The most ostentatious shift from and omnivorous diet to a vegan one that I’ve noticed: vegans eat vastly more in quantity. A necessary trait for a vegan to harbor, the ability to shove your face full of food ensures adequate caloric intake on a naturally low-calorie diet. I sure ain’t complaining—I simply adore eating and marvel in the fact that I’ve found a morally and ethically-sound lifestyle complemented by bunches and bunches of fabulous healthy food.
I’ve certainly switched to the big leagues when it comes to the size of my serving dishes. My giant salads all find a home in a family-sized blue terra-cotta bowl that could easily fit a large beach ball while I pile the grains and fruits of my breakfast into wide-mouthed Italian-style pasta plates. For certain dinners, I have to pull out the plates reserved for appetizer platters in any normal household, such as the Quinoa Ratatouille Stuffed Zucchini and Miso Glazed Eggplant from the past two nights.
I didn’t want to post either of the recipes, since I followed the glazed eggplant instructions almost to a T (can you say plagarism?) and have to tweak the stuffed zucchini recipe before it can prove up to snuff for the blog, but I thought that both of the delicious, mammoth-sized dinners merited at least a couple of photos.
Except for the omissons of the pomegranate molasses and sesame seeds and the substitution of Bragg’s liquid aminos for the soy sauce, I obeyed UK blogger No Thanks, I’m a Vegan and her recipe for Grilled Miso Aubergines (perhaps “grilled” implies a different cooking process in England because I certainly do not remember slapping these babies on the grill grates), using the Japanese eggplant grown not but two steps away in my neighbor’s garden. After tasting the Asian-inspired beauties, I half wished that I had supplemented my lack of pomegranate molasses for a dash of agave nectar—the sweetness would have off-set the pungent saltiness of the miso-Bragg’s mixture. However, the creamy eggplant innards complemented the glaze enough to produce a yummy dish alongside a pile of germinated brown rice (when germinated, brown rice becomes “GABA” rice which contains triple the amount of the essential amino acid lysine and ten times the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA, regulating sleep, the immune system, and fat metabolism. The health benefits abound!) and black beans simmered with more Bragg’s and perfectly crisp-tender succulent farmers market broccoli (yes, “succulent” serves as a perfectly acceptable adjective to describe broccoli).
Meal Checklist: Protein–black beans. Whole Grain—germinated brown rice. Vegetables–eggplant. Leafy Green–broccoli (okay, not exactly a leaf but it belongs to the incredibly nutritious brassica family of veggies AND it’s green. Good enough.)
As for the stuffed zucchini, I mostly wanted to share the dish based on the zucchini’s sheer size—with every bite, I felt like I scooped up a quinoa-sized passenger from the deck of a summer squash Titanic!
Inspired by an Isthmus recipe which transformed the classic ratatouille into a quinoa salad, I unintentionally reverted the Provencal dish back to its original state but with the addition of sprouted quinoa. You see, the original instructions call for sauteing each vegetable separately before mixing with the quinoa. However, overcome by a wave of culinary laziness, I pish-poshed the time-consuming preparation and ended up simmering all of the vegetables together in a large pot. With the supplementation of Muir Glen canned fire-roasted tomatoes instead of fresh (tomatoes don’t last too long in my house), the quinoa “salad” soon became a thick quinoa stew–perfect for stuffing into zucchini! After hollowing out the giant zucchini vessels, filling them with generous ladlefuls of quinoa ratatouille, and baking them at 350° for 40 minutes, I topped my experimental creations with slices of avocado and paired them with another round of steamed broccoli. Yum! The light ratatouille burst with fresh notes of basil and parsley, acidic tones of lemon juice and red wine vinegar, and the classic savory combination of summer vegetables.
Meal Checklist: Protein—sprouted quinoa and avocado. Whole Grain—sprouted quinoa. Vegetables–eggplant, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, avocado, bell pepper. Leafy Greens–broccoli (see my previous spiel on broccoli as a leafy green).
Local Ingredients: Eggplant and zucchini from Dana’s garden, red onions from Jones Valley Farm, bell peppers from Pederson’s Produce, garlic from JenEhr Family Farm, basil and parsley from my garden, broccoli from Green Barn Farm Market.
Comment Provoking Questions: What are your favorite stuffings for vegetables? Does any of your food ever run into trouble fitting on normal-sized plates? Would you use the word “succulent” to describe broccoli?
Until next time, Ali.