The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
September 9, 2010

Help! New blogger needs easy vegetarian recipes with local, plastic-free ingredients

Lori Wark doesn’t know how to cook.  Well, she claims she can’t cook. 

Lori Wark and Beth TerryI met Lori via Skype a few months ago working with the Plastic Pollution Coalition, and I met her in person this summer while visiting my family on the East Coast.  We had an excellent breakfast at a local diner in Bethesda, MD, and Lori told me about the new web site she’s created, Adventures in Climate Change, and new blog, Locavore’s Dilemma.  She’s committed to shopping her local farmers market and avoiding plastic.  All that’s great, except she doesn’t know the difference between sauteeing and frying (I’m not sure I know the difference either) and she can’t even boil an egg without messing it up.

So Lori’s asking (begging) for simple recipes using local, organic ingredients (of course, what’s local to her in Bethesda isn’t necessarily what’s local to you, but maybe that doesn’t matter for the purposes of this exercise.)  And because I’m putting out the call on Fake Plastic Fish, the ingredients have got to be plastic-free!

One more catch: Each recipe must contain only 5 or fewer ingredients.

vegan pesto with potatoesMy contribution to her recipe collection is homemade vegan pesto, which I serve on cold baby potatoes.  I can make the pesto with 5 local (to me) ingredients: fresh basil, fresh garlic, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, local almonds (because I don’t like pine nuts), and local olive oil in a glass bottle.  I can find all of these ingredients plastic-free at my farmers market.

Will you please share your recipes with Lori in the comments of her blog?  And if you are extra motivated, you could copy them here as well.  I need a lot of kitchen help too!

Leave a Reply

24 Comments on "Help! New blogger needs easy vegetarian recipes with local, plastic-free ingredients"

Nan Sea Love
4 years 2 months ago

i have a couple of really great vegan recipes i made into cards and shared on Facebook, i have my setting so anyone can access them. Both use all organic ingredients, one is my Italian Mothers veganized pasta sauce and the other is vegan potato salad, both are delicious! i will add more of my best recipes as time permits. Here is the link:

4 years 6 months ago

Love this! So great to know other vegans care about sustainable cooking too! Thanks for sharing Beth

4 years 10 months ago

Hi Beth!

I have a Flickr group where I post vegetarian and vegan recipes that I make along with my comments, and links to the recipes online, or the names of the cookbooks they come from:

Lara S.
4 years 11 months ago

I’ve been a vegetarian for 6 years now and I always enjoy trying new things.

I recommnend you learn a few basic recipes and then apply them to different kinds of veggies and beans.
First, a basic tomato sauce: chop 1 or 2 onions, garlic and about a half of a bell peppers (you decide how big you like the chunks). Saute with a small amount of your favorite oil until the onions are transparent, then add about a cup of tomato pure (canned or homemade, or replace it with a up of minced fresh tomatoes). Add spices and herbs. If you’re not used to cooking try the food often, o you find out how much spices you like. Let it boil for a few minutes.

You can use the tomato sauce in many ways:

make it pretty liquid (add some water or tomato puree), and boil your veggies in it.

make it a bit thicker and put a bit on previously baked veggies (for example, slices of baked butternut squash; when they’re getting soft tun them over and put a spoonful of sauce on them, with a piece of cheese, then return to the oven so the cheese melts)

add it to pasta or beans

another useful recipe you can do with hard veggies, which take a long time to sautee: cut them in small cubes and boil them with a very small amount of water. Don’t let it get completely dry but they shouldn’t be “swimming” in the pot. add a minced garlic clove and it will be delicious. The interesting part is: when they’re starting (just starting) to get soft, strain the veggies, and put them back in the pot. Add chopped onions, spices, herbs and a few spoonfuls of oil. Stir this a lot until the veggies are completely cooked. This works great for butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccolis, carrots… But softer veggies like spinach, tomatoes and eggplants don’t require the boiling.

4 years 11 months ago

Kale & Purple Cabbage with Olive Oil & Vinegar

1. Cut up or tear cabbage into pieces. Put in bowl.

2. Cut up or tear kale into pieces. Put in bowl.

3. Put steamer in pot of water; boil water.

4. Add cabbage and steam a few minutes til it begins to soften a little and turn lighter shade of purpe.

5. Add kale and steam til bright green.

6. Quickly remove, drain, and place to bowl.

7. Either use your favorite vinegarette like Newman’s Low Fat Asian Vinegarette or

about 2 tbsp more or less olive oil plus 2 tbsp more or less Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar

8. Lightly toss. Serve. Enjoy.

Optional: Raw shredded carrets, raisens, onions, dash of soy, nutritional yeast, whatever. Simple cabbage and kale with olive oil and AC vinegar (not too much) tastes fresh and nourishing. Other possibilities – sandwish filler, serve as side dish with mashed potatoes and fried tofu.

Amanda Telford
4 years 11 months ago

Thanks for posting the request from Lori. I love the inter-connectedness of the web and how quickly we can help each other.

Here’s another one (sorry, it has 8 ingredients), since tomatoes are so plentiful right now, yet it’s getting a tad cooler. But it’s super easy, since you just basically have to know how to set the timer on your oven!

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup

1 cup less-sodium veg broth, divided (or you can use water, though that’ll take some of the richness out)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
5 garlic cloves
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained OR about 8 tomatoes, cut in half ( no need to skin them!)
Cooking spray
3/4 cup half-and-half
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 500°.
Combine 1/2 cup of broth, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl.

Place onion, garlic, and tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour broth mixture over tomato mixture.

Bake at 500° for 50 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.

Place tomato mixture in a blender. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth and half-and-half, and process until smooth (if you can’t get the 1/2 & 1/2 in, blend it all together and then add the 1/2 and 1/2 once you’ve strained it. Then just mix it all together in the bowl).

Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Garnish with cracked black pepper, if desired.

I’ll also add that with life being so incredibly busy for all of us, if you take a few minutes to plan what you’re going to have during the week and get the ingredients for it on the weekend, making dinner doesn’t have to take much more time than ordering/waiting for/picking up takeout. And it’s healthier and cheaper!! But since that’s what I do for a living, I’m a bit biased. :) Amanda

4 years 11 months ago

And…. In terms of cooking in general, I’ve found that recipes generally aren’t terribly helpful. They don’t really teach you how to cook, just what to cook. So I say focus on the basics. In other words, learn about what spices go together and which ones clash, learn basic skills like how to saute an onion or cook beans from scratch. Experiment with different techniques like baking vs. steaming vs. frying and learn what each does to different foods.

A good cookbook can help (Laurel’s Kitchen is one of my favorites) but memorizing recipes won’t get you very far. You just need to do it, and screw it up, and focus on learning the basics. Once you’ve got that down you’ll be able to mix and match and cook with whatever you have on hand.

Here are a few pages I put together eons ago. Maybe there’s something there that will help! When I started cooking, I really started by doctoring pre-made stuff. Starting from scratch might be a bit more difficult, but still easily doable. Just remember that our grandmothers weren’t born knowing how to whip up a feast from nothing, they simply spent so much time doing it since they were little girls that they already had all of their disasters out of the way by the time we came along!

Good Luck!

4 years 11 months ago

Fool proof hard boiled eggs:

Put eggs in pan with enough cold water to completely cover them.
Bring to a boil
Remove from heat
Let them sit for 30-40 minutes
Run entire pan under cold water

4 years 11 months ago

Rather than recipes, your friend needs to learn basic cooking skills, which translate into a huge potential for meal. So older cookbooks, think for new brides in the 50’s, teach basics like baking, sauteing, poaching, etc. And a class for some skills with knives and pans are good too. Once you know that, any recipe you find can be easily prepared.

4 years 11 months ago

Very flexible recipe — most veggies are optional, but you can add more if you’re, say, trying to clean out the fridge. Even the spices are optional. Even better, in the dead of winter you can get by with canned or frozen veggies and it tastes almost as good.

Black bean & zucchini chilaquiles

Preheat oven to 350
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, brushed
2 zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3-4 tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1-2 ears of corn, corn cut off
1 onion, chopped
14 oz black beans (soaked and ready to cook)
1 t cumin
1 t oregano
1 poblano pepper (optional)
12 corn tortillas
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated.

heat olive oil in large skillet. Add garlic, and cook until you can smell it. Add onion and zucchini, cook until tender. Add corn, tomatoes, beans, pepper, and spices. Simmer a couple minutes, until the flavors begin to blend. Turn off heat and leave skillet alone.

line bottom of casserole or 9×13 pan with corn tortillas. Slather on bean mixture nice and thick. sprinkle with decent layer of cheese. repeat: tortillas, veggies, cheese, until pan is full or ingredients are gone. put in oven until cheese is melty. remove and serve. Good with chopped cilantro, sour cream, and salsa. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like this – even kids.

4 years 11 months ago

Not knowing what is local to you here’s a few ideas…

Black Beans, corn, salsa. You can serve over brown rice, quinoa, barley or eat by itself. It goes great in burrito shells(which are really easy to make at home so they are organic & local). If you’ve not canned some of your own salsa you could just chop up a tomato, pepper & onion.
(original recipe was a can of black beans, can of corn, jar of salsa cooked over chicken breast in a crock pot, but now that I’m veggie I omit the chicken, and corn is in season out here so it’s really easy to use fresh)

Cucumber Salad
sliced cucumbers, sugar, red pepper flakes, olive oil, feta(or blue cheese or both)
(PS who knew orgnaic local cucumbers are waaaaaay more awesome that grocery store ones, probably the vegetable I’ve noticed the biggest difference between)

eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, onion, tomato, chop em up, put in a pan, add lots of basil, a little sugar, some cinnamon, stir together and bake for 30+ minutes at 350. (I’ve expanded my original recipe to include any squash, not just the typical yellow “summer squash” since I’ve gotten all kinds from my CSA that I don’t know what they are :) ) Again if you have a grain that is local this goes well over grain, and cheese also goes well on it, Parmesan, mozzarella or cheddar(hubby loves cheese)

Feel free to email me if you like these ideas, I can send you the tortilla/burrito shell recipe, find a more exact ratatouille recipe etc. I honestly don’t follow recipes very well, I tend to modify with what I have on hand, which is great for local cooking, so don’t be afraid to substitute.

4 years 11 months ago

Olive oil
onion – chopped
4 skinny eggplants – chopped
red or green pepper – chopped
4 tomatoes – chopped
jar of spaghetti sauce

Heat up some olive oil in a frying pan. Add chopped onions and a couple of cloves of garlic. I let this saute for a few minutes then I add the chopped eggplant and pepper. Saute until the eggplant is soft. You may need to add more olive oil if the eggplant soaks it all up. Add tomatoes and saute until softened.

Add half a jar of spaghetti sauce and stir in. Continue cooking until warmed up.

I serve this over spaghetti or rice. Serves 4.

This is not entirely local but 90% of it is and other than the cap for the olive oil, it can be plastic free.

4 years 11 months ago

Have Cake, Will Travel has a lot of really awesome vegan recipes. Some of them are more involved than others, but some are really easy and every recipe I’ve tried from there has been excellent.

4 years 11 months ago

Easy pumpkin soup

Peel, core and chop a pumpkin into about 2 inch bits (any shape will do) Add a peeled, chopped carrot or two and a chopped onion or two (pre-cook the onion for a faster result) I tend to add a couple of garlic cloves but they aren’t necessary. I have also been known to add a leek or so if I have them

Place in large pot and cover with stock or -if desperate- water with soy sauce or worstershire sauce or even tomato relish as long as it is a fairly hot one and not sweet – basically any sauce will probably do. The water may need salt too depending on what you like – just taste until it feels right. You can add some cayenne if you like extra bite too.

.Cook until soft, blend everything and serve.

viv in nz

4 years 11 months ago

garbanzo and spinach (smells so good one of my lunch buddies at work asked for the recipe)

Super simple
Super fast to cook (it’s basically heating your ingredients)

1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (this blog post shows you how to cook them and has pictures
As many handfuls of spinach as you want
drizzle of oil (preferably olive oil)
garlic (powder/crushed/diced)
salt and pepper

drizzle a tiny bit of oil in the bottom of the pan, turn on heat and add garbanzo beans.
start to heat up the beans
add salt/pepper to taste
add garlic to taste (I go heavy handed because I love garlic)
add a sprinkle of dried basil or 4-6 chopped fresh leaves
add a good dose of paprika (I go till the top looks red, but you may not want so much)

Cook for 2-5 minutes until the spices are warmed up, stirring so that the spices are distributed. Push the beans against the side of the pot and slightly squish them (I do this so the flavors will mix better with the spinach).

Add in handfuls of spinach and let it cook down, stirring every so often. I add lots of spinach, add as much as you want.

You can eat this now or serve this over rice/quinoa/bulgar wheat.
You can leave out the spinach, add more oil, paprika, and lots of fresh garlic and serve over pasta

4 years 11 months ago

Thought about this later but the difference between saute and frying is the amount of oil used. To saute or stir fry you only use a couple tablespoons. To fry you put an inch or more in your pan. To deep fry you cover the food oil; usually you use some sort of pot. Obviously sauteing and stir frying is better for your health. A number of Asian dishes use stir fry. All you need is to cook rice and then chop some veggies in a pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Stir a lot. Add soy sauce or your other favorite Asian flavoring and wahlah. Instead healthy veggie dish. Although I don’t know if farmers markets sell olive oil or soy sauce. But I know those to things come in glass.

4 years 11 months ago

well, I’m not sure if all of this can be local to you but here is a favorite of ours

2 C cottage cheese
1-2 tomatoes chopped
1 cucumber sliced
1 tsp dry ranch dressing

mix and enjoy, best eaten that day, yum so refreshing.

4 years 11 months ago

I have made many recipes from “Skinny Bitch In The Kitch” cookbook. More than 5 ingredients b/c of herbs and soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, etc., but we try to buy plastic-free and in bulk as much as possible and managed to make a killer potato-pumpkin curry over brown rice and an amazing pad thai!

4 years 11 months ago

I tried to post this to Lori’s blog but kept getting an error, so hopefully you can pass this along to her.

“Hey I wandered in after seeing a plea on Beth’s blog.

Not sure about the possibility of lemons or lemon juice locally for you (another citrus would probably work) but here is one of my favorite late summer early fall recipes.

3 tart apples (Granny Smith work well)
3 beets or enough to match the apples
1 tablespoon sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Peel and then grate apples and beets. Add sugar and lemon juice and stir well.

You can also leave the sugar out (or use less) but I like things sweet. This is great in lunches!

Lastly, make sure to talk to all of your local farmers. Many of them have recipe books or suggestions on their websites (that’s actually where this recipe came from an organic farm near me!).”

4 years 11 months ago

Dynamic salad:
1. Shred a few of your favourite vegetables. Try unexpected ones like rutabega, radish, turnip, parsnip or beets
2. Break up greens like lettuces, spinach or mesclun mix
3. Add your favourite raw nuts – I adore walnuts, but any nuts will do
4. Go crazy with any cooked legume – chick peas are my favourite.
5. Toss in with a dressing. You can make one with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, toasted sesame oil or any other favourite oil, and tamari or soy sauce or miso. Mix in a nut butter for a creamy dressing.

~ Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

4 years 11 months ago

I didn’t know how to cook either. I relied on a several good cookbooks and made substitutions or omitted things I didn’t have on hand for the recipes until I was confident enough to Iron Chef it in my kitchen. Have you heard of the Moosewood Restaurant? It’s a vegetarian restaurant that’s supposed to be amazing! Someone gave me her copy of New Recipes form Moosewood Restaurant and every time I make something from it I win raves. We’re a vegetarian friendly house but not full on vegetarians so I think that says something about how good their stuff is.

4 years 11 months ago

this is 10 but check it out there is some good/easy stuff:

4 years 11 months ago

The easiest way to make a veggie meal is to substitute your favorite meals with other stuff. This is especially helpful when things are out of season at your farmer’s market and you’re lacking one ingredient. There are a number of books online that are dedicated to substitutions. So for things that involve beef, you can substitute beans for example. I’m not sure if tofu is to be found at a farmer’s market, but that’s another one to substitute. Search the words “food substitutions” on Amazon and you’ll see the books that you can buy. Best of luck!

4 years 11 months ago

By far, the easiest recipes don’t involve cooking (ie adding heat) at all.

Tomato + Cucumber + Onion Salad

Cut up vegetables into fork-sized pieces.
Dressing = 3/4 oil of choice + 1/4 vinegar

Good Salad

Take raw nuts (esp walnuts), smash them into bits with a hammer
Immediately add to any salad

Mix Greens + Sweet

Mix all dark, leafy greens including bitter ones (dandelion, etc)
Add something sweet like cut-up fruit for balance

Raw Apple Pie

Multiple recipes easily googled online
Lots of apples, a little bit of cinnamon, dates and figs =
Best apple pie you’ve ever eaten (yep even more than grandma’s)
Takes 10 minutes to make

Fruit Salad (For Realz)

Buy any 5 fruits, cut into fork-size pieces, mix in bowl
adding nothing else = YUM