Possibly you have noticed that an increasing number of your guests, especially the young ones, no longer eat meat. There are a myriad of emotional reasons that one chooses vegetarianism; health, animal rights consciousness, food fadism and etceteras. When I learned that meat was animal body parts as a child, I passionately declared that I would NEVER eat it again. My father, a pragmatic Italian, said ìWhat will you eat when we have meat balls? Bracciola? Chicken cutlets?î Oh. Reluctantly, I conceded and remained a meat eater with just a hint of guilt rippling through the framework of my psyche. It was not until years later that I realized that my grandparents were, if not vegetarians at least meat minimalists. My grandmother made fabulous rice balls, broccoli rape and stuffed mushrooms. Frito Misto, which is like Italian tempura is an incredible array of crispy batter dipped and deep fried cauliflower, broccoli and mozzarella, zucchini and sweet pepper. Eggplant parmagiana, caponata and of course spaghetti alíolia or pasta fagioli. graced my grandparentís table. Apparently, my parents ate meat every day because they could afford it and that was an element of pride for them. Their parents served them healthy, mostly low-fat, low cholesterol, high carb and high fiber foods. An athleteís diet.
So what to serve our vegetarian guests during the holidays? The ubiquitous varieties of pasta primavera are lovely, to be sure, but vegetarians are daring and sophisticated creatures who crave something a bit more toothsome and a smidge less boring. The following recipe is very high protein, low fat and delicious enough to satisfy the most primal carnivore. It is also vegan, which means there are no animal products or byproducts in it at all. Which is not to say that you canít add them. Jack cheese, or cheddar make a tasty garnish if you are so inclined.

The Menu

Vegetarian Zwafeda
Yellow rice with corn
Steamed spinach tortillas


1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 teaspoon of Oregano
1 handful of minced onion
1 teaspoon of sage
2 tbsp garlic or to taste
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can red beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can white beans (drained and rinsed)
1 tbsp capers
black olives
3 pepperoncini rinsed, seeded and julienned (or jalapeno if you prefer hot)
1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper
8 oz can tomato sauce
ADOBO (critical)
pinch of cumin
pinch of chile poweder
black pepper to taste
2 scallions
Saute the first 5 ingredients until they are sizzling nicely and release their aroma. Add the beans, and stir gently until all they are obviously blended with the herbs and spices. Add the olives, capers, pepperonicini and peppers and incorporate them into the bean mixture. THEN add the tomato sauce and season with adobo, cumin, chile and black pepper. Adobo is very salty, so taste along the way or use sparingly. Simmer about 20 minutes and serve with the following yellow rice accompaniment.
Yellow rice w/corn
1 cup long-grain rice
1 cup corn kernels
2 1/4 cups of water
pinch of saffron
tsp olive oil
1 tsp vegetarian bouillon
Combine all ingredients and bring to boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer for 14 minutes.
Garnish with scallions and serve with your favorite salad and steamed or grilled tortillas