See a letter from Ellen about the donation campaign. Your help matters!
Except in certain medical conditions, your body badly needs plenty of both raw and lightly cooked vegetables every single day. You probably already know the basic rules about cooking vegetables (little water, tight cover, steam if possible minimum cooking time); here are some suggestions for keeping your carefully cooked vegetables from being always the same.
Acorn squash and other vegetables baked in halves stay moist if they are baked cut side down on a shallow pan or sheet with about a quarter inch of water or broth poured around the vegetables.
Large squashes and other stuffed vegetables (or fish!) can be steamed on cookie racks in a large roasting pan. The pan can be simmered on one or two burners or baked in the oven, and must be covered with a tightly fitting lid or with foil to prevent the steam from escaping.
If you are working with vegetable shells more than 1/2" thick, you can steam them first for about 20 minutes before you stuff them. This will make sure the shell cooks completely without drying out or over-cooking the stuffing.
Traditional stuffing mixtures are usually a mixture of cooked ground meat or flaked fish or shellfish with partially cooked rice or other grains, or with breadcrumbs. Sometimes chopped onions, tomatoes or mushrooms are added. If you would like to make them vegetarian-style, add grated cheese, chopped hard-boiled egg, soy grits or ground soy beans or other cooked beans, to improve the protein balance of the foods. You can also mix raw eggs into the stuffing before you cook it, which will bind the dressing and make it moister.
Protein sauces for stuffed vegetables can be cream, cheese, or one of the egg sauces given elsewhere in the book. You can also use tomato sauce or onion or mushroom gravy, or an Oriental sauce with a soy or miso base.
A wide variety of vegetables can be used for stuffing: tomatoes, green or red peppers, onions (parboil 20 minutes or bake 1 hour in foil, then remove centers), eggplants, all kinds of squashes. Some which require special treatment are:
Cabbage--cut out the core and steam cut side down for about 20 minutes, then peel off the large outside leaves and use them to wrap small amounts of your stuffing mix. A medium head usually has about 18 large leaves, enough for 6 or 7 people. The center will still be crisp and usable for slaw, or can be cooked in any usual way.
Grape leaves--are packed in brine and should be rinsed before use. They are stuffed and rolled like cabbage leaves, but are smaller, usually only one or two bites. After steaming, they can be served hot or cold and are usually accompanied with yogurt or egg-lemon sauce. Fresh young grape leaves are prepared like cabbage above.
Artichokes--cook almost completely, then open carefully and scrape out the inedible center leaves and the choke. Use a fully cooked dressing and finish by steaming, rather than baking. You can also split them top to bottom, scrape as before and make two servings from each.
Mushroom caps--fresh mushrooms of any size can be stuffed, just pop out the stems and chop them into the stuffing. Because they cook in about 10 minutes, they are best broiled. Use a fully cooked stuffing and baste while they broil with butter, broth, white wine, or a mixture while they cook.
Potatoes--bake your potatoes unwrapped with about one extra for each four. When they are thoroughly cooked, open the skins and carefully scrape out the cooked potato.
Mash the potato with milk, butter, and one or more raw eggs. You can also mix in grated cheese, cream cheese or sour cream. Return the mixture to the shells, cover with sliced cheese if desired, and return to the oven to bake about 25 minutes until they are fully heated.
These can be frozen successfully after stuffing, or kept refrigerated for one or two days before the final baking. You save fuel by making them when you are baking potatoes for another meal. They are often called "Twice Baked Potatoes."
An old-style vegetarian entree was made by dropping a raw egg into an indentation in the stuffed potato before re-heating it. It bakes as the potato heats up.