Tag Archives: dinner

Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Think of this as a springtime warmup to the full-on Caprese salad ahead.  In a few months, we’ll be slicing thick slabs of heirloom tomato to layer with buffalo mozzarella, juice pooling across the plate, a true summer salad.  This is that salad’s young green cousin, made before the arugula bolts, sweet with quick-ripening cherry tomatoes and enriched by a handful of creamy bambini bocconcini.  If you have a bottle of good syrupy balsamic vinegar, I recommend using it here.

Need a salad to bring to a party?  This one travels well (undressed, of course) and rates favorably on the seems-fancy-but-is-a-snap-to-prepare scale.

Continue reading Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella (click for recipe)

Baked Chard Stems with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan

I find particular satisfaction in making something from not-so-much.  I save my Parmesan rinds to add depth of flavor to lentil soups.  I save my vegetable trimmings make homemade broth.  And when I made those risotto-filled chard rolls, I saved the chard stems to make this dish.

I often cook chard stems right along with their leaves, chopping them into confetti and sauteing them with onions and garlic before adding the glistening green leaves to my pan.  And I sometimes chop the stems up for my stock-trimmings bag in the freezer if I only have a few of them.  But chard stems are a delicious vegetable on their own, with a sweeter flavor than the leaves and a bit of crunch or chew, depending on how long you cook them.

This recipe is a longstanding family favorite.  It comes from Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, which I once checked out of the library.  (I love getting cookbooks from the library.)  I sauce things up by increasing the tomato and often serving a poached egg on top, but you can do what you like.  I also usually serve the sauteed chard leaves alongside if I didn’t already use them up to make chard rolls.

This is one of those nice dishes where the end product seems to be more than the sum of its parts. We are about equally likely to make it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Which will you do?

Continue reading Baked Chard Stems with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan (click for recipe)

Risotto-Stuffed Chard Leaves

I haven’t been to Nice in years, but I’ve been dreaming about a visit ever since I read this article by Mark Bittman in 2008 about a vegetarian restaurant called La Zucca Magica.  (I’ll just wait here for a minute while you go enjoy Google’s translation of that webpage.)  Some people dream of lounging on the Riviera, I dream of magic squash and vegetarian fine dining, what can I say?

As you might imagine, I promptly cooked my way through the recipes featured along with Mr. Bittman’s column, and this dish was born of one of them.  It’s been a regular feature at our table ever since, and when I make risotto I always hope for leftovers to roll up in chard leaves later in the week.  (Of course you can follow the original recipe and make a risotto just for this dish–the lemony risotto in the recipe is quite nice–but that’s a bit ambitious for me these days.)  The Leek and Green Garlic Risotto from the other night was perfect.

There’s also a buried treasure in there: a gooey, rich strand of mozzarella cheese that reveals itself as you dig into each austere-looking package.  You could omit this if you’re using a risotto that’s already as decadent as the Leek and Green Garlic Risotto–but why?

Continue reading Risotto-Stuffed Chard Leaves (click for recipe)

Indian-Spiced Kale and Paneer, or, Not Quite Saag Paneer

I got The Best Present Ever for Mothers Day this year.  And that is saying a lot, because I was just showered with gifts this year.  The girls’ handmade gifts and cards were almost as sweet as the big proud smiles on their faces when they gave them to me, of course, but J took the cake with one of his gifts.

He organized my spice collection.

Hopefully you feel the full effect of that sentence as I do: you should be bathed in light and joy as the heavens part and you hear the angels sing Alleluia.  Are you with me?

This is a big deal.  Once upon a time, I had a few rows of spice jars tidily tucked into a spice rack.  Later, the jars began to multiply and J put up shelves to hold more of them.  But in recent years the spices had completely outgrown that expanded solution and they began to pile up in tiny bags, then handfuls of tiny bags stuffed into bigger bags, then finally gallon jars full of big and little bags that all were starting to smell like curry powder or cardamom.  It was not a particularly efficient system.

So it was with adoration that I approached my spice rack (it’s really more of a spice wall now) today when I decided to make this dish.  Everything was in its place, alphabetically arranged–except for my assortment of chiles, which take up a shelf of their own.  Bay, cardamom, cinnamon.  Check, check, check.  Cloves, coriander, cumin, right on down the line.  It’s so easy when things are where they are supposed to be!

But, ok, let me get to the part you’re here for.  This is the best Indian food that has ever come out of my kitchen.  Ever.  The recipe is adapted from Kolpona Cuisine, along with a plea to use the whole spices called for despite the mild inconvenience of having to fish them out later.  I don’t know if that is the whole secret here, but the dish was amazing and J marveled aloud, a few times, that it was the best Saag Paneer he’d ever eaten.  (This version was kale paneer, to be precise, inspired by CoolCookStyle, but you can click right here for the original recipe using frozen spinach.)

Indian-Spiced Kale and Paneer (click for recipe)

Leek and Green Garlic Risotto

With the benefit of hindsight, I can confidently tell you that this is not really the kind of dish that you whip up quickly on a weeknight. In fact, if you don’t turn your attention to dinner until eight p.m., you may be eating close to ten, which is fine if you’re in Madrid but rather late in our household.

Plan this meal for a weekend, then, after you’ve been to the farmers market in the morning and loaded up on springy leeks and green garlic. This risotto is rich and delicate at once, and perfect on its own, but by ten o’clock we were so hungry that we felt the need to gild the lily with a fried egg. You know how I like to do that.

Why did a simple risotto take me so long, you might ask? Well, the only kind of broth I like better than my frozen homemade broth is one custom-made on the spot, extracting every last drop of flavor from the trimmings of the vegetables to be used in the dish. Tonight I started by making a simple stock with the leek tops, garlic tops, and parsley stems that weren’t going into the risotto. I added a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, 2 scant tsp. kosher salt, and covered it all with 2 qts. water. It simmered on the back burner while I chopped my vegetables, then I strained it straight from the stock pot into my risotto as it cooked. So that took a few extra minutes.

And then there was the chopping of three enormous leeks and seven little heads of green garlic (the kind where the cloves haven’t formed yet and you just peel off one papery outer layer). And the stopping to inhale their lovely fragrance. And I put the baby back to bed a few times in the middle. So, you know. You’ll be much faster than me. Because once your stock is made and your alliums are chopped, making this risotto is a breeze.

Continue reading Leek and Green Garlic Risotto (click for recipe)

Buckwheat Soba Salad with Spicy Almond Sauce

What kind of dinner party do you like to throw? What is your ideal number of guests? Do you have a few go-to dinner party dishes?

I like a big, casual potluck, myself.  (Or a casual dinner for a few close friends.  Notice the theme here?  Casual.)  We don’t throw nearly enough big parties these days, but I’d like to change that. The beauty of a summer potluck is the ease: clear off the counters, park a big bucket of ice or a keg in the back yard, ask a few neighbors to contribute lawn chairs.  I’m ready.  All we need now are some warm, sunny evenings.

I’m happy to announce that I’m gearing up for my real-life party plans by attending a Virtual Vegan Potluck this Saturday.  Tune in for my contribution (we’ll be rolling brown rice sushi, speaking of fun dinner party ideas), then hop around the table to see what else is cooking.  I can promise that we will all come away with enough recipe inspiration to get us through a summer’s worth of potlucks.

As it happens, a cold soba noodle salad is one of the dishes I like to take to potlucks now and then.  It’s easy to make, you can toss in whatever veggies you have handy, and the pasta easily stretches it to feed a crowd.  Maybe you toss in some tofu, maybe not.  I haven’t had a go-to dressing for my salad, though; sometimes I just did rice vinegar and sesame oil, other times a so-so peanut sauce.  That all changed this week.I love An Unrefined Vegan’s spicy almond sauce, and I hereby declare it the dressing that shall adorn my soba salads all summer long.  It was great to start with, but I doubled the almond butter and the spice because I am decadent like that, and the resulting dressing is even more creamy, spicy, and rich.  You won’t be sorry if you invite me to your potluck this summer.  Feel free to request this dish; I’ll be making it a lot, it keeps and travels well, and it’s as good cold as it is warm.  Continue reading Buckwheat Soba Salad with Spicy Almond Sauce (click for recipe)

Butternut Squash Tacos with Chipotle and Feta

In a different life, I used to live in LA.  I mean, it was this life, but it was a long time ago.  After more than a decade, those LA years have receded into a happy, ephemeral recollection of palm trees, of 72-and-sunny, of riding my bike to the beach and farmers market.  (I think I was supposed to be have been studying.)  They were lovely years.

Now I live in evergreens, in 50s-and-drizzling, in walking at a snail’s pace with three beautiful children who cannot be hurried as they collect sticks and rocks.  These are lovely years as well.

Not much endures in my life from that time in LA, except for the most important thing: a few good friendships.  I had the good fortune of spending last weekend with some of those old friends.  It was so nice to see them, to catch up, to laugh really hard and spend the day together.  And, just as nice, to cook together.

We made tacos, of course.  You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take California out of the girl…is that how it goes?  What a silly saying.  These tacos make no claim to authenticity of any kind, anyway.  They come from the opposite of California, the New York Times (specifically the Recipes for Health series).  They’re good.  Serve them alone or as part of a taco spread (with fish tacos, maybe, or tempeh or black bean tacos, or even breakfast tacos).  A side of seasoned black beans wouldn’t be amiss, either. Continue reading Butternut Squash Tacos with Chipotle and Feta (click for recipe)

Roasted Broccoli Pizza with Feta Cheese and Eggs

It’s been much too long since we’ve had a pizza recipe on this site.  Weeks!  I hope that you’ve been carrying on with your weekly homemade pizza night–do you have one of those?  If not, do you have another special meal that you serve on a regular basis?

Whether homemade pizza is an occasional or regular indulgence for you, here’s a recent favorite of mine.  Roasty-toasty broccoli, creamy-salty feta, perfect saucy egg on top.  You might have to work on the timing to get your egg cooked perfectly to your liking, but in my setup (long-preheated 550 oven, hot pizza stone, thin homemade crust) the egg is still just perfectly runny at the moment that my crust crisps up, after about 5 minutes in the oven.  Now that’s good fast food.

Sunnyside-up pizza not your thing?  Have you noticed that pizza has its whole own category over there on the sidebar menu?  Click it for more pizza inspiration

Continue reading Roasted Broccoli Pizza with Feta Cheese and Eggs (click for recipe)

Make-it-a- Meal Hearty Miso Soup with Ginger, Corn, and Tofu

This recipe was featured in an Eating Well Magazine piece about how to layer on the umami flavors in vegetarian cooking.  Which is never a bad idea.  Did you know that corn is considered a source of umami flavor?  I didn’t, but I can attest that the sweet kernels were welcome in this dish.  Miso, soy sauce, tofu, and eggs also play into the deep flavor, and you might even consider adding some thinly-sliced shiitake mushrooms if you come across them.

I’ll be adding this meal to our dinner rotation as we lighten up our cooking for spring.  It’s full of flavor, quick to make, and can easily be adapted to accommodate the contents of your fridge.  It’s also kid-friendly, which is no small consideration around here.  In fact, this “Tofu and Vegetable Stew,” as it was stodgily named in my magazine, is really just a beefed-up (well, tofu’d-up) miso soup with a nice kick of ginger.  We made a meal of it by serving it over rice. Continue Reading Hearty Miso Soup with Ginger, Corn, and Tofu (click for recipe)

Leek Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

In the way that one is apt to crave things that are unattainable, I fall in love with the idea of Yotam Ottolenghi’s London cafes all over again every time I hear about them.  And I have heard of them frequently in recent years, as Ottolenghi is something of a sensation in the culinary world, especially among vegetarians in search of fresh flavors and ideas.  His innovative cooking relies heavily on vegetables and combines bright, lively flavors from around the world.  He has published two cookbooks (Ottolenghi and Plenty) and has a third on the way.

All this is to say that it’s Ottolenghi’s deli case that I dream about when I fantasize about having a ready-stocked supply of amazing salads in my kitchen at all times.  So I was disappointed when the first recipe I tried from his vegetarian book Plenty turned out to be a dud in my kitchen (it was a saute of brussels sprouts and tofu that Dana Treat loved, so who knows where I went wrong).  This recipe, though, reminded me what all the hype is about.

The fritters themselves are delicious–well-spiced with a hint of an exotic flavor from the turmeric, which you could spin by using Mark Bittman’s adaptation containing cardamom instead as Hannah did when she inspired me to go dig out this cookbook.  The thing that made this recipe for me, though, was the yogurt dipping sauce, the leftover bowl of which I considered eating for breakfast this morning.  It wouldn’t make a bad meal by itself.

Continue reading Leek Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce (click for recipe)