Category Archives: vegetarian main dish

Refritos y Tostadas

A Fahy Family recipe since 2001, adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

Refritos (refried beans)

2 cans pinto beans
2-3 T olive oil
2  cups minced onion
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small bell pepper, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. salt
generous pinch black pepper

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onions, about half the garlic, cumin and 1/2 tsp. salt. Sautee over medium heat until onions are soft and translucent. Add the green pepper, sautee another five minutes or so, add the rest of the garlic and season with pepper.

Turn the heat to low, add the beans and mix well. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Cook for a few minutes more. Serve right away or store in fridge or freezer until it’s time to reheat – refried beans reheat beautifully.

Serve over plain cooked rice, stuffed into green pepper halves and baked, or in tostadas….


A tostada is an open-faced, multi-layered Mexican sandwich with many layers contrasting layers piled on a crispy corn tortilla. Spread a large table with dishes of tostada ingredients, and let everyone build their own creation, including but not limited to:

Refritos of course!
Hot sauce and or salsa
Deep-fried corn tortillas or tortilla chips – the round flat kind
chopped olives
chopped hard-cooked egg
chopped sweet pickled peppers or pimientos
grated cheese – mild white or cheddar
finely shredded cabbage or lettuce
sliced avocadoes
chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms…whatever
sour cream


Black Beans over Rice

I worked as an artist assistant for artist Chuck Hinman in the 80’s; he and Jan lived in a huge loft on Bowery, next-door to where the New Museum of Contemporary Art is now. Use Arborio rice if you have it.

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil, add beans and orange rind and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over rice topped with chopped scallions and drizzled with the best olive oil and balsamic vinegar you have.

black beans over rice

Butternut Squash “Pasta” with Ravioli

How to spiralize a butternut squash, with great illustrations thanks to Savory Lotus:

You’ll need quite a bit more than you might think because the “pasta” will shrink a lot as it bakes. Spread spiralized squash on a baking sheet and spray with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 400°, until al dente, stirring once half way through.

Meanwhile boil water and cook your ravioli (use the good ones!).  Drain and serve over the baked squash arranged on a serving dish. Topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.

ravioli over butternut



How to make Real NY Pizza in Maine

Greg switched to this recipe as soon as he read this article in the May – June 2015 issue of ZEST Magazine: How to Make a NEW YORK PIZZA by Bill Gloede, master pizzaiolo. Click through and read the article for more detailed and entertaining instructions on where to find specific ingredients in Maine. What follows is my stripped-down and restructured version.

For the dough
4 cups of either: high-gluten flour; bread flour; or a mix of “00” and all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups bottled water
2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (if using active yeast, let it bloom in half the water, heated to 110 degrees, for 10-15 minutes)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Put all the ingredients in the mixer bowl and, using the dough hook, ramp the speed up to medium-high and let it beat for at least five minutes but no more than 10, until the dough ball clears the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured cutting board, divide it in half, and make two balls by rolling the dough around on the board, carefully sealing up the seams.

Put each dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl big enough to allow it to double in size, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 24 hours and up to several days.

For the Sauce
The first thing to know about pizza sauce is that it should not be cooked. It cooks on the pizza. That means you can’t use Grandma’s long-simmered Sunday Gravy on a pizza; it will taste burnt. And jarred sauces don’t work well either. What does work well is a product called 7/11, made by Stanislaus, which is the go-to pizza sauce in most New York joints. You can get it at Micucci Grocery in Portland, but it comes in a No. 10 can, which means you’ll have a lot left over even after your first dozen pizzas. Otherwise I recommend Pomi strained Italian tomatoes, which come in a carton and are available in most supermarkets. While the 7/11 can be used right from the can, I suggest doctoring the Pomi by sautéing two large, finely chopped garlic cloves in extra virgin olive oil for about a minute, then adding about a quarter cup of white wine and continuing the sauté until the alcohol has burned off, about another minute or two. Combine the mixture with the Pomi, add a teaspoon of sugar and maybe a couple of torn-up basil leaves.

2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 carton Pomi Italian strained tomatoes
2-3 basil leaves, shredded
1 teaspoon sugar

Sauté finely chopped garlic in oil until translucent, add wine, cook off alcohol. Add to the tomatoes, along with basil and sugar.

Stanislaus-7-11-Ground-Tomatoes (1)

You’ll also need:
1, 16-oz. block whole-milk mozzarella
1, 16-oz. block part-skim mozzarella
Grated Romano cheese
Dried oregano flakes

By all means, if you can get to Micucci in Portland, pick up some Grande 50/50, a mix of shredded part- skim mozzarella and provolone cheeses. While I’m not a big fan of the mozzarella/provolone mix, which is more of a Midwestern thing, it’s ready to put on the pizza as-is, and is sufficiently higher in quality than any other retail cheese to make it worthwhile.

Otherwise, buy a 16-ounce block each of whole-milk and part-skim mozzarella. I get Galbani Sorrento brand at Hannaford and have even found Polly-O, the old standby in New York, at Wal-Mart. Put the cheese through the shredding attachment of your food processor, combine and mix up in a bowl.

Assembling the Pizza
When you are ready to make pizzas, preheat your oven to 500 degrees, with the pizza stone in place on the lowest rack, for about an hour.

Remove the dough balls from the fridge, let them sit out for 15 minutes or so, then get your pizza peel, dust it with a generous amount of semolina, put the dough ball on the peel, sprinkle more semolina over the top, and start pushing into the dough with your fingers, working from the center outward. Press it with the palms of your hands.

When it gets big enough to handle, pick up the dough and throw it back and forth between your hands a few times. Then hold it on your knuckles and begin stretching across between your hands, rotating the dough as you go, all the while letting gravity tug on the bottom of the dough.

When the diameter gets out to about 14 inches, lay the dough down on the peel, making sure there is plenty of semolina to keep it from sticking. To prevent the dough from separating when it hits the oven, pierce the dough liberally with a fork. This is called “docking” the dough, which prevents it from forming bubbles that push the sauce and cheese off to the side. If there’s a lot of humidity in the air, you’ll be glad you did this.

Sauce and Cheeses
Mix up the sauce, then ladle a thin layer onto your dough, working the ladle in a circular motion until you have coated—not loaded—the dough up to about a quarter of an inch from the edge. Now sprinkle some dried oregano over the sauced pizza (don’t overdo it!).

Now, lightly sprinkle some grated Romano cheese over the sauced pizza, then add the mozzarella—in a single layer! Good pizza is a less-is-more proposition. The reason the chains dump loads of cheese and toppings on their pizzas is because their pizzas and their ingredients are not very good.

The Toppings
One topping is good, two is less good but okay, three is pushing it and any more is just bad. Many real pizzaioli won’t put more than three toppings on a pizza—no matter what the customer wants.

The Baking
Hopefully you’ve got enough semolina on the peel so the pizza slides right off, into the oven and onto the stone. Cook until the mozzarella settles down into the sauce and turns a light orange, somewhere around 10 minutes depending on your oven. Pull the pizza out of the oven, put it on your tray, cut it with your pizza wheel—and enjoy!


Indonesian Gado-Gado

Adapted from “The Barrio Vegetarian” Peace Corps Philippines. We were there 1989-1990 and we still make this, especially in the late fall when our CSA shares are bountiful.  Gado-gado is a dipping sauce served with a platter of vegetables, tofu and hard-boiled eggs.

1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 chili pepper minced
oil for sauteing
1/2 to one cup boiling water
1 c chunky peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 lime, juiced – the original recipe calls for 3 kalamansi, a tiny green citrus fruit
1 teaspoon grated ginger
salt to taste
1/2 coconut milk (evaporated milk in the original)

according to the original recipe:
bean sprouts
shredded cabbage
green beans, blanched or raw
hard-boiled eggs, prepared in advance
tofu, cubed and sauted in advance
we add:
different colored sliced peppers
apple slices

Prepare vegetable platter ahead of time and sprinkle lemon or lime juice over the veggies.  Have the hard-boiled eggs peeled, leave them whole or cut them in half. Saute the tofu until browned.

Saute the onion and garlic in oil in a wok until soft, add peppers and cook a little more. Add the peanut butter to the pan and then gradually stir in the boiling water, whisking until smooth. Add all the other ingredients except coconut or evaporated milk and cook over low heat for another 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and simmer for a few more minutes. Pour into a serving dish and serve.


Potato Cheese Perogies

I tried a couple recipes in the 1990s trying to recreate the delicious perogies we had in bar mlecznys or milk bars in Poland.  This recipe via a Pittsburgh Post Gazette food blog seems close (with adaptations). NOTE – stewed onions are essential and the longer you cook them the better. Start them early!

Stewed Onions

2 T butter
2 large onions halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into crescents
1/4 c chicken, beef or vegetable broth

Melt butter in medium skillet over low heat. Stir in onion and cook until starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Add ¼ cup broth and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and deeply browned, about 1½ to 2 hours. If onions start to burn before they’re fully caramelized, add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional broth as needed.

Basic Pierogi Dough

1 large egg, beaten
1/2 c sour cream
4 T butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 t salt
2 c  unbleached flour

Whisk egg, sour cream or yogurt, butter and salt in bowl. Add flour to large bowl. Gently stir wet ingredients into flour. The dough will initially be very dry and shaggy, seeming as if it will never come together, but have no fear: Keep stirring and it will pull itself into shape.

Once dough starts to come together, press and smash it against the sides of bowl with your palms, picking up dough bits and essentially kneading it within bowl until it forms a ball.

Tip dough and any remaining shaggy flakes out onto a clean work surface. Knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover dough with bowl and let rest 15 minutes.

Potato and Cheddar Pierogi Filling *classic*

Don’t use too much flour when rolling out the dough, or the pierogies will be chewy and leaden (but probably still delicious). Boil then pan-fried the dumplings in butter. Yum. 

1/2 lb potatoes (about 1 medium or 2 small), cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 c finely shredded cheddar cheese
2 T heavy cream or whole milk

Place potatoes in medium saucepan. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and bring to boil over medium heat. Uncover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and bring back to pan. Place over low heat and stir for about 30 seconds to remove excess moisture. Run potatoes through a ricer or food mill fitted with fine disk into bowl. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, cheese and 1 tablespoon cream; consistency should be firm enough to roll into a ball. If filling is too dry, stir in additional 1 tablespoon cream.

To make pierogies: Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper.

Divide rested dough into 4 equal pieces with a bench scraper or knife. Set aside 3 dough pieces and cover with mixing bowl. Roll remaining dough as thinly as possible into a rough 8-by-12-inch rectangle.

Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 6 rounds of dough. Resist the temptation to re-roll dough scraps for additional rounds. It seems wasteful but dough won’t be as tender the second time around. Makes 24 pierogies.

Spoon filling into center of dough rounds.

Using your finger, swipe a scant amount of egg wash — just a light touch — around the dough edge.

Fold into a half-moon shape: Either fold dough over the filling on work surface or gently cup the pierogi in your hand in a U shape and fill.

Gently but firmly seal pierogi by pinching and squeezing edges together with your thumb and pointer finger. Start with 1 pinch at the top, then move to the “corner” of the pierogi and pinch along the edge back to the top. Repeat on opposite side to finish sealing pierogi.

Transfer to baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling.

To cook, pierogies can either be boiled  (2 to 3 minutes for fresh, 4 to 5 minutes for frozen), pan-fried in oil or butter (2 minutes per side), or deep-fried in at least 2 inches of 350-degree vegetable oil (3 minutes for fresh and 5 minutes for frozen).

Deep-fry, boil and/or pan fry pierogies as directed. Serve immediately with onions, sauerkraut and/or sour cream.

Sauerkraut (optional) and sour cream (essential) for serving.


“Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” by Casey barber (Gibbs Smith, July 2015, $19.99)

Vegetable Lo Mein

 We first made this in the summer of 1998 – adapted from The Cabbagetown Cafe Cookbook.

A very flavorful dish is made with pasta  and vegetables tossed with a garlic sauce. Any vegetables you have on hand are good–these are just suggestions.

Sesame Garlic Sauce

8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup peanut butter (the natural kind)
1 T dark sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne

Lo Mein

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti or linguini
1 cake extra firm tofu cut into bite-size cubes
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces (6 cups)
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces (4 cups)
1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives or scallions
1 cup Tamari Roasted Almonds

Tamari Roasted Almonds

1 1/2 c almonds
2 T tamari or soy sauce

Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in a 350º oven for 25 minutes, until lightly browned.  Leave oven on. Remove the nuts from pan and mix them with the soy sauce. Spread them out on the pan again and bake for 5 minutes more. Watch! They’ll burn fast!

1. Prepare the sauce. Mix together the garlic, ginger, peanut butter, sesame oil, vinegar, tamari and cayenne. Set aside.
2. Cook the spaghetti until al dente.
3. Prepare vegetables, either by steaming, blanching, or sauteeing. Mix cooked vegtables together with grated carrots.
4. Mix together all ingredients in a large pot, and reheat for a few minutes, until piping hot.
5. Serve sprinkled with almonds.