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Simple vegetarian dishes pack a flavorful punch

FALLBROOK – Vegetarian dishes are often loaded with flavor, which might come as a surprise to those who do not adhere to vegetarian diets. In fact, many dishes that originated in India, a country known for its flavorful, spicy cuisine, are vegetarian dishes that are popular the world over, among vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

For those who want to try something simple, flavorful and vegetarian, the following recipe for "Lentils with Spinach" from Monisha Bharadwaj's "India's Vegetarian Cooking." (Kyle Books) checks all the boxes and will no doubt surprise those who feel the most flavorful dishes are those with meat.

Lentils with Spinach

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup yellow lentils (toor dal), washed
  • 3 large handfuls spinach, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 3 dried red chiles
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate, diluted in 1Ú4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
Put the lentils and 1 1/2 cups of hot water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are mushy, about 35 minutes.

In the meantime, place the spinach in a pot along with a little hot water and heat it for a couple of minutes. Add it to the lentils.

In a separate pan, heat half the oil and fry the coriander seeds until they turn dark, then add the chiles and coconut. Reduce the heat and stir for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, let it cool slightly, then tip it into a blender along with the tamarind and a few tablespoons of water and blend until you get a fine paste.

Add this to the lentils, along with the turmeric and the salt.

Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan and fry the onions until golden, then add them to the lentils. Reheat thoroughly and serve hot with rice.

People who do not adhere to vegan diets may assume that such diets are void of taste. But vegan foods can be just as flavorful as more traditional alternatives.

Such is the case with the following recipe for ÒRoasted Baby Parsnips with Sherry-Maple Glaze and ChanterellesÓ from Tal RonnenÕs ÒCrossroads: Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan CuisineÓ (Artisan). When roasted, parsnips produce a sweet flavor, while the chanterelles provide a woodsy taste to prove that vegan foods can indeed be incredibly flavorful.

Roasted Baby Parsnips with Sherry-Maple Glaze and Chanterelles

Serves 4

  • 24 baby parsnips, trimmed, or 8 regular parsnips, root ends trimmed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter stick
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound chanterelles, wiped clean, quartered if large
  • Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  • Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon
  • To prepare the parsnips, preheat the oven to 400 F.
If using larger parsnips, peel and quarter them lengthwise so the pieces will be uniform in size and cook more evenly. Put the parsnips in a large mixing bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, season with kosher salt and black pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Spread the parsnips out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until tender and slightly charred. Set aside. (The roasted parsnips can be prepared a couple hours in advance, covered and held at room temperature. Reheat before serving.)

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Combine the maple syrup, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, swirling the pan around occasionally, until the mixture is reduced and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

To prepare the mushrooms, put a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the butter substitute. When the butter substitute has melted, add the shallot and sauté until soft but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the garlic, tossing to combine. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until they lose their moisture, soften and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To serve, crisscross the parsnips on a platter, overlapping them just slightly. Drizzle with the maple glaze and top with the mushrooms. Scatter chopped parsley on top and season with flaked sea salt.


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