Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Vegetable Glory
Enjoying the flavors of fresh vegetables in creative ways
Please let’s not make a wrong assumption here… I am nowhere near being a vegetarian, much less a vegan. I remember when I gave cooking classes at Malibu Beach Recovery Center, the look of horror on Oleg’s face, our very vegan yoga teacher, when he realized that not eating that day was probably a much better option than my attempts to make a vegan meal for him… He has, since then, forgiven me! But sometimes, just out of the blue, I have a strong craving for vegetables alone, unencumbered by the usual proteins. Sometimes when I am feeling tired or starting flu-like symptoms, my stomach would rather digest vegetables only than heavier meat dishes. Sometimes, it’s a recipe that is so appealing on its own that I want to concentrate on its taste and explore all that it has to offer.
Switching it up is a great option for your digestive system as it allows it to cleanse itself in between digestion cycles. As such, one meal of fruits alone or of juices alone or vegetables alone whenever you feel like it is a great break to provide your system. My vegetable cravings can also come from a special trip to the farmers’ market when my basket fills up with either unusual or exceptional produce. It can also be that the previous meal was on the heavier side, as we are about to experience with the holidays.
To have “vegetable only” recipes ready for those times is a lifesaver and will help you with balancing calories and vitamin consumption while giving you fabulous leftovers in the process that can be used for sides the next day and also allow you to invite over all your vegetarian friends that have not graced your table for fear of leaving hungry.
Two books will help you in this search. The first, by English restaurant owner and author Yotam Ottolenghi, is called “Plenty” in which you will find a superb “winter ratatouille” that is so much greater than the regular version. The second book is called “Vegetable Harvest” by Patricia Wells, one of my favorite authors whose life experience mimicked mine in the exact opposite way: originally from Wisconsin, she has been sharing her time between Paris and Provence for the last 25 years and authored numerous books about her love of cooking and entertaining. This book will give you access to numerous vegetable recipes that are visually stunning, delicious, fragrant and satisfying.
Another favorite reference of mine is the website from the New York Times, cooking.nytimes.com. Ever since the reign of Craig Claiborne over the Food section of the New York Times in 1957, this magazine has been a site where chefs professional and amateur have rekindled their love for food. It has, since then, come to its digital version, as much as the photographs that are used will summon you to try the recipes, their clear explanations will insure that your results are highly successful and make your culinary talent shine.
I am sharing with you three of my favorite vegetable recipes and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Farro Salad with Asparagus
1 cup farro (do not use quick cooking farro or it will become mushy)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces, tops and stems separated
5 white or red radishes, sliced very thinly into rounds
1/2 cup walnuts pieces
2 spring onions, white and green parts included, chopped
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
5 Tbsp olive oil (plus more, as needed)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Black pepper, to taste
Rinse the farro well and place it in a large pot, along with a generous pinch of salt and 3 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer and cover it. Simmer the farro for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender, but still retains some chew. Drain the, return to the pot, and toss with a drizzle of olive oil to keep the grains separated.
While the farro cooks, toast the walnuts in a large skillet for a few minutes, or until they smell fragrant and nutty. Transfer them to a paper towel or a plate as soon as they’re browning lightly.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the asparagus stems for 2 minutes. Add the tops and allow them to cook with the stems for another minute, or until all pieces are tender but still crispy. Plunge the pieces into cool water, then transfer to a strainer and set them aside.
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, lemon, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the farro with the radishes, the cooked asparagus, the walnuts, and the onions. Add the dressing and combine everything well. Adjust seasonings and serve.
Preparation 20 minutes
Cooking 30 minutes
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups sweet potato (peeled) cut into 1/3 inch dice
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups chopped cauliflower florets – cut into 1/2 to 1 inch chunks
1 large onion, sliced
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 large tomato, chopped
1 14-oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup 0% Greek yogurt
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Heat the olive oil over medium high in a large skillet. Add the sweet potato and cook for 5 minutes, until the sweet potato begins to brown.
Lower the heat to medium and add the red pepper, curry, cumin, cinnamon, fennel seed, and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant. Stir occasionally.
Add the cauliflower, onion, broth, garbanzos, tomato, tomato sauce and salt. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the veggies are just tender. Uncover, add peas, and continue simmering for 5 more minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Season if necessary.
Serve the curry over rice, top with a dollop of greek yogurt and some cilantro.
Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cloves garlic
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound butternut squash
1 pound sweet potatoes
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup grated Gruyère or Jarsberg
1 cup grated Pecorino
Heat the oven to 400° F. Put the milk in a small heavy saucepan and peel and smash one of the garlic cloves. Add it to the milk and then heat the milk over low heat until it just starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from the heat, add the nutmeg and let steep while you continue with the recipe.
Peel the second garlic clove, cut it in half and rub the cut side around the inside of a 6-cup baking dish no more than 2 inches deep. Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil all over the inside of the dish.
Peel the squash and sweet potatoes and cut them into very thin slices (1/8-inch thick) preferably with a mandoline.
Layer the vegetables into the baking dish, alternating between squash and potatoes and fanning them into concentric, overlapping circles. Season generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle a third of the cheese and a third of the chopped herbs over the slices. Repeat twice, making the top layer as neat and tidy as you can.
Remove the garlic clove from the hot milk and pour the milk evenly over the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top of the gratin and bake for about 50 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbly and the vegetables yield easily when you poke them with a sharp knife. If the vegetables are tender but the top isn’t as brown as you’d like, turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes — watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn! Let the gratin cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.