Carrie’s Kitchen: Going all in on vegetarian main course recipes

Last week I told you I’m trying to eat more veggie-centric dishes, so this week I thought I’d go full tilt into some vegetarian main courses for dinner.

Don’t worry, there’s no tofu (I’ve tried it, prepared by devoted vegetarians, and I just can’t get past the texture) or eggplant (does anyone beside vegetarians like eggplant?), but these are just good dishes that you can enjoy and just forget that they don’t have meat.


First up, these poblano mushroom tacos. I had a very similar taco at an upscale taco restaurant in Virginia back in November and I’ve still been thinking about them. This recipe pairs ordinary cremini mushrooms with poblano peppers, which have a great smoky but not spicy flavor, and cooks them with garlic and onion and a little soy sauce to give it a richer flavor. This recipe calls for a homemade kale and pineapple salsa, which I’m interested in because you’re getting your greens and a little sweetness at the same time, but if you want to save time and use a store-bought salsa and maybe add some chopped spinach, you could.

Next, I was really interested in this tomato and butternut squash dal recipe. Dal is an Indian dish that could be made thousands of different ways (like American chili), but its key feature is the lentils, which are great for you health-wise. I’m not the biggest fan of lentils, but the squash and tomato provide rich, earthy, and slightly sweet flavors to go with it. Also, take time to look for the red lentils. They definitely taste better than the dirt-colored ones.


And finally, a green shakshuka dish, which is a green sauce made from lots of Swiss chard, some serrano chiles and cilantro. Shakshuka is a Mediterranean dish, usually made from baking eggs in a rich tomato sauce, which I’ve cooked and found quite interesting, but this green sauce helps you use chard and get all those great green vitamins and nutrients. Make sure you have a great loaf of bread to eat it with!


Poblano mushroom tacos with cilantro yogurt sauce

For the pineapple kales salsa:

1 bunch kale, roughly chopped


Juice of 2 limes

1 cup diced pineapple (drained if from a can)

2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped

3/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped

For the tacos:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

16 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 poblano peppers, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced or grated

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

Shredded cheese

Sliced avocado

Tortillas, for serving

For the cilantro yogurt sauce

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 cup fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno seeded

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt

To make the salsa: In a large bowl, massage the kale for 1 to 2 minutes with the juice from one lime and a pinch of salt. Add the pineapple, 1 of the chopped jalapenos, and 1/4 cup of the chopped cilantro. Keep stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

To make the cilantro yogurt sauce: In a blender or food processor, combine the yogurt, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, lime juice, and a large pinch of salt. Pulse until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed. Keep stored in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

To make the tacos: Heat a large skillet over high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and cook, stirring often until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and poblano peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are caramelized, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the remaining jalapeno and cook another minute. Add the soy sauce and cook 2 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cilantro and remaining lime juice.

Stuff the mushrooms into warmed tortillas. Top with cheese and the Pineapple Kale Slaw. Serve with the cilantro yogurt sauce.

Harvest tomato and butternut squash dal

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon yellow curry powder

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons curry paste

1 cup red lentils

2 cups cubed butternut squash

1 cup cherry tomatoes

Kosher salt

handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Naan, rice, and pomegranate arils, for serving

To make the spiced oil:

1/4 cup coconut oil or sesame oil

1-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup cherry tomatoes

To make the spiced oil: heat the coconut oil, ginger, cumin, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup of tomatoes in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook until the spices are fragrant and the tomatoes have burst, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Set aside.

To make the dal: heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the ginger and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and red pepper flakes and cook another minute.

Slowly add the water. Add the curry paste, lentils, butternut, and 1 cup tomatoes. Season generously with salt. Bring the mix to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the tomatoes have burst.

Remove the dal from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Taste and season with salt if needed.

To serve, spoon the dal over bowls of rice. Top as desired with cilantro, spiced oil, and pomegranate arils. Serve with naan on the side.

Green shakshuka

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

3 medium bunches green Swiss chard, divided

Kosher salt

2 serrano chiles, seeds removed, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

Freshly ground black pepper

8 large eggs

Harissa powder or Aleppo-style pepper and coarsely chopped dill (for serving)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast caraway seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool; finely grind in spice mill or with mortar and pestle.

Remove ribs and stems from 1 bunch chard; discard. Blanch leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop; transfer to a blender. Add chiles, cilantro, cumin, caraway, 1/4 cup oil, and 1 cup ice. Purée, adding more ice if needed, until smooth; season with salt.

Trim tough stems from remaining chard; separate leaves from ribs. Tear leaves into large pieces; chop ribs into bite-size pieces. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook onion, stirring often, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add chard stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender and onion is soft, 5 to 8 minutes.

Working in batches, add chard leaves, letting wilt slightly before adding more; cook, tossing often, until all leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Pour in purée and use a spoon to create 8 small wells; crack an egg into each well. Sprinkle lightly with salt and harissa powder. Bake until eggs are just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with dill.