Vegetarian Tapas Ladies Night Dinner

Vegetarian Tapas Dinner
One of my closest friends has been a vegetarian or vegan for as long as I have known her. Cooking with her or for her has always been really fun, because you have to get so much more creative! Planning out a well balanced meal, when meat is not an option, can be difficult. I often feel like I am constantly struggling to come up with a good main dish, that doesn't include tofu or soy. For this dinner, I decided to go with a Spanish theme. Thankfully, I only had to take care of the main as my friends brought appetizers and dessert!

Here is what we had:

l'entrée: le fromage (herbed goat cheese, goat brie, tapenade, rice & oat crackers)
le plat principal:
Spanish Tortilla with roasted pepers, manchego cheese & smoked paprika sauce
Meditereannean quinoa salad with sprouted red lentils, cured black olives & tomato
White beans with mushrooms over mushroom pate
le dessert: petits fours (tiramisu, salted caramel, double chocolate)

Sprouting Red Lentils
1 1/2 c red lentils

Sprouting the lentils ahead of time increases their nutritional value, so they will contain all essential amino acids. This makes for a really healthy and interesting side salad! For instructions on sprouting see this website.

I got the idea for the Spanish tortilla with smoked paprika sauce from an episode of Fresh with Anna Olson on tapas. Her tortilla had chorizo in it, so I altered it for a vegetarian dinner. I also didn't have sherry, and so used brandy in the sauce.

Spanish Tortilla
2 red peppers, roasted
2 yellow peppers, roasted
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
3 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
3 red skin potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 large eggs
manchego cheese

Roast the peppers in the oven, under the broiler. Keep a close eye on them, turning then over when the skin begins to brown and bubble (but not blacken). Once all sides have been browned, remove from the oven and place in a bowl of cool water. The skins should slide off easily. Cut off the ends of the peppers, seed them and chop them up.

Roasted Peppers
Peel the potatoes then slice them using the long side of a 4 sided grater, or a mandolin slicer.

Add the potatoes and sliced onion to warmed olive oil. Use a generous amount, 1/4 c to 1/3 c to prevent the potatoes from sticking and browning. Cook them over low to medium heat, stirring regularly, for 8 to 10 minutes until the potatoes become tender. You can check by poking them with a fork or knife, it should easily go through. Drain the oil from the pan, remove the potatoes from heat and let them cool for a few minutes.

Wisk eggs together gently, add the potatoes and roasted pepper and toss until everything is coated in egg.

Spanish Tortilla
Pour mixture into about 1 tbsp warmed olive oil in a deep pan (non stick works best here). Let cook for about 10 minutes, until the bottom begins to brown darkly. Place a dinner plate over the top side of the tortilla in the pan, flip the tortilla onto the dinner plate and slide, uncooked side down back into the pan.

Finely grate some manchego cheese over the top and cook for another 10 minutes until the other side has browned. It is optional to place the tortilla into the oven at a low temperature to continue cooking if necessary or to keep warm while you are preparing the side dishes.

Smoked Paprika Sauce
3/4 c chicken stock
1 ounce brandy
2 tbsp starch
1 tbsp smoked paprika

Bring chicken stock to simmer and wisk in the brandy, starch and smoked paprika. Stir until thickened. Serve warm with the tortilla!

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
1 c quinoa
2 c water
1/2 c cured black olives, pitted and halved
1 tomato
2 green onions
1 shallot
1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice from 1/2 a lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Cooked Quinoa
Put the quinoa and water into a pot. Bring water to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the quinoa is no longer white (the grains should become opaque). Chop and add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

White Beans with Mushrooms
1/2 c white beans
1 c water
1 carrot
1 leek
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 white button mushrooms, sliced
3 cremini mushrooms, sliced
water to cover
salt & pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil and add the beans. Boil until beans become soft 10-15 min, adding more water if necessary. Warm 1 tbsp of olive oil in a deep pot. Roughly chop the carrot, leek, onion and add to the warmed oil. Sweat the vegetables for a few minutes until the veggies begin to soften. Cover with water and boil for 15 min. Purée the mixture with a hand blender.
White beans with Mushroom- base
Sauté the garlic and mushrooms in the remaining olive oil until the mushrooms begin to brown lightly. Add the mushrooms to the puréed vegetables and serve over a bit of the mushroom loaf from the last post.

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