Monday, July 23, 2007

A Mediterranean Vegetable Feast

After another 3 inches of rain last week, which puts us now at 15 inches above normal, Sunday was miraculously warm and sunny. I only mention this because (a) I’m so sick of rain I could cry; and (b) it’s thunderstorming as I post. Now I don’t know if it’s because we were in an especially happy sunny mood, or because of the sheer volume and variety of food we prepared, but we all agreed that this past Sunday dinner was truly one of the best we had eaten in a long time. I had two refrigerators full of fresh veggies and this dinner featured at least a dozen different ones, grilled, roasted, and in salad form. Of course I forgot to take a picture of my roasted veggies, so I will just mention that they were mostly green beans, with mushrooms, yellow squash, calabaza squash, red bell pepper, and onions, and seasoned with oregano, garlic, paprika, etc., and our featured herb, rosemary.

I also made a cold Broccoli Salad (surprise) with carrots, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, black olives, cucumber, and green onions. I made a vinaigrette dressing with Italian style herbs, garlic, and a little red pepper flakes and mustard. This was spicy good. Oh, I think we’re already at a dozen veggies!

I was hoping for grilling weather because I had been dying to grill potatoes on rosemary skewers. I found some fresh but smallish sticks of rosemary and purple potatoes. I boiled the potatoes until pretty much done, then pierced them with bamboo skewers, and then threaded them onto the stripped rosemary stems.

Before they went on the grill, I wrapped the top leaves in foil and brushed them with leftover tofu marinade (see below), but the tops of the stems actually burned and fell off. It didn’t affect the flavor, only the presentation. The flavor was not overwhelming, but a wonderful infusion of the rosemary into the potatoes, and the skins get crispy. I definitely recommend you give this method a try.

I was also anxious to use my grill wok again, so I prepped asparagus, red bell pepper, and purple onions for it. I also recommend a grill wok - totally yummy and no veggies slipping through the grate!

In keeping with our Mediterranean theme, I made a Romesco Sauce for all the veggies. I used one fresh tomato and one roasted pepper, but I think next time it would be best to go either all fresh or all roasted. It also had almonds, jalapeno, garlic, fresh rosemary and parsley, so who could complain really?

Another superb sauce I made was Celine’s Creamy Pumpkin Almond Sauce. I added this to quinoa pasta and it was soooo perfect with all the crunchy veggies. The sauce is a little sweet on its own, and creamy rich and delicious with pasta. I can’t wait to test more of Celine’s recipes. They are all so wonderful!

Chase needs tofu, so I baked him some using VWAV Italian marinade. I used Marsala wine and lots of rosemary and it was fabulous, as are all of Isa’s recipes. (This marinade is what I brushed the potatoes with.)

Chase warmed his tofu on the grill before dinner and ate it with the pasta. Well I can’t eat tofu, so I needed something else for protein. I almost didn’t make this because, let’s face it, I’ve gone overboard again. But I’m glad I did because it was so good. I followed a recipe from Mediterranean Vegan for Chickpeas with Tahini Sauce, and added in fresh cooked spinach and sundried tomatoes. Yum, yum, yum! It was like an amazing chunky hummus.

I served the pasta and roasted veggies from the stovetop, and put everything else on the table. There are toasted pitas too, essential for dipping in the Romesco and pasta sauces and the chickpeas.

Here’s my plate. I was in vegetable heaven.

Yes I did make dessert. I had also been dying to make something with shredded filo dough. I had seen it before at my Mediterranean market, but it’s 15 miles away, so I just bought the regular stuff and shredded it myself. From my research, I determined that to make fancy things with it, you would use it as a wrapper, like for fish or potatoes, or make bowls using muffin tins, or what I decided on – nests. I formed the shreds into nests, then drizzled a little melted EB and vanilla over them. I think next time I will mix the dough with the melted butter and then form the nests, because the dough dries so fast and I was a slow nest builder.

So the dessert was to plate a nest…..

…. then add fresh peaches and strawberries, and top it with vanilla Rice Dream and almonds. OMG these were so good! Chase and Liz ate two!

I admit it – we are pigs on Sundays, but only on Sundays. We have such fun in the kitchen and at the grill together and that’s what it’s really all about. Plus Chase gets to take home all the leftovers.

Before I go I have to mention that I made Kris’s Oatmeal Drizzles from Damn Tasty. I had one hour to make a thank-you treat, and this was perfect. The cookies are so pretty and so yummy and easily do-able in an hour. They were a much appreciated gift.

I cooked like a crazy woman this weekend because for one thing, I’ve been eating fresh and simple throughout the week, and secondly, I finally get to take Chase with me on vacation! This Sunday we’re off to Galveston to enjoy hopefully rainfree time at the beach and new vegan restaurant fare. I’ll make the blog rounds and try to get in another post before we leave. Yay!


Anonymous said...

Woo hooo for you and your vacation! You deserve it. I hope you and Chase have a wonderful time and are able to find delicious vegan food.

Diann, I swear, your meals are always so fresh and healthy looking. I love the variety of veggies you always have for your Sunday dinners. Plus I think it's so awesome that you have a set aside family night.

The Chickpeas with Tahini Sauce looks so summery. Marty loves sun dried tomatoes and spinach so this would be a great dish for him. I'm bookmarking this one for the future.

Kayla said...

Oh wow, what a beautiful spread. Your meals are always so inspiring. I'm just now getting around to trying the Jerk tofu, and now I'm ready to try the broccoli salad, the romesco, and the pumpkin almond sauce pasta. How will I ever fit it all in? I'm sure I'll find a way!

Have a great time on your vacation. I live just 15 minutes from Galveston. How long will you be visiting?

Celine said...

when can I move in? it just looks so insanely professional and good, you're amazing.

urban vegan said...

What an amazing array of food...Chase is SO lucky to have you for his mom.

Have a great vacation.

Anonymous said...

im with urban vegan!! you are wonderfull.

wishing you the best vacations.

Kati said...

Your Sunday dinners are the best! I agree with UV, Chase is so lucky to have you for his mom. That chickpea salad looks especially delicious - I'll have to check out that book.

Hope you have a great vacation!

Vegan_Noodle said...

We finally had a day of sun here in Houston yesterday (although I've been out of town, so have missed most of the rain). Your Sunday dinner looks amazing!! All those That grill wok looks so cool, I need to get me one of those!
Hope you have fun in Galveston! Do you know of any vegan restaurants down there? Will be interested to here what you find. Hopefully we'll have good weather for you down here on the Texas gulf coast. :-)

erica said...

Wow, you always out-do yourself with the vegis. Dang, girl! Those nest things looks amazingly delicious as well.

laura k said...

What a lovely, healthy, fun spread! I would be in veggie heaven too, with a plate like that!! But Chase's tofu sure looks tasty too. Enjoy your vacation!!!

Peggy said...

You've convinced me to get a grill wok! And everything looks delicious- I'm hungry now, never mind that I've just had lunch...

Jackie said...

I just love Mediterranean food. I think it's as much the colors as the taste that makes it delicious.

You have been tagged with The Link of Love meme at

Picked the wrong time to tag you...Oh well you can always give it a bash when you come back. Have a great time. I am going to Durban to the sea next month which will be great as it is much warmer there than here in winter.

Mary Worrell said...

I am so worn out and hungry every time I read your blog! It's amazing, seriously. I need to start dating Chase so I can come over for your yummy weekend dinners.

And I'm going to make that salad variation you mentioned with the chickpeas for a potluck this Friday. Thanks for the great idea!!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

one word describes the food in this post: phenomenal!! oh and have a splendid vacation!!

Kate said...

Oh so yummy! This posts makes my happy- besides the rain.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

That looked like an amazing mealI would love it!
I am going to try the chickpeas.
Could you give me any other ingredients in the sauce?

Crystal said...

Everytime I read your posts, there are things I want to make from it!!

I'm kinda in a funk of not being super creative, so I need to write these dishes down and make them!


bazu said...

Oooh, I hope you have a great vacation! I've been reading about all the rain in TX and have been thinking of you! What a bummer that weather is.
Your food looks so gorgeous- I especially love the look of the broccoli salad and the dessert nests.

Amey said...

I'm finally catching up on my blog reading. Wow, what an amazing feast. I think I will try that nice looking chickpea dish. I really like that cookbook Mediterranean Vegan. All the food looks great - I'm very impressed with your fancy rosemary grilled potatoes!

I have been thinking of you so much as I keep hearing all the news about the rain in texas. Oh dear. I know how hard it can be. I hope you have a rain-free holiday, and that you are having fun with your sweet boy.


Anonymous said...

Everything looks great! That sauce it surely something I could eat today - I am very hungry for something saucy! lol

I hope you are doing well! I wondered if you saw my first post about - I got the idea from Opal.

I hope your vacation was a nice one, too!


Judy said...

OOh, Yum! I love coming by your blog and seeing all the fabulous things that you make. I imagine that new vegans would find your blog incredibly inspiring, there is so much fun and interesting stuff. When can I come to dinner?!

KleoPatra said...

i <3 sunny days and wish them for you!! Hope you enjoy your vacation and get tons of sun.

Wow, Diann... your plate is incredible! Look at all those veggies. i would be in heaven too.

That grill wok is FAB!! Wow, that is something i want to get Peter to use on his...

Super sauce, perfect pasta, terrific tofu, plump potatoes. Again, you do good food right, Diann!

Happy travels, if i don't get here for your next post soon enough!!!

Anonymous said...

once again, everything looks so delicious! i'm particularly intrigued by the pasta. i'd love to try some!

Cherry said...

At least all this rain has kept it cool! It hasn't gotten above 93 yet, and it's nearly August! Wow, you always make so much delicious looking food. Hope you enjoy your vacation!

Anonymous said...

geez! all your food looks so tasty and beautiful. Yum Yum.