(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)
In our huge haul of garden veggies from Uncle, we had a small batch of fresh okra. I’ve been planning to fry them up, as any good southerner would do, but I’m not really the frying kind of gal. It’s just so messy.
There you have it. The secret to eating healthy is to be too lazy to clean up greasy pots and pans.
While waiting on me to get over my anal retentiveness, some of my okra and a handful of green beans started to wither away. Still not ready to conquer the mess of slicing, coating, and deep frying the okra, I decided to try out a cooking method I know and love for green beans, roasting, on the okra, too.
I may not be a traditional Southern gal in many ways, but this plate of roasted green beans and okra is my kind of southern treat. In less than 30 minutes, these are prepped, cooked and on your plate. You could serve them as a healthy afternoon snack for kids (almost 11-month old Jackson loved them), a party appetizer, or a side dish to any southern cuisine.
Rachel’s Roasted Okra & Green Beans
2 c. fresh okra (not frozen)
1 cup fresh green beans
3 t. olive oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. of cayenne
Preheat oven to 450. Put okra and green beans on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, salt, and cayenne. Pour the oil over the veggies and rub into them to make sure they are all evenly coated.
Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the veggies after 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a tad more salt as they come out of the oven.
I dipped them in Muir Glen’s organic ketchup (my fave), because I’m a ketchup-aholic, but they really didn’t need anything. Feel free to play with different spices, too.
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Jackson has recently started whimpering every time I eat until I give him a bite. It all started with this vegan zucchini risotto. I offered him one little nibble and he probably ate a fourth of my bowl. It was pretty exciting that my little boy had such a sophisticated palate and was asking for solids already. (You score bonus points with the earth mamas for baby led weaning, ya know.) Since then, he has scarfed down roasted pepper quinoa, blackened tofu, pasta with creamy artichoke basil sauce, edamame, split pea soup, among other delicious and nutritious meals I’ve shared with him. I’ve been so proud of my little baby’s love of my favorite plant-based foods…
We were outside enjoying the beautiful Spring day, me sittin’ & sippin’ my ice water, Jackson “vrooming” his truck around the patio, when he stopped in his tracks and turned to chase a rollie pollie crawling by. He’s so adorably curious, I thought to myself, just before he picked up the rollie pollie and stuck it in his mouth. I jumped out of my lounge chair and cringed as I saw that little black bug all rolled up tight on his tongue. I reached my finger into Jackson’s mouth, but his jaws clamped.
Crunch. Crunch. Gulp.
My sophisticated little veggie baby had just crushed a live bug in between his six little teeth as if it were one of his baby cheerios. And he immediately reached for another one cruising by.
We spent the rest of the day inside.
If that story doesn’t make you crave the delicious vegan risotto that led my child on his culinary adventure all the way to a diet of raw bugs in the back yard, I don’t know what will.
Honestly, this is so delicious. It is tedious (not one of those meals I can make while Jackson hangs off the back of my legs), but it makes a lot and reheats well, so it’s worth the trouble for a special occasion. I know traditional risotto has cheese in it, but I think this tasted amazing without it. I even lowered the amount of nutritional yeast the second time I made it because I really liked the flavors and the creaminess before I added it.
Vegan Zucchini Risotto
Serves ~ 6
1 T. olive oil
1 T. Earth Balance or other margarine
1/4 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. arborio rice
1/2 t. salt
freshly ground pepper
1 c. white wine, warm
6 c. veggie broth, warm (you can use some water if you don’t have enough broth)
2 small zucchini, grated
1 T. nutritional yeast (non-vegans could use a little Parmesan instead)
2 T. Earth Balance or other margarine
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 T. basil, chopped (optional but does add a lot of flavor)
Heat a large saucepan over med-hi heat with oil and margarine. Saute the onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly until the rice is translucent. Season with salt and pepper, then add about 1/2 cup of broth. Stir constantly until the liquid is reduced. Add the wine and repeat. Then continue adding about 1/2 – 1 cup of liquid at a time, stirring, and letting the liquid reduce each time. When you only have a cup or so of broth left, add the zucchini. Continue adding the remaining liquid and stir until it is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. You may not need all of the broth, or you may need a little extra broth, water, or wine. Remove from heat and stir in nutritional yeast, margarine, sun dried tomatoes, and basil. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for a couple of minutes before serving.