Cooking for the great meatless masses

Zucchini-Corn Fritters (credit: Laura Scherb/Operations Manager) Zucchini-Corn Fritters (credit: Laura Scherb/Operations Manager)

Before you throw the paper away in disgust and turn to your bacon for comfort, hear me out. A vegetarian lifestyle may not be for everyone, but neither is the carnivorous track. Every once in a while, it’s good to set the steaks aside and go for a nice veggie roast. Here are some recipes that can be exclusively sides or vamped up and turned into a meal.

Zucchini-Corn Fritters

The most amazing thing about this recipe, besides the taste of course, is the amount of water you have to drain from the zucchini before you mix in everything else. It’s positively mind-boggling. When you do it yourself, you’ll understand why you absolutely cannot skip that step. You will end up with a soggy mess that stains everything it touches green. You’ve been warned.

2 good-sized zucchinis
½ can of corn
¼ cup of flour
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 egg
Plenty of salt, pepper, and red pepper
Plenty of vegetable oil for frying

1) Start by shredding the zucchini into a medium bowl. Strain as much of the water out of the zucchini as possible. The best way to do this is to start the old-fashioned way and make a zucchini snowball with your hands. Squeeze the zucchini ball and try not to gag while the juice squelches out. Repeat about three times. Then, put the ball back into the bowl, wash your hands, and sprinkle the zucchini with salt. The salt extracts the water from the zucchini, but it’ll take about 10 minutes for that to happen. Be patient. Just go scroll through Facebook or something. It’s worth it.
2) Whew. If you got through that, you’re basically done.
3) Pour about a tablespoon or two of oil into a pan, and turn the heat up. It’s about to get hot in here.
4) Mix in the corn, then the egg, and then add the cornstarch and flour.
5) Season to taste with the red pepper, black pepper, and salt.
6) Form patties with your hands and fry them lightly in the pan. Mmmm.

This recipe was inspired in part by bonappetit.com.

The World’s Fanciest Brussels Sprouts

What are the worst two vegetables in the world? Brussels sprouts and artichokes. It’s an indisputable and universal truth. Naturally, that means that the true talent in cooking these vegetables lies in well, lying. You have to empower the Brussels sprouts to be more than a vegetable … they have to be anything but. The solution here is butter and seasoning. This recipe uses just a dab of butter and delicious fresh rosemary to spruce up a boring old bunch of sprouts. Classic. Pair this with pasta and turn it into dinner.

1 bag of Brussels sprouts
Olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (don’t panic, just look for the herbs at GEagle)
¼ cup of lemon juice
Salt and pepper

1) Wash the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half. Put the halves in a bowl.
2) Drizzle them with olive oil. Not so much that it’s dripping, but enough to make the herbs and salt stick to the sprouts.
3) Season the sprouts with generous salt and pepper. Strip the rosemary leaves off of the stem (otherwise, it’s basically like eating a stick) and add them to the mix as well. Set this aside, and let it marinate as you move on.
4) Heat the butter in a pan. Just as it starts to melt and slide around, pour the sprouts in with it. Get ready to concentrate.
5) Pay attention while the sprouts are cooking. It’s easy to burn them. They’ll need to cook for a while because they’re fairly tough, and it’s unpleasant to have a mouthful of uncooked Brussels sprouts.
6) While the sprouts are cooking, make sure to turn them over so the outside leaves don’t burn. The layers are the big challenge here. Stick with it.
7) You know that the Brussels sprouts are cooked when you can easily stab one with a fork. At that point, take them out of the pan, and voilà. You have a beautiful bowl of well-seasoned sprouts.

Farm Fresh Bruschetta, or a pile of vegetables on toasted bread

Appetizer no more, this bruschetta is strong, bold, spicy, and substantial. Two or three pieces of this bad boy, and you’ll be bursting. Make sure to use a nice loaf of Italian bread with a thick crust for a solid base and a layer of cheese to separate the juices from the vegetables from the fragile, golden crust of the bread — unless, of course, you like your bruschetta soggy and caving in.

1 loaf of Italian bread with thick crust, sliced
1 tomato
1 zucchini
1 white onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 peppers, red or yellow
Sliced mozzarella cheese (or whichever cheese strikes your fancy)
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, basil flakes, and paprika

1) Start with some old-fashioned slice and dice. Cut the vegetables (tomato, zucchini, onion, and peppers) into small cubes instead of long, thin slices. That way they’ll sit better on the bread. Set them aside and have them ready.
2) While you’re heating some olive oil in a pan, crush the garlic. To do this, peel the cloves apart and take off the first layer of peel (it’s usually already flaking off). Turn the knife so that the flat side is parallel to the cutting board, and use your palm to crush the clove. The clove should pop open, and the peel will have burst, making it easy to peel off. Slice the clove, and toss it into the olive oil with the onions.
3) After the onions have started cooking and are getting more tender, add the peppers and zucchini. Let everything stew for a bit, then add the spices. Taste the mix to see if you need more of something.
4) While the vegetables are cooking, melt some butter in another pan. When it’s melted, put the bread on top and lightly toast it on both sides. Don’t burn it!
5) When the bread is done toasting, put the cheese on top and set it aside. The cheese should melt slightly onto the bread, effectively sealing in the toasted flavor and the crispy crust.
6) Taste the vegetables to see if they’re cooked. Everything should be tender and spiced appropriately. Add the tomatoes at the last minute and stir them around with everything else. By saving them for last, you can make sure that they won’t fall apart on you.
7) When everything is done, use a slotted spoon to spoon the veggies onto the bread. You can go back with the leftover bread later and sop up the juices. Ta-dah!