A simple vegetarian dinner recipe

Poblano_eggs2When it comes to cooking, I’m done with complicated.  I’m not interested in recipes or techniques that require special instruction or expensive gadgets or ingredients.  And that all-too-often result in mediocre food.  So when I came across “Essential Pépin” on Create TV, featuring Jacque Pépin, a native of France, I imagined it would be all about fussy and complicated, the way we imagine French cooking to be.  I was wrong.  Now when browsing TV stations, I’m always delighted to find his show, whatever he’s cooking.  He makes it all look simple and easy.  Plus I love when he says something like “… a little olive oil..” while pouring what looks like a cup of oil over the food (Despite this, Mr. Pépin is a sharp and active 80-year-old.  Coincidence?).

He published “Heart and Soul in the Kitchen” last year, which features many of the recipes used on the show.  I’ve been reading through it, looking for ideas.  There are plenty of recipes that use meat and fish, but also plenty that make good vegetarian meals.  One that we tried, Eggs in Pepper Boats (page 100), is especially vegetarian-friendly, and you can switch up the ingredients a bit to add variety.

The basic recipe uses poblano or banana peppers, eggs, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and yes, olive oil.  You split and seed the peppers, cook briefly in a pan with the olive oil, then put cheese and one egg in each half, add a bit of water to the pan, cover and steam until the eggs are done.  It’s a quick easy vegetarian meal, high protein, tasty and filling.  Add a tossed green salad or chunky vegetable salad and some bread and you’ve got dinner.

Eggs are the foundation of the recipe.  Change it up by varying the other ingredients:  Here are some ideas:

  • Poblano peppers, jack cheese, a dab of salsa on the cheese under the eggs, garnish with a tiny pinch of dried oregano
  • Sweet red peppers, Swiss cheese, 1 TB minced sun dried tomato packed in oil under the eggs, garnish with chopped fresh basil
  • Anaheim or New Mexico chili, queso (soft cheese), dab of refried beans under the eggs, garnish with chopped cilantro when done

You could also experiment using sweeter mild peppers with stronger cheeses like gorgonzola or gruyere.  Garnish with minced parsley or fresh basil, or a pinch of dried tarragon.

Make it vegan?

Hmm, that’s tricky, since the whole point is eggs and cheese.  But here’s an idea:

Cook the pepper halves.  Fill with 2-3 TB refried beans, 1-2 TB salsa, 2-4 TB crumbled soft tofu.  Cover the pan and heat through (briefly).  Then serve with a dab of pesto made of fresh cilantro, walnuts, garlic, sun dried tomato and olive oil.

Actually that sounds like something I’ll be trying out.

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