Sunday, March 30, 2008

Good Friday Meal (Roasted Pepper Bruschetta, Mushroom Soup, Fettucine with Leeks)

This year, not eating meat on Good Friday was suddenly the fashion. I do not subscribe to this myself, but we did have guests trying to observe this non-meat eating thing. We thought we'd oblige them.

One good thing about putting together a "vegetarian" meal is how fairly quickly it is to put together said meal. We had to work on Good Friday, up till around 4 in the afternoon. Our dinner guests were coming in at around 7 in the evening.

[Note: Please see comments below on the definition of this "vegetarian" meal.]

Given the time constraints -- and I suppose, the occasion -- we kept the menu very simple. We had a lot of good old button mushrooms hanging about our fridge, so we thought to do a mushroom soup with it.

Mushroom Soup

We didn't really want a cream-based soup. Although I didn't follow a recipe when making the soup, I happened upon Bourdain's recipe for mushroom soup (from his Les Halles cookbook). It's quite funny.

I sweated onions with butter then added in the button mushrooms.

To "astound [our] guests with a Wild Mushroom Soup" (haha), I also soaked just a tiny bit of dried porcini mushrooms to add to the mix. They smelled so much like those dried cuttlefish snacks! Weird.

I cooked the onions and mushrooms until soft, then added in some chicken broth (from a tetra pack! sorry). I added the green parts of the leeks from our leek pasta below as well.

After sort of forgetting about that for a while, I eventually used the hand blender to blend the whole thing (minus the leek greens). We served it with some sauteed portobellos from out mushrooms on toast snack and garnished with shaved Parmiggiano-Reggiano.

Roasted Bell Pepper Bruschetta

My mother bought some red and yellow peppers that day, because she wanted some roasted bell peppers to serve. I cut up 6 of the peppers and did not want to cut up more peppers. We figure that 6 peppers were not enough to satisfy 12 people, especially when they're individual roasted pieces.

The solution? Chop up the pepper pieces and put over a baguette. Thus, the roasted bell pepper bruschetta was born as another starter.

These are the worst pictures of the bunch. I don't know what happened.

Simple and straightforward, this one. We roasted some peppers and toasted some bread. I used the same pan for the bread that was used for the peppers. That way, the bread soaked up the residual bell pepper-y oil left on the pan. One less pan to wash, too. Smart, see.

We had a couple lonely tomatoes lying around, so I diced those as well and added some of my world-famous balsamic vinaigrette.

The only barely "acceptable" shot in this dish.

I mixed the tomatoes and the roasted peppers (which I've diced) and on top of the toasted bread they went. A drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette on top, and done!

Fettucine w/ Leeks

For our main dish, it was another simple dish. We wanted to do a pasta with braised leeks. This would've been good with BACON, but since we couldn't do that, we decided on bread crumbs for the textural difference.

To dress this very simple dish up, we decided on fresh pasta cut into fettuccine.

First thing, toasting and making the bread into crumbs.

Now, for the leeks. Oooh, butter! This pasta dish was a little bit butter-intensive... for us, anyway.

It's more or less a dump-into-a-pot dish. Leeks, garlic, thyme and some homemade chicken broth went in. Then, it was waiting for them to cook down.

When the leeks were ready, we just needed to cook the pasta -- fresh pasta we made, of course.

Look, so pretty! We used the fettucine cutter this time, no more of this maltagliati business.

And here's another shot, just because it's so BEAUTIFUL! Professional-looking, dare I add?

We tossed the fettucine with the leeks and added just a touch more butter.

The boiled pasta looks beautiful!

Apparently, we can't stop tooting our own horn.

We garnished the dish with toasted bread crumbs and shaved Parmiggiano-Reggiano.

All in all, quite a satisfying meal for me. I was happy with the mushroom soup and especially happy with the fresh pasta.

And so, this is us "roughing it". ;)


  1. you might as well have addded bacon, since you added chicken stock to the soup.

  2. It all looks very good, and it probably would have been very good if it was actually vegetarian. I hope you feel proud of yourselves tricking vegetarians into eating meat dishes. Chicken stock is made from chicken i.e. meat.

  3. anonymous:

    It was not a question of "tricking" vegetarians in this case. Our guests were not vegetarians: they were Catholics who just subscribed to the non-meat eating thing on Good Friday as a sacrifice.

    To ease their conscience and ours, we checked catechism in this case. The Church does not prohibit chicken stock or any animal product in flavouring the dishes. The specific injunction was only against eating meat.

  4. We made no mention of having vegetarians over for dinner. Also, the quotation marks around "vegetarian" do mean something.

  5. I am a vegetarian and Catholic... and in your defense, most catholics who subscribe to the "no meat on Fridays idea" do not eat beef or chicken but stuff their faces in seafood - fish, shrimp and lots of lobster. I guess it's their excuse to eat on Fridays those "more exotic" foods. So, actually, your version is probably more "vegetarian" than most other people's options in your same situation.


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