Vegetarians and the Holidays! Lots to EAT!

For many voddies, the “hardest” time to manage our eating is during  the Holidays—not because we want to eat meat, but because those who do can’t quite understand how we could ever  give up all the wonderful traditional holiday treats.  Becuase they  care  and our curious they  badger us  about :

1.  What they should make for us (since our diet is “limited”)?

2.  How we can stand it?

Most of this is just innocent discourse but because eating is why we write, I have an exercise for you. 

Take a moment and write down all the holiday food that you enjoy or could enjoy that is sans meat.  The list should not be meat substitites (tofurkey anyone?) but rather traditional food, good food, that doesn’t have meat. 

In order to keep this authentic,  the list  I have below is holiday food that is reflective of my culture, which is Puerto Rican.  Meat and seafood are central components of Puerto Rican fare—in fact, like in most cultures, a big meat dish (in our case, pernil = roasted pork shoulder) is what makes a Christmas, Navidad.    But when I went through this exercise I found a whole lot more that I could eat, without the pernil. 

If a little tiny island like Puerto Rico can have some many options, I am certain your family too can have wonderful, scrumpstous, and filling food that will make us remember the holidays a good time to eat.

Here is the list

 1.  Pasteles de habichuelas  (http://www.boricua.com/2006_Issues/November/Pasteles_Video.html0

2.  Arroz con Gandules (Rice and Beans)

3.  Yuca con Cebolla (Cassasava with Sauteed Onions)

4.  Monfongo con Ajo (Plantatian Heaven)

5.  Dulce de Coco (Candied coconut)

6.  Pastelitos de Guayaba (Guava tarts)

7.  Coquito (Puerto Rican Eggnog–lots of rum)

8. Ensalada de Papa (Carribean Style Potatoe Salad)

9.  Vianda con Aciete y Vejetales (Root Vegetables Dish)

10.  Arroz Con Dulce (Rice “Pudding”)

These are just ten items….but I could go on!

To learn more about  Holiday Vegeterian Food and Food from Puerto Rico, the links below are especially helpful.

 

Happy Holiday!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuisine_of_Puerto_Rico

http://vegetariancuisine.suite101.com/article.cfm/vegetarian_holiday_foods_to_keep_onhand

Posted in holiday, Latin Food, Puerto Rican, puerto rico, vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

asparagus

i love asparagus, i have no idea when i started eating it, since it is something that i did not grow up eating at all.in fact , i think i was in my twenties when i first actually tried, and it was quickly become one of my favorites all time vegetables.

 asparagus have a bite to them, they are strong in your mouth, and don’t just fall apart.  many people would call them woodsy.  i just call them damm good.

i have had asparagus all sorts of way, below is absolutely my favorite.  a little salty, and with a splash of lime…and best of all easy as ice to make.  here is goes my ode to asparagus.

 Ingredients

Asparagus (as much or as little as you like)

A little bit of olive oil

One lime

Salt and Pepper

Instructions

1.  Heat a pan to high  (I like pans grill pans the best)

2.  Take your asparagus and cover them lightly with olive oil

3.  Place asparagus on pan;  you should hear a sizzle.  Let the asparagus relax in the pan.

4.  Shake them about when that asparagus look like they have gotten some color, both bright green, and dark spots from the heat.

5.  Take a wedge of lime ans splash on top.

6.  Do this for about five minutes…

7.  Add salt and pepper, some more lime to taste  and voila…..perfectly made asparagus!

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Rice and Peas/ Rice and Beans

Let’s start with the classic rice and beans dish that most voodies  and foodies love:  Rice and Beans.

Now forget all the images of tasteless sticky filler stuff you get at most Mexican joints, or fast food places.  The best, most fullfilling, and tastiest rice and beans comes from the Carribean, most specifically Puerto Rico and Jamaica.   You will need two special items that can found in most grocery stores, if you can’t find them, any decent voodie would move!  They are sofrito (frozen) and coconut milk (canned). 

Sofrito is heaven.  It’s a type of relish/sauce that is made up of cilantro, culantro, carribean peppers, onions, and salt and pepper.  It’s used to season rice, beans, soups, stews, and pretty much anything you want.   I even put it on tofu!  The best sofrito is homemade, but frozen ones will do.  I have posted a link to to a recipe below.  Word to the wise, sofrito should NOT be eaten raw. Period.

Coconut milk is used as a substitute for water. The coconut milk, which is optional, adds a nice sweetness that kicks in after some bites.    If you don’t like coconut milk, you don’t have to use it.  I tend to use a bit of it when I make rice and peas (that is the Jamaican kind).

The thing about Carribean rice and beans is that it has enough taste to stand up on its own.  It is flavorful, spicy (not hot) and savory.  It is not white rice, with canned beans.  There is a level of layering flavors that is uniquely carribean.  If your palette is well developed you will be able to taste all the ingredients and be pleasantly surprised.  In fact, in some ways rice is like tofu, it can absorb the flavors you put into it, if you know how cook it well.  And give yourself some room to mess up, cooking this kind of rice often is like a dance.  The more you cook it, the better it comes out, and the least you have to think about it.

The recipes below are good for the those of us who are starting.

You know you have cooked it well, when you don’t want to stop eating it.   There many people who love these dishes so much that they can eat rice and beans out of bowl, fully satisfied, as a meanl.    Howerver, most people consider rice and beans a side dish….so for our foodie friends, don’t serve rice and beans to vegeterains and think it is a meal, it’s not.  Would you like to eat rice and beans full meal, probablly not.  Add a few side dishes  like a nice fresh salad, yuca, or platanos, and everyone will be fully satisfied.

When making the dishes below—-make note to the following

1.  DO NOT OVER STIR THE RICE:  The biggest mistake that ameturs make is that they stir the rice.  The result is a hot sticky mess.  That may work out when eating Asian style rice, but it is a big no  no when eating carribean.  I say give your self a three stir limit.  That’s it, no mas.

2.  BEANS:  If you use canned beans, which I do without hesittion, wash the beans throughly before you put them in the rice.  I find a good wash get’s rid of the metallic taste that many people often sense.  If you are going to use dried beans, you have to soak them overnight and do all sorts of things which will go on for hours.  Dry beans do taste better in the long run, but that requires a recepie forthcoming on a different post.

3.  Good Rice TAKES TIME:   When cooking rice…. make the rice first, since it takes about forty minutes to cook well.  That’s right forty minutes.  Remember, were are talking Carribean rice and bean here, not the plain old thing most of us are use to it.  It is a common mistake to to cook the rice last, which means everyone will be waiting to eat, and the rice won’t be done.  Start with the rice.

Happy eating everyone!

http://whttp://www.elboricua.com/RicanChef_Arroz%20Con%20Gandules.htm

ww.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1950,153174-230203,00.html

http://www.caribbeanseeds.com/sofrito.htm

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