Curried Chickpea Lentil Dal

My husband has been eating a mostly vegan diet (gasp!) for several months now, and although I’m not vegan and never will be, I’ve been eating vegan dinners with him almost every night. We love to cook and eat together, and honestly, I don’t miss the meat! What I DO miss are some of the great flavors you just don’t get (or are more difficult to get) from vegan food, like — my favorite — cheese. So, I’ll sprinkle parmigiana on my pasta and goat cheese in my salad to get those tastes. What I’ve learned over the past few months is that there are some excellent vegan dishes out there. It’s definitely more difficult for me as a cook, and I’ve been cooking much less as a result because it’s harder to find recipes, it takes more time to plan and it’s obviously limiting. But I’m giving it a go!

This recipe is a fantastic vegan dish — a dal made of lentils and chickpeas, flavored with coconut milk and curry, spicy ginger and garlic. It’s bursting with flavor with some good spice as well from the cayenne pepper. Last night we curled up with bowls of this and watched the Red Sox win the World Series (yeah!).

My favorite are the toppings. Freshness from cilantro, an awesome mustard seed turmeric oil, a chutney made from sweet raisins, onion and lime juice, toasted coconut and spicy sliced chiles (we used jalapeños we had on hand). There’s a lot going on, and it’s delicious! I especially loved the mustard seed oil. I’m not quite sure how to describe the taste — it’s a little smoky and toasty, a little spicy and pungent. It adds an awesome layer of depth.

TW’s Tips

  • Instead of using dried chickpeas, I used canned. I realized too late that I didn’t need to add all the water called for in that case, so I added additional chickpeas and lentils in to thicken it up. If you use canned chickpeas, add just a cup of water, and combine with the next step (adding coconut milk and lentils). If it gets too thick as you go, thin it out with water.
  • The recipe calls for adding two whole heads of garlic with the top third cut off. The recipe calls for plucking them out — feel free to press out the cloves into the dal — that’s what I did! They’re nice and sweet.
  • Any type of lentil will work, though this calls for red.
  • Serve over rice with pita or naan on the side to sop up the goodness.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

Mustard Seed and Turmeric Oil

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt

Cilantro-Raisin Chutney

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped golden raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro stems
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Stew and Assembly

  • 3 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heads of garlic, top third removed
  • 1 3″ piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained
  • 2 13.5-oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1½ cups split red lentils
  • Store-bought unsweetened toasted coconut flakes, thinly sliced Fresno or serrano chiles, and/or cilantro leaves (for serving; optional)

Directions

Mustard Seed and Turmeric Oil
Cook oil and mustard seeds in a small saucepan over medium-low, swirling often, until mustard seeds start to pop. Remove from heat and stir in turmeric and cayenne. Season with salt; let cool.

Do Ahead: Oil can be made 1 day ahead. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Cilantro-Raisin Chutney
Mix shallot, raisins, cilantro stems, lime juice, and oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Do Ahead: Chutney can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Stew and Assembly
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Cook onions and garlic, cut side down, and ginger, stirring onions and ginger occasionally, until onions are translucent and garlic is golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Add curry powder and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chickpeas and 5 cups water, stirring to release any bits stuck on bottom of pot; season with several pinches of salt. Bring to a simmer; cover with a lid, leaving slightly askew so steam can escape. Cook, adjusting heat to maintain a very gentle simmer and skimming foam from surface as needed, until chickpeas have swelled about 50 percent in size but are still crunchy, 25–30 minutes.

Add coconut milk and lentils to pot; season with more salt. Return to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until chickpeas are tender and lentils have broken down to form a thick broth, 30–35 minutes. Pluck out and discard garlic heads (don’t worry about any cloves that may have escaped into stew). Taste and season with more salt if needed. Ladle dal into bowls and serve with toasted Mustard Seed and Turmeric Oil, Cilantro-Raisin Chutney, coconut, chiles, and/or cilantro as desired.

Do Ahead: Dal can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

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Israeli Couscous, Eggplant and Tomato Gratin

If you’re looking for a hearty, satisfying meatless dish, Israeli Couscous, Eggplant and Tomato Gratin should be next on your “to make” list. I made this for dinner for my favorite vegetarian friend, and even I had seconds! Israeli couscous is a great little grain — it’s more like a pasta than a couscous actually. The grains are larger than regular couscous and have a nice chew to them when cooked al dente — and make sure you do. The layering and cheese going on here, plus the basil topping made this taste almost like a lasagna!

Serve with a salad and bread.

TW’s Tips

  • I used crushed San Marzano tomatoes but you could substitute your favorite canned tomato sauce
  • Any eggplant will do — use your favorite type or whatever looks best at the grocery/market
  • See tip below for cooking the Israeli couscous

Enjoy!

Israeli Couscous, Eggplant and Tomato Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds eggplant (2 medium globe eggplants or 4 to 6 smaller or Japanese eggplants), sliced into rounds, about 1/3 inch thick
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil (plus additional for oiling the foil and baking dish)
  • 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous (see below). You can also use regular couscous or any other cooked grain
  • 2 cups fresh tomato sauce or marinara sauce made from canned tomatoes
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup, tightly packed)
  • Torn or slivered basil leaves for garnish

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat foil generously with olive oil. Toss eggplant slices with salt to taste and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Line baking sheet with the slices in a single layer (you may need 2 baking sheets, or do this in batches). Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes. Eggplant will look dry on surface but should be soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and, wearing oven mitts, carefully fold the foil up in half over the eggplant and crimp edges to create a sealed packet. Allow eggplant to steam inside the packet for another 15 minutes (you can cook couscous during this time). Turn oven down to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish with olive oil. Place cooked Israeli couscous in a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Spoon into baking dish in an even layer.

Remove eggplant slices from foil packet (they should be thoroughly tender), and layer on top of couscous, overlapping slices slightly. Cover with remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese. Drizzle on remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes, until browned and bubbling. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with torn or slivered basil leaves just before serving.

Tip
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 cup Israeli couscous. Toast the couscous, shaking the pan or stirring often, until it colors very lightly and smells aromatic and toasty, a bit like popcorn. Immediately add 2 quarts water and salt to taste (be generous, as if you are cooking pasta) and boil 10 minutes, until the couscous is al dente; it should not be mushy and there should still be plenty of water in the pot. Drain through a strainer and rinse with cold water. Tap the strainer against the sink to drain well, then return the couscous to the pot, cover the pot with a kitchen towel, and return the lid. Let sit for 10 minutes. Measure out 2 cups and proceed with recipe.

Black Bean Soup

It’s been soup weather, and I whipped this up this spicy winner recently for a cozy night in — perfect with a side of corn bread. The knock-out ingredient is the chipotle chile in adobo. If you’ve never had one, a chipotle chile is a smoked jalapeño pepper. It’s got great spice, but also an intensely smoky flavor. They are often canned with adobo sauce (a tangy red sauce) and you’ll find them in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store — likely near the Mexican food items. The chipotle adds a great depth of flavor to this black bean soup, which also incorporates onion, carrot, garlic and fresh jalapeño in the base. All of the flavors cook down together into a hearty, spicy, satisfying soup that’s a perfect main course.

I love the array of accoutrements that often go alongside a soup like this to add different flavor elements — pickled red onions, lime, sour cream, cilantro, avocado and even more jalapeño if you can take it! It’s a fun little smorgasbord you can fan out across the top of the soup for a nice presentation.

TW’s Tips

  • Instead of dirtying a blender, I used an immersion blender to puree the chipotle chiles in a small bowl
  • If you want to add some meat to this (which is what I did), add some chopped up chicken after the vegetables have softened a bit. It does add more moisture to the pot, so you’ll need to let that cook out a bit before adding the wine.
  • The recipe offers a replacement for chipotle chiles in adobo, but in my opinion, nothing can replace them. They are super spicy and smoky and add a depth of flavor you just can’t get from ground spices.
  • This is the perfect occasion to take out your cast iron Dutch oven!
  • To make this vegetarian, just use vegetable stock.

Enjoy!

Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 1 small (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pound dry black beans (do not soak)
  • 2 quarts mild vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste

For the pickled onions and garnishes (optional)

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
  • Salt
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema
  • Whole cilantro leaves
  • Thinly sliced fresh chiles
  • Sliced avocado

Directions

Empty the can of chiles into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth, scrape into a container, and set aside. Put on a teakettle of water to boil, and keep hot.

In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated. Add jalapeños and cook, stirring, just until softened, 2 minutes. Push the vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 teaspoons of chipotle purée in the center. Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.

Add beans, stock, oregano and bay leaves. Stir, bring to a boil, and let boil 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny, not sludgy. Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 hours. Add salt and pepper and keep cooking until beans are soft.

Meanwhile, make the pickled onions, if using: In a bowl, combine sliced onions, lime juice and a sprinkling of salt. Let soften at room temperature until crunchy and tart, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze dry in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve. If desired, chop coarsely before serving.

Adjust the texture of the soup: The goal is to combine whole beans, soft chunks and a velvety broth. Some beans release enough starch while cooking to produce a thick broth without puréeing. If soup seems thin, use an immersion blender or blender to purée a small amount of the beans until smooth, then stir back in. Continue until desired texture is reached, keeping in mind that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits.

Heat the soup through, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, drops of red wine vinegar and dabs of chipotle purée.

Serve in deep bowls, garnishing each serving with sour cream, pickled onions, cilantro leaves, sliced chiles and avocado as desired.

Tip
If chipotle chiles are unavailable, use 1 tablespoon each ground cumin and ground coriander. Add to vegetables at the same point in the recipe, in Step 3.

Spaghetti with Sautéed Cauliflower, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

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For Meatless Monday tomorrow, I give you this gem. If you haven’t gotten on the cauliflower bandwagon yet, this may well convince you. There’s a ton of flavor going here, and I get it, at first it sounds weird. But trust me — when you put it all together, it works. There’s the caramelized cauliflower, sweetness from the raisins, acid from the lemon and umami from the anchovy, plus cheese, nuts and lots of parsley to top it off=bliss. I loved the addition of panko bread crumbs on top which gave it a nice buttery crunch. This is yet another of Tyler Florence’s hits from his “Tyler’s Ultimate” cookbook.

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It’s nice to have a pasta now and then that doesn’t use a traditional meat or pesto sauce. This one uses just olive oil, a little water and lemon — when reheating you may want to add a bit more olive oil to loosen it up a little.

TW’s Tips

  • Instead of using anchovies, you can buy anchovy paste in a tube (literally like toothpaste)
  • On the raisins, you can use golden or regular
  • To keep this totally vegetarian, just leave out the anchovy (but I don’t recommend it!)
  • On the pinenuts, you can substitute others — almonds, walnuts are good options
  • Keep the toasted breadcrumbs separate so you still get a crunch when you reheat the pasta for leftovers — just sprinkle them on top when it comes out of the microwave.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Sautéed Cauliflower, Raisins and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and broken into bite-size florets
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raisins (TW: I used leftover golden raisins)
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste with the side of a large knife (TW: or use anchovy paste)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (TW: I used sliced almonds)
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Freshly grated Parmesan to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 350.

Saute the cauliflower and the anchovies in a saute pan in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Heat over medium heat until the oil is hot and the anchovies are sizzling. Add 1/4 cup of water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, heat on medium, cover and and steam the cauliflower for about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 5-7 minutes more until the water has evaporated and the cauliflower is starting to brown. Add the raisins and pine nuts and toss to warm through. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.

On a baking sheet, drizzle the panko with 2-3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread out in a layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until it’s lightly brown and crunchy.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente.

Drain the spaghetti and place in a large bowl. Add a 2 count of olive oil and toss. Dump in the cauliflower mixture, add the parsley and lemon juice, and fold together. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and cheese.

Summer Vegetable and Burrata Salad

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I’m all about the summer ingredients, and this salad is a great way to get in on it. Use some greenmarket cherry tomatoes, corn and arugula, and alongside some rich, creamy burrata, you’ll be in heaven. I love what the fresh basil and mint do for this salad — the recipe (from Food & Wine) calls for a generous amount of both, and it adds such an awesome array of flavor to this — so much more than you’d get from just plain lettuce (even if it IS arugula). Unfortunately I couldn’t find fava beans for this, but I bet it would make it even more interesting.

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TW’s Tips

  • Buy quality fresh burrata — good grocery stores package it themselves and sell in the cheese section
  • If you’re not eating the salad in one sitting, don’t dress the whole thing so the greens stay fresh and crisp.
  • To keep your basil fresh, snip off the ends and put in a glass of water on the counter.

Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable and Burrata Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ears of corn (preferably white), shucked and kernels cut off the cobs (3 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces arugula (6 cups lightly packed)
  • 8 ounces mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil (see tip for keeping fresh)
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese

Directions

Fill a medium bowl with ice water. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the fava beans for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice bath to cool completely. Slip off and discard the skins.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the corn and fava beans and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, just until the corn is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the arugula, tomatoes, mint, basil and the corn mixture and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then spoon onto plates. Scoop the burrata into pieces and gently spoon it onto the plates. Season with pepper and serve.

Grilled Artichoke Sub

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More sandwich love coming at ya. This vegetarian option is super tasty. The featured ingredient is artichokes that have been charred in a grill pan, so they have a nice caramelization going. I love artichokes and they’re great as the “meat” in this recipe (by Jeff Mauro, btw). They are accompanied by a lemony, garlicky ricotta spread with pine nuts, which add a nice crunch, topped off by lettuce. Pretty simple, but pretty great.

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TW’s Tips

  • The ricotta spread was a little too garlicky for me; I’d cut the garlic in half.
  • When you roast the garlic, it needed a little more time than 20 minutes. I went about 40 so it was nice and tender.
  • Costco has a big jar of artichokes that worked great for this.
  • You can roast the garlic ahead of time — even make the whole ricotta spread ahead of time if you want.

Enjoy!

Grilled Artichoke Sub

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic (I recommend cutting amount in half)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons grated romano
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Three 10-ounce jars oil-packed artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 large French baguette
  • 4 to 6 vibrant leafs of red leaf lettuce
  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lop off stem end of the head of garlic. Pour the olive oil over the exposed cloves, sprinkle with salt and pepper and wrap loosely in foil. Bake until soft and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Let cool, squeeze out the garlic cloves and set aside. Once cool, using your knife, chop into a paste.

Mix together the roasted garlic, ricotta, basil, romano and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Gently add the artichokes to the grill pan and grill until properly charred, 4 to 5 minutes a side, then set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the baguette, about 5 minutes.

For the sandwich build: Split the toasted baguette in half and schmear each half with the ricotta spread. Then pile on the grilled artichokes. Next, add the toasted pine nuts and finally the red leaf lettuce. Cut to serve your family and friends and enjoy with a side of Tony Bennett perhaps.

 

Grilled Veggie Naan-wich with Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Spread

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Sandwiches, sandwiches, more sandwiches! This is a great one, and since it’s vegetarian, it makes me feel better about myself. Just a little. Roasted vegetables — it’s the way to go. It adds a meatiness and flavor you’ll never get any other way. This sandwich incorporates portobellos, zucchini, summer squash, peppers and onions together with an awesome combo of goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s a Jeff Mauro recipe. And waaay better than any cold cut sandwich you can get. Trust.

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TW’s Tips

  • I tried a couple of different types of naan for this — really liked the onion naan.
  • If you have a gas stove, it’s easy to warm/grill the naan directly over the burner instead of using a grill pan. Just keep the heat fairly low, use tongs to flip the naan a couple of times and keep close watch.
  • The goat cheese spread is delicious — make a little extra!

Enjoy!

Ingredients

Marinated Veggies:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 3 banana peppers, stemmed, seeds removed and quartered lengthwise
  • 2 medium yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Spread:

  • 3 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, minced
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Naan-wich Build:

  • 8 pieces whole wheat naan
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

Directions
For the marinated veggies: Mix the oil, vinegar, thyme, Dijon, honey and garlic together. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Clean the gills of the portobello mushrooms by using a spoon and scraping out the black gills from the underside of the cap.

Place all the vegetables in a baking dish and then pour the marinade over them and toss. Allow the marinade to work its magic for 15 to 30 minutes.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Grill the vegetables, in batches if necessary, until nice grill marks appear, 3 to 5 minutes a side. Set the cooked vegetables aside until ready to assemble (you can place them back in the baking dish where they were marinating). Once the mushrooms come off the grill, slice them thinly on the diagonal.

For the spread: Mix the goat cheese with the sun-dried tomatoes and season with some salt and pepper.

For the naan-wich build: Lightly brush the naan with oil and grill on both sides, just until some grill marks appear, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Start by schmearing some of the goat cheese spread on each piece of the griddled naan, and then layer the grilled vegetables high and top with a generous amount of basil, closing the naan-wich with the other slice of naan. Slice the sandwich on the diagonal and then enjoy feeling healthier with each bite.