It's a week after New Years, and I'm talking about vegetables. Could I be more predictable?
Yes, it's that time of year when everyone you know has committed to hit the gym 3 days a week, quit cursing, and eat less meat. Personal experience tells me that while everyone clamors to steal my spot at spin class for a few weeks after the holidays, by mid-February, I've got my bike back (even if I have to call before 6 to reserve it - and yes, it's that worth the early wake-up: Dave is my overenthusiastic spinning instructor who hasn't bought a record since "Walking on Sunshine," and I love him for it.)
I've made resolutions before. A couple Augusts ago, I spent an inspiring day with my friend Cathy (known to the interwebs as Mrs. Wheelbarrow), and felt so fired up by all the things we'd made that I spontaneously made a list of Kitchen Resolutions. You know what? I've done all but two - I'm pretty proud of that.
Still, when it comes to traditional New Years resolutions, I'm more of a tweaker, preferring incremental changes to whole-hog lifestyle makeovers. While eating minimal meat was how I was raised, it's also a lifestyle choice I've consciously adopted. I try to avoid meat and poultry from animals not raised sustainably, which means most of the meat served at large functions and in typical restaurants is off-limits. I also keep a kosher home, and there's no way around the fact that kosher sustainable meat is incredibly expensive; I buy it only a few times each year. As such, I'm always on the lookout for interesting vegetarian dishes. This time of year, with all those Meatless Monday resolution-makers, I've got plenty of company.
A few weeks back, before climbing onboard for two family vacations (more about those later), a slew of holiday parties, and really more cookies than I feel comfortable counting, we made Indian food for dinner. I steamed basmati rice with saffron. I grilled up some impossibly smooth, silky avocado chapatis. We made Jen'sCurryflouwer Surprise. And then there was this: mushroom and pea curry from the queen of Indian cooking, Madhur Jaffrey. It's the best curry I've made to date.
I like that this curry has a thick, substantial texture even without potato. You could make it even more substantial by adding paneer, but I like it just as is, over rice, with some raita on the side. The sauce is rich from tomato and diced onion and Jaffrey isn't shy with the spices. One last plus: while some mushroom dishes get mushy after some time, this curry will keep for days. Call me crazy, but I think it may even improve as it sits.
I've made this twice for us, and brought a big container to friends who just had a baby. We all think it's a winner. So don't kick those "vegan 'till 6" resolutions to the curb just yet. There's plenty of flavor in this curry, no meat needed.
When your Indian leftovers run out, here are some other meatless recipes I've made and loved, from around the web:
- Black bean and espresso chili from The Kitchn
- Fideos from Deb at Smitten Kitchen (vegetable stock worked well here)
- Double broccoli quinoa from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks (I made it with cavatappi)
- Silken comfort tofu from Food52 (use a tablespoon of soy in place of the fish sauce)
- Eggplant involtini from Nigella Lawson
Mushroom and Pea CurryAdapted from Madhur Jaffrey Serves 4 as part of a larger meal (i.e. we made it with rice, raita, and another curry, and it was enough for two meals for each of us)
1 tablespoon ground coriander 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 tablespoons ghee or canola oil 1/4 cup diced onions (about 1/2 a medium onion) 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated 1 1/2 cups diced tomato (fresh or canned) 1 1/4 teaspoons salt 1 lb. cremini or button mushrooms, halved lengthwise (quartered if very large) 1 10-oz. bag frozen peas, defrosted (if not, no biggie)
Combine dry spices with 1 1/2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, and mix to form a paste.
Put ghee or oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onions. Stir to coat with oil, and saute for 3-4 minutes, until onions are browned at the edges. Add ginger and spices, stir to coat, and cook for about 1 minute. Add tomato. Stir and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, for about 4 minutes, until tomato has softened. If tomato sticks to pan excessively, add a splash of water.
When tomato has softened, add 2 cups of water and the salt. Stir and bring to a boil; then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add mushrooms, bring back to a boil, then reduce heat again and cook 10 minutes. Add peas, stir to combine, and cook 5 minutes more over medium-low heat, until warmed through. At this point, check and adjust salt level.
Serve with basmati rice and raita (this one from Elise at Simply Recipes is really lovely).