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Carrie’s Kitchen: Looking for a little variety? Try this trio of vegan dishes

Last week I hinted at how I was trying out some vegan dishes because my husband is experimenting with it. I’m OK with cutting back on meat, but I’m not interested in giving up dairy or eggs. Twice a week, I’m cooking vegan dinners that we can eat together, and he takes care of himself the rest of the week.

I got a bunch of cookbooks out of the library, but they weren’t very helpful. A lot of them required buying lots of new ingredients that I’m not ready to commit to, and a lot of vegetarian recipes still use a lot of cheese and eggs. But I’ve found two good recipes that I’m willing to share this week, and a third that I just ran out of time to try. All three of these recipes came from Oprah Winfrey’s “Food Health and Happiness” cookbook.

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This first one, chakalaka, was my favorite, plus it is super fun to say! Chakalaka is a South African dish, but it had a lot of the same spices I like to use in Indian food, like ginger, curry, cayenne, paprika and then a little thyme. It’s mostly cabbage, made into a fuller dish with the addition of tomatoes, a can of white beans, a diced red pepper, a shredded carrot, and then spiced up with two jalapenos. Actually, the spice really came from the cayenne pepper — I used half a teaspoon rather than a full teaspoon, and it was quite spicy. We ate this over white quinoa, and it was very satisfying. My husband had the leftovers the next day, and said it was even better.

The second dish is Indian pumpkin curry, though I used a butternut squash because that’s what I could find. It has your normal mix of curry spices, and I had to use jalapenos because I couldn’t find the spicy peppers listed in the ingredients. The liquid base is vegetable stock and coconut milk (I used full fat, not light), and while I thought it tasted OK, I felt like it would have benefited from some chicken fat (as in, thighs cooked in the base) or even some butter. But my husband said he thought it was great and has asked me to make it again, so I think it just has to do with your expectations. I served this with brown rice and a side of naan.

And the third recipe is a sort of spiced, roasted root vegetables over a salad with a little fresh apple and dried cranberries. I couldn’t find kabocha squash, which is also known as Japanese pumpkin, and is supposedly closest in taste to sweet potatoes. Perhaps I’ll try this with sweet potatoes instead next week.

In any case, I hope this shows that vegetarian cooking can still be easy and satisfying.

Enjoy!

Chakalaka

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

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½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons Madras curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cayenne

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

2 medium plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

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4 cups thinly sliced cabbage

2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and diced

1 large carrot, grated

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced

1 ½ cups cooked white beans

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute, or until aromatic. Add the curry powder, cayenne, thyme, and smoked paprika and cook for about 1 minute, until aromatic, adding a tiny bit of water if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, cabbage, chiles, carrot and bell pepper, bringing to a simmer, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the beans and vinegar and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the beans are warmed through. Add the salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Serve hot or warm, or refrigerate and serve cold.

Indian pumpkin curry

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane

2 tablespoons minced ginger

Seeds of 3 cardamom pods

½ teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 Kashmiri chiles or arbol chiles

1 (2-pound) pumpkin or winter squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into ¾-inch cubes

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup vegetable stock, plus more if needed

1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Freshly ground black pepper

Large handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

Large handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Lime wedges

Naan, for serving

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the cardamom seeds, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chiles and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 1 minute, adding a tiny bit of water if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the pumpkin or squash, salt, vegetable stock, and coconut milk, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the pumpkin is starting to soften, about 20 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fully softened. Season with pepper, spoon into bowls, and serve topped with mint and cilantro and with lime wedges and naan alongside.

Kabocha squash compote

¼ cup chopped pecans

1 cup rutabaga, cut into ½-inch cubes

1 cup parsnips, cut into ½ inch cubes

2 cup kabocha squash, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, grated on a Microplane

1 teaspoon peeled and grated ginger

½ teaspoon ground fennel

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne

½ teaspoon salt

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic, grated on a Microplane

1 teaspoon peeled and grated ginger

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

¼ green or red apple

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 bunch baby arugula

1 baby gem lettuce

2 tablespoon dried cranberries, soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes, and drained

¼ cup shaved (with a vegetable peeler) Parmesan cheese (optional)

To make the compote: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a small baking sheet or ovenproof skillet and toast, stirring a couple of times, until browned and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the rutabaga, parsnips, and squash in a large bowl. Add the oil, garlic, ginger, fennel, cumin, turmeric, cayenne and salt and toss to coat. Place in a small baking pan and cover with foil, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the mustard, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Whisk in the oil until emulsified, then add the salt and pepper.

To make the salad: Dice the apple and toss it with the lemon juice. Combine the arugula, baby gem lettuce, and apple in a salad bowl. Toss with half of the dressing, or more if needed to coat the leaves lightly, and place on the center of each of 6 plates. Surround the greens with the pecans, roasted vegetables, and cranberries, and serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.

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