Delightful dinner – Serve mushroom phyllo pie, salad and strawberries for healthy, meatless meal |

Delightful dinner – Serve mushroom phyllo pie, salad and strawberries for healthy, meatless meal

When I went shopping last week, I came across fur coats displayed on consignment store racks. Because I love and respect animals, I shun wearing such apparel, but those coats did prod memories about my childhood.

My mother’s closet boasted furs: a mink stole, a Sable cape, a Persian lamb coat. The fur I craved, however, was that of a live dog or cat. Although I pleaded for a pet, a fluffy paw never crossed our threshold.

My mother’s fox stole, complete with head and tail, became the puppy I wanted. Whenever my mother left the house, I’d pull the golden fleece from her closet. I used a shiny ribbon to promenade “Fifi” around the house. My puppy was well behaved. She never chewed shoes or barked.

One day when I was teaching Fifi to jump, my mother returned early from her bridge game. Fortunately, she didn’t believe in spankings, but she did relegate my pet to an unreachable shelf.

Shortly after that, my brother brought home a straggly cat he found at school. I think my mother let me keep the live feline as fox stole protection. I never played with any of her furs again.

These days, I amass recipes like my mother collected elegant clothes. Here are recipes that should satisfy even the most elegantly garbed gourmet.

Proud Mushroom-Phyllo Pie

(Serves 6-8 well-dressed diners)

This pie is suitable for haute dinner parties, but kitchen table gobbling is allowed too.

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 pounds mushrooms, sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

6 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped

1/2 packed cup chopped fresh parsley

8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

8 ounces (about 24 leaves) phyllo dough

Olive oil spray

1/2 tablespoon anise seeds

Sauté the mushrooms and onion in olive oil until tender. Then put them in a strainer and press out all the liquid. Combine this with the eggs, peppers, parsley, cheese and salt and pepper. Lightly grease a 10-inch glass pie pan. Lay out one or two phyllo leaves in a criss-cross pattern in the pan and spray olive oil to lightly coat the leaves. The edges will hang over the sides, but spray them too.

Repeat this until all but six leaves are used. To prevent these leaves from drying out, cover them with a slightly damp dishtowel. Pour in the mushroom mixture, then top with a criss-cross pattern of the remaining six phyllo leaves.

Roll in the edges to make a nice frame for the pie. Spray the top and edges with olive oil and sprinkle on the anise seed. Bake uncovered at 350F for 45 minutes until the top is lusciously golden. Put your napkin on your lap and eat.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

(4 servings)

Orzo is a light pasta hit that even low-carbers will appreciate.

1 cup orzo, cooked according to directions, rinsed in cold water, and drained well

1 cup boiling water

2 dried tomatoes

1/2 cup peas

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced

1/2 cup crumbled feta


Whisk together:

1 teaspoon dried dill

1 tablespoon olive oil

21/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Pour the boiling water over the dried tomatoes and cover for 20 minutes until soft. Press out all the liquid from the tomatoes (saving the broth for future soup stock) and chop. Then put the orzo, tomatoes, peas, celery and feta in a bowl.

Pour on the dressing and stir until well blended. Eating this will make you feel like you’re dining at the Ritz.

Endive-Radicchio Salad with Mango Dressing

(Serves 4-6)

These greens are an expensive alternative to the usual salad greens I use. If you’re not feeling prosperous, use your habitual salad leaves.

3 healthy handfuls endive leaves, torn

2 healthy handfuls radicchio, torn

1/2 cup crumbled feta or chevre cheese

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion


Purée until absolutely smooth:

1/3 cup chopped mango (frozen pieces work here)

4 ounces olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/ tablespoon rice vinegar

1/ teaspoon powdered ginger

Pour the dressing on slowly as you toss. You want to coat the leaves lightly, not drown them. And that way, you might save a little dressing for tomorrow’s salad.

Elegant Strawberries

(Divine for 4-6)

Sometimes the most distinctive dessert is exquisitely elementary.

2 pounds fresh strawberries

2 cups lowfat sour cream

2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Place the berries in a shallow glass bowl. Spread the cream evenly over the top. Then sprinkle the sugar over the cream. Refrigerate this for 4-6 hours before serving.

I’ve got to brave the cold and go food shopping now. I know if I move these sleeping cats aside, I’m bound to find my Polartec jacket.


Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer and vegetarian chef. She can be reached at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User