Cover of "Fast Vegetarian Feasts"Cover of Fast Vegetarian Feasts

Since I have been spending so much time studying and not cooking, I don’t feel like my meals have been too balanced for the last few weeks. I thought I would make a couple of dishes that will last for several meals and get back to my vegetarian roots with veggie focused recipes.

Yesterday I made Potatoes Simmered with Sage, Tomatoes and Peas. The recipe came from “Fast Vegetarian Feasts” by Martha Rose Shulman. It is a wonderful combination of colors and textures and the scent of Sage reminds me of cooler days. Somehow I like that reminder in the heat of summer!

Today I made Asparagus Soup with Arborio Rice which I found in the May 1999 issue of Veggie Life (yes I liked it enough to keep the recipe all these years!) I love Cream of Asparagus soup, but in the summer it is nice to keep the focus on the freshness of the vegetables. This recipe uses thyme and sage so I guess I am enjoying the thought of fall and Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Both recipes take a little chopping but not too much. All and all they are pretty easy to put together. If you are a vegetarian the potato dish can be either a main course or side dish. Being a pescatarian (I hate that label!) I baked a small piece of fish to go with it. You could probably add some cooked shrimp or to keep it strictly vegetarian add tofu to the dish. I thought about substituting edamame for the peas to add protein, but I love baby peas, so I left it “as is” this time.

Like most stews, this tastes better the second day after the flavors have had a chance to meld. If you are a carnivore, this dish would be wonderful with baked chicken.

The asparagus soup is just fine the way it is. Only a few suggested changes, I use fresh sage and thyme if I can get it and Vegetable broth or Chicken broth in place of the water.

Potatoes simmered with Sage, Tomatoes and Peas
6 Servings

1-2 Tablespoons butter, safflower oil or olive oil
1 medium onion , sliced
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves torn into pieces or 1 teaspoon whole dried sage leaves
2 pounds potatoes unpeeled sliced ( I always use red potatoes but Yukon gold would be great too)
1 pound tomatoes, fresh or canned (with liquid) peeled, seeded and sliced ( I use canned diced tomatoes, but not with added herbs or garlic in it)
½ cup vegetable broth (omit if you used canned tomatoes with their juice)
2/3 cup dry white wine (have a glass too, it makes the cooking more fun!)
2 cups fresh shelled peas or 1 package frozen
Salt and Fresh ground black pepper to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (the good stuff!)

Heat 2 tablespoon of the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven and sauté the onion with the sage until the onion is tender. Add the potatoes and toss with the onions for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, wine and broth or liquid from the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

Cover and cook slowly over a low flame for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the peas and continue to simmer until the peas are tender and bright green, 5-10 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and stir in the Parmesan. Remove from the heat and serve.

Asparagus Soup with Arborio Rice

8 servings

4 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 large sweet onions (preferably Vidalia) finely chopped
2 ½ pounds asparagus, tough bottoms removed cut into ½ inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme)
½ tsp dried sage (or 1 tablespoon torn fresh sage)
1 bay leaf
3 quarts of water, vegetable or chicken broth. (I use vegetable broth from Whole Foods and I only use about half the amount of liquid the recipe calls for)Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup Arborio rice (the kind that cooks in 15-20 minutes)

Melt margarine in a medium pot over low-medium heat. Add the chopped onions, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened.

Add asparagus, thyme, sage, and bay leaf. Stir to mix. Cover and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add water or broth, salt and pepper. Stir to mix. Raise heat to high, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and cook at a low-medium boil for 30-35 minutes stirring occasionally.

Stir in rice after the first 10 minutes cover and continue cooking , stirring frequently (or the rice may stick) until the rice is tender and broth is rich. Remove bay leaf. Taste for seasonings.

Note: If you use water this is only 156 calories and has only 12 mg of sodium. The broth will add calories and sodium to the soup. You can use a low sodium broth instead of water if you want to limit the salt. It will have more flavor than plain water.

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