Archives for category: vegetarian entrees

In a previous life I probably wouldn’t have made pho at home. I figured someone else could do it better, and cheaper, at a restaurant than I could at home.

Living in Hartford has its hidden perks: the lack of veggie-friendly Vietnamese restaurants has made me less of a snob about what I cook. We made this twice last week and the broth is perfect.

The recipe is at The Kitchn. I followed the broth recipe exactly, and then I followed it imprecisely (the carrots were gone). It’s better when you follow the recipe exactly. Veggies and tofu (broccoli, bok choy, shiitakes, thinly sliced marinated tofu, steamed acorn squash) go in the bowl with the rice noodles (which are best when you soak them in boiling rather than merely hot water). Herbs, lime chunks, and bean sprouts go on the side.  Action soup.

The action extends to the prep: there’s a lot of it. But once you have a stash of clean, dry herbs and greens, the soup becomes easy. I would plan to make it twice in a week.

aerial pho

pho with waning paperwhites


My mom bought two copies of the New York Times Cookbook a few years ago, one for me and one for her. I’ve probably only made two recipes from it since then, but I lugged it to bed for months to read the headnotes, which are universally fascinating.

there's a couch in the kitchen
cats steam and speed
tofu browning

Where would I be without takeout-style sesame noodles? The last time we made it was at the West Point Inn, and we carried the pre-made sauce in an empty jar of B-12 vitamins up Mt. Tam, in one of our backpacks. I had splurged on a packet of Hodo Soy seasoned baked tofu, which slices into these perfectly dense and creamy ribbons.

jut mt tam

Tonight we ate it with a pickled cucumber salad and braised tofu. I find myself saying what my dad always did when I was a kid: “There isn’t anyone in [Hartford] eating this well tonight.” You’re supposed to toss the cucumbers with the pasta and sesame sauce, but it’s easier just to eat them on the side. I’m not that good with my tongs. I forgot the chopped peanuts for the top of the noodles. Don’t forget the peanuts.

welcome to hartford

Takeout-style Sesame Noodles
this is the recipe

It’s so good that I double the sauce and use 16 oz. dried pasta instead of the 16 oz. fresh. (They recommend that you chop the garlic and ginger by hand, presumably because you live in nyc and have no counter space for a Cuisinart, but just throw everything in the hopper and be done with it.) I like the dish best with the “optional” sichuan peppercorns.

Pickled Cucumber Salad
This was just cukes, sweet onion rings, and a dressing of one part sugar, two parts rice vinegar, and some salt and pepper.

Braised Tofu
I fried 1 cm slices of tofu on each side, then added braising liquid (1/4 C broth, 1/4 C Annie’s Shiitake Dressing, plus some soy sauce). It’s not the perfect braising liquid–a little underseasoned and oily–but I’m currently on a vegan semi-homemade mission, so I’ll keep tinkering with the idea.


Oh hey this one is located elsewhere.

I grew up in a family of the culinary curious. My dad made friends with everyone, from everywhere. I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about Indian cuisine, now I’m not so sure. I’ve made dal and pilafs, puris and pakorhas, curries, masalas and kormas, naan, parathas, chapatis, chutneys, and I’ve even made my own panir cheese. Then my daughter sent me this bag of deep fried puffed rice, noodles and crackers along with some chutneys and a recipe for bhel puri. Now I suspect I’ve just scraped the surface of a complex cuisine with regional dishes I’d never imagined existed.

For you Cape Cod folk, getting the essential puffed rice for this recipe will require going off Cape. I can’t find it from any of my distributors. Watertown seems like a good bet, if you happen to be passing through. You might also pick up the tamarind and coriander chutneys, not to be found in my catalogs. If you do find it, you’ll be rewarded with a taste experience unlike anything you’ve ever eaten: sweet, tart, crunchy, and addictive. And one bag of bhel and one jar each of the chutneys makes 3 full recipes!

This is the exact recipe my daughter sent.

Bhel Puri
serves 4

2 C cubed peeled baking potato
4 C bhel puri mix
1 C seeded chopped tomato
1 C seeded chopped cucumber
1/2 C chopped red onion
1 mango, peeled and chopped (she likes green, I like ripe)
1/4 C chopped cilantro
3 T tamarind chutney
1 T coriander chutney
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped

Boil the potato and drain, about 7 minutes. Mix together the chutneys and the serrano. Then mix everything together in a large bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4 as an entree (it’s supposed to be a snack but I eat it for dinner).

I often prep all the veggies, mix them, and stash in the fridge. Same with the sauce. When I want a serving, I mix one cup of the bhel mix with a quarter of the vegetables and 1 T sauce. Crunchy every time.


When I first received the package of bhel mix, the coriander chutney had popped its cap in transit. I just used the tamarind, and it’s great, a little heat, enough for me without the serrano. Don’t know what the coriander chutney has to offer, but I imagine it would be nice. [Ed. Looks like she adds some chopped cilantro?] The bhel mix comes from the province of Gujarat, north of Mumbai. Ahmadabad is the big city there.

Sometime last week I saw a recipe for stuffed peppers in a magazine at the Brewster Ladies’ Library. The vision of those gorgeous red peppers with melted cheese topping a vegetarian filling haunted me all week. I hadn’t been cooking lately, too much work, doctor and dentist appointments, and the reigning chaos of a house undergoing renovations. But I was undeterred this morning, before yet another appointment, to make the stuffing for these satisfying peppers. I purchased cubanelle peppers, rather than the red ones, as I find they are more easily digested, and besides, they were on sale!

There’s not much to making this dish vegan, remove the cheese and use a vegan substitute, or just top with toasted pepitas at the table.

Quinoa Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ground cumin
1 10 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or 2 C fresh
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 C grated carrots
3/4 C quinoa, rinsed
2 C water
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
1 t salt
1 1/2 C shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
4 red or cubanelle peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and stems removed

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion, celery and garlic. Saute for a few minutes and add the cumin. Saute another minute.

Add the spinach and tomatoes and saute until most of the liquid is boiled off.

Add carrots, quinoa, black beans, water, and salt. Cover, reduce heat and cook 15-20 minutes, until quinoa is done. Stir in 1 C of the cheese (if you don’t want pepper jack, use regular jack or cheddar).

Oil a 9×13 baking dish, or any dish that will hold the peppers comfortably. I only had 3 cubanelles, and I had a lot of filling left over, such a shame. Kidding. Already considering eggs and quinoa for breakfast. Moving on – fill the peppers to overflowing, cover them with foil, and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Remove foil, top peppers with the remaining cheese, and bake for another 10 minutes.

I served this with a red cabbage-carrot slaw that Jim made, not sure of the measurements, or I would include that recipe as well. Almost any crispy salad accompaniment would do.

Have you had cashew cream? It’s a vegan delight. Vegans like it. Omnivores like it. My cat likes it. (She’s an aspiring vegan–she dragged my chickpea cutlet sandwich to the floor the other day.)

The basis for this dish comes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea, a lodge in Mendocino that I can’t possibly afford. It looks really nice. (Pets are welcome! Though they seem to prefer pot-bellied pigs to cats!) Anyways. Instead of going, Justin and I made their pasta.

Then I made it again for Justine and Travis.

Why yes, that IS a set of russian doll measuring cups!

There are two ways you can go with this recipe. You can be all homestyle, and mix the veggies into the pasta and slop it on a plate (this is what I do). Or you can be fancy, mix the pasta with the sauce, plate it, and then gently arrange the veggies on top (I don’t do this). I will say, however, that the deliciousness of the sauce has a lot to do with the wine you buy. There’s a full cup in this recipe, and you boil it down to boot, so the quality actually matters (I hate to say). I had good results when I used an $8 bottle of sauvignon blanc. I’d say don’t go under $5-6.

I’d also say you should try this especially if you haven’t made a cashew cream before. I don’t really love cashews–but they make a really shocking cream when you blitz them with water. Try it–you may find you don’t need to long after alfredos anymore. I upped the vegetables and added mushrooms for a little heft, but the sauce alone is brilliant–creamy, very savory, almost unctuous.

Fettuccini with Black Pepper Sauce, Asparagus, and Oyster Mushrooms
adapted from Ravens Restaurant (recipe in Vegetarian Times)
serves 4

1 C raw cashews
1 C water
1 C decent white wine
1 T nutritional yeast
1 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. fettuccini
1 bunch spinach, washed and stems removed
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed and sliced into 1.5″ pieces
1/3 lb oyster mushrooms, pulled into bite-sized pieces
1 t olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a handful of salt.

Blend the cashews, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain out any solids using a fine mesh strainer (if you have one of those conical ones they use on Top Chef, use that). Discard the solids and whisk in the pepper. Taste for salt–it needs quite a bit. Start with 1/2 t kosher salt and add from there.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, simmer the wine 7-10 mins until reduced to about 1/3 C. Stir in the cashew sauce and set aside.

Time to start cooking the pasta.

Now, in a big skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Stir the spinach into the sauce–this prevents clumps of spinach in the final product. In the same saucepan over medium high heat, saute the mushrooms with a big pinch of salt until soft, about 5 mins. Set them aside. In the same saucepan, crank the heat to high and saute the asparagus for a few minutes, until it’s a little tender and blistered. Set aside.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 C of its cooking water. Put the pasta back in the big pot with the asparagus and mushrooms and stir in the cashew sauce. Thin with a little pasta water if needed. Serve immediately.

I made this twice in a week, which is about the highest accolade I can offer a recipe. I ate a plate of it from the pan; I ate several lukewarm bites of it before packing it in the fridge; I ate it cold after a few too many drinks. Then I made it again.

The original recipe is from the same issue of Gourmet that I was riffing on last time. The picture of it is great–cauliflower risotto is pretty hard to photograph in a compelling way–and it features the wooden handle of a fork jumping out of the foreground at you (see?). I need Keats… “see here it is— / I hold it towards you.”

I changed the recipe a bit by roasting only half the cauliflower, in the oven rather than the stovetop, and boiling the other half. I like how the well-cooked cauliflower falls apart in the risotto, very tender and well integrated. The other half of the cauliflower, roasted until caramelized, is gently stirred in at the last minute with some brie and parsley (my herb, not theirs). But this would be great without the cheese, for our dairy-free friends. I’d argue that the roasted almonds are the really significant garnish.

Also, I added some onion at the beginning. I’m pretty sure it’s not cool to make risotto without some onion.

Cauliflower Risotto with Toasted Almonds
adapted from Gourmet
serves 4

4 C vegetable stock
2 C water
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
2 T olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 t kosher salt
1/3 C dry white wine
1 1/2 C arborio rice
4 oz. Brie, rind removed, at room temperature (remove the rind when the cheese is cold)
1/4 C chopped parsley
1/3 C sliced almonds, toasted in a frypan over med-low heat (they’re ready when you see a little color and can smell the nuttiness)

Bring the stock and water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add half the cauliflower florets. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the cauliflower for 10 minutes, or until it’s quite tender. Scoop it out of the stock, cover the saucepan, and set the cauliflower aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400. Toss the other half of the cauliflower with some olive oil (spray can olive oil to the rescue) and dump in a small roasting pan. Roast until tender and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and the salt and saute for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the rice and turn the heat to medium-high. Stir for a minute, then add the wine. Stir some more, until the wine has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 C of hot broth from your other saucepan, as well as your boiled cauliflower florets. Stir occasionally and simmer until the broth has been absorbed. Repeat this process, adding broth and stirring, until the rice is just tender (after 15 minutes I start tasting it pretty frequently). Gourmet says this will take 18-22 minutes but the key is to start paying close attention at the 15 minute mark and turn off the heat as soon as the rice is as chewy as you like it.

Stir in the roasted cauliflower, Brie, and parsley. Taste the risotto for salt. At this point it should be pretty loose–when you plate it the risotto should spread out. So if it’s become too stiff with these additions, add more hot broth 1/4 C at a time. Serve topped with toasted almonds.

Every time I move I wonder if I really need to keep my back issues of Gourmet. I own a lot of books. Magazines are maybe even heavier than books? And publicly bemoaning the loss of Gourmet is one of those nostalgic foodie activities that makes me feel sort of self-conscious.

But man…that mag had some RECIPES. In a rut, such as the one I experienced recently that revolved (i.e. continues to revolve) around tofurkey sandwiches, Gourmet makes me excited about foods again. My holiday plans now involve this elaborate mushroom and farro pie that’s encased in puff pastry–doesn’t that sound awesome? And my first post-thanksgiving cooking expedition had me rolling (yes, more) mushrooms in delicate blanched collard leaves and toasting a festival of nuts and seeds in olive oil.

An assortment of the nicest mushrooms you can find ends up super-buttery with the addition of some aromatics, wine, thyme, and a little champagne vinegar (some of which are in the original recipe, some of which I added). The collards, however delicate, still taste like collards, so if you’re looking for something milder you might try cabbage. I’ve never made any such bundles–we weren’t a stuffed cabbage family, and I’ve made the conscious decision to leave dolmas to the professionals–but I found it very soothing to roll up these little fat envelopes, patching them as needed, overlapping the stem seams, folding in the edges like a burrito.

The nutty rice is a straightforward winner. If you don’t do nuts, seeds would be awesome–sesame, pumpkin, sunflower. Maybe even some soynuts. They end up toasty and crunchy and did I mention oily? But oily in the best way, in the way that white basmati rice with butter tasted at other folks’ homes when I was growing up.

Wild Mushroom Bundles with Nutty Brown Rice
adapted from a couple recipes from Gourmet
serves 4, at least

1 bunch of collard greens (you only need 8 leaves, but it’s good to have the extras for emergency patching)
2 T olive oil
3 T finely chopped shallot
1 t kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. wild mushrooms, sliced (I used hen of the woods, oyster, and crimini)
1/2 t dried thyme leaves
1/4 C dry vermouth
1/4 C white wine
1/4 C finely chopped parsley
1 t champagne vinegar

Remove the stems and thick center ribs from the collards. They’ll now be split much of the way down the middle but this is fine. Cook the collard leaves (all of them) in a pot of salted water for 6 minutes. Drain, and lay out the leaves in a single layer on a kitchen towel to dry.

Heat a frypan over medium heat and add the olive oil, shallots, and salt. Saute until the shallots soften a bit, about 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute one minute and add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and their liquids have evaporated. Add the vermouth and white wine and simmer until the liquid is almost gone. Take the frypan off the heat and stir in the parsley and vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 450.

Working on your kitchen towel, lay out a collard leaf. The big ones are easiest to work with. That split down the middle? Overlap the cut edges so that it disappears. Spoon an eighth of the mushroom mixture (about 1/4 C) into the center of the leaf and roll up like a burrito–fold over one edge, fold in the sides, and roll. Place in a greased 8×8 baking dish (any 2 qt. baking dish will do). Repeat with the rest of the bundles.

Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the collards, and sprinkle with any nice big-grained salt you have on hand. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Nutty Brown Rice

4 C water
1.5 C short-grain brown rice
1/2 t kosher salt
1.25 C mixed nuts chopped (I used pecans, almonds, and pepitas)
3 T olive oil

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the rice and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain the rice.

Heat the olive oil in a large frypan (the one you used for the mushrooms works really excellently) and add the nuts. Stir and saute until the nuts are golden, about 4-6 minutes. Dump in the rice, stir it up, and serve. A little chopped parsley on top looks pretty.

This is a quick and easy recipe, especially if you use frozen veggies only. Here I boil a sweet potato, but you don’t have to. Choose some frozen broccoli and carrots, or corn and green beans, your choice, but varying color and texture is a plus.

This photo shows zucchini and green beans along with the sweet potato. I have substituted butternut squash for the sweets as well, but we like the sweets best. This was the 3rd time I’d made this curry in 3 weeks.

This korma is made by Seeds of Change, there are others but I don’t know if any are vegan. This one has cream.

Forbidden rice was once reserved for the emperor, now we can all enjoy it, and it’s become my absolute favorite.

Vegetable Korma on Forbidden Rice
serves 4

1 12-oz. jar Korma sauce (a mild Indian coconut curry)
1/2 C frozen peas
1 small sweet potato, peeled, and cut in bite-sized cubes (or 1/2 C of any 2 frozen veggies, cooked)

1 C forbidden black rice
1 3/4 C water
1/4 C chopped onion, or 1 T dried onion flakes
2 t olive oil
1/4 t salt

1/2 C pepitas

Heat the korma in a saucepan large enough for the sauce and the veggies. It doesn’t like to be boiled.

In a small saucepan saute the onion on oil, add the rice and stir for a minute or 2, add the water and salt, bring to a boil and cover. It takes about 35 minutes to cook. Omit the onion saute if you’re in a hurry, and just add the onion flakes to the rice and water.

Put the pepitas on a small sheetpan and put them in a hot oven, 450. When they are puffed and lightly browned, they’re done, about 10 minutes, but check often, once they start to brown, they burn easily. I do mine in the toaster oven, where some of them pop. You can stir them around in a hot frypan too, although they tend to pop more and jump out. Pour them into a serving bowl to cool.

Peel and dice the sweet potato, put it in a saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 7-8 minutes. You can add the frozen peas to the saucepan for the last 3 minutes. If you use frozen veggies exclusively, you can do the same, say 8 minutes for broccoli, 3 minutes for corn, so throw in the corn after the broccoli has cooked 5 minutes. Saves cleaning 2 pans. Microwave if you wish! Drain the veggies and add to the heated korma.

Put some rice on a plate, artfully ladle the korma over to show off some of the rice, and at the table, each diner sprinkles the toasted pepitas on her dish.

I never get tired of this dinner. It is very complex, with the sweetness of the coconut and sweet potato, the texture of the tiny grains of black rice, and the nutty crunch of the pepitas.

I may have had seitan in my youth but I’m pretty sure I ate it for the first time last week, in a really glorious shepherd’s pie that I intend to recreate soon with tablespoons and camera in hand. Homemade seitan looks pretty much like brains, even when you slice it up, and there was some leftover after the pie. I’ve been on a quest for a meat-free way to recreate one of my favorite comfort dishes, spam and rice (thanks Katherine!), and it occurred to me that maybe these leftover gluten lobes would fry up nicely.

They do. They really do. I’m a new seitan convert now, as is Ruth, who both made off with the bag of gluten in the night, and immediately jumped up on the counter when I fished the lobes out of their broth and began licking them when I turned my head. That cat likes some weird stuff, for a cat.

The chinese broccoli, or gai lan, is my green of choice for this comfort meal. In the past I’ve cooked it very simply–some oil, salt, red pepper flakes. When I made it a few days ago though I found a lone shiitake in the fridge, and a few giant serrano chiles, so I added them. As it turns out a little mushroom is a very welcome addition to these wonder greens, which combine the satisfying stems of broccoli with leaves that are substantial but not at all bitter. I love gai lan. If you want really mushroomy greens, use 1/3 lb. of shiitakes–this is quite a lot. If you want to taste the greens though, go easy–a handful of mushrooms will be plenty. (I went full throttle in this incarnation of the dish and regretted it a little.)

The crisped seitan becomes a vehicle for one of my favorite condiments, hot mustard–I will eat egg rolls, which I don’t particularly like, if it means I get to slather something in hot mustard. Actually, the whole dish is basically a condiment party; Alex and I used no fewer than four different condiments when we ate this. Also: great leftovers.

Crispy Seitan with Chinese Broccoli and Hot Mustard
serves 4

1 lb. seitan (I used this recipe; you can buy it pre-made too)
1/2 C AP flour
3 T brewer’s or nutritional yeast
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
4 T canola oil, divided

2 bunches chinese broccoli (gai lan)
shiitake mushrooms, anywhere from a handful to 1/3 lb., sliced
1 serrano chili or jalapeno, very thinly sliced
2 T canola oil
1 t kosher salt

rice for serving
condiments of choice: rice vinegar, sriracha, prepared chinese hot mustard, gomasio.

Drain the seitan and slice it into 1 cm slices. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and pepper, and dump the result onto a plate. Dredge each piece of seitan in the flour mixture, really pressing down. The seitan is quite wet and will hold onto a lot of the flour if you press. Place the dredged slices of seitan on a cooling rack and let them be for now.

[dredged seitan is pretty ugly]

Now, onto the gai lan. Slice off the dried stem-ends and discard. Then slice the stems into 1 cm pieces. Wash and drain the stems and set them aside. Now slice the leafy part into 1 inch ribbons. Submerge them in a big bowl of water, wash them thoroughly, and pull them out to drain in a colander.

Time to start multi-tasking. In a large frypan that has a lid, or even better, a dutch oven, heat 2 T canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 t kosher salt. Saute these for 3 minutes or so, until they start to soften. Now add the gai lan stems. Stir, and throw a lid on the pan. Fry/steam for 2 minutes. During this time, heat a medium-sized frypan over medium-high heat and add 2 T canola oil. Add half the seitan slices and swirl the oil around to make sure they’re all getting nicely fried. These cook about 4 minutes per side, until they’re browned and crispy.

Take the lid off the pot of greens, crank the heat to high, and add the chiles. Fry for a minute or so, and then add the gai lan ribbons and another 1/2 t kosher salt. Start stirring; the leaves will begin to wilt almost immediately, so it gets easier to stir them around. They have a lot of water to release so you can ignore them a bit now. Back to the seitan; flip the slices using a fork and swirl the oil around again. These don’t stick AT ALL which is so nice.

Now you’re just finishing up. Remove this batch of seitan slices once they’re browned on both sides and set them on the cooling rack. Add the remaining 2 T canola oil to the fry pan and crisp up the second batch of seitan slices on both sides. By now the water may be all boiled off from the greens; at that point they’re done so just keep checking. Don’t worry if your multi-tasking doesn’t result in perfect culinary simultaneity. The greens are happy with a lid on them, staying warm, and if the seitan is done first that’s ok too–it stays crisp if you put it on the cooling rack.

Serve with rice (I cooked mine in the seitan broth). I like a little rice vinegar on my greens, and a pretty hefty drizzle of hot mustard over the seitan.