Tag Archives: vegetarian

Dosa! Excellent Veggie Street Fare

Sigh. Another incredible early fall day in Ottawa. Time to take advantage and hit up another food truck. I hope I will steel my nerves and visit them during the winter months but I can’t promise. We certainly have enjoyed them this summer when weather and time permits. Added bonus is that they are one type of resto where we can bring a pooch and Josie is quickly becoming a seasoned food truck gourmand.

Dosa is located at the SW corner of Dundonald Park at Lyon and Somerset streets. So far this is one of the best located trucks, at least by this diner’s point of view. Buy lunch and settle in on a bench or at a table in the dappled shade of pretty Dundonald Park, open to dogs on leash. The Dosa Inc. truck has a QR code on the back and you can scan it with your phone and a menu will pop up to peruse while you wait.

Dosa 1The truck had no line today, but many patrons were already chowing down in the park when we arrived after noon. Service is fast, friendly and helpful. And had never served a dog before. Dosa, a vegetarian staple from the south of India, combines rice and lentil batter to form a large, thin crepe. The crepe is served with a variety (13 choices at Dosa) of meat-free fillings. Each dosa comes with a lightly spiced stew, called sambar, a cooling chutney and a good scatter of thin, crisp, well-made plantain chips. According to Wikipedia, “Sambar is a vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind and pigeon peas”. Dosa Inc’s version, thin and very mild heat-wise also has some eggplant. The chutney, nothing like the bottled mango chutney most of us are familiar with, tastes blandly of coconut and I found to be ideal when paired with the mild spice of the dosa.

Dosa 2Josie decides on a breakfast dosa, spinach, fried egg and cheese with no sides. Rob got the #3, a classic Masala Dosa, filled with potatoes, vegetables and spices and I ordered a dosa stuffed with sweet red cabbage, spiced mushrooms and cheese. We choose to eat our dosas with a fork and knife but it could easily be rolled and eaten by hand. My dosa #7, the Gooey Gouzenko, had nice texture provided by the cabbage. The mushrooms added spice and a mild , pleasant heat. I assume the cheese was paneer. A little more cheese would have been nice, but overall, it was quite filling and a really nice change to a sandwich or a chip truck for the Ottawa lunch crew.

Dosa 4Rob’s masala dosa was full of a classic Indian potato and vegetable mixture. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and not mushy. The dosa doesn’t give you impression of eating carb-on-carb, perhaps because of the the lentils in the pancake or the texture of the extra vegetables. Dosa 8While yellow with spice, it had a very mild heat. A home-made hot sauce was available at the truck for those with more adventurous tastes, but if you’re wary of spicy food, you can eat at Dosa without a concern.

Dosa 6Josie gobbled her dosa, licked her lips and then begged for plantain chips. A dog of few words, Josie heartily endorses the Dosa truck as a great addition to Ottawa’s street food scene. Dosas are both vegetarian and gluten-free.

Dosa 9$25 for 3 dosas, one canned drink and one mango lassie. Note: Josie’s dosa was discounted $2 because we asked that they not include the sides. We were refunded the cost of one dosa because I had emailed Jake about not being there on time yesterday at lunch. The refund is not reflected in the price quoted here.

 

 

Accidental Vegetarian Week

Rob and I  find ourselves eating less meat these days. Not sure we could commit to full time vegetarianism, but we are finding that eating satisfying meatless meals is pretty easy and sacrifice free. When we do include meat, we splurge on high quality, local produce, which has a lower carbon footprint, supports local farmers and tastes better. Every two weeks or so we commit to a meatless menu for the coming week. This is what it looks like:

Monday, is the one night where neither of us has to be anywhere after supper so I usually choose a garlicky menu item. Also known as “Bottle-of-wine Monday”, tonight’s meal will be pasta — Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino or spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili flakes, and a nice Italian red.

The pasta is simple, but flavorful with a bite from the garlic and heat from the red chile. It’s rounded nicely with a grating of parmigiano reggiano, some good olives and a nice chianti.

Tuesday sees a rush at dinner hour. I have kickboxing and get home to three animals who need to be fed, so I usually choose something that I can prepare quickly or ahead of time. This week we are having Paneer and Tomato Curry. For this recipe I quarter 5 of the tomatoes and dice the other three. I add them all at the same time. I substitute garlic and ginger paste, available at any Indian food market, for the garlic and ginger. I find the garlic more mellow and does not repeat. Perfect for a chilly fall day, warm with Indian spices, rich with coconut milk and hearty with paneer, this dish satisfies. Rob stops at our local Indian take out on the way home for naan. You can serve this with basmati rice or grocery store naan, but tandoor-oven naan is really unbeatable. We often freeze the leftovers for another day. This recipe is filling, and satisfying. It’s excellent comfort food for a cold night and truth be told, it’s even better another day after some time in the fridge to let the flavours marry.

Wednesday I am preparing a Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup. It’s good to try at least one new recipe a week. This was cheesy, delicious. and quite thick. Thin with more broth if you like.

Thursday is quiet for me. No appointments, nowhere to be until 11 pm hockey. So it’s a day I like to cook something that takes a little time, iPod on, Josie at my feet, kitties sleeping on the stairs, something that makes the house smell good and blows raspberries at November weather. This week I’m making a creamy, cheesy, Mushroom Risotto. I use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. The mushrooms and liquid from soaking the dried porcinis makes this dish quite beefy tasting. Like every good risotto, this is creamy, rich and satisfying. The mushrooms provide a meatiness all to themselves.

Friday this week I have chosen something light but elegant that we can open a bottle of wine with and curl up in front of the TV and fire. We are going out to dinner tomorrow at Steven Beckta’s new resto Gezellig, so we will indulge or likely over indulge then. Tonight we will have to be satisfied with Peach and Brie Quesadillas and a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio. We used bottled peaches in juice and a white sweet onion instead of red.

I guarantee with a little planning around your schedule, you will be surprised that you can eat very well and not even realize you had no meat. That’s why we call it accidental vegetarian. We choose a recipe because it will be tasty specifically, not because it was vegetarian. That’s just a happy coincidence.

 

Accidental Vegetarian: Panzanella

Meatless Monday and sharing a bottle of wine over dinner, is a tradition we have recently slipped into, as it is the one evening neither of us has to rush off to do something else. We are discovering that vegetarian food does not have to be boring. It’s actually surprisingly easy to find recipes for dishes that you would cook or order in a restaurant, because you want to eat it, not because it is vegetarian. Italian cuisine offers up many such pleasures. Panzanella is light but satisfying, and pairs well with a good Chianti Classico.

Panzanella (Tuscan Bread Salad)
Serves 4

adapted from the several dozen but all very similar recipes on the web. David Rocco inspired me to try it after he prepared a version on Dolce Vita.

Ingredients: Salad

9-10 cups of day old rustic bread such as Italian crusty, cut into large cubes….1-2 inches
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 a large sweet onion, cut into thin slices
1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half, then quarters, then chunks
1 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded
Parmesan for serving

Ingredients for Dressing:

1/3 cup good quality olive oil
3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
good pinch of Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Method:

1. Combine bread and half of the marinade, toss and let sit to marinate for 10 minutes.

2. Add the remaining marinade and other ingredients. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired. Salad does not keep so eat up!

Click HERE for a print-friendly version of this recipe.

 

 

 

 

Accidental Vegetarian: Rustic Pasta

Eating vegetarian appeals to me on many levels: It’s healthy and lighter generally, and, as an animal lover I do struggle with eating mammals at times. Rob and I consciously buy from local farmers where possible. I want to know where my meat came from, that it was raised with care and an eye to it’s quality of life, and without antibiotics and hormones  But bacon is so damned delicious and my resolve to eat less meat fades in the light of a frigid Ottawa winter. A steak cooked medium-rare and served up in a Thai coconut curry sauce or a pork and green chile stew is just that more comforting and soul sustaining than a tofu stirfy or portabello burger, in the grip of a -32 windchill. So, when I stumble across a recipe that coats the mouth with such satisfying, savoury richness and flavour and delivers that feeling of being sated, sleepy and happy AND it is vegetarian, I am very happy.

This recipe was shown to my daughter Hannah by her friend, Bridget (Hi, Bridget!) when they were in their late teens.

Rustic Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic and Thyme

Ingredients:
1 sweet onion, medium chop
2 pints of cherry tomatoes. A mix of varieties is nice. Buy the sweetest ones you can.
2-3 large cloves of garlic, sliced thin (I use a hand held mandoline)
A glug of good quality olive oil. I use Frantoia (alla Mario :))
A couple of sprigs of thyme, remove stems. You can use any woody herb on hand such as Rosemary or sage. Lightly chop to bruise herb.
Salt and pepper
Rustic pasta like garganelli
Parmesan or Pecorino for serving

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss onion, tomatoes (halve any large ones), garlic and thyme with a good glug of olive oil (don’t skimp, it’s a large part of the finished sauce), salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes. Tomatoes should have  blistered and lightly charred skins. Turn oven off and leave to keep warm. Cook pasta. Stir tomato sauce and serve on top of pasta. Sprinkle with fresh grated cheese. You can easily adjust this recipe to serve as many people as you like.

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.