Have you ever found yourself thinking that you couldn't live without certain foods?
I was a pesco-vegetarian for probably twenty years and a vegetarian for a few. I toyed with the idea of a vegan and macrobiotic diet, but never fully embraced either. There were simply those few crucial foods I wasn't willing to give up.
My friend, J. has been following a very restrictive diet for cardiovascular health for six months now. He is doing well and his diet has allowed him to not have surgery. It takes a determined, committed person to follow a vegan, whole grain, no nuts, seeds or oils diet.
He and his family had us over for dinner in the Winter, and he cooked us a beautiful meal that adhered to his restrictions. I contributed a whole wheat bread without oil or dairy that pleased him, as it isn't easy to find 100% whole grain bread from a bakery period, let alone without nuts, seeds oil or dairy.
Last weekend it was my turn to cook for him. I was most apprehensive about cooking oil-free. As a starting point, I took a couple low-fat vegetarian cookbooks off my shelf and began bookmarking. I was surprised by how many recipes actually fit that criteria. With that foundation, I relaxed considerably and turned my focus to making the meal seasonal.
I thought I'd share a recipe with you just in case you need such guidelines, but also to inspire you. It's a liberating experience to create a meal without ingredients you thought you would never survive omitting. Once you learn a few techniques, the door flings wide open to possibilities.
This onion marmalade is essentially caramelized onions without the oil. I served it with whole wheat baguettes as an appetizer while we sat on the porch and drank beers. I think you could also use it on pizza, flatbread, or fish.
Not realizing until I was in the moment, I created a completely monochromatic effect: the onions and whole wheat bread were essentially the same color, served on a wooden cutting board and placed on a wooden table. Our beer pretty much blended right in. The ceramic bowl I served the onions in was glazed in various shades of brown! (Hence no photo here).
Savory Onion Marmalade
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
4 cups thinly sliced onion (about 3 large onions)
1 to 3 tablespoons water
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dry red wine
In a nonstick skillet, combine the onions, 1 tablespoon of the water, the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and vinegar and wine. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring often and adding water as needed, until the onions are dark brown, sweet and richly flavored. Chill well before serving.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups