The Cooking Chronicles: The Occasional Vegetarian

This year, I made a conscious effort to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our diet – it was a decision partly made so we could be more aware of the meat that we consume (instead of it being a given come every supper, it is a deliberate addition), but also partly for variety’s sake. It’s also been easier to experiment because of our weekly trip to the farmers’ market, and being confronted by what’s in season each Saturday.

Pan-cooked Greens with Tofu and Garlic

Though Mack wasn’t a fan of tofu to start with, I’ve slowly been winning him over (the ground pork and tofu dish we make with Irvings pork and tofu from Ying Fat is actually one of his favourites). For dinner this week when I was feeling under the weather, he took over the kitchen reins, and prepared up Mark Bittman’s pan-cooked greens with tofu and garlic.

We had picked up some lovely kale from Sundog Organics, and some extra firm tofu from Superstore, which I had frozen and thawed, as Bittman had directed. Mack sliced up the tofu, then proceeded to separate the kale stems from the leaves, which he stir-fried separately. Greens cooked, he then pan-fried the tofu, then returned the greens to the pan along with the sauce. We served the dish with rice.

Pan-cooked greens with tofu

The heat of the pan had vaporized most of the sauce, so it was consequently, a very dry dish. Flavourful, as the tofu and kale had soaked up that tasty fish sauce liquid (soy sauce could be substituted for fish sauce for a true vegetarian dish), but we would definitely double the quantity next time, or even add some stock.

Healthy and fast, this is a simple dish that we would make again.

Penne with Zucchini and Ricotta

A Deborah Madison recipe for penne with zucchini and ricotta is another simple dish, calling for less than ten ingredients. She intended for bright quills of yellow and green zucchini to dot the pasta, but as all I had on hand was a green zucchini from Kuhlmann’s. It worked just fine, taste-wise.

Penne with zucchini and ricotta (photo taken after we had decimated half the pan)

The ricotta and parmesan easily integrated into the pasta and vegetables, melting with the residual heat. Still, there’s no question that the zucchini are the star of this dish, lending their essence to every bite.

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