Mar 11 2010

A Vegetarian Feast

Published by at 6:01 pm under Dessert,Dinner

I’ve never been a huge fan of mushrooms, but since they’re just about the “meatiest” vegetable on the market, I’ve decided to learn to love them. Thus, I bucked up, bought some huge portobellos at my favorite nearby produce market and decided to create my own Portobello Mushroom Napoleon with my favorite veggies. Incidentally, if you were in the mood for some meat this would still make an excellent side dish. 

The idea behind the napoleon is just to stack all of the vegetables on top of one another, with some rich-tasting bindings between layers for flavor (I chose creamy spinach and baked goat cheese). If you have some of that high-quality balsamic vinegar around that I mentioned earlier, there’s no need even to make a reduction sauce: just drizzle on top!

I’ve also been loving experimenting with sweet potatoes this season, so I decided to try my hand at Baked Sweet Potato Fries — a delicious and nutritious treat! I think my assistant would eat them with every meal if he could. They take a full hour to cook in the oven, but it’s worth the wait if you have time. 

Portobello Mushroom Napoleon

Ingredients (Makes 2 napoleons): 

2 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and gills removed

1 large tomato or two smaller ones

2 medium zucchini, sliced into long, thin strips

1 12 oz. bag of baby spinach

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

8 oz. goat cheese, plus additional for garnish (optional)

Olive oil



Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice tomatoes into 4 thick rounds and coat lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes or until they begin to brown at the edges. After 15 minutes, remove tomatoes and top each with 2 oz. goat cheese. Place them back in the oven and cook for another 5 minutes.

I don’t have a grill (tragic, I know) but I do have a grill pan that works pretty well on my stovetop, so I used it to cook the zucchini. You can use a grill, grill pan, or roast them in the oven with the tomatoes. If you’re using a grill pan, coat it generously with spray oil and turn it on medium heat, then cook the zucchini for about 4 minutes on each side. For extra flavor you can marinate the zucchini beforehand, if desired. 

Douse the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper as well, and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes with the tomatoes. 

Sauté the spinach in large skillet, then add ricotta cheese to the pan. Combine and add a pinch of salt and pepper for flavor. 

Place each mushroom on a plate, and top with a layer of the spinach and ricotta mixture. Place the tomato with goat cheese on top of that. Add another layer of the spinach mixture, then add the final tomato. On top of that, add zucchini slices and top with additional goat cheese, if desired. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the napoleon.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients (Serves 2 people hungry for french fries):

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into “fry” shapes

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt 

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together. Arrange evenly on a pan so that there’s not too much overlap. Bake for 1 hour or until slightly brown and crispy. 

No feast is complete without dessert, so I found a serious shortcut for making truly delicious bread pudding. It’s adapted from this Emeril Lagasse recipe, but since I didn’t have any bourbon on hand I took a few shortcuts. My version can be made from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, and it’s super fast and simple. 

Easiest Bread Pudding Ever

Ingredients (serves 4 small bowls, 2 large ones):

Small pat of butter or cooking spray

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

1 cup half and half or whole milk (either works fine)

2 cups cubed French baguette

1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a pan with butter or cooking spray (for my low quantity I used a standard loaf bread pan: about 9 x 5 x 2 inch). Mix next 6 ingredients (eggs through half and half) in a medium-sized bowl. Add bread and raisins, and set aside for 20 minutes, or as much time as you have to spare. Pour mixture into pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until bread on top begins to toast slightly. 

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “A Vegetarian Feast”

  1. […] liv bites » A Vegetarian Feast […]

  2. Christion 13 Mar 2010 at 9:48 am

    The Portobello Mushroom Napoleon looks scrumptious and truly gourmet. I am going to try your recipe this week. The presentation is just fabulous.
    I have a wonderful tangerine balsamic as well as a fig balsamic that I purchased in Chicago and have used in salad dressings, but I wondered if you had any recipes you think they would compliment.

  3. Livon 16 Mar 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Christi! I love using my flavored balsamic vinegars in salad dressings, but they also make great marinades and can also be delicious with dessert. Remember when we drizzled it over the fig and basil bread pudding we ate at Christmas? You could also try making a balsamic reduction sauce to serve with meat.

  4. Billon 17 Mar 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Liv, I have not visited lately but your meals all look and sound delicious!
    May be a good thing you moved to San Francisco or I might have to have another heart surgery if I ate all your wonderful cooking.

  5. Christion 18 Mar 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions. I do remember the dessert and the fig balsamic was perfect with it. Great ideas.

  6. liv bites » Lamburgerson 13 Jun 2010 at 1:03 pm

    […] result? My assistant is already asking when we can make them again. And I even baked some sweet potato fries on the side so I could get my ketchup […]