Tag Archives: vegetarian

Recipe: Spicy Indian Eggplant with Tomatoes

27 Oct

I have always loved logic problems. You know–the kind where a man in a blue coat on a bus is sitting two seats away from a woman with red hair who is diagonally across from another woman using an iPhone and one seat away from a man with a green scarf reading the paper.  Eventually, given more clues, you’d have to say where everyone was sitting, what color hair they had, what they were wearing, and what they were doing.

Perhaps that is why I also greatly enjoy certain culinary challenges. For example, tonight we had friends over for dinner and had a lovely time with them. But having lived in Berkeley, we learned early on to ask if our guests had any dietary preferences or restrictions. This time around, several of our guests could not eat dairy, gluten, or meat (two friends are each avoiding one of those items, the other cannot have two of them–but no one friend is avoiding all three). The remaining five people at the table tonight eat anything and everything. No one was vegan.

So, what to serve? In cases such as this, I find that Indian food is perfect. There are myriad vegetarian and non-dairy options, and rice does not contain gluten. So I decided to use this opportunity to experiment by making several dishes I haven’t tried before. This eggplant dish is one of them, and one of the reasons I chose it is that it can be served at room temperature. Anything that can be made ahead of time, I like. This recipe, which family members deemed a keeper, is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.

Spicy Indian Eggplant with Tomatoes
Serves 6
[Updated 9 March 2021]

1 tsp. ground ginger
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1/8 c. (30 ml.) water

1 3/4 lb. (795 gr.) baby eggplant
about 1.5 c. (415 ml.) canola or vegetable oil

1 tsp. whole fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 (15-oz./425 gr.) can petite diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/8 tsp. cayenne (or chili flakes)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Combine the ginger, garlic and water in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into halves, then cut each half lengthwise into four strips; cut the strips in half crosswise.
  3. Heat 1/2 c. (140 ml.) of the oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat; when hot, add one layer of eggplant and cook until the eggplant is golden-brown, turning pieces over as they cook. Remove eggplant and drain on a layer of paper towels.
  4. Repeat until all eggplant slices have been cooked, adding additional oil to the pan each time as needed.
  5. Once all the eggplant has been cooked, keep about 3 tbsp. of the oil in the pan, and discard the rest.
  6. Add the fennel and cumin seeds to the hot oil in the pan. Stir for a few seconds, then add the tomato, the ginger-garlic mixture, and the coriander, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and sugar.
  7. Stir and cook for 5-6 minutes, breaking up the tomato pieces with the back of a slotted spoon. Continue to cook until the mixture gets thick and paste-like.
  8. Return the eggplant to the pan and gently mix in; add the lemon juice. Cook on medium-low for about 10 minutes, adding some of the reserved tomato liquid if the eggplant looks too dry.
  9. Check the seasonings and adjust as needed (you may like to add more salt, or a pinch more sugar, or a bit more lemon juice).
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe: Tortilla Soup

5 Feb

Twenty-four years ago today, my husband and I had our first date at an El Torito Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, Washington DC, whereupon I not only polished off a full platter of food, but found extra room for dessert, too. Ah, the joys of youth (and first dates). My future husband was amazed, but that was because he did not yet appreciate the magnitude of my sweet tooth — in my view, there’s always room for at least a little dessert.

The restaurant is now gone and my ability to eat that much dinner has gone with it. So on the anniversary of that first date, I present a light meal that was an El Torito favorite: Tortilla Soup. If you have this for dinner, you will certainly have room to satisfy any sweet cravings afterward.

This recipe calls for chicken, but a vegetarian version could easily be made without the chicken and using vegetable broth/bouillon instead of chicken broth/bouillon. A vegan version would also omit the cheese.

Tortilla Soup

[Updated instructions 2/7/2015]

3 chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lb.)
7 c. chicken broth
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 potato, diced
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 zucchini, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/4 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
chicken (or vegetable) bouillon powder or cubes to taste
juice of 1/2 lime

Accompaniments:
corn tortilla strips (see cooking instructions below; will need 5 corn tortillas and canola oil)
1 1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 avocados, sliced
3/4 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

1. Heat the broth in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken breasts, reduce heat, and gently poach the chicken. [Note: Whenever possible, I like to poach the chicken ahead of time and let it cool in the broth: bring the chicken and broth to a simmer, turn down the heat so that the liquid ripples but doesn’t actually boil, cover the pot, poach the chicken for about 15 minutes–skimming the broth as needed–then turn off the heat and let the chicken breasts cool in the broth for about half an hour. If time is short, poach the chicken for 20-25 minutes, skimming as needed, remove from the pot, and transfer to a plate to cool.]
2. Add onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, potato, tomato paste, bay leaf, garlic, oregano, cumin, and a dash of salt and pepper to the broth in the soup pot. Bring to a boil,  reduce heat and simmer, covered, 25 minutes.
3. While soup is simmering, cut the 5 corn tortillas into quarters and then cut each quarter into thin strips; leave the strips on the cutting board until ready to cook. Shred the cool chicken with a fork or clean fingers, and set aside.
4. Heat canola oil over high heat in heavy skillet (should be at least 1- to 1.5-inch depth of oil). When oil is very hot, add a layer of corn tortilla strips. Fry until golden, flipping as needed to ensure even coloring. Drain tortilla strips on a layer of paper towels. Repeat until all strips have been cooked; reserve.
5. Add zucchini, tomatoes, jalapeno, and shredded chicken to the soup pot, then simmer 10 more minutes. Check seasonings; if broth needs a bit more flavor, add chicken (or vegetable) bouillon powder or cubes and more pepper as needed. Add lime juice just before serving.
6. Serve soup in individual bowls, with avocado slices, jalapenos, tortilla strips, cheese, and cilantro as accompaniments.

Recipe: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

22 Jan

Eggs are a miracle food in many ways, but what I most appreciate about them is that they make for a quick, nutritious meal any time of the day. These scrambled eggs are great for breakfast, brunch,  lunch, and even as an after-school snack for ravenous teenagers. And if I am ever on my own for dinner, these scrambled eggs often make an appearance.

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta
Serves 2

4 eggs
pinch salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 c. chopped fresh spinach
1/4 c. crumbled feta

Preparation
1. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Add a pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper.
2. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onions, and cook over high heat until soft and beginning to turn golden at the edges.
3. Reduce heat to medium and layer the spinach on top of the onions. Pour in the eggs, top with the crumbled feta, and gently scramble until set.
4. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Mulligatawny Soup (Curried Rice Soup)

11 Dec

What do you do when 1) you have omnivores and vegans coming to dinner, and 2) it’s cold outside and you want something warm and filling that everyone will enjoy? Well, you could offer your guests a deconstructed curried rice soup to suit every palate (and dietary preference). Mulligatawny–with or without chicken–is another example of cross-cultural fusion: an Anglo-Indian soup with a name that means “pepper water.”  And like many other hybrids, there are infinite variations on the theme; this is just one version that can be served two ways.

When I am making this for the family, I prepare it with chicken broth and chicken as in the photo below. But it is just as good (and more versatile) made with vegetable broth and served with a variety of accompaniments on the side, so guests can add the ingredients they prefer.

Note: The instructions below are for making the soup to suit both omnivorous and vegan guests. If not meant to be vegan, the soup can be made with chicken broth and chicken; cook the chicken in the pot before you cook the onions, celery, and carrots. Remove the chicken from the pot when it is no longer pink, add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and proceed with the recipe as indicated below; return chicken to soup along with the apple and rice.

Mulligatawny Soup (Curried Rice Soup–with or without Chicken)

Soup Base

3 tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, grated
3 tbsp. flour
1.5 tbsp. curry powder
10-12  c.  vegetable broth (or water and equivalent bouillon cubes)
1 green apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1 c. rice (I usually use white jasmine rice, but have also made this with brown basmati)
salt and lots of freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (13.5-oz.) can lite coconut milk

Accompaniments
[Choose as many as desired and serve each separately alongside the soup]

2-3 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas/garbanzos, simmered in their liquid until warm, then drained
8 0z. mushrooms, sliced and cut in half, sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper
2 zucchinis, sliced and cut into quarters, prepared same as mushrooms
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets and steamed
handful baby spinach, raw

Preparation

1. Saute onion, celery, and carrots in oil in large soup pot until soft and golden. Add flour and curry powder, and cook 5 minutes. Add broth (start with 10 c.), mix well, and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes.
2. Add apple, rice, salt, and pepper, and simmer 15-20 minutes more, or until rice is done. Add more broth as needed to maintain a fairly soupy consistency.
3. Just before serving, add coconut milk and adjust seasonings to taste.
4. Serve soup in bowls and allow your guests to add any of the accompaniments they desire.

Recipe: Lasagna Roll-Ups with Spinach and Ricotta

8 Dec

Sometimes, you want something fairly simple for dinner, but still want it to have a little flair. This dish meets that need. It is a different take on an old favorite: lasagna. Instead of layering the lasagna, you roll it up. It is fun to make, and a pleasure to eat.

Lasagna Roll-Ups © G. Stansbury

Lasagna Roll-Ups with Spinach and Ricotta
Makes 10-12
[Updated  Dec. 9, 2012]

15 pieces lasagna from a 1-lb. box
16 oz. ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
1.5 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
freshly grated pepper to taste

pasta sauce of your preference (at least 24 oz./4 c. — may need more)

Preparation
1. Cook lasagna al dente in large pot of boiling water according to directions on package. Drain, and rinse with cold water to cool.
2. While lasagna is cooking, combine ricotta, garlic, spinach, egg, 1/2 c. mozzarella, Pecorino Romano/Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix well.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray, then pour about 2 c. pasta sauce into pan, spreading evenly. Add more sauce as needed to ensure there is a healthy layer of sauce in bottom of pan.
4.  Lay out a lasagna noodle and spoon about 1/3 c. filling in an even layer down the entire noodle (you can also spread the filling on the noodle with very clean fingers). Roll the lasagna noodle up as tightly as possible, and nestle into sauce in pan. Repeat with remaining noodles–you will end up with between 10-12 roll-ups  (the extra noodles are back-ups in case of any breaks or tears). Pour remaining sauce over and in between roll-ups.
5. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove aluminum foil and sprinkle remaining 1 c. mozzarella over the roll-ups. Broil until golden, and serve immediately.

Recipe: Curried Lentils with a Twist

7 Nov

People either love lentils, or they don’t. I fall in the former camp, and luckily, so do most of my family members. One of my sons can eat his weight in these lentils–ok, half his weight in the actual lentils and rice, and the other half in the extremely hot lime pickle he slathers on top. I’m not sure how he has any taste buds left.

This dish is actually a hybrid (hence “the twist”). It is mostly Indian, but with a few Spanish and Latin American hints. There is some degree of overlap between the cuisines, which I capitalized upon here: the lentils, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, and lemon. But the turmeric and garam masala tip the balance toward a more pronounced Indian flavor, while the use of bouillon powder is typically Latin American. Either way, the result is a testament to fusion food, and like so many recipes that stand the test of time, it is one you can adapt almost any which way.

Curried Lentils with a Twist
Serves 8-10

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lg. onion, diced
3 tsp. whole coriander seeds
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tomatoes, diced (after dicing, remove as many of the white core parts as possible, without worrying too much)
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 (16-oz.) bag lentils (about 2 heaping cups), picked over and rinsed
6.5 c. water, divided
4 tsp. chicken or vegetable bouillon powder (or equivalent cubes to make 4 c. bouillon)
salt to taste (if needed)
2 tsp. garam masala
juice of 1/2 lemon

Preparation

1. Sauté onion and coriander seeds in olive oil in a medium saucepan until onion is soft; add garlic and cook for a couple minutes more. Add tomatoes and cook until soft, mashing them with a large slotted spoon to break them up. Add ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric, stir, and cook for a a minute or two. Add lentils, 5 c. water, and bouillon powder/cubes.

2. Bring to a boil, cover saucepan, then simmer lentils until soft, usually about 30-45 minutes. Note: Stir lentils every 10 minutes or so, adding remaining 1.5 c. water as needed if the lentils start getting too dry. Depending on the lentils, they may absorb a lot of liquid, so it’s important to check periodically. Ultimately, the lentils should be soupy and almost stew like–not too thin, not too thick.

3. Add garam masala and lemon juice and check seasonings.

4. Serve with rice (short-grain brown rice is great) and chutney or Indian pickle (such as lime pickle for those who like it hot).

Recipe: Potato Leek Soup

2 Nov

When it is cold, wet, and blustery outside, my thoughts turn to soups and stews–hearty, satisfying dishes that lift any spirits. And when a delicious soup can be made with only four ingredients (ground pepper doesn’t count…), what’s not to love?

This recipe came about by accident. Most potato leek soup recipes call for cream. But I forgot to add it once, and have never added it since–and no one has ever missed it. As an added bonus, this accident made the soup vegan friendly, too, and I like having delicious vegan dishes that everyone loves in my repertoire.

After experimenting with various toppings, fried onions were the clear winner. The crispy texture not only balances the smooth soup, but also adds another layer of onion flavor. My favorite places to buy the fried onions are 1) by the bag at Indian grocery stores, or 2) in small round cartons in the grocery section at IKEA (Swedish fried onions are very nice!). I like both those versions much better than the ones at our chain grocery store, but have used those in a pinch, too.

Potato Leek Soup
12 servings

4-6 leeks, ends trimmed, white and palest green parts only (use 4 leeks if they are large with long white sections; 6 otherwise)
2-3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5 lb. potatoes, peeled  and cut into chunks (Yukon Gold imparts a nice color)
10 c.  vegetable broth (or 10 c. water + sufficient vegetable bouillon cubes; Knorr brand is nice)
ground pepper

Preparation
1. Cut each leek in half lengthwise, then slice the halves into 1″-thick half circles. Put in a bowl of cold water and swish around to remove any dirt that may have gotten trapped between the layers. Drain and shake dry; I sometimes pat the leeks dry with paper towels (as much as possible without stressing over it).

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch Oven (enameled cast iron pot, or any other heavy bottom pot), add the leeks and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the broth (or water and bouillon cubes) and the potatoes, and stir once or twice.

4. Simmer until potatoes are tender, then blend with an immersion blender (or carefully blend in a regular blender or food processor, in batches, then return to pot). If soup seems too thick, add more broth. Season liberally with freshly ground pepper, and serve with fried onions.


Note: When heating up leftover soup the next day, you may need to thin with a bit more broth, or even water. It is a soup that keeps on giving.

Recipe: Chicken (or Veggie) Tajine

13 Oct

There are certainly as many ways of making a tajine (tagine) as there are ways of making Spaghetti Bolognaise, but all boil down to the same delicious result: a fragrant, soul-warming North African stew that is perfect for a crisp autumn day. This version–with just a hint of sweetness from the cinnamon, currants, and honey–is a favorite.

Tajines are named for the two-piece clay pot that they are traditionally cooked in. The pot has a flat bottom with deep sides, and a conical lid. The brightly colored glazed versions are gorgeous. Alas, I don’t have a tajine, so instead prepare this dish in a large, enameled, cast-iron Dutch Oven with a lid. This version is made with chicken, but is very easy to convert to a vegetarian or vegan dish:  substitute garbanzos beans (chickpeas) and veggies for the chicken. I usually add chickpeas anyway since I am quite fond of them, but this time around had a smaller crowd at home so omitted them. I also forgot the carrots, but luckily this dish is very forgiving. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients–most of them are spices. I put the spices into a small bowl while the onions are cooking, and add them all at once.

Toasted almonds are a must as an accompaniment–they add a nice crunchy texture to the dish; toasted pine nuts would work, too. Serve with couscous.

Chicken Tajine
Serves 8

2-6 tbsp. olive oil
2 large  onions (cut onions in half, julienne, then cut slices in half again)
1 c. shredded carrots
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. fennel or anise seeds
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
10 whole cloves
2 (14.5-oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 c. chicken or veggie broth
juice from 1 lemon
3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat removed, cut into thirds
1 c. currants
1 (15.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. butter (or non-hydrogenated buttery spread)
1/2 c. toasted almonds (slivered or sliced), or pine nuts

Preparation
1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy, large Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown chicken (in batches if necessary); remove from pot.
2. Add onions, carrots, and garlic to pot (plus more olive oil if needed). Cover and cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add paprika, salt, turmeric, coriander, fennel seeds, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, and lemon juice; bring to boil. Put chicken back into pot in a single layer and add currants and chickpeas (if using). Nestle chicken into sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes. Remove lid. Add honey and butter and simmer about 30 minutes longer, uncovered.
3. Check and adjust seasonings. Before serving, sprinkle with almonds and cilantro. Serve with couscous.

Recipe: Spaghetti Bolognaise

3 Oct

This is a recipe whose origins trace back to Bologna, in Northern Italy. But one of the reasons Italian food is is so beloved around the world is because it is so incredibly adaptable–and Spaghetti Bolognaise is a great example. You can add what you like, subtract what you don’t, and the result will be something you’ve made your own that still speaks the language of its birth.

This recipe is more of a guideline: I like to make this with ground turkey, but other ground meats (or none at all) would work well, too; in fact, this can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by substituting chopped mushrooms for the meat and adding zucchini or other veggies. Sometimes I discover I don’t have tomato sauce, so I add more tomato paste and wine. Occasionally, I run out of fresh garlic and resort to garlic powder. No matter how much I tweak this recipe, it always turns out well, and for that reason alone it is a true keeper. As a final note, you can easily double this recipe to feed a crowd or to freeze the extra so you can have some on hand for busy weeknight meals.

Spaghetti Bolognaise
Serves 6

1 pkg. ground turkey (1-1.25 lb.)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
1/2-1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 c. red wine (I use Chianti if we have it; if not, I grab whatever is at hand)
1 (14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar (optional–I add it to heighten the flavor of the tomatoes)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or my favorite, Pecorino Romano)

Preparation
1. Cook the turkey in a lightly oiled skillet until no longer pink. Remove from the skillet, drain, and set aside in a covered bowl.
2. In a large saucepan, cook the onion and carrots in olive oil over medium heat until onion is soft and beginning to brown at the edges. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and basil, and cook for a couple minutes more.
3. Add turkey to saucepan and stir in 1/4 c. wine. Cook until most of the wine has reduced. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, remaining 1/4 c. wine, and sugar (if using). Season with salt and pepper.
4. Reduce heat and let sauce simmer uncovered for about half an hour, stirring periodically. Check seasonings and add more salt, pepper, sugar, or basil as needed. If sauce is too thin, stir in more tomato paste. If sauce is too thick, splash in a bit more wine.
5. Cook spaghetti in a large pot with plenty of lightly salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain, and toss with a small amount of olive oil to keep from sticking.
6. Serve the spaghetti with the Bolognaise sauce and with grated cheese.

Recipe: Tabouli

5 Sep

When I was in college, the original Moosewood Cookbook was one of the first cookbooks I bought on my own. Other cookbooks have since joined my collection, but the Moosewood Cookbook still holds a special place in my affection–almost entirely because of this Tabouli recipe, which is a family favorite.

Tabouli
Serves 8
Note: Needs 2-3 hours refrigeration

1 c. dry bulgur wheat (I usually use coarse grind)
1.5 c. boiling water
1.5 tsp. salt
¼ c. fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dried mint
1/2 c. chopped scallions (including green parts: about 3-4 scallions)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 c. (packed) freshly chopped parsley
1 (15.5-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (optional)

Combine bulgur, boiling water and salt in bowl. Cover and let stand 15-20 minutes, or until bulgur is chewable.

Add lemon juice, garlic, oil, and mint, and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate 2-3 hours.

Just before serving, add vegetables (and chickpeas, if using) and mix gently. Check seasonings.