Eventhough I love pork, fish, and beef (pretty much in the order of their importance to me), I also love a good vegetable only dish. I try not to use the word “Vegetarian” simply because of the reputation it has. I love the “vegtarians” who go to a restaurant and order chicken and fish. I always want to tell them there is nothing wrong with eating chicken and fish, there is something wrong though with calling yourself a vegetarian when you do in fact eat animal protien. Sorry, I am off the soap box now. Back to the vegetables. I often find myself now looking at the vegetarian menu offered by restaurants. When we were in New York City in March I found the vegetarian menu offered at Per Se (Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant) to sound much better than the regular tasting menu, and that says a lot when you look at the regular tasting menu offered. In that I am always trying to think of things to cook that are made completely of vegetables, or to be more precise not using animal protiens or other by products such as stocks. When I say animal protiens in no way am I excluding cheese. I find cheese to be one of the best ways to add or improve flavors of all vegetable dishes.
Using tomatoes and basil from the garden, portobello mushrooms, orange bell peppers, red onions, and goat cheese I created a simple “vegetable Napoleon” for dinner. The peppers where charred and skinned, while the mushrooms where roasted in the oven with some thyme (again from the garden), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I lightly caramelized the onions with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, adding extra vinegar so I could reduce it to a syrup. Once everything was cooked I quickly finished it all on the grill and stacked it up. In between each layer of vegetables I added goat cheese that I infused with white truffle oil and a leaf of basil. All put together I finished the stacks with more goat cheese and the caramelized red onions, and drizzled the balsamic syrup around the plate. Bright and bold flavors and colors. Healthy, simple, satisfying, filling, and most importantly something you want to eat again.