My nine-year-old grandson, Leo, is staying with us this week. He recently announced himself as “vegetarian.” Although he’s not a strict fundamentalist about it, he’s mainly not eating meat, poultry or fish. So, I planned the week’s menus to honor his inclinations.Here’s what I’m cooking. Most of these entrees are by no means Spanish (the quesadillas are made with Mexican tortillas), but they are all made using Spanish ingredients—olive oil instead of other vegetable oil, pimentón (paprika) as a favored seasoning, Spanish cheeses (semi-cured Manchego is an all-round good one), piquillo peppers.
|Quesadillas--smoked pimentón stands in for chorizo flavor.|
|Melted cheese, oregano, give a pizza flavor to stuffed zucchini.|
|Huevos fritos, patatas fritas--a kid favorite.|
Wednesday. Huevos fritos, papas fritas y pisto. Fried eggs, potatoes and vegetable pisto, a Spanish kid’s favorite supper. My son Ben did the cooking. I gotta say, he makes the best fries in the world, crisped in olive oil. We had huevos del campo, free-range country eggs. Pisto is a vegetable medley, a sofrito, with zucchini, onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes fried in olive oil.
|Rava dosas--crêpes--and curried vegetables.|
|Best burger--it's juicy, with "meaty" texture.|
Serve the burgers on toasted buns with eggplant fries (dust eggplant strips with flour and fry until golden in olive oil) and cole slaw with olive oil dressing. Leo likes his burger and fries with brand-name mayonnaise and ketchup. I like them with sauces such as mojo verde, green chili sauce, recipe here, and salsa de piquillos, piquillo pepper "ketchup" (recipe below). Without the mayo, this is another vegan menu.
Best-Ever Veggie Burgers
Makes 6 burgers.
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped carrots
½ cup finely chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms
½ cup TVP or coarse, dry breadcrumbs
1 cup drained, cooked or canned pinto beans
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon smoked pimentón
Additional olive oil to fry the burgers
Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the carrots, onions, garlic and mushrooms until softened. Stir in the TVP. Set aside to cool.
Use a food processor to grind together the beans and rice with the salt and pimentón. Transfer to a bowl and add the vegetables from the skillet. Use the hands to mix all together.
Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions. Flatten them into patties and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or, covered with plastic wrap, up to 6 hours.
Brush a pan with oil and fry the burgers until they are browned and crisped on both sides and heated through.
Salsa de Pimientos de Piquillo
Piquillo Pepper “Ketchup”
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cayenne or pimentón picante
½ teaspoon salt
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth and creamy.
Saturday. That’s today! Falafel with pita bread, tahina sauce, roasted eggplant purée (baba ganoush) and tabouleh made with cous cous grains. Another vegan menu—although I sometimes add a fresh yogurt-cucumber sauce.
Sunday. Broccoli quiche with a starter of fresh artichokes with mayonnaise—Leo’s favorite. I use store-bought pastry dough for the quiche, so it’s easy to assemble. However, as the temperature tomorrow is supposed to soar over 30ºC (90ºF), I may change my mind about turning on the oven. Perhaps it will be a crustless microwave “quiche.”