Welcome to Romeo's Food Lady! This blog contains recipes for delicious vegetarian food. Most of these are not recipes authored by me. Rather, this is just a compilation of great veggie food I've found from all over the place, usually tweaked just a little. It's intended to be a reference FOR ME so I don't lose great food I've found nor the changes I've made to suit my tastes, but I'm happy for you to use it, too. After more than 25 years of being a vegetarian, I know what tastes good.
Romeo's Food Lady is named after my friend and cat, Romeo. Romeo is not a vegetarian, but his Food Lady is!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sweet Potato Lasagna

Let me preface this recipe by saying I really do not approve of dishes that are mainly CHEESE.  That having been said, I have been looking for ways to incorporate more sweet potatoes into my diet, and this idea struck me as a good one.  I can't take full credit, because I know I've seen a recipe somewhere for sweet potato lasagna.  But I didn't have one to follow, so I made this up.  It can be used as a main dish or a side dish.

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin with a mandoline
15 - 16 oz. organic ricotta cheese (I used Organic Valley brand.)
2 free-range eggs
1/2 t. salt plus more, to taste
1/8 t. freshly-ground black pepper
6 - 8 oz. organic mozzarella (Again, I used Organic Valley.), shredded  (TIP:  Mozzarella is a soft-ish cheese.  Putting the block in the freezer for about 10 minutes before shredding firms it up and makes the shredding easier.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Put 2 T. olive oil into an 8 x 11-inch baking dish.  Using a paper towel, grease the entire dish with the oil.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil over mediumheat.  Sauté the chopped onion until transluscent, about 5 - 8 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix the onion, ricotta, eggs, 1/2 t. salt, and black pepper to make the ricotta custard.

Layer 1/3 of your sweet potato slices in the bottom of the greased baking dish and salt to taste.  Top the sweet potato layer with 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella.  Spread 1/2 of the ricotta custard over the cheese.  Layer another 1/3 of the sweet potato slices over the ricotta (salt to taste), then another 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella. Spread the other half of the ricotta custard over the cheese.  Top with the last 1/3 of sweet potatoes and cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake the lasagna at 400 degrees F until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.  Remove the foil and sprinkle on the final 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Continue baking, uncovered, until the top layer of cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

I served the lasagna with broccoli, speckled butter beans, and cornbread:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Savory Vegan Breakfast - Spicy Black Bean Potatoes

Memphis has a famously great breakfast restaurant called Brother Junipers, and you should visit it if you haven't already.  I love their potato dishes.  The "P1" is my favorite, and I usually order it without the cheese.  This weekend, I didn't have the time to wait for a table at the popular restaurant, so I took a stab at the "P1" at home.  I think it turned out pretty well!

1 T. canola oil
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch chunks
1.5 c. salsa (I used 1 can of Kroger's diced salsa-style fire-roasted tomatoes.  They have some kick!)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed


In a large nonstick skillet, preferably with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat.  Toss the potatoes in the oil, and cover the skillet with either the lid or aluminum foil.  Allow the potatoes to cook in the oil until they're softening, about 8 minutes.

Remove the cover and pour the salsa over the potatoes.  Try to have the salsa spread out enough to touch all the potato pieces without disturbing the potatoes.  Pour the black beans on top and recover.  Cook until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork.  Remove from heat before the potatoes are too mushy to hold together.

Serve the potato dish with a piece of whole-grain toast and green tea for a healthy, savory vegan breakfast.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vegetable (Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian) Lasagna

First, let me say, this recipe is not vegan.  If you're looking for a good vegan lasagna, see my previous post (here).  But if that's not important to you, this is a great recipe.

The ricotta custard recipe is modified from one in Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens cookbook.  The rest is moi.  Remember that lasagna is a slight ordeal to make, but it can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and popped into the oven for a no-fuss dinner or dinner party.  So roll up your sleeves and have at it.

1 16-oz. tub of organic ricotta cheese (I used Organic Valley brand, which was only 15 oz., and it worked fine.  Try to find organic, because it tastes better, it's healthier, and the animals that produce it usually get treated better.)
2 free-range eggs (For humane reasons, free-range is better than cage free.), beaten
1/2 t. salt plus additional, to taste
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 12-oz. package of frozen chopped spinach leaves
1 box lasagna noodles (or the correct amount for whatever brand you're using to make 4 layers in your 9 x 13 baking dish...different brands of noodles are different sizes)
2 jars of your favorite tomato spaghetti sauce
6 - 8 oz. shredded organic mozzarella cheese (If you're buying a block of organic mozzarella, like Organic Valley, it's difficult to shred because it's soft.  Even my food processor didn't like it.  Try putting the block in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes to firm it up, then shred.)

I like to get each layer's ingredients ready to go, then boil the noodles, then put the lasagna together.  Here's how I do it.

Make the ricotta custard by mixing the ricotta cheese, the 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 t. salt, and 1/8 t. freshly-ground pepper.  Refrigerate mixture until ready to use.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the onion until transluscent, 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove the onion from the skillet.  Add more olive oil to the skillet, if necessary, and sauté the carrot coins over medium heat until tender-crisp, 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove the carrots from the skillet.  Add the frozen chopped spinach and move around in the oiled skillet over medium heat until thoroughly thawed.  Add 1/2 of the sautéed onion to the spinach, and add salt to the spinach, to taste.  Mix well.  Separately, combine the sautéed carrot coins and the remaining sautéed onion and add salt to taste.

Now cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.  In the meantime, if you're cooking the lasagna immediately after preparation, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the noodles are drained, cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with spaghetti sauce (about 1 c. ?) and cover the sauce layer with 1/4 of your lasagna noodles.  Follow this with another layer of sauce.  Spread the carrot-onion mixture over the sauce.  Remove and reserve 1/3 c. of your mozzarella cheese, and spread half of what is left over the carrots.  Layer another 1/4 of your noodles over the cheese.  Spread the ricotta custard evenly over the noodles, then make another layer of pasta with 1/4 of your noodles.  Cover the pasta with another layer of sauce.  Now spread the spinach-onion mixture over the sauce and sprinkle on the other half of the mozzarella.  Top this with a final layer of noodles covered generously with another layer of sauce.

At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the lasagna, covered, or you can cover it with aluminum foil and pop it into your 350-degree oven.  Bake 20 minutes, then remove the foil.  Sprinkle on the reserved 1/3 c. mozzarella, and bake another 15-20 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread, and you have a filling, delicious vegetarian meal on your hands.

This recipe is tailored for tailoring, so feel free to do your will with it.  Top with tomato slices or fresh basil, sautée your onion with some chopped jalapeno pepper, use a different cheese, substitute bell peppers for the carrots - use your imagination!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Garlicky Red Lentil Dip or Spread

I think I've mentioned before how I will sometimes get a good recipe and hang onto it for quite a long time before trying it.  I don't always have the emotional or creative space to try out something new, and when I do, that recipe might not fit the bill for that moment.  Well, this is one of those recipes, but I'm so glad I finally got around to trying it!  My friend Elaine, who lives in Tampa, mailed this to me a few years ago.  I'm not sure where she got it, but I'm glad she shared it!

This recipe is for a garlic-y red lentil dip that can easily be used as a spread for crostini, canapes, or even, as below, a sandwich!  The dip is hummus-like, but it does not have garbanzo beans nor tahini.  It's deliciously vegan and makes about 2 cups or maybe more.

1 c. red lentils
1.5 c. water
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t. salt
1.5 t. ground cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/4 t. hot red pepper sauce (or more, to taste)

Place the lentils, water, and garlic cloves in a medium saucepan and bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Boil for 3 minutes, then remove the pan from heat.  Cover and let stand for 12 minutes or until the lentils have absorbed the water.

Put the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, cumin, chili powder, and hot pepper sauce in the work bowl of a food processor.  Add the lentils and garlic, and purée until smooth.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately as a dip - or spread over crostini, canapes, or your sandwich bread to build something else delicious.  (I made a sandwich on baguette bread and stacked up the spread, mild banana pepper rings, avocado slices, arugula, and tomato slices, and I served it with crinkle-cut fries.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spinach and TVP Calzones

Here's a new, DELICIOUS vegan calzone recipe!  It takes some time, but it is so worth it.  The recipe for the dough is a slightly modified version of the vegan pizza dough in the cookbook Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville, but the filling is mine.  This recipe makes 8 calzones.

dough ingredients:
1 T. yeast
1 1/4 c. lukewarm water
2 T. cornmeal
1/2 c. olive oil
1 t. salt
3.5 cups AP flour, plus more for kneading and rolling out dough

filling ingredients:
1 c. TVP
1 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
7/8 c. boiling water
1 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
12-oz. bag frozen chopped spinach
8 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 jar of your favorite jarred tomato spaghetti sauce (like Newman's Own or Muir Glen!)

Mix the yeast and lukewarm water, and allow the yeast to soak until foamy, about 5 minutes.  At the same time, mix the cornmeal, salt, and olive oil in a 2-quart bowl so that the cornmeal can be softening.  When the yeast is ready, mix the water/yeast mixture into the 2-quart bowl with the cornmeal/olive oil/salt mix.  Stir until mixed.

Begin adding AP flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly with a wooden spoon between each addition.  Once the dough is too stiff to stir, turn out onto a floured countertop.  Knead in the remaining flour and add any necessary flour sprinkling to keep the dough from sticking while you are kneading it.  Once the dough has reached a smooth, firm consistency (It should feel the same way your earlobe feels when you pinch it.) and is not sticky, form it into a ball and return it to the bowl.  Pour in a little olive oil, then turn the dough over so it is coated in the oil.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 35 - 40 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 500 degrees Farenheit.  Mix the TVP, 1 t. salt, garlic powder, and boiling water.  Allow this to sit 10 minutes to hydrate.  Warm the spaghetti sauce in a medium saucepan over low heat (enough to top 8 calzones).

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the chopped onion in the warm oil until the onion is transluscent (6 - 8 minutes).  Stir in the chopped spinach and continue to sauté until the spinach is no longer frozen.  Stir in the chopped olives and TVP until thoroughly mixed.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down with your fist.  Divide the dough into halves, then divide each half into 4 equal parts.  Roll one of the dough parts into a 6-inch circle.  Put 1/8 of the spinach filling over half of the dough circle.

Fold the other half of the circle over the filling, and seal the edges with the tines of a fork.  Prick the calzone with a fork several times to allow heat to escape while it is cooking.  Move the calzone to a baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining 7 dough parts.

Bake the calzones for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the calzones from the oven.  Plate each calzone topped with tomato spaghetti sauce.  Be careful, because they are hot!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pumpkin-Banana Muffins

This is a muffin recipe I got from a friend maybe....15 years ago?  I modified it to have pumpkin and chocolate chips and nuts.  It makes the muffins more interesting and more healthy!

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder (Try to buy the kind that does NOT have aluminum in it.)
3/4 t. salt
1 egg, beaten (If you want to make these vegan, use Ener-G Egg Replacer.)
1/2 c. almond milk or rice milk
1/3 c. canola oil
1/2 c. canned pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 banana, peeled and mashed with a fork
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, but delicious!)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 12-muffin tin (or line with cupcake papers).

In a 2-quart bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-blended.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the egg, milk, oil, pumpkin, and banana.  Mix with a wooden spoon until just blended.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips, if using, until just evenly distributed.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin tins.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes until golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

NOTE:  If you don't have any canned pumpkin, you can omit the pumpkin and just use 2 mashed bananas.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hot Chocolate Mix

Even though we've had a pretty warm winter, there have been chilly mornings and evenings that were still just right for hot chocolate.  Here's a recipe I got from Martha Stewart that allows you to make your own hot chocolate mix.  As her publications point out, you can make this mix and have enough to last you through the hot chocolate season.  It's economical, and it allows you to make vegan hot cocoa.

3 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. cocoa
1 T. salt
soy milk or almond milk, for serving

In a large bowl, sift the ingredients together.  Store them in an air-tight container.  To serve, pour 1 c. soy milk or almond milk into a microwave-safe mug.  Zap the milk to the desired temperature, then add 3 heaping tablespoons (or more or less, to taste) of the mix and stir well with a fork to break up all the powdered lumps.

To make a larger batch, heat the soy or almond milk in a saucepan, taking care not to boil it.  Add 3 T. of the mix per cup of milk used.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

Here's another fantastic recipe from Peta's The Compassionate Cook vegan cookbook.  I've modified it only slightly.  Serve this with toasted garlic bread for a light, delicious dinner.

1 bunch (or about 1 lb.) broccoli
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 c. vegetable broth
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 c. almond milk
freshly ground black pepper and/or cayenne pepper, to taste

On each broccoli stalk, cut off about 1/2-inch from the bottom and discard.  Cut away the florets, and reserve to the side.  Cut away the woody, tough exterior from the stalk, and cut the stalk interior into pieces.

Place the broccoli florets and stalk interor pieces, onion quarters, garlic clove, and vegetable broth into a large saucepan.  Bring the broth to a boil, cover the saucepan, and reduce heat to medium.  Boil until the vegetables are soft, about 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Add the flour and salt to the pan.  Using an immersion blender, purée the vegetables and flour together.  (Alternatively, you can move the ingredients to a regular blender and purée.  It's just a little messier.  Once puréed, move the ingredients back to the pan.)

Stir in the almond milk and heat through.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and ladle into soup bowls.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Are you freaking out, because you have to go to a "big game" party today, but you don't have anything planned to take?  Personally, I'm taking a layered Mexican dip to my sister-in-law's house, but this candy-cookie that I usually make at Christmas is easy and quick, too, if you're looking for a sweet thing to take.  I got this recipe from my mom (Hi Mom!).  She's been making this at the holidays for decades.  The amounts are flexible...make as many or as few as you want.

chocolate bark (This is the meltable chocolate that you can buy by the pound in the baking section of your grocer.)
waxed paper
Ritz crackers
peanut butter (I'm not sure if the truly natural kind will work.  It seems like it might be too wet.  I use the Jif natural, which is still creamy instead of wet somehow.)
optional:  white chocolate bark for garnish


Melt chocolate in the top pan of a double-boiler (or we usually use a slow-cooker on the lowest setting).  Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper.

While the chocolate is melting, spread a generous amount of peanut butter between 2 Ritz crackers to make a sandwich.  Make as many cracker-sandwiches as you want.  When the chocolate is fully melted, dip each peanut butter cracker sandwich into the melted chocolate to completely coat the sandwich.  Remove with a fork, scraping off the excess on the side of the pan.  Place the coated sandwich on the waxed paper to set.  Once you're done dipping, put the cookie sheet in the fridge to harden up the chocolate.

Once the chocolate is set, you're set, too!

Optional garnish:  To make the white zig-zags shown in the photo, melt some white chocolate bark in the microwave, zapping a few seconds, then stirring, then zapping, then stirring, until the chocolate is melted.  Pour the melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag and zip it up.  Using kitchen shears, snip a corner off the bottom of the bag.  Zig-zag the chocolate over the covered cookie sandwiches while they're on the waxed paper.  Put in the fridge to set as normal.

Scott would like to add:  Go Giants!