Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: vegetables (page 1 of 8)

PERSIAN RICE WITH PIGEON PEAS

PERSIAN RICE WITH PIGEON PEAS

I got this recipe years ago from a former co-worker when I was a wage slave. For full  disclosure: I included the recipe in my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Running Press) since I needed additional rice recipes at the time. I titled the recipe Arroz de Persa (Persian Rice), and it is the same recipe we are doing today. In that dish I noted that, following my Nuyorican influence, I like to add peas to the rice, and sometimes olives and pimentos. This time around I experimented with it and added canned pigeon peas. Arroz con Gandules, rice and pigeon peas, is one of the staples in Puerto Rican cooking. So I thought I’d do the same with Persian Rice. I guess you could call this a fusion dish. Whatever, it’s delicious. Note that, if you can’t find pigeon peas, you can substitute a package of frozen green peas,

This entrée would make a great side dish to any meal, be it beef, chicken or pork. In this instance, we serve it with salmon.

PERSIAN RICE WITH PIGEON PEAS

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup vermicelli or thin spaghetti, broken up into 1-2 inch pieces
Water or chicken broth
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup rice
1 15-ounce can pigeon peas, drained

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet or saucepan. Add vermicelli and stir-fry until golden brown.
  2. Add water or broth to cover by ¼ inch, and salt. Add rice and mix well.
  3. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add pigeon peas and stir to combine. Cover again and simmer another 10 minutes.
    Yield: 4 servings.

LASAGNA ROLL UPS

Lasagna roll ups have been around for a while. But I never considered them until recently. They are easier to prepare than regular lasagna; and you can use as many lasagna noodles as needed for any given meal. That makes them a dish worth trying, and enjoying on a regular basis.

Now, there are recipes that call for making them with just 9 lasagna noodles, or 10. I would suggest, in this case, use a 9″x9″ baking dish. In my rendition I used a whole one pound package of lasagna. As for  the baking pan, I used a standard size (15½”x10″); and  it held 13 roll-ups. The rest I used in another recipe which entail stuffing the noodles with baked, flaked fish  fillets. That’s the beauty of this recipe. You can stuff the noodles with meat, veggies or seafood. You are only limited by your imagination. With some crusty bread and a good chianti, you have a good but inexpensive banquet.

LASAGNA ROLL UPS

Ingredients:

1 pound package lasagna noodles
2 10-ounce packages frozen spinach
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil (and more for topping)
Pinch of black pepper
2 cups marinara sauce (and more for topping)

Instructions:

  1. Boil lasagna noodles and cook until just soft enough for rolling (soft but not soggy, about 12-15 minutes). When they are done, drain in  a colander.
  2.  While noodles are cooking, prepare the filling. Thaw the packs of frozen spinach in a microwave and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. In a bowl, combine and mix well the spinach with the garlic, basil, black pepper and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
  3.  When the noodles and filling are ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare  a baking dish or glass casserole by coating lightly with olive oil or butter.
  4.  Remove noodles from water, and lay side by side on a clean surface. Spread about 1/4 cup of the spinach-cheese mixture on top of each noodle. Roll up each noodle, making sure nothing squishes out in the process.
  5.  Spread about 1/4 – 1/3 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with more marinara, then sprinkle with the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. When fully cooked, remove from oven and top with fresh chopped basil.
    Yield: 6 servings

SOY SAUCE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

In my young manhood, a close friend was Eddie Hor. Let me state that Eddie was bigger than life. He was a recontour, ladies’ man and an exceptional cook. Until I met Eddie, I was never a fan of brussels sprouts. But he made me a convert to the edible bud (which is considered a leaf cabbage). Eddie simply sautéed the vegetable in soy sauce. Something so simple and direct—and it changes the whole flavor of the sprouts. Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe by adding onion and garlic. It makes for a great vegetarian entrée or side dish to any meal. In the Rivera clan we prefer to serve it over steamed rice, either white or brown rice. It also goes great with couscous, quinoa, or even kasha.

SOY SAUCE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Ingredients:

1½ pounds brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into rings
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup soy sauce

Instructions:

  1. Wash and trim the brussels sprouts. Run under cold water, removing any yellow leaves. Then, cut off the stems to help them cook.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts and onion and sauté, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes until sprouts are golden brown. Add garlic and soy sauce and cook 2 minutes more, making sure the brussels sprouts are coated with the soy sauce. If the soy sauce starts to evaporate, you can add more sauce to taste. Serve immediately over rice.
    Yield: 4 servings.

PORTOBELLOS AND POTATOES

I love meaty portobello mushrooms. Yet, to my experience, the basic portobello rendering is as in hamburgers, using the mushroom instead of hamburger meat.  Yes, nestled between a bun, or two slices of bread, or even a muffin, it is a satisfying meal.  But there’s got to be more to portobellos than just as a faux hamburger. And that gave me the idea of mixing the mushrooms’ with potatoes. The result: a good homey dish. Along with some good crusty bread to mop up the  garlicky mushroom juices, it makes for a great vegetarian entrée; one that even meat lovers will love.

PORTOBELLOS AND POTATOES

Ingredients:

1 pound portobello mushrooms (about 4-5 large ones)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced crosswise, about 1/8-inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound small red potatoes (do not peel)
1 cup water
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Instructions:

  1. Rinsed mushrooms under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 3/4-inch cubes.
  2. In an 8 or 9 inch skillet or flameproof casserole with cover, combine mushrooms, garlic and oil. Place over medium heat and when mushrooms begin to cook, stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Cover pan and let cook on low heat for 5 minutes, at which point the mushrooms should be quite dark.
  3.  Meanwhile, scrub potatoes and cut into pieces roughly the same size as the mushrooms. Add potatoes to the pan along with the water, salt and pepper. Cover pan and cook at slow simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes, until potatoes are very tender. Gently stir in the parsley and mint. Simmer, uncovered, 1 minute more, and serve.
    Yield: Serves 2 or 3 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer, side dish or omelet filling.

PESTO EGGPLANT

Even towards the end of summer, there’s lots of fresh basil around in every farmer’s market and greengrocer. Naturally, this brings pesto to mind. It happens we also had this beautiful eggplant fresh from a garden. So I got the bright idea of creating a Pesto Eggplant recipe. The result was nothing less than fabulous; and the recipe is given below. With some crusty bead and a good white wine, or light red (like a Bardolino, Gamay, or Valpolicella), this dish is a winner. You can also serve it over your favorite grain (like rise or couscous), or even over pasta. You won’t be disappointed.

PESTO EGGPLANT

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (about 1½ pounds), washed, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoons fresh leaf oregano, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried

Pesto Sauce

4 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
½  to 1 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Drizzle olive oil over eggplant slices. Season with salt, pepper and oregano
  2.  Arrange eggplant slices in  large greased baking pan or dish (we prefer cast-iron). Note: If the dish or pan is not large enough, you may  have to layer eggplant slices on dish to accommodate all.
  3.  Bake until tender, about 35 minutes. Top with pesto and bake 5 minutes more.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

CREAMED SPINACH WITH SUMMER SQUASH

I’ve always like spinach, even when I was a young ‘un. Some people abhor spinach, and I’ve always wondered why? There is one exception: creamed spinach. Even the most recalcitrant youngster will gravitate towards it. Now that summer is in full bloom, and spinach is abundant, I like to experiment with the vegetable. Another thing that is abundant right now is summer, or yellow squash. Which got me thinking, why not combine the two? After all, both veggies have their own flavor profile. The result was delicious. Here it is, Creamed Spinach with Summer Squash. If, for some reason you can’t fund summer squash, zucchini will do just as well. We served this dish as supper over pasta (in our case, bucatini). But you can combine it with rice or any other preferred grain. It also goes beautifully with baked ham, chicken, veal or even, liver. Let me add that the dish may be garnished with sliced hard-boiled eggs.

CREAMED SPINACH WITH SUMMER SQUSH

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
1 medium yellow squash, washed and sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1¼ cups light cream
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 hard-boiled egg, for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and, with a wooden spoon, stir in the floor. This will  give you a light roux as a base for the sauce.
  2.  Return pan to heat, add the olive oil and stir in the onion and yellow squash. Sauté for about 3 minutes until onion and squash are soft. Gradually add the cream, stirring constantly over moderate heat until thickened.  Add spinach and dill. Cook, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper, and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM BURGERS REDUX

On 09/08/20 I posted a recipe on grilled portobello mushroom burgers. In that dish, the mushrooms were marinated in a mix of Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper; and they were topped with mayonnaise. I’m always experimenting with portobello’s since they are the closest vegetable to beef burgers in terms of taste and texture. The new recipe featured below I call Portobello Burgers Redux. In this outing, the marinade is a combination of soy sauce, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, plus the option of adding hot sauce. It’s a very simple recipe and you can add whatever topping you want to the mushroom burger, be it tomato, lettuce, scallions or avocado.

What’s convenient about this dish is that you can grill it, broil it or, as we did it, in a skillet atop the stove, cooked in a some olive oil (about 3 tablespoons). Either method will render a terrific tasting veggie burger.

PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM BURGERS REDUX

Ingredients:

Marinade:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 clove garlic, peeled and minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
hot sauce to taste (optional)

4 large portabello mushrooms caps
4 large hamburger buns
4 slices cheese (Swiss or  Muenster)

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients together. Place each mushroom in another bowl, gill side up. Pour ½ of the marinade over each mushroom, pouring a little in the bottom of the bowl first, to wet the upside down cap, and the remainder into the upturned cap. Marinate for  five-10 minutes. Do not marinate longer as the mushrooms will absorb too much marinade.
  2. Grill mushrooms on a gas or charcoal grill, a wood fire, under the broiler or, as we did it, in a hot skillet on the stovetop. Two-three minutes per side will usually do, or until mushrooms are brown and tender. If desired, add a slice of cheese on top during the last minute of cooking. Serve on burger buns with toppings.
    Yield: 4 servings.

BROCCOLI WITH BLACK OLIVES

I’m old enough to remember when George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, loudly proclaimed on TV, “I hate broccoli.” I must say, that was an ill-conceived comment. Somewhere in some prep school, someone must have forced the vegetable on him and this was the result. And I know that a lot of kids (and adults) most likely share his view. Which is shame. Broccoli is not only healthy but, when prepared well, it can be quite tasty. Unlike the late President, I am a proponent of broccoli. Always have been, even as a boy back during the Punic Wars.

The recipe given today emphasizes this ethos. It’s simple but delicious. Broccoli does not have to be smothered in a sauce to make it palatable. This unusual way of serving broccoli turns it into a savory dish. The broccoli is combined with black olives, onion, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Green olives may be used instead of black, but black olives give it a more contrasting color which makes the dish more interesting. Served over rice (or your favorite grain), this dish makes a great vegetarian dinner, which even non-veggies will like. It can also be served as an accompaniment to grilled/broiled steaks or pork chops.

BROCCOLI WITH BLACK OLIVES

Ingredients:

1½ pound broccoli
1¼ cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small-to-medium onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Salt and black ground pepper taste
¾ cup pitted black olives, halved
4-5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Wash the broccoli, remove the leaves and break the florets into fairly large bunches.
  2.  In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil, and add the broccoli. Cover the pan and cook the broccoli for 10 minutes over moderate-high heat. Drain the broccoli.  Reserve the water in which the broccoli was cooked.
  3.  In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the oil over low heat. Add the broccoli and season with salt and pepper. Cook the broccoli for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add some of the water in which the broccoli was cooked if the pan gets too dry.
  4.  Add the olives to the pan and  cook for another 2 minutes. Place the broccoli and olives in a warm serving dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.

CAULIFLOWER WITH TOMATOES AND CHEESE

This is a scrumptious vegetarian dinner that can also serve as a side dish or an accompaniment to chops or omelets. And it requires minimal preparation. Even the kids, those who hates veggies, will love this one. Cauliflower with Tomatoes and Cheese will satisfy every palate in the house, especially a hungry palate.

CAULIFLOWER WITH TOMATOES AND CHEESE

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
1 large cauliflower, trimmed, washed and separated into florets
6 tomatoes, blanched and roughly chopped
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
½ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons grated Swiss cheese

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Lightly grease a large shallow pan, skillet or casserole with the tablespoon of butter. Set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, cook  the cauliflower in boiling water over moderate heat for 9 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Drain the florets and place in the pan. Arrange the chopped tomatoes on top and sprinkle with salt, pepper and half of the melted butter.
4. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and Swiss cheeses and sprinkle the mixture over the vegetable pieces. Spoon the remaining melted butter over the mixture and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4-6 servings.

 

APPLE BUTTER PEAS

This recipe intrigued me solely because it contains apple butter. To me, apple butter is for breakfast, on toast or on pancakes. But with peas? As a side dish or main vegetarian course? This I had to check out. And it’s a marvelous combination. The recipe also calls for roasted pumpkin seeds. So, it’s very healthy, another plus.

The dish can be served with rice, or your favorite grain. This time around we served it with tostones (friend green plantains – check post of 09/29/09 for a recipe).

APPLE BUTTER PEAS

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound frozen or fresh shelled peas
½ cup water
½ cup apple butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Instructions:

  1. Heat butter in a skillet or pan. Add onion, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2.  Add peas and water. Sauté until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the apple butter and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
  3.  Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.
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