Monday, August 6, 2012

Meatless Monday: Fruity, Fresh, and Flavorful

Peaches and plums are on my mind and in my fridge. They are in season right now, they are overflowing in crates at the farmers’ market, and they are a favorite food of my 9-month-old daughter. I peal the skin off and give her the fruit whole. Equipped with only one tooth, she gums, gnaws, sucks, and slurps at it until she gets down to the pit and I take it away — such a site to see!

Because they are on my mind, and because there is an abundance of peaches right now, I am dedicating this Meatless Monday to two savory dishes and one dessert from Peaches and Other Juicy Fruits. There are some really fantastic recipes in this cookbook for vegetarians and meat and seafood lovers alike.

Beet Soup with Nectarines
This soup is served cold. However, you can also heat the soup before topping with sour cream and diced peaches. When cooking fresh beets, don't cut off the root end or stems too close or they will bleed.
2 pounds fresh beets or 2 (15 ounce) cans beets, drained
1/4 cup water
2 cups peach nectar
2 tablespoons balsamic or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup light sour cream
2 white or yellow nectarines, pitted and diced
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives or dill
  1. Wash and trim beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of tops and the straggly root portion. Place in a 2-quart microwavable dish with the 1/4 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on HIGH 15 to 18 minutes. Allow to stand, covered, for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, simply peel off the skins and slice the beets. 
  2. Place the beets in a blender or food processor with the peach nectar and vinegar, and purรฉe. Chill for at least 1 hour.

TO SERVE: Pour the beet soup into four bowls. Spoon 1 tablespoon of sour cream over the top of each, and swirl lightly into the soup. Spoon 1 tablespoon of sour cream into the center of each bowl and surround with 3 or 4 spoons of diced nectarine. Sprinkle with chives, and serve immediately.


Roasted Plum and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
If roasting the plums doesn’t fit your schedule, cut each into six to eight slices and soften them in the skillet with the onions.
Cooking oil spray
2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
1 medium-size sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1/2–1 teaspoon chili powder
1 log of goat cheese (4–6 ounces) cut into four lengthwise slices, each slice cut in two
4 flour tortillas, 8 inches each
1/4 shredded cilantro leaves
8 medium-size plums, cut in half, roasted firm and thinly sliced
1 cup salsa (optional; peach-tomato or apricot-avocado salsa recommended)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with the chili powder, and stir-fry for 5 minutes, until the slices are soft and golden on the edges.
  3. Place two pieces of cheese on half of each tortilla (leave one side empty for folding over the filling) and sprinkle with cilantro. Top the cheese with the onion and the roasted plums. Fold over the tortilla to form a semicircle, enclosing the plum mixture. Press the sides together gently.
  4. Place the tortillas on the baking sheet. Spray the tops with cooking oil spray, and bake for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, cut each quesadilla in half. Serve warm with the salsa on the side (if using).


Peach-Pecan Kuchen
This is like a single-crust pie but easier to make because there’s no need to roll the dough.
Butter-flavored cooking oil spray
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons nonfat milk
Juice of 1/3 lemon (1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 pounds ripe peaches or nectarines, pitted and sliced (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 9-inch, loose-bottomed flan or pie pan with butter-flavored cooking oil spray.
  2. Mix the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder in a medium-size bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or knife until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg, milk, and lemon juice, and stir until the mixture forms a mass.
  3. Place the dough in the center of the pan, and press it across the bottom and up the sides.
  4. Arrange the peach slices in concentric circles over the dough. Mix the brown sugar, the tablespoon of flour, and the cinnamon, and spoon evenly over the peaches. Arrange the pecan halves over the sugar mixture.
  5. Stir the honey into the melted butter, and drizzle over the top.
  6. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F, and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack, and push the pan base free of the sides.
Meatless Monday posts are my effort to pitch the idea of eating meatless one day or one meal a week — for health, for the well-being of animals, and for the environment. I encourage you to give it a try. I also suggest trying variations of these recipes with the produce you have on hand. Additionally, if you are not yet ready to go a full day meat-free, try using these veggie-packed recipes as the focus of your meal.

Our Meatless Monday Archives:
Braised Chard Pizza and Farmhouse Salad
Mini Frittatas and Shaved Zucchini Salad

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