Vegetables Make It a Feast

Mandel's latest book is "Celebrating the Midwest Table" (Morrow, 1996)

Vegetarians have it made in the summer. More fruits and vegetables are in season now than any other time of the year, and even those of us who eat meat feel inclined to eat more vegetables.

The following recipes are designed as entrees in all-vegetable meals for summer. They can also be served with grilled meats, poultry or fish.

Each of these dishes makes the most of summer's best. They're easy to make, and if you hate last-minute cooking, the Sante Fe gazpacho improves with a day's rest in the refrigerator and the broccoli and red pepper strata puffs up much more during baking after several hours in the refrigerator.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 red onion, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)

4 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch wide slices (about 4 cups)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)

3/4 cup finely grated imported Parmesan cheese

2 ounces fresh goat cheese

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 egg

Freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet. When hot, add onion. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until very soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add red bell pepper, zucchini, thyme, salt and bay leaves. Cover and cook until zucchini is just tender, about 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add flour, parsley and tomato. Gently mix. Remove bay leaves.

Coat sides and bottom of greased 5-cup baking dish with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, patting lightly in place. Spoon in zucchini mixture. Arrange evenly. Dot surface with small bits of goat cheese. Whisk cream and egg in small bowl. Drizzle over zucchini. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and ground pepper to taste.

Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Can be baked 2 days ahead, cooled and refrigerated, covered airtight. Reheat, uncovered, in 300-degree oven 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

196 calories; 674 mg sodium; 63 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 12 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams protein; 0.95 gram fiber.


1 large clove garlic, minced

1 jalapen~o chile, seeded if desired

1/2 red onion, minced

4 green onions, minced

1/3 cup cilantro, minced

1/2 large jicama, peeled, chopped

2 large tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped (about 2 2/3 cups)

1 1/2 cups corn kernels (about 3 ears)

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained

1 quart tomato juice

2 tablespoons catsup

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Juice of 1 lime

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Lime wedges

The food processor is a big help in doing the prep work for this gazpacho. Process the ingredients in the order in which they are listed (garlic and jalapen~o together; red onion, green onion and cilantro together) and make sure all large items are cut into 1-inch chunks before processing.

Combine garlic, chile, red and green onions, cilantro, jicama, tomatoes, corn, black beans, tomato juice, catsup, tomato paste, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste in 3-quart bowl. Stir well. Adjust seasoning and spiciness. Chill at least 1 day or for as long as 3 days. Before serving, stir well, adjust seasoning and serve chilled with lime wedges.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Each serving contains about:

145 calories; 289 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 30 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 2.20 grams fiber.


Refrigerate this dish before baking it (at least 3 hours or as long as overnight); the bread absorbs the liquid and puffs up during baking.

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large heads broccoli (about 2 pounds total)

1/2 onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

Freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, cut into small dice and blotted dry

3/4 cup finely shredded Colby cheese

5 slices firm white bread, crusts trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 1/4 cups skim milk

2 eggs

2 egg whites

Trim top of broccoli close to flower and separate florets. Peel stems and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 4 cups florets and cubed stems. Cook in lightly salted, rapidly boiling water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Combine onion, marjoram, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until onion is softened and mixture seems dry, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add garlic, red bell pepper and 2 tablespoons cheese. Gently mix. Transfer mixture to greased shallow 6-cup baking dish, spreading evenly. Lightly compress.

Scatter bread cubes over broccoli mixture. Whisk together milk, eggs, egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Drizzle evenly over bread layer. Lightly compress bread layer into milk mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or as long as overnight.

When ready to bake, uncover and let rest at room temperature about 15 minutes. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, until puffy and browned, about 40 minutes. Let rest briefly before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

306 calories; 795 mg sodium; 127 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 35 grams carbohydrates; 22 grams protein; 2.49 grams fiber.

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