The art of April Fool's Day, which dawns on Tuesday, is to get someone's goat without ramming them with horns, so to speak. In other words, don't be cruel, just wickedly creative.

Various forms of April Fool's play out in countries around the world, and not all are on April 1. The origin of the "holiday" is debatable, and there's no need to get into them here, but history reveals some pretty grand pranks.

One of my favorites involves food and was in 1957: The BBC aired a fake segment of the "Swiss Spaghetti Harvest," which showed Swiss farmers picking freshly grown spaghetti. Ha! And indeed, people are fools - the corporation was inundated with requests to purchase a "spaghetti plant." (You can watch the hilarity on youtube.)

As food goes, it got me to thinking about "mock" dishes, especially with meat. Which also happens to be timely in this season of Lent when some people are eating meatless more frequently than they do at other times of the year.

So I decided to surf the web for mock meat entrees. Some beautiful dishes turned up on Pinterest, and it wasn't difficult to track the recipes down. Here are a few I plan to try, and hopefully fool (or at least please) the tastebuds of my carnivore family:

Cannelloni Bean and Broccoli Rabe Meatballs

Makes about 2 dozen


1/2 bunch of broccoli rabe (about 3/4 pound), stems removed and coarsely chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

13/4 cups cooked or 1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans, drained

1 cup panko or plain bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

About 1 tablespoon olive oil

Marinara sauce for serving


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Steam broccoli rabe for about 3 minutes, until slightly tender. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then place in food processor with onion, garlic, beans, panko and seasonings. Pulse until blended completely and beans are partially mashed, scraping bowl as needed. Shape into 2-inch balls.

Coat baking dish or large cast-iron skillet with about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Place meatballs in dish or skillet and brush with remaining oil. Bake for about 30 minutes, rolling them around about every 10 minutes to get even browning all around. Serve with marinara sauce.

- Adapted from

Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burgers

For the patties:

1/2 cup dry quinoa

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 large egg

2/3 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 chipotle in adobo, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup oat flour

For the yogurt sauce:

1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


Place the quinoa in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and cook 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Remove from heat. Note: This step can be done ahead of time.

Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until onions are softened, 5-6 minutes. Place the mixture into a large bowl. Add black beans to the bowl and using a potato masher or fork, mash together until a pasty mixture forms.

Stir in the tomato paste, egg, corn, cilantro, chipotles, cumin and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in the cooked quinoa, oats and oat flour until well mixed. Form the mixture into 6 equal patties, compacting them well with your hands as you form them. Place the patties on a baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight.

To make the yogurt sauce, stir the yogurt, honey and mustard together in a small bowl.

When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 400 degrees or heat a griddle to medium-high heat. If baking, spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and place the patties on the sheet.

Cook 10-12 minutes until the patties are golden brown and crispy. Carefully flip them over and cook another 10 minutes. If using a griddle, heat 4-6 minutes per side or until slightly golden. Serve patties with the yogurt sauce.

- Pinned by; recipe adapted from The Foodie Physician

Cashew Rice Loaf & Red Pepper Cheese Sauce


1/3 cup short-grain brown rice

1 cup water for cooking the rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 cup finely ground raw cashews

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 cup soy or nut milk

2 tablespoon fresh or dried parsley

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Olive oil for oiling the loaf pan

Red Pepper Cheese Sauce for serving (recipe follows)


Start by combining the rice and cold water together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer with the lid on for 35-40 minutes while you prepare all the other ingredients.

While the rice cooks, chop the onion finely and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Saute the onion for 6-8 minutes until brown and fragrant. Once the onion is cooked, add it to a large mixing bowl that is ready and waiting to go.

In the mixing bowl, combine the cooling cooked onion with the remaining loaf ingredients. Once the rice is cooked, add it to the mixture while still warm; this will help it all to mix together. Mix everything well, and get in there with your hands to ensure it is all even.

After mixing, the mixture should be nice and moist, but not too dry. Feel free to add a few extra breadcrumbs if the mixture feels too wet. (If you are subbing in gluten-free breadcrumbs, you may want to add a little more.)

At this point, you can set the mixture aside for later and bake it when convenient.

To bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Transfer the cashew mixture to a well-oiled standard loaf pan (or two smaller pans) and bake for 40 minutes, until the loaf has browned on top.

Red Pepper Cheese Sauce


2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and chopped coarsely (or yellow or orange peppers)

1 cup cashews or cashew pieces (slightly more affordable)

11/2 cups water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 to 11/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper


Combine all ingredients in your blender, and blend on high for at least a full minute, even longer (up to 2 minutes is good).

Once the mixture is well blended, transfer to a medium saucepan and heat very gently on the stove. Cook this mixture over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until heated throughout, and thick and bubbly.

Make sure to stir frequently to keep the sauce from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.

- Pinned by; recipe adapted from "The Silver Hills Cookbook"

Pinterest is just one source of the thousands of vegan and vegetarian recipes out there, but it offers the advantage of photography (you eat with your eyes). But I'm also partial to the printed word (natch), and still heavily rely on the many cookbooks that pass through my office each year as a resource.

In the latest spring batch was "The Best of Rose Elliot: The Ultimate Vegetarian Collection" (Hamlyn, $29.99). Elliott is a well-known vegetarian chef in Britain.

While this recipe makes no attempt to impersonate meat, it is a beautiful dish brimming with spring veggies. (I'm thinking of subbing the asparagus I have on hand for the green beans.)

Green Risotto With Spinach, Peas, Herbs and Green Beans

Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

11/4 cups 1-inch green bean pieces

1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder or 1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 large garlic clove, crushed

2 cups risotto rice

1 cup white wine

4 cups baby leaf spinach

1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, chives or whatever is available

Salt and black pepper

Grated or shave Parmesan-style cheese, to serve (optional)


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and celery, and stir, then cover and cook for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the green beans in a saucepan of boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and set aside, reserving the liquid. Make the liquid up to 5 cups and put into a saucepan withe the vegetable stock powder or bouillon cube. Bring to a boil , then reduce the heat and keep the stock hot over gentle heat.

Add the garlic and rice to the onion and celery in the pan and stir well. Add half the white wine and continue cooking, stirring all the time, until the wine has simmered away. Repeat the process wit the remainig wine, then add the ot stock in the same way, a ladleful at a time.

When the rice is tender and all or most of the stock has been used - about 25 minutes - add the spinach, reserved beans, peas and herbs, cover and let stand for 5 minutes, until the spinach is cooked.

Season with salt and black pepper and serve at once with the little Parmesan if desired.

Reach Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.