Armenian Salad

Armenian Salad

Armenian Salad

Anyone raised in an Armenian home, like I was, knows that food is a central part of our world. Family gatherings were abuzz with endless food preparation and overlapping conversations.

We were a traditional group – men cooked the shish kabab and women did everything else. Whoops, I almost forgot – the men did suggest it was time for leftovers as soon as the last plate was dried and put away.

Generally speaking, Armenian foods are labor intensive. Dolma, lahmajoun, boereg, and kufte take quite a bit of time to produce, especially for a large family with hearty appetites. But, believe it or not, there are one or two dishes that are easy, nonfat, and meatless – something that’s sure to tug at your vegetarian heartstrings.

Armenian Salad is a favorite, particularly during the summer when bounty from the garden (or your local farmer’s market) can be chopped, tossed, and chilled in no time.  The flavor of these few ingredients awakens your mouth with an explosion of freshness – a perfect foil to the heaviness of many Armenian dishes.

ARMENIAN SALAD

  • 4 cups tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I use Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup scallions, thinly sliced, using white and green part
  • 2 cucumbers, skinned, seeded, and chopped
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 2 tsp salt

Toss everything together and chill briefly.  The longer it sits, the soupier it gets, so lessen the chill time by using cold ingredients.

 

 

Nutty “Meat”loaf

NUTTY "MEAT"LOAF

NUTTY “MEAT”LOAF

Every time I make Nutty “Meat”loaf, I ask myself why I don’t make it more often – it’s THAT good!

For those of you new to my site, you might be wondering why a vegetarian cooking blog has a recipe for “meat”loaf.  First of all, welcome!  Second, look carefully – there are quotation marks around the word meat.  That’s my special code for “not real meat”. Often times I’m using purchased imitation (aka, fake) meat. But in this case, the “meat” is a cornucopia of ingredients that individually are good, then blend together symbiotically to create a delectable dish, even tastier than the sum of its parts. (Whoa – creative moment!)

What I love about Nutty “Meat”loaf is that, unlike other veggie loafs, it has a meaty bite to it. This is helpful for those of you still weaning yourself from your carnivorous ways. Temptations lurk everywhere – like a siren beckoning the hapless sailor (Have I mentioned I write poetry?), enticing us with adverts for burgers, chicken, and steak.  We must fight these tactics with creative vegetarian dishes so satisfying, we won’t miss the meat.

Nutty “Meat”loaf is another weapon in my arsenal of recipes  to combat the proverbial fall off the vegetarian wagon. (How did I veer from poetry to battle so quickly?) But be warned: this is NOT one of those 30 minute recipes – the prep can take as long as 30 minutes (unless your rice is already cooked), cooking time is 60 minutes, and then it needs to set for about 15 minutes.  But I beg you – don’t be daunted! This recipe is worth the time. And, if you like, you can prepare the ingredients ahead of time and set the ‘delay bake’ button on your oven (if you have this feature). Just make sure you’re home when the loaf is done so it doesn’t overbake.

NOTE:  I highly recommend using Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley (and, no, they’re not paying me to say that) for the rice. I’ve used other rices before in this recipe, but I love the taste and texture of this blend best. It’s a combination of long grain brown rice, black barley, and daikon radish seeds.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: This Nutty “Meat”loaf makes crazy good sandwiches the next day. (Crazy. Nutty. Get it?)

NUTTY “MEAT”LOAF 

  • 1/3 cup uncooked rice
  • ¾ cup walnuts, finely chopped, lightly toasted
  • ¼ cup cashews, finely chopped, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 T butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 2 common mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 oz  fresh shittake mushrooms, finely chopped (or ½ oz dried – make sure you soak them in water)
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • ¼ tsp dried sage
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup cottage cheese (I use lowfat)
  • 6 oz medium cheddar cheese, shredded (or use whatever cheese you have on hand)

Cook the rice. Cool. This can be done ahead of time.

Sauté onions in the butter for a few minutes. Add in the salt, garlic, mushrooms, thyme, marjoram, and sage. Continue sautéing until liquid is released from the mushrooms and then is reduced but not gone. Cool. (This can be done ahead of time, too.)

In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs.  Add in the rice, cottage cheese, nuts, onions, and cheese. MAKE SURE YOU’VE INCLUDED ALL THE INGREDIENTS (I have a tendency to forget something, then have to remix everything.) Pour into an oiled loaf pan. An 8″ square pan works, too.

Bake at 375º Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Let set for at least 15 minutes.