When my mom comes to visit, I get kind of excited.
For obvious reasons! She’s the best!
But also because her visits pull me out of my dinner ruts. She doesn’t eat wheat or dairy, so sometimes I have to get really creative to make meals that we can all enjoy! (We eat a lot of Asian cuisines.)
I was a little skeptical about this pasta at first, because I don’t typically love savory coconut without its best friends chili and curry. When I tasted the broth halfway through, I heaved a great sigh of disappointment that it was weird and bland despite its bursting tomatoes and lemongrass.
But dinner must go on (the natives were hungry), and so must I. And much to my surprise, after I added in a generous splash of lime juice and fish sauce, the boring and vaguely sweet coconut sauce turned into this amazing, tangy, practically drinkable concoction.
A symphony of flavors.
Sarah and I have been meaning to grill together for ages. Inevitably, we gather all of the ingredients and our courage to cook with charcoal, and then it pours rain.
But this week we were determined, rain or shine, to grill some veggies and some flatbreads! Naturally, on the big morning, the rain clouds rolled in. But for once, we decided not to be deterred.
And I am so glad we stuck to our guns! This flatbread “pizza” was simple and tasty. Bright, fresh summer veggies were so easy to throw on the grill, and we even made a quickie no-rise flatbread dough and threw that on the grill as well!
With a little bit of chopping and stirring, and a few quick minutes on the grill, we turned out an absolutely delicious lunch!
It’s Pi Day again!
But this year, I thought I would do something a little unusual and make a savory pie. (Let’s face it: I do not need another reason to eat dessert at this stage in my pregnancy.)
Shepherd’s pie is a classic ground meat dish. It’s as meat and potatoes as you can get. But thank goodness for the Moosewood Restaurant in New York, where Mollie Katzen dreamed up a way to make a delicious meatless version! I actually think this veggie-friendly shepherd’s pie does a great job of mimicking its meatier friend by using shredded tofu, mushrooms, and soy sauce to build umami beneath a delightful layer of mashed potatoes.
So it’s not quite a pie. Let’s celebrate Pi Day anyway!
I know I was right in the middle of sharing the saga of making a wedding cake…but then I remembered what time of year it is. That’s right. Thanksgiving is coming.
And during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I like to focus on delicious side dishes and breads and pies…because let’s face it: vegetarians often get short shrift on Thanksgiving. When the big day is all about a big bird, and half of your relatives can’t live without bacon in their stuffing, sometimes the bountiful table in front of you doesn’t quite translate into a feast.
(I should, however, offer some thanks to my own relatives, who are super gracious to me even though I am the lone veggie in their meat-loving midst.)
Because Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and I, like many of you, am scouring recipes and cookbooks for the perfect things to bring to the table, I definitely want to share some easy meatless side dishes with you! That way, on Thanksgiving, no matter what your palate prefers, you can do what my family always does: LOAD UP.
As a vegetarian, I often miss out on foods that other people rave about. Sometimes there is an easy substitution, like a delicious veggie burger. But sometimes, as with pot pies, I more often find that vegetarian versions are disappointing or weird than satisfying and comforting.
No doubt, to turn a meaty classic into a delicious vegetarian dish can be a challenge! It usually requires about a thousand more ingredients and a lot of extra time. Building a balanced flavor that is as hearty and satisfying to a carnivore as to a vegetarian is involved!
Part of this is definitely personal prejudice on my part. I’m sorry, but a potato is a starch! And, to be honest…peas are pretty darn close to a starch. So if those are the only “vegetables” in an already creamy and crusty pie, you’ve kind of lost me. If I am going to spend hours making crust and stirring fillings and then baking a pie, I want to be eating something absolutely stuffed with a rainbow of vegetables (and therefore nutrients), as thanks for my trouble!
Cue this pot pie, full of hearty Fall vegetables: butternut squash, carrots, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are all at their best and brightest in the cool months! Add some browned mushrooms and onions for a nice, savory base, plus the most deliciously herby and peppery crust, and I honestly think you couldn’t ask for anything more!
It’s Spring. And Spring is the only sane time to be grilling (because Summer…so hot!).
This year, I swore I would make sure our grill got cleaned and actually learn how to use a charcoal chimney so I could make you some delicious burgers and kebabs. But…I haven’t done it yet. I’ve been a little too busy planting tomatoes and peonies and peppers and rhubarbs.
So instead, I am making lentil burgers for Memorial Day, which you should definitely make, too, but on your stovetop (because…too soft for the grill grate). We can still have burgers! Grill be darned!
When I was a kid, I remember hearing this fantastical tale about neighborliness. You know the one I mean. About knocking on their door and asking to borrow a cup of sugar?
I was always sure this kind of thing could never happen in the modern world.
Until I met a fantastic young mom who lives down the block from me. She went grocery shopping for me after Jake was born. We take our kids on walks together. And…we totally raid each other’s kitchens. She borrows a lemon, I borrow 7 cups of flour (yeah, yeah…); she buys farro to serve her family at my suggestion, she promptly gives the rest of the dry farro to me after her family rejects it…you know. Real neighborly stuff!
My friend Sarah from Well Dined decided to help me use up some of this farro (guys, there’s like two pounds…good thing I like grain salads), and we got very excited about roasting up some mushrooms, stuffing them inside of more mushrooms, and topping it off with our very favorite: goat cheese.
A few weeks ago, I started doing the Cooking Cure challenge by the Kitchn. I didn’t actually make it very far, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my main problem was breakfast.
I mean, I regularly make delicious and daring lunches with Sarah of Well Dined. And dinner at our house is a constant revolution of new recipes so that I will be able to share new ideas with you! But…until the beginning of the year, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I ate something other than Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast since I was 21. Yep, long time.
So instead of moving on to lunch or dinner, I stuck with revamping my breakfast plan. And this meal was hearty and bright and delicious! Bright, jewel potatoes full of antioxidants and potassium, flavorful veggies like spinach and mushrooms, topped off with a beautiful, yolky egg? Yes, please!
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a recipe for spring veggie potstickers that immediately peaked my interest. So last week when I opened up my CSA box and found a bounty of late-spring produce, I immediately figured out how to adapt the recipe to the veggies in my box.
What I received for week 2 of my CSA share was: a huge bundle of kale, almost a pound of asparagus, several spring onions, a few large radishes, and a pint of cherries.
You can adapt this recipe to whatever veggies you have on hand! I thought that the radishes, kale, and asparagus went perfectly with a small handful of chopped mushrooms that I happened to have languishing in my fridge. The mushrooms upped the umami factor of the potstickers, which was a definite plus for my husband (who didn’t even complain that they were vegetarian!). This meal actually turned out so great that I made it twice!
These potstickers aren’t hard to make, unless you have an unhappy baby who doesn’t understand why you are spending 15 minutes pinching wonton wrapper seams together. In that event, you might want to give yourself some extra time and patience. I’m just saying.
I regularly find myself standing in front of the fridge trying to figure out what to do with all the little leftover odds and ends in my crisper. Halves of bell peppers, lonely carrots, three baby bellas that didn’t make it into a salad earlier in the week…
Inspiration finally struck as I was struggling to find a way to use up two cups of leftover jasmine rice pilaf. I am not really a rice person; I am not even the kind of person who thinks every meal should include a starch. So that Tupperware container of rice had been staring at me for almost two weeks.
And finally, as I was trying to plan a meal to make with my mom, who can’t have wheat or dairy, a light bulb clicked on over my head. Fried rice!
You can use any kind of cooked rice and any vegetables you want when you are making fried rice. So why not jasmine rice baked in veggie broth with a few shallots already tossed in? And all those veggies hiding in my refrigerator drawers were a perfect match.
This one-pot meal came out so delicious that my husband ate about four servings of it. I won’t stress about how much white rice he consumed in one sitting…I will just use brown rice next time and rejoice that I’ve finally found a simple Asian dish I can make at home for him!
Let’s make a meal out of all our leftovers!