Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two Fabulous Vegetarian Meals - Pizza & Tacos!

I know there’s a lot of people out there that can’t imagine a meal without meat. Luckily, I have two recipes that would blow any meat-less non believers away. I also know I have a lot of readers who love vegetarian meals like me, or are vegetarian, that would love these recipes.

I’m making another one of my delicious homemade pizzas tonight and it got me thinking about the wonderful vegetarian, yet meat-like, pizza I made a while back. This pizza uses a spiced shredded zucchini mixture to imitate Italian sausage.  The other ingredients are quite simple, like a tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and fresh basil, so the “sqausage” (as it was called) gets to really stand out.
 I found the recipe looking through the monthly Sprouts magazine they give out in store, but I found the recipe again online on this site for a magazine called Delicious Living. Regardless of who’s recipe it is, it’s delicious!

The squasage mixture takes some time to prepare, since you have to let it drain for a couple of hours, but it’s worth it. The final product is a zucchini mixture that is high on flavor and remarkably dry instead of soggy and unpalatable. The recipe makes double the amount of zucchini mixture as you need for some silly reason so I’ll half it below.

Also, I used jarred tomato sauce instead of the home made one provided in the recipe.  I’m sure it tastes great, but I wanted to save time and already had a jar open! If you want the recipe for the tomato sauce, click this link.

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Zucchini Pizza
2 packed cups grated zucchini
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seed
½ teaspoon coriander seed (I used ground coriander and it worked out fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika

Whole wheat pizza dough, rolled into one 9-inch crust
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
¾ cup tomato sauce, or as much as needed to cover the pizza dough
About ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley or basil, for garnish

1. Combine all “Squasage” ingredients in a large, nonreactive bowl. Toss to combine. Marinate 2 hours at room temperature, tossing ingredients every 20 minutes or so. After 2 hours, squeeze zucchini and discard water. Taste and adjust seasoning. (Makes about ¾-1 cup.)

2. Place a pizza stone in your oven and preheat to 475 degrees 30 minutes prior to baking.

3. Top pizza crust with tomato sauce and then top with sliced mozzarella and zucchini mixture. Grate a couple tablespoons of parmesan over pizza.

4. Transfer to oven and bake for 10 minutes. (If you don’t have a pizza stone it may take longer, just keep an eye on it.) Once done, sprinkle with another tablespoon of parmesan and garnish with parsley or basil.
  Since the zucchini mixture drains for quite some time, you will need to add more seasonings (since some of it drains out with the water). I already upped the seasonings from the original recipe, but I still advise that you taste and add more salt, parika, pepper, etc. The fennel seed really hits home the "sausage" flavor so don't skimp on it!
This pizza is probably my second favorite pizza EVER. First would go to the tomato basil pizza I made recently. But honestly, this one is so good!  

Vegetarians you will love this! I'd even encourage vegans to try this out with some vegan "cheese". Nothing beats fresh mozzarella, but it will still be killer!
Yummmmmmm. :D

We take a turn from Italy and travel to Mexico for this next vegetarian delight. Poblano Mushroom Tacos!
I followed the recipe from Epicurious exactly, except for that I used shredded monteray jack cheese and used much less oil.

This recipe took no time to make and was so easy! Basically just chop, saute, and fill the tacos. I doubled it and it was just enough for 3 people FYI.

Served with some traditional taco toppings, like shredded lettuce, tomato, "sour cream" (greek yogurt), cilantro, and salsa. The recipe suggested to add a little feta cheese to the tacos and boy was that a delicious addition!
I made the mistake of putting on the salsa before tasting the taco. Turns out poblano peppers are much hotter than I thought! I made these yesterday and my fingers are still burning from cutting the poblano peppers; I had no idea!
Anyway, these were beyond yummy. They're really "street food"-esque and felt a little fancier than the average taco I usually make.

The recipe calls for folding the tacos, after you add the cheese, and cooking them on the skillet so they get a little crisp and browned on the outside. It almost reminded me of making quesadillas and I'm sure you could transform this recipe into quesadillas using some whole wheat tortillas. 

These babies were SO full of flavor, even though they have a seemingly simple ingredient list. The only spice called for is cumin and that's all these tacos need. My parents really loved them, too. And trust me, no one missed the meat.

These are two great summer meals that are refreshing and satisfying at the same time and are honestly two of my favorite meals. Give them a try! (:

I hope everyone had a GREAT weekend! 
<3 Carlyn

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