As so many of my vegetarian readers, not so subtly, pointed out there is more to the world of food than cheeseburgers. Comfort food does not have to be heavy in animal fats but can be even be more fun than fattening, if done correctly.If you are a vegetarian cook, you have probably already run across Mollie Katzen and her children’s book The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. But some of us never grow up. This cookbook suits us adults who like to be creative, fun, and serve attractive and interesting dishes to friends and family. For mom’s trying to get the kids to engage in healthy eating, Mollie’s recipe’s are tops.If you are not a cook, but a connoisseur, of vegetarian cuisine some of the nation’s best vegetarian food can be found from North Miami to Coconut Grove. In North Miami you can’t beat Julio’s Natural Foods. Google reviewers give Julio’s four stars. Farther south, The Bookstore in the Grove the historic Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove, provides delectable dishes and has an atmosphere like no other. According to VegGuide.org, The Bookstore rates four and a half stars.
An enchanted vegetarian recipe is a joy to get the whole gang involved in. When cooking with the kids this summer this recipe is a must. They love it, making it and eating it! And it is good for them! At parties, it is a conversation piece that can also serve as a center piece. If you have not picked up Mollie Katzens’s recipes, then bookmark them now. All are satisfying and fun to make.
Below is a quick and easy adaptation of the recipe for Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. According to Mollie, she came up with this ingenious presentation of broccoli trees planted in herbed rice pilaf for two artist friends.
- 2 cups brown pre-cooked
- 1 pound fresh broccoli steamed and cooled
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus a little extra for the pan)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint (or 3 teaspoons dried)
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- pepper to taste
- cayenne to taste
- 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
- 1/4 pound Swiss or cheddar cheese, grated
- a little extra olive oil for the top
- Cook brown rice, takes 30-45 minutes (easy reference is 1 part brown rice to 2 parts water).
- Trim the tough bottoms from the broccoli stalks and cut the tops into smallish spears of whatever size suits you. Remember you are making trees so leave the stem long for later trimming. Steam the trees and let them cool.
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and salt and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and the lemon juice and saute for about 2 minutes longer. Stir in the rice, some black pepper and cayenne to taste along with the optional ingredients. Taste to correct salt, if necessary, and spread in the prepared pan.
- Top with cheese (you may choose to make ‘grass’ with dill or fresh parsley or cilantro). Sprinkle with sunflower seeds.
- Now the fun part. Arrange the broccoli upright in the rice, and, if desired, drizzle with olive oil. Cover loosely with foil and bake just until heated through (15 -20 minutes). Serve right away. Tip: you can use shish-kebob sticks to keep your trees up straight as they cool.