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Vegetable Pot Pie

A little late on this holiday post…but this is definitely a meal worthy of any time of the year, especially during the cold winter months when you need a hearty meal to warm you up. For me, I’m generally entirely satisfied at holiday meals as a vegetarian. Turkey, and especially ham, were never personal stars of the meal, even for the few years I did dabble in the meat department. With stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and apple and pumpkin pie, it’s impossible to say I’ve ever gone home remotely hungry. It’s always quite the opposite, and even though I’m not cracked out on tryptophan like the rest of my turkey-induce fam., I’m still always ready for a long crash on the couch.

So for me, a special vegetarian main is never a mandatory component to a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. However, if I had it my way, the entire meal would be vegetarian-based, with all the traditional holiday dishes alongside some more innovative counterparts. Kale and garlic mashed potatoes? Yes please. These kinds of deviations don’t always fly in my family though, which is understandable because there’s something special about the standard annual traditions.

However, with all the cooks in my family, the basics always get covered, leaving me to put on my thinking toque and allowing me to put my experimental cooking skills to work. Plus, I’m always jumping on the opportunity to cook for a crowd and make crowd-worthy dishes like this pot pie. Vegetarian pot pie might just be my all-time favorite comfort food. So even if I don’t have to have a vegetarian main dish at a holiday meal, a veg-friendly pot pie like this is always more than welcomed!

Dare I say this is one of the best meals I’ve ever made? It takes a couple steps, but every step of the way is entirely worth it. Feel free to substitute the butter to make this irresistible comfort meal entirely vegan.

Click here for recipe…

Summer Pesto Potato Salad

Sometimes I absolutely love working at a CSA.  Last year when I was sweating it out there five days a week, I wasn’t quite sure I’d come back.  It was one of the best learning experiences I could ask for.  But it was also a lot of hard work!

Despite having my butt kicked into shape every time I enter the farm, I’ve returned for another year.  This time I’m only working a couple days a week, which provides the perfect counterbalance to my office job at Discovery.  Sitting for long periods of a time at a desk often drives me crazy, and if I ever have to do it 5 days a week, I’ll probably go clinically insane.  But for now, I am fortunate to experience both ends of the work world, and I’m loving every side of it.  (Let’s hope my journalism career leads me to a job where I can continue experiencing both in and out of office encounters!)

Anyways, so there are times when working at a CSA totally kicks butt.  One, it fully puts me in tune with what’s in season.  So when the customers at the farmer’s market ask me in May where all the tomatoes are, I can laugh in my head, and tell them they won’t be ready till July. (And peaches won’t be here till August…duh.  Kidding, kidding, but really.)  Two, I nearly have a whole grocery store of FRESH produce without having to drive an inch.  When I’m out picking all those buckets of green beans, you can bet I’m dreaming of what I’m going to do with them that night.

The other day, I took home some new potatoes, red onions, cucumbers, and a few other items that you’ll see featured in future posts.  I used those first few listed items along with some basil from my own garden to turn the classic potato salad into a healthier, more summery version.  Basil-infused pesto replaces the saturated-fat-filled mayo, and fresh, crunchy cucumbers replace the celery.  It’s always fun getting creative with whatever ingredients are freshest, aka, the one’s picked straight from the field.  If you can, grab these items from your local farmer’s market (or garden) to yield ideal results from this recipe.

Continue Reading…

Indian Dahl

I had the pleasure of chowing down on a lot of good Indian food throughout my childhood. My mom’s not Indian, but she can certainly cook as if she were. Every so often, when the mood strikes, she’ll decide to make a whole vegetarian, Indian feast. After cooking all day, she’ll always comment on how it’s not quite the display you’d get at an Indian buffet. But believe me, it’s always a feast, and includes more delicious Indian food than I’ve ever seen in a buffet.

My dad is always sure to comment on this too at every Indian feast we’ve ever had. “Your mom’s cooking is so much better than anything you can get out at an Indian restaurant,” he says. And in many respects, he’s right. My mom makes some incredible Indian food.

She also keeps her recipes fairly light, eliminating much of the heavy cream and ghee (clarified butter) that fills many traditional Indian dishes. So even after sitting down to a table full of food, I’m not left with a total food hangover. That’s always a plus.

Over the next week, I’ll be sharing several Indian-styled recipes inspired by my mom. While I won’t be including every recipe my mom may make, by the end, you should have more than enough to create your own feast. Hope you enjoy Indian cuisine as much as I do!

The first recipe I’m sharing is for dhal, a traditional lentil-based stew, common in India, particularly in the Southern region. It’s a light, protein-packed dish full of aromatic flavor. The ingredient list below is lengthy, but notice many of the ingredients are optional. For optimal flavor, use all of the listed ingredients, but if you’re missing a few, no worries! The dish will hold intense flavor regardless.


Serves 6

-1 cup red lentils
-3 cups water
-1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
-1 tsp. cumin seed (or 1/4 tsp. ground cumin)
-1 clove garlic
-1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
-1/4 cup onions, minced
-1/4 cup carrots, minced
1/3 cup tomatoes, chopped
-1/2 red bell pepper, minced (optional)
-1/3 cup eggplant, minced (optional)
-1/4 cup red potatoes, diced
-3/4 tsp. turmeric
-1/2 tsp. coriander
-1/8 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
-1/2 tsp. garam masala (optional)
1/4 cup dried, unsweetened coconut (optional)
-Juice of a lime (optional)
-2 – 4 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
Place lentils, water and salt in pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Saute brown mustard seeds and cumin in the oil, and when the seeds begin to pop, add all remaining vegetables except ginger and tomatoes, if using, and saute until veggies are almost soft.  Stir in ginger and tomatoes.  Add remaining dry spices and stir.
Uncover lentils and stir in veggie mixture.  Add coconut, if desired.  Cover and simmer 5 to 10 more minutes.  Add more water if you’d like a thinner dahl.  Just before serving, add lime juice, if using, and the cilantro.

Spicy Cabbage and Potatoes

I grew up eating a lot of healthy, simple dishes. My mom was a fantastic cook, so by simple, I don’t mean boring or bland. But in general, simplicity was her signature and was actually what I think made many of her dishes distinguishable. Sometimes simple is downright better, and when you’re juggling a few kids, it’s particularly appealing. For me, I often crave simply steamed veggies and don’t need all of that other jazz that’s typically throw in at restaurants (i.e., a ton of fat, salt, and/or other flavors that take away from the veggie itself). Growing up, I ate a lot of unadorned steamed vegetables, lightly dressed with olive oil and vinegar. A lot of plain brown rice with just a touch of soy sauce. Oatmeal with a dash of salt and some sliced fruit. Tea, hold the cream and sugar. Etc.

When cabbage was growing in the garden, my mom would make various slaws and curried dishes, but often she would just pair the cabbage with new potatoes and give them a good steam. A little olive oil, and salt and pepper, would seal the deal. It’s a clean combo. I still enjoy today. So in the following cabbage and potato recipe that I slightly modified from one seen in Vegetarian Times, I stepped up the easy, childhood favorite just a tad, while still keeping the dish relatively simple and focused on the veggies themselves. Feel free to add some veggie sausage for a boost of protein and make this dish a main meal.

Spicy Cabbage and Potatoes

(Serves 6)

-1 large onion, sliced
-1/2 medium head green cabbage, roughly chopped
-5 medium potatoes, chopped into large pieces
-1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
-2 Tbsp. tomato paste
-1 tsp. sugar
-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
-Lime, sliced
-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-1/2 cup cooking water from potatoes and cabbage

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook 3 minutes. Add cabbage and cook another 8-10 minutes, or until cabbage is tender. Drain, saving 1/2 cup of water.

Meanwhile, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Saute onions and jalapeño with salt and pepper, to taste, until onions are browned and caramelized, about 8 minutes.

In large saucepan, whisk sugar, tomato paste, and reserved cooking water over low heat. Add onion mixture, cabbage and potatoes back to saucepan. Adjust salt to taste. Remove from heat. Serve, topping with generous handful of chopped cilantro and squeeze of lime.