my little brother, casey, is a vegetarian. he has been since he was about 12, and he chose this because he doesn't want to eat animals of any kind -- he says "if it has a mom, i'm not eating it." when he told our parents this, they were less than enthused, but i tried to stick up for him and explain that he might be young, but he can decide what he wants to eat. my argument was that they weren't going to let someone make them eat something they disliked, so why should they expect him to eat things he doesn't want to eat? however, as a 17-year-old boy (thank god, with a fast metabolism), he now eats weird stuff that usually grosses me out. like dorito sandwiches. there's no meat in it, but the amount of preservatives and stuff in some of the things he eats worries me. i'm not saying i don't love me a couple of oreos every now and then, but come on. dorito sandwiches? anyway...in an attempt to make sure he eats something better for him, and maybe will leave the ranch dressing behind, i wanted to make a dinner he would like that was sans meat and still delicious and healthy. my friend christopher is also a vegetarian, so i texted our group and said i was making dinner. i knew he would like it, plus i like cooking for people these days. kristin and chris showed up to eat, and chris brought the beer. score.
arugula salad with mozzarella & slow roasted tomato crostini
homemade veggie burgers with avocado & slow roasted tomato
baked sweet potato fries
lemon thyme soda (thanks, kjd!)
beer (thanks, chris!) (not for casey)
i'm not sure if i even need to explain any of this. i mean, doesn't that all sound incredibly delicious?
the crostinis were totally easy and i made them as soon as i got home from the store, so we could munch on something while we cooked. you just slice up a baguette, drizzle with olive oil and top with some mozzarella cheese (the recipe says smoked, but kroger was out. regular did just fine). put it in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted, then top with slow roasted tomatoes and salt and pepper. the slow roasted tomatoes are something gwyneth uses in several recipes. basically all you do is slice up some tomatoes on a cookie sheet, put some olive oil and salt on top, and roast them in the oven at 275 for a few hours until they are all broken down and a little crispy. so good. the recipe says to serve these crostinis with an arugula salad with oil and balsamic vinegar. i also had some spinach so i threw that in the mixed salad, too. everyone ate so many of these that we were almost full once the burgers were ready.
gwyneth's veggie burger recipe consists of onions, garlic, cumin, black beans and brown rice. i had a little issue with the cumin, but after eating them this time, i know they would have been even better if i had just went ahead and spent the crazy $7 on the cumin. next time. once the mixture is ready and cooled enough to handle, you start making patties and use a little flour on each side to sort of hold it together. then, just grill it like a burger. amazing. as i was making the "meat" for the burgers, i thought it just looked like a huge mess. but then once i started making the patties and it actually worked, i was amazed. this was a miracle. i just made burgers out of beans.
the sweet potato fries aren't gwyneth's recipe, but i'm sure she knows how to make them. they're super easy and delicious. the worst part about them is how difficult they are to chop, so i had my brother on sweet potato duty while i made the other stuff. the last time i chopped them, i had a blister on my finger for two weeks. wimp. after they are chopped, i just add a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper and pop them in the oven until they are cooked through. sweet potatoes are one of kyle's most favorite things, so these were especially for him.
kyle made some more of his lemon thyme soda with his soda maker from the caltriders. it's so refreshing -- and awesome that he can make it himself. i'm excited to try out more flavors!
after we finished, my sister made some of those break-apart cookies for dessert -- easy and yummy. we sat around the table, eating, drinking and listening to florence + the machine. it was a fun, impromptu gathering, and i really loved cooking for everyone! what's next, gwyneth?