently the dough is very versatile, because it worked just fine when I baked it this morning! For the topping, I sliced the grapes in half, crushed them a little over the patted-out dough, sprinkled it with organic sugar, rose it for 20 minutes, and baked it at 475 degrees F for about 20 minutes (50 degrees higher than the recipe indicated). This is the most divine treat--so simple and fresh-- you have to try it! Use any focaccia dough you prefer, such as this dough.
Well, I'd better get back to work. Here's the stuffed vegetable recipe!
Italian Stuffed Green Peppers and Mushrooms
BRYANNA’S VEGAN VERDURE IMBOTTITI (STUFFED VEGETABLES)
Serves 4 (From my book “Nonna’s Italian Kitchen”)
Stuffed vegetables are a favorite all around the Mediterranean, and there are many types of fillings-- breadcrumb, meat, fish, rice, vegetables. The following stuffing is our favorite and combines all of these elements (vegan, of course!), including the use of miso in place of the ubiquitous anchovy.
We use this is in roasted peppers (any color), parboiled onions, eggplant, or zucchini (or other summer squash), and also in tomatoes and mushrooms. For a buffet dinner, you might like to multiply this stuffing recipe several times and present a tray of various stuffed vegetables. They are delicious hot, or at room temperature. This recipe also makes an excellent antipasto dish.
Vegetables: choose one or mix them up!
4 large bell peppers (any color), cut in half vertically and seeded
OR 2 medium zucchini (or other summer squash), cut in half lengthwise, with the middle hollowed out somewhat (save the hollowed-out bits)
OR 2 medium-small eggplants, or 4 smaller ones, left whole
OR about 8 medium onions, peeled and left whole
OR about 16 large (not giant) mushrooms, stemmed (save stems)
OR 4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed (discard stems)
OR about 8 medium firm ripe unpeeled tomatoes (not plum type)
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1/4 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
Any edible trimmings, insides, or stems of the vegetables to be stuffed, chopped
1/2 c. cooked rice, any kind
1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs, preferably wholegrain
1/2 c. vegetarian "burger" or "sausage", crumbled OR ground seitan of any kind OR chopped sauteed mushrooms (I used Field Roast Classic Meatloaf this time, ground in the food processor--and it was good!)
2 T. tomato paste
about 2 T. vegetarian broth
2 T. vegan Parmesan substitute
1 T. light soy or chickpea miso
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
In a large heavy nonstick skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, and any trimmings, etc. that you are using. Saute until the onions are soft and any liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350-400 degrees F (depending on the vegetable; see below).
If using peppers, you can grill them, if you have a grill, or simply place them on an oiled cookie sheet, brush or spray them with olive oil and place them under the broiler, about 3-4" from the heat source. Broil the outsides until they are blistered and slightly charred, and the insides until they are a bit juicy. Place them inside of a plastic or paper bag for a few minutes, then peel the skins off under cold running water.
If using zucchini (or other summer squash), boil or steam them for about 5-10 minutes, or until tender inside, but still firm on the outside. Drain well. Treat eggplants the same way, but leave them whole, just cutting off the top stem. After boiling, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out hollows in the pulp, leaving a lining of "flesh" inside the skin. Save the pulp for the filling.
If using onions, boil them for about 10 minutes, cool under cold running water, and cut a slice from the top end. Remove most of the insides, leaving about a 3/4" shell.
If using tomatoes, cut a slice from the top and scoop out asll but the firm outer shell.
If using mushrooms (either kind), choose firm unbroken ones and they need only be stemmed and cleaned.
When your vegetables are prepared, fill them with the stuffing and place them, stuffing-side-up in an oiled pan, fairly close together. You can bake them "as-is", or sprinkle the tops with vegan Parmesan substitute, breadcrumbs, or olive oil, or spread a little tomato sauce over the tops. A little bit of water, vegetable cooking water, vegetarian broth, or wine should be poured around the vegetables, to keep them from scorching. (I used some chopped juicy tomato, which wasn't particularly tasty, for the moisture.) With the mushrooms and eggplant, this should only be a few tablespoons.
Bake the peppers and eggplant at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes; the zucchini at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes; the onions at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes; the mushrooms at 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes; and the tomatoes at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.
Serve hot, plain, or drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, or with a hot tomato sauce; or at room temperature, plain or drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.