Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

June is busting out all over! According to the song from the musical, "Carousel," and here at the shore, the flowering trees are bursting, the grass is getting taller, and I have volunteered to cut some of it down, as my mom has miserable hayfever every year.  She says that my hayfever is just as bad as hers, and she'll do it herself.  Mothers.  Go figure.

We do have a real so-help-me carousel just down the coast from here, in Seaside Heights, NJ, and I have been promised a trip down there, to ride it.  I have never ridden on a carousel in my life, and Mom says I'm way overdue.  This carousel is special, and dates from around the turn of the Century.  It has a real military Wurlitzer Organ, and magnificent carved horses, and other wondrous beasts, each with an individual name. 

Mom had to go down there in December, to do a story for the local newspaper, and she got to ride on a wooden horse named "Joanie," and she said she hadn't had that kind of fun since she was six.  Of course, when she got home and told me, and I confessed that I had never ridden a carousel, she was horrified. 

Mom and I adopted each other when I was nine years old, and we continue to learn things about each other that we hadn't suspected.  Like my first trip to see Santa Claus, at the Monmouth Mall, that first Christmas that I was here.  Or the day that we drove over to the beach at Sandy Hook, just ten miles from here, and I was afraid to go near the surf line, for fear that I'd fall off.  She explained the continental shelf to me, and I felt a lot better.  But we continue to surprise each other, and it's fun.

Now I tell people that my mother can do anything, from writing novels to building houses, to navigating by the stars, but I'm here to tell you that while nobody ever died from eating her cooking, (she says that once she nearly killed a marine that she was dating, with a pot of coffee  -- no, she didn't hit him with it, he just drank some of it) she plain hates to mess around in the kitchen.  She built our kitchen cabinets, and paneled the place, and even put down the new floor, but she and cooking don't mix well.

So, it's up to me to feed us.

We are lucky, because we live in a semi-rural shore community, where we don't have to travel far to find a place to picnic, from any number of county parks to our own back yard.  I expect that the neighbors will put together a block party again this year, and I have gathered some recipes to share with them, and I'd like to share them with you as well.

Before I get into the recipes, and before I forget, I want to tell you all that Morningstar Farms has a new vegetarian product  -- Corn Dogs!  I tried them, and they are terrific.  Their regular vegetarian hot dogs thickly wrapped in a delicious crusty coating... check the frozen foods section of your supermarket.  And for those of you who, like me, are lactose intolerant, Lactaid does make lactose-free ice cream, and that is great, too.

Now for the main events:

Roasted Vegetable Wraps

  • 1 medium bell pepper, cut into 3/4" pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2" wedges
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4" slices
  • 1/4 lb. mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 6 flour tortillas (8 to 10 inches in diameter)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Spread bell pepper, onion, zucchini and mushrooms in ungreased jelly roll pan, 15 1/2" by 10 1/2" by 1".

Mix oil, basil, salt and pepper; brush over vegetables.  Bake uncovered 12 to 15 minutes, or until crisp-tender.  Cool slightly.

Spread about 2 teaspoons of Mexican Mayonnaise down the center of each tortilla, to within 2 inches of the bottom.  Top with vegetables, spreading to within 2 inches of the bottom. Top each with 1/4 cup of lettuce.

Fold one end of the tortilla up about 1 inch over the filling; fold right and left sides over folded end, overlapping.  Fold remaining end down.

Mexican Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry taco seasoning

Mix all ingredients.

  • Yields: 6 sandwiches
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

White Bean and Pesto Sub

  • 1 16-oz loaf of French bread, split
  • 1/4 cup of Basil Pesto Sauce
  • Leaf lettuce (optional)
  • 12 oz. canned white beans
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts

Puree white beans. Spread bottom half of bread with Pesto Sauce.

Layer with lettuce, white bean spread, tomato, and sprouts.  Cover with top half of bread.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Farmer's Market Toss

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 envelope Italian Salad Dressing Mix
  • 4 cups torn Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce
  • 3 cups assorted sliced or chopped vegetables
  • 1 fourteen oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and cut up

Mix sour cream and salad dressing mix.  Refrigerate.

Toss lettuce, vegetables and artichokes in a large bowl.  Top with desired amount of sour cream mixture; toss until evenly cooled.  Store any remaining cream mixture in refrigerator.  You may add crumbled cheese, basil, cilantro, dill, or chopped walnuts.

  • Yields: 5 cups
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus refrigeration

Frozen Sorbet Pie

  • 1 pint frozen strawberry or raspberry sorbet, softened (15 seconds in the microwave, set at medium)
  • 1 eight-oz tub thawed whipped topping
  • 1 ready-to-use graham cracker piecrust (9 inch)
  • 1 1/4 cups cold milk
  • 2 packages INSTANT pudding or pie filling

Spoon sorbet into a large bowl.  Stir in 1/2 of the whipped topping until well-blended.  Spoon into crust.  Place in freezer 1 hour or until slightly set.

Pour milk into a large bowl.  Add pudding mixes.  Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until smooth.  (Mixture will be thick.)  Immediately stir in remaining whipped topping.  Gently spoon over sorbet layer in crust.

Freeze 4 hours or overnight.  To serve, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, or until pie can be cut easily.  Garnish with additional whipped topping.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 35 minutes plus refrigeration and freezing