Wednesday, December 26, 2012


My mother asked me to make the vegetarian dish this Christmas dinner. Although many people in my family are vegetarians, I am not. But my sister, who is a vegetarian, would be busy up to the last minute running her bookstore, and I love to cook. I also claim, without being vegetarian, to be the family's biggest vegetable eater. While my vegetarian brother, sister, sisters-in-law, neices, and nephew are downing the cheesy pasta and bread, I am serving myself second helpings of salad and cauliflour and thinking about the next way I'll cook the delicata squash.

This is partly due to my restricted diet that allows no gluten and no sugar. But that's not all. You can be gluten-free and emancipated from sugar and still avoid vegetables. Not me, no siree! No matter how much the Poet teases me about my mild obsession with vegetables, I am not deterred. Vegetables are among the best things in life.

When I read about the diet most recommended for Lyme disease and many other illnesses, generally called the anti-inflammatory diet (which means you eat far more vegetables and fruits than meat or grains) I realized I had by instinct eating in the way that made me feel best.

Special foods when you are sick are a blessing and a curse. They make you feel wonderful but can wall you off from the rest of the world. It is difficult to go out because menus are perilous, portions for meat and french fries are gigantic while vegetables are "sides", and eating organic is astronomically expensive.

Staying home can be equally difficult if it requires cooking. But the recipes I made for this year's Christmas dinner are easy.

The first is socca, a very simple chick-pea cake. The recipe I found is so good it needs no amending, so here's the link:

In addition to this I made a dish of my own invention, which I call:


2-3 many medium to large eggplants as you like, cut in half lengthwise
1-2 red or green bell peppers as you like, cut roughly into 6 to 8 pieces
2-3 medium onions with paper skins left on, quartered
3-4 cloves of garlic, roughly crushed under the heel of your hand
1/4 to 1/3 cup Pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup parseley, in 1 inch dice, stems chopped to a quarter inch

The amounts of vegetables are not a cause for stress. If you like roasted bell peppers, put more in. Ditto for onions. It's your life!

Preheat oven to 375
Cut eggplant in half length-wise, salt for 30 minutes then rinse and pat dry
Meanwhile cut the other vegetables and parseley

Mix together:
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste and plenty of good quality black pepper
(The amount of oil and wine can be variable, so long as you have enough to generously coat your vegetables.)

In a large roasting pan, arrange eggplants and onions skins up, cut side down. Put the garlic garlic and parsely beneath the onions and eggplant so it doesn't dry out. Add the red peppers and olives in the gaps between the other vegetables and pour the oil and red wine mixture over everything, being sure to coat the onion and eggplant skins completely.

Cover pan with lid or aluminum foil.
After 40 minutes, start checking to see if it's done. When the eggplant is soft enough to almost fall apart when cut with a butter knife or side of a fork, it is done. The sliced sides of the vegetables should be nicely browned by then. Remove the papery skins from the onions and serve.


Omit parseley
Omit olives
Substitute lemon juice for red wine
Substitute ground coriander for black pepper

This dish is scalable and can be made in large quantities as long as you have enough roasting pans to put two or more in the oven. It freezes well so you can make a big batch and freeze in small containers to have at a later date, any easy way to eat lots of delicious, healthy vegetables at home.


painting at top of this blog by Sandra Galda

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