The Epicurean Muse

Vegetarian Delights

Spinach and Articoke Cuddled in a Pastry Shell

A delicious flan that can be eaten warm or at room temperature. The seeds make this a relatively high-fiber dish with lots of nutrients.


100 g (4 oz) formage frais (or cream cheese)                                       1/2 recipe whole-wheat pastry shell                                                   400 g (16 oz) fresh spinach                                                                 25 g (1 oz) pumpkin seeds                                                                   100 g (4 oz) artichokes                                                                        25 g ( 1 oz) sunflower seeds                                                               1 tablespoon pumpkin oil                                                                   freshly ground black pepper                                     


1. Heat the oven to 180C/350F.

2. Spread the formage fraise on the bottom of the pastry shell. 

3. Mix the spinach with the pumpkin seeds and spread over the formage fraise. Arrange the articokes on top.

4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. 

5. Sprinkle over the sunflower seeds, drizzle the pumpkin oil and grind over some back pepper.  Garnish with mixed greens, if desired.                 

Spelt Pilaf with Cesnak Medvedi (or Chives)



1/2 cup spelt grains                                                                            2 tablespoons olive oil                                                                       2 cloves garlic, minced                                                                       1 leek, sliced                                                                                     1 red pepper                                                                                     1/2 cup chopped greens (kale, collards, or spinach)                             1 tablespoon lemon juice                                                                    2 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced (parsley, rosemary, or basil)            4 tablespoons cesnak medvedi (or 2 tablespoons chives)                        2 tablespoons chopped almonds                                                                                                                                                                            Directions:

1. Soak the spelt overnight. Cook grains in 1 1/2 cups water for 50-60 minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and leek and sautee until lightly browned. Add the red pepper and continue to cook for another few minutes.

3. Stir in the lemon juice, fresh herbs, and cesnak medvedi or chives. Sautee until lightly cooked, yet slightly crisp. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and enjoy.

Mheetjaa (Mitja) Daal 

My Slovenian veterinarian friend turns vegetarian. No need to be concerned - there is no "mheet" in "Mheetjaa Daal". For the benefit of personalization and humor, I have even left the instructions in the first person (with minor edits for health-consciousness).  



1 medium onion 

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, shredded

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon chili (optional)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 bay leaf

1 medium tomato

150g split red lentils, soaked

1 teaspoon brown sugar (or agave or brown rice syrup, editor comment)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

vegetable stock, as needed


black pepper



I finely chopped and fried the onion on oil until translucent and soft. I added the garlic, ginger, remaining spices and tomato. I fried the vegetables gently on medium heat until the apartment was completely infused with Indian aromas. I then added the lentils, sugar, and vinegar. After stirring, I added the vegetable stock until lentils were generously covered. I cooked it for 30 minutes. I then added some salt and pepper to taste and stirred in some freshly chopped cilantro. That was it.

As you can see in the picture, I served the daal with basmati rice. Heaven. I like it hot, so I wasn't stingy with the chili. 

Things that Fly, Hop, and Walk...


Rabbit and Seafood Pilaf

Serves: 6-8

Rabbit is lower in fat and has more protein than turkey, chicken, beef, or pork. It is very easy to digest and is therefore tolerated by many people on special diets. If that isn’t enough, rabbit is an excellent source of selenium and Vitamin B12, as well as a good source of iron and zinc.

 Lacto-ovo vegetarian Option: omit the rabbit; substitute with tofu or  chickpeas.

 Pesce-vegetarian Option (fish-eaters): omit the rabbit; substitute with  either tofu or additional seafood.


splash of olive oil

1 grass-fed rabbit, boned and cut into pieces

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 zucchini, chopped finely

1/2 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

5 piquillo peppers, chopped into strips (available at spanish specialty food stores) or 1 roasted red pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

pinch of saffron

600 g rice

750 ml organic fresh chicken or vegetable broth

125 ml white wine 

200 g chopped tomatoes

handful of prawns

handful of mussels 


1. First, catch your rabbit by shooting, long netting, or running through fields early in the morning chasing suitable candidates. Alternatively, contact your local organic farmer and purchase a pasture-fed rabbit.

2. Heat up a splash of olive oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the rabbit, excluding the kidneys and liver. Once the rabbit has started to brown, stir in the green pepper, onion, zucchini, chili, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are soft, then add the piquillo peppers, smoked paprika, and a large pinch of saffron.

2. Stir in the rice, stock, chopped tomatoes, and white wine. Season with a little salt, stir once, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

3. Add the prawns and mussels. Cover and cook over a very low heat for another 5 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

4. Remove any unopened mussels and spoon into large serving dishes. Buen apetito!

Note: If you select to use wild rabbit, remember that it needs slow, gentle cooking to prevent it from drying out.

U-Tube Extra: In this delightful video, Biba Caggiano demonstrates how to cook braised rabbit with prosciutto. 

From the Sea...

Thai Coconut-Lime Fish 

Serves: 2

One in a while, a quick impromptu weeknight meal can turn into a true Epicurean delight. Coming home late one evening and emptying out my fridge of leftover vegetables and having defrosted some white fish, I turned what was going to be a quick 20-minute cookout to satisfy my escalating hunger into a lip-licking dinner (you can probably almost hear me saying “yum…”). Serve with piping hot polenta and grilled zucchini, tomatoes, and parsnips with a dash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Provencal herbs to make a delightful fusion of exotic spices and real home-cookin’.

2 fillet white fish

1 teaspoon coconut oil

4 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 chopped spring onions

¼ cup water or broth

2 tablespoons coconut flakes (or coconut milk)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon lemon grass 

a few sprinkles of turmeric, paprika, cumin, and chili

salt and pepper


  1. Heat the coconut oil over low heat. Sautee the garlic, ginger, and spring onions until soft. Add the water or broth, coconut flakes or coconut milk, lime juice, lemon grass, and spices. Stir well.
  2. Lay the fish fillets over top of the sauce and count to one-hundred (or heat until cooked through). Season with salt and pepper to taste.  
  3. Serve with the polenta and roasted vegetables. Be sure to lick the plate when you are finished.