My vegetarian plight
For a variety of reasons, I am now eating mostly vegetarian (at least for a while). During our big trip to the East Coast (and don’t forget, Ojai) two weeks ago, I found it’s hard to find good vegetarian food in most restaurants. In particular, after a very disappointing vegetarian paella at a restaurant in Southern California, I realized I needed to do it myself. So, while I had a few excellent vegetarian dishes in hand already, I needed to build up some additional vegetarian chops for home. Despite the failure of the paella, I thought a good vegetarian stock has to be possible, so I did some research on veggie soup stocks – a key ingredient of paella and risotto – and then did some cooking.
I learned there are two basic plans for vegetarian stock:
- Roasting the veggies
- Start with a bunch of vegetables, toss with herbs and garlic, roast them at 450 for 30 minutes
- Put roasting pan over burners, add wine, deglaze, then add whole thing to a stock pot
- Cook for another 30-45 minutes
- Browning the veggies, possibly sweating them
After which you put the veggies in a stock pot and cook for 1/2 hour to 2 hours, depending on the recipe.
The recommended vegetables ranged widely, but – no surprise – aromatic roots were the key flavor ingredients, along with mushrooms:
- Mushrooms, especially portobello
- Bell peppers
- Celery root
- Potato peelings
- Coriander root
Other ingredients included, depending on the recipe:
- Olive oil to drizzle over before roasting
- Butter to saute before roasting
- Wine (red or white), to deglaze roasting pan
- Tomato paste
- Bay leaves
I mentally combined all these concepts, made a list, and headed out to Trader Joes. My final recipe was the following:
Roasted Vegetable Stock
- 1 onion, unpeeled, cut into eighths
- 1 fennel bulb cut into eighths
- 3 carrots, cut into 1 1/2 in pieces
- Base of 1 celery bunch, cut into eighths
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled, cut in half cross-wise
- 10 oz of sliced crimini mushrooms (1 package from Trader Joe’s)
- Parsley, thyme, a bit of rosemary
Put all of these into a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss, then roast for about 45 minutes at 425, tossing twice.
Put the roasting veggies into the stock pot, along with another two cloves of garlic and a bunch of celery that was left over.
Deglaze the roasting pan with
- 1 cup dry vermouth
Add to the stock pot
- The deglazed juices from the pan
- 2 quarts of water
- 2 Tbs of tomato paste
Boil/simmer for about 1/2 hour.
Taste, salt to taste if desired.
Strain, refrigerate or freeze.
Result: Quite good, definitely not a meat stock, but a lot of flavor, and it made a great risotto!