So, as far as I know, Rachael Ray is not a vegan (at least she wasn’t when I dined at the table next to her at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia.)  However, one of the episodes of her network talk show that aired earlier this week had some fabulous crostini recipes that were all vegan friendly!  My “bookies” (no, not the people you place bets with on horse racing ~ my book club girls) are coming over just after Columbus Day weekend, and now I have a menu.  Serve any (or all) or these with charred or toasted slices of a fresh baguette or those really thin, square pumpernickel slices.

Puttanesca Bruschetta**

2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
1/4 cup EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 heirloom plum or large hothouse plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
A handful of caper berries, drained and quartered or sliced or 3 tablespoons capote capers, drained and coarsely chopped
A generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
A few leaves basil, torn or chopped
1 small Fresno or Italian hot cherry pepper, seeded and chopped
A handful oil-cured black olives, pitted and finely chopped

With a fork or whisk, combine garlic with EVOO in a bowl. Add tomatoes, capers, parsley, onion, basil, chili pepper, olives and toss to combine.  **This originally called for anchovy paste, so you can add it if you like and don’t mind if it’s not vegan ~ I’m not an anchovy girl, vegan or not.

Zucchini and Corn

About 1/4 cup EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
A generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 pound firm zucchini, seeded if necessary and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 ears of fresh corn on the cob, kernels scraped
3 to 4 scallions, whites and greens, finely chopped
1 small Fresno or Italian cherry pepper chili, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
Salt and black pepper

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the EVOO, garlic and lemon juice. Add mint, parsley, zucchini, corn, scallions and chili, if using, and season liberally with salt and lightly with pepper. Toss to combine.

Mushroom Pate

8 TBSP non-dairy margarine (the equivalent of 1 stick of butter)
2 pounds coarsely chopped crimini or mixed mushrooms
A few sprigs of thyme, chopped
3 shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and lots of coarse black pepper
1/2 cup Marsala or sherry
Finely chopped parsley, for garnish
Cornichons, halved

Melt margarine in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and brown, 10 minutes. Add thyme, shallots and garlic, and cook 10-12 minutes more, until mushrooms are very dark and shallots very tender. Season with salt and pepper.   Deglaze the pan with the Marsala or sherry. Transfer everything to a food processor and pulse to process the mushrooms into a coarse paste. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with parsley. Serve the cornichons with the bread.

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Veg and the City