Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: vegetables (page 1 of 10)

BERENJENA RELLENA (Stuffed Eggplant)

This recipe is the Nuyorican way of making stuffed eggplant. Eggplant is a popular vegetable in our culture.. We prepare it fried, stewed, baked, and, as in this dish, stuffed. What makes our dish different is that we stuff it with seafood. Specifically, crabmeat, conch meat or shrimp.  This goes back to life on the island of Puerto Rico, where seafood was a major component of the diet. And it transferred to when we migrated to the mainland. And, we did substitute some changes. In Spanish Harlem, our family, when times were lean, would stuff the eggplant with canned tuna and, you know what, it tasted just as good.

Th recipe itself is simple enough. Just mixed the eggplant pulp with the crabmeat, bread crumbs and seasonings and stuff the eggplant shell. Note that the seasonings include  aji dulce. Think of small chili peppers that are sweet. Aji in Spanish means ‘chili pepper’ and dulce means ‘sweet’ Some may consider this a contradiction in terms but, it is what it is. These peppers are popular in Latin American and Caribbean cuisine and can be found in Latino food markets and, even online.

This dish is not your usual stuffed eggplant recipe as in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cooking. As stated, this is our Nuyorican version and, as delicious as they come. Enjoy.

(Stuffed Eggplant)


1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup water
I pound crabmeat (canned is okay)
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
3 aji dulce (sweet chili pepper), seeded and chopped
6 fresh cilantro leaves, washed and chopped
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop our inner pulp but do not pierce outer shell. Save pulp.
3. Pour water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add eggplant pulp and steam, covered, until soft. Drain, remove pulp and mash thoroughly.
4. In a large bowl, combine pulp, crabmeat, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, aji dulce, cilantro and eggs.
5. Brush inside of eggplant shells with olive oil. Stuff shells with crabmeat mixture. Dot each shell with a teaspoon of butter and bake for ½ hour.
Yield: 4 servings.











When I’m looking for an exceptional mushroom dish, I always go to Baked Mushrooms. It’s not the normal way to prepare the fame fungi. Yes, mushrooms are an organism belonging to the fungi kingdom.  That being said, my favorite recipe for baked mushroom is the French classic: Champignons au Four. It is simply a mix of mushrooms, salt pork (also known as fatback), parsley and scallions. Let me add that, if you’re not partial to salt pork, you can always substitute bacon but, it will not render the same flavor or texture. Proceed as you think best.  Our usual accompaniment to this dish is plain boiled rice; but you can serve it with your preferred grain or even pasta. This time around we paired it with couscous, and it was marvelous.

As to the mushrooms, the recipe calls for small  white mushrooms. We tried it with small Portobello, and it came out just as good. Keep in mind it has to be small, whole mushroom. If you want to use large mushroom, sliced or cut up, you’re welcomed to try. if you want to experiment, go right ahead.

I’ve had this recipe for years hidden away in one of my desk drawers. How I got it, I can’t recall. It does serve its purpose when I want an out of the ordinary mushroom dish. It makes for a great vegetarian meal that everyone, vegetarian or not, will love.



1 pound small mushrooms, washed and patted dry with paper towels
¼ pound salt pork, rinsed, diced, blanched in boiling water for 5 minters and drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg
8 sprigs parsley, main stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degree F.
  2. Mix the mushrooms, salt pork, butter, chopped parsley, scallions, salt and pepper together. Put the mixture into an ovenproof dish (we prefer cast iron). Place in oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until mushrooms, salt pork and scallions are lightly browned.
  3.  Just before serving, fry the parsley sprigs in the oil and use them to garnish the dish.
    Yield: 3-4 servings.



Thanksgiving is over. Now comes the hard part: what to do with the turkey leftovers. You could make mayo and tomato sandwiches for days. Or you can buck up and make something palatable and delicious with the bird remains. Below we give four recipes that will make your turkey meat leftovers glorious. You can serve each over rice or pasta—like in the Turkey Stir-Fry where it is paired with hot noodles. Family and friends will come over just to have the leftovers. In each case, the portions amount to four or more servings.


Note that this is my version of leftover turkey curry. If you want to add other ingredients like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves or ginger to give it a more Indian or Asian flavor, go right ahead.

1/2 stick butter
½ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 cups leftover turkey meat cut into 1/2-inch chunks or pieces
Salt to taste

  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook briefly until combined and starting to bubble, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let the flour darken.
  2. Pour chicken broth into flour mixture. Whisk to combine until smooth. Here, you can adjust for thickness: cook, whisking, until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Or If you want it thinner, add more broth.
  3. Add curry powder and stir to blend. Stir in turkey meat. Add salt and cook until heated, and serve. Some folks like to add yogurt, about ½ cup, to the curry. Your choice.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly
2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 can (14 ½ oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 packet chicken granules
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups turkey meat, chopped or cut into ½-inch chunks or pieces

  1. Heat oil in a skillet or frypan. Add onions and cook over moderate until and translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Add undrained tomatoes, bouillon cube, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir in turkey meat and cook until bubbling.


2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into ¼-inch strips
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into ½-pieces (can use frozen but need to be thawed).
2 cups turkey meat, cut into chunks or ½-inch strips
½ cup scallions, chopped into ½-inch pieces
½ cup sliced bamboo shoots
½ cup sliced water chestnuts
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Pinch each of nutmeg and ground pepper

  1. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. In this case, serve over hot, cooked egg noodles.
    Note that there are no set rules for stir-frying. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.


1 cup rice
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1  clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon capers
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 cups turkey meet, chopped or shredded
4 cups water

  1. Place rice in 1 cup water and let it soak.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, oregano, capers and tomato sauce. Sauté over moderate heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain rice and add to pot. Stir to combine while gradually adding 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook on high heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add turkey meat, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes more or until rice is tender. Serve immediately.
    Note that this recipe will make a thick soup or stew. If you want it thinner, add more water as desired.

CALAMARES CON PIMIENTO (Squid with Bell Pepper)

It always amazes me the reaction I get from my Anglo brethren when the subject of squid as an edible comes up. It’s usually: “Yuk—Ugh–Ick!”—or another negative reaction. And this surprises me. In Latin American, Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine, squid is something that is treasured. Growing up in Spanish Harlem, we ate a lot of it. Mainly because it was cheap, and nutritious. And I still eat it regularly. Especially now when you can get cleaned and prepared squid in almost any market. Gone are the days when you had to clean the squid, remove the tentacles and mouth from the head;  pull out the innards; discard head and viscera and, finally, wash the inside of the body thoroughly. Yes, a time-consuming task. So, as a result, we eat squid more often, as with this classic recipe, Calamares con Pimento or Squid with Bell Pepper. In  this dish you can use any bell pepper type you like be it green pepper, yellow, red, or a combination of each.

For nomenclature purposes, bell peppers are also known as “pimentos.” In Spanish we call them pimientos. I’m told that in Australia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Pakistan they are know as   capsicum. Whatever terminology used, this recipe can’t be beat when bell peppers are coupled with squid. Let me add that when we cook this dish, we serve it over yellow rice. Bur you can pair it with whatever grain you like, be it quinoa, couscous, farro or even pasta. The beauty of this dish is in its versatility.

(Squid with Bell Pepper)


2 pound cleaned squid
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
8-oz. can tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon coriander  powder
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large frypan or skillet, heat the oil and add the garlic and onion. Sauté over medium and cook until onion is soft and translucent. Add the bell peppers and sauté for 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the body of the cleaned squid into ½-inch rings. Add the rings and tentacles (cut up) to the peppers and toss for 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the coriander and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
    Yield: 4 servings.


BROCOLI CON SALSA (Sauced Broccoli)

Back in the Barrio, when times were lean, Brocoli con Salsa was a cheapy weekday dinner. Basically it’s broccoli cooked with tomato sauce and spices. Depending on where you came from, it was also called Brocoli Guisado (stewed broccoli). Normally, in our family, we served it with rice. Once in a while we substituted spaghetti for the rice. In the version given below we served it with penne pasta and black olives, topped with grated cheese. Let me add you can substitute any preferred pasta be it noodles or shells. Your choice. The dish makes for an inexpensive and filling vegetarian dinner that even carnivores will love. We’ve come a long ways from Spanish Harlem but this dish, then and now, is a winner. With some crusty bread and a good wine, preferably Chianti, it can’t be beat.

Note that this dish includes that archetypical Puerto Rican flavoring, sofrito. Today you can find sofrito in almost any store or supermarket. It’s become ubiquitous. In our family, we still make it from scratch. If you need a good recipe, you can go to my post of 11/08/10, or my video on Spanish Rice (07/11/14). If all else fails, then substitute 2 teaspoons turmeric and add a chicken bouillon cube to the sauce.

(Sauced Broccoli)


1 bunch fresh broccoli
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
9 whole black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2½  cups tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sofrito
½ cup black olives, halved
Grated Parmesan cheese or cheese of choice


  1. Wash broccoli under cold running water.
  2. Curt off the florets and chop the top half of the stems into small bite-sized pieces.
  3.  Put garlic, oregano, peppercorns and salt in a mortar. Pound with a pestle until crushed. Add olive oil and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add seasoning and broccoli to a large skillet or frying pan. Stir fry for 2 minutes over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons water and cook for 3 minutes more or until water evaporates.
  5.  Add tomato sauce and stir in sofrito. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover pan and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  6.  Add olives, stir to combine, and serve immediately with penne or rice. If using pasta, top with grated cheese.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.


This is my version of Irish Lamb Stew. And we serve it with parsley dumplings; which is nothing more than a variation on Puerto Rican domplines.  In my version of the stew, I eliminate the browning of the lamb. I just put all ingredients in the pot and let it cook until the lamb is tender. I found that this saves time and gives the stew a flavor all its own.



4 pounds lamb chuck, cut into cubes
2 carrots, washed, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 potatoes, quartered (wash but do not peel)
4 whole black peppercorns
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)


  1. Place lamb in a stew pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  2.  Skim foam from top. Lower heat and add remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered for 60 to 70 minutes or until lamb and vegetables are tender. Serve with parsley dumplings (see recipe below).
    Yield: 8 servings.



½ pound flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
Water as needed
½ cup minced parsley


  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and baking powder.
  2. Beat eggs and olive oil together and add to flour mixture. Stir until blended with enough water to make a soft dough, usually about half cup. Stir in parsley.
  3.  Form dumplings, using about a tablespoon of dough in palm of hand. Drop dumplings into pot of boiling water. Cook until they expand, about five minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with additional parley. Place on stew and enjoy.


This recipe is mainly stuffed tomatoes with an egg on top. Nothing  fancy, not hard to prepare, and delicious. We all know about stuffed bell peppers. Well, tomatoes stuffed with bread crumbs mixed with the pulp of the tomatoes and, finally, baked with eggs, is another glorious variant. With a good crusty loaf of bread, nothing could be simpler or more appetizing.



4 large tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon  fresh chopped marjoram or ½ teaspoon dried
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
¾ cup bread crumbs
4 eggs at room temperature
½ cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees  F.
  2. Cut out the tops of the tomatoes at the stem end and scoop out the pulp.
  3. Mix about 1/3 of the pulp with the onions, basil, thyme, marjoram and garlic. Add the bread crumbs and fill each tomato about half full.
  4.  Drop an egg into each tomatoes, cover with grated cheese. Arrange on a baking dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until eggs are set to a firm softness and the tomatoes are soft but not collapsing.
    Yield: 4 servings.


This recipe is Provençal in origin. Provence is  a region in southeastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s cuisine is known for its spices, especially that mix of thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf. known as “herbes de Provence.” Because of its location, it is also renown for its seafood.  And this is were Scallops with Tomatoes and Zucchini come in; a prime example of Provençal cooking.

Sea scallops are bigger than bay scallops. On average they measure five inches across the shell, and the thick meat they provide can be an inch and a half or more wide. That’s why in most sea scallops recipes, it’s prudent to slice the scallops horizontally. That way, the scallops cook faster and more evenly. For the recipe given, the cooking time for the scallops should be about three minutes total.

The vegetable base here is tomatoes and zucchini. The scallops are pre-cooked then added to the vegetables just before serving. Scallops and vegetables is a seafood dish that traditionally goes well with noodles or pasta. This time around, we paired it with couscous, and it was delicious.



1½ pound sea scallops
3 small zucchini, about ½ pound
4 small, ripe plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley


1, Halve each scallop crosswise  if ¾inch thick or more. Set aside.
2. Wash the zucchini. Trim the ends of the zucchini and slice thinly
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet or fry pan. Add zucchini, salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes over high heat, stirring and tossing. Remove zucchini to a plate and keep warm.
4. In the same skillet, heat remaining olive oil over high heat and sauté the scallops about a minute. Season with salt and pepper while stirring.
4. Add butter, shallots and garlic. Cook briefly, add tomatoes and  and cook for a minute more. Add the zucchini, lemon juice and rosemary. Cook, stirring, for a minute over high heat. Blend well, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings.


This past Labor Day we did what countless other Americans did, we barbecued. In this case, it was grilled kebabs (or kebob, if you want). This is a very straight-forward meal. When we cook kebabs, we brush the meat with an olive oil-cumin mixture. You can also add ground dried chili if you want to spice it up a bit.  In addition, we added some chopped cilantro leaves for garnish.

When we grill kebabs, we prefer lamb; but you can use beef or pork, if that’s your desire. In case you get rained-out, or the weather is not cooperative, the dish can also be prepared by broiling indoors. Either way, have fun.



1 pound lamb or other meat, cut into chunks
1 pound cherry tomatoes or bigger tomatoes cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 coarsely ground dried chili, optional
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leave


  1. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 10 minutes. Heat a charcoal or gas grill. If you are using charcoal or briquettes, be generous, you want a broad fire.
  2.  Thread meat and vegetables alternately on skewers. Mix olive oil and cumin, and brush on the meat and vegetables. Sprinkle with half of the chili and some salt and pepper. Let the kebabs sit while grill heats up.
  3.  When fire is hot but not scorching, place kebabs on grill. Brush them with the olive oil-cumin mix  once or twice as they cook. Grill until they begin to brown and become tender, about 10-15 minutes. Place on a serving  platter and sprinkle with remaining chili. Sprinkle with cilantro for garnish, and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


COLIFLOR A LA ESPAÑOLA (Spanish Cauliflower)

The Spanish table does things does amazing things with vegetables. In this case Coliflor a la Española, or Spanish Cauliflower. Let’s be honest, you either love or hate cauliflower or just bypass it at the table for something more appetizing. This dish makes cauliflower sexy! It brings to the lowly veggie a taste and flavor you never knew existed. My wife, who is no fan of cauliflower, called this the best cauliflower dish she’s ever had. And that’s high praise indeed coming from someone who would never countenance cauliflower in a meal. Plus the dish is really easy to make: tender cauliflower, with garlic and parsley braised in olive oil, and chopped eggs sprinkled on top. That’s it. With a good crusty loaf of bread, a good light wine (red or white), and you’ve got a great meal that vegetarians and non-vegetarians will love,

As is the norm in Spanish cuisine, we served this dish with yellow rice; but you can substitute couscous, quinoa or farro, if desired.

(Spanish Cauliflower)


1 cauliflower, rinsed, trimmed and divided into florets
Salt to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley


  1. Boil cauliflower florets  in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
  2. While cauliflower is cooking, heat olive oil in  small heavy skillet and fry garlic and parsley until crisp.
  3.  Drain cauliflower, place in a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped egg; then sprinkle with garlic/parsley mix, and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


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