I was thinking about how I enjoy vegetarian cooking, because I see it as a challenge. I eat meats, but Blokey does not, so cooking vegetarian is about getting a good balance of flavors without resorting to sugar, fat or oversalting the ingredients (also known as the American processed food sucker punch).
The thing about veggie food is you need non-meat, non-uber processed substitutions for the savoriness meat provies. This can be olives, sauteed mushrooms, carmelized onions (carmelization in general is a great flavor booster), a small amount of strong cheese/dairy (stinkier the better, use a microplaner/zester to avoid too much fat), soy sauce, browned bread, and sour flavors (lemon or a good vinegar help to bring out flavors without too much salt). A little heat also helps.
This meal is great because it incorporates a lot of these flavor enhancers and avoids the usual short cuts. The pita is lightly browned, the soup and pate uses faux carmelized onions, vinegar and sour vegetables. I add no sugar, there's not too much fat, little salt, and lots of fiber and greens. I used up some of the ingredients leftover from our winter CSA share: potatoes, leeks, salad greens (from the hothouse), as well as some out of season stuff that I wish we could get locally year round (but I am unwilling to move to a temperate climate to do so). I used buttermilk, which is getting to be a favorite ingredient of mine (it is less than $2 at the store, you guys!), which is healthful because it is cultured, which has a lot of benefits. You can substitute regular milk or plain yogurt (or a mixture of this) if you don't usually have buttermilk on hand. I also made some lentil pate, which I riff off of the one I used to buy the Wedge co-op in Minneapolis (minus the walnuts).
This meal also marks the return of the Kitchen Aid immersion blender, which I mangled my hand in about 2 weeks ago. It is healing relatively nicely.
I used this recipe for the pita, although I added a bit more olive oil this time.
Before cooking, I sauteed 1 1/2 large chopped onions and 4 or so chopped cloves of garlic in 2 Tbs of butter (and added water as necessary) over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes (and continued to stir ocassionally while copping other things).
looks pukey, tastes bitter-lovelySalad greens and Arugula potato leek Soup (roughly adapted from here)
about 1/2 of the carmelized onions
about 1/2 of a bag of wild arugla (approx 4 oz.)
handful of salad greens (mine had mustard greens in it)
2/3 c. of buttermilk
2-3 chopped and scrubbed potatoes
2 teas. of olive oil
2 leeks (the white and light green parts- I eat lot of it), well washed and sliced (I slice lengthwise once, and then chop into 1 cm long bits)
salt, pepper and paprika to taste
3 c. of water
handful of chopped parsley, washed (optional)
1) Sautee the leeks in olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. While this is cooking (about 5 minutes) roughly chop the salad greens. Add potatoes and the quasi carmelized onions.
2) After another 2-3 minutes of sauting the potatoes, add the water and increase the heat to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes (until potato can be pierced with fork, but before it gets mushy)
3) Add the salad greens and argula. Add buttermilk (it will curdle a bit and then turn into crazy delicious fresh cheese. Don't worry, we'll blend out the lumps). Simmer another 10 minutes.
4) Use the immersion blender to make it fairly creamy and get rid of most of the potato lumps. Salt, pepper, and add paprika and parlsey to taste.
the other half of the onions/garlic mixture
about 1 1/2 c. of dry lentils
5-8 baby bella mushrooms
1/4 c. of roughly chopped and washed parsley
1 Tbs. of dried oregano
1-2 Tbs. of olive tapenade
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
1. Cook lentils with bay leaf. You can do this as you're starting the process for the soup. They take about 20 minutes. During this time, saute the mushrooms in about 2 teas. of olive oil (and season), and set aside. Drain and remove bay leaf.
2. Put lentils and the onions/garlic, parsley, mushroom, and oregano. Pulse until it is smooth.
3. Season with salt, peppers, and lemon juice. Add the olive tapenade about 1 Tbs. at a time (I only used one). This adds a great oomph to the pate.
4. Serve cold or room temperature. Yummy with pita, crackers, or veggie crudites.