Posts Tagged ‘Meatless Monday’

Meatless Monday: Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard


Like a lot of people, I started making chili in college.  In an apartment for the first time, I needed to learn to incorporate foods other than Instant Oats, peanut butter and fruit sandwiches and Wegman’s sushi into my diet.  Chili was an obvious addition — cheap, easy and even better the next day and the day after that.

Works for Meatless Monday for the same reasons.

And so I started paying more attention to recipes in the magazines I read while procrastinating.

(Side note: my favorite glossies back then were Shape and Self.  The quasi-athletic years!)

In a recipe for turkey chili with squash and chard I found this pearl of information— you can peel a butternut squash with a vegetable peeler.  Open sesame, the thick-skinned gourd that intimidated me with its hard, bulbous bottom was suddenly so Cooking 101.   I bought one the same day, followed the recipe and made the acquaintance of Swiss Chard, now a favorite friend.

I no longer have the recipe, but we make a vegetarian version that goes like this.  The cocoa powder adds richness and depth.

As our friend Vanessa pointed out, certain dishes just just taste better when stirred with a wooden spoon.


Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard

Yield: Serves 8


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, roughly diced

2 carrots, peeled and roughly diced

1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and diced

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

1 bunch Swiss Chard, washed, stems removed and cut into a small chiffonade (you want the pieces of Swiss Chard to be short and small enough to fit in your spoon while eating.  Nothing burns more than a long piece that doesn’t quite make it into your mouth and lands on your lip or just below.)

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil followed by the onions and carrots.  Saute until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Add the squash and stir, 3 minutes more.  Add the chili powder, cocoa powder and cumin, stirring with a wooden spoon until the spices are evenly distributed and darkening.

Stir in the beans and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and let simmer until the squash is fork tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the chard just a few minutes before serving.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve alongside bowls of sour cream or Greek yogurt, freshly chopped cilantro and shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheeses.   I like Jiffy Cornbread as well.

Meatless Monday: Roasted Root Vegetables


Our dear friend Ben, who lives in New York, has been in LA for work all week. Last night we had him over for dinner.


He is a vegetarian so I roasted us a mess of root vegetables with shallots and rosemary and served them with a simple green salad tossed in my favorite viniagrette.

root veggies in oven

Cubes of peeled butternut squash, rutabaga, parsnip, turnips and fingerling potatoes roasting at 400 degrees in olive oil and salt and pepper.

minced rosemary and shallot

Half way through roasting I added some minced shallot and rosemary to the vegetables.

veggie dinner

The diversity of flavors and textures of the roasted vegetables satisfies a hearty winter appetite.

Fruit and chocolate

For dessert I sliced some Fuyu persimmons and apple-pear and served them with chocolates brought back from Switzerland by my Dad and Monika from their recent visit. Delicious time.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves 4-6

Look for pre-chopped root vegetables in the produce section of your grocery store if you are in a time crunch. You can replace or substitute any of the vegetables with others or more of the same depending what you have on hand.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium sized cubes (about 2 lbs.)

3/4 lb of parsnips, peeled and cut into medium sized cubes

1/2 lb. of rutabaga, peeled and chopped into medium sized cubes

1/2 lb. of turnips, peeled and cut into medium sized cubes

1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes, cut in half the long way

1 red onion, peeled and cut into medium-large cubes

Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper for seasoning

1 shallot, finely minced (could use garlic instead)

2 sprigs of Rosemary leaves, pulled from the stem and finely minced

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. Peel and cube all the vegetables and slice the potatoes in half. Place the vegetables including the chopped onion onto the baking sheets and liberally season them with olive oil, salt and pepper, at least 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt per sheet of vegetables, possibly more. Then toss them well so each cube is coated in seasoning.  Place the baking sheets of seasoned vegetables into the oven and let roast for 15 minutes. In the mean time mince the shallots and rosemary. After 15 minutes pull the vegetables from the oven and sprinkle them with shallots and rosemary and stir well. Place both pans back in the oven, rotating which pan was on the lower rack. Roast for 15 more minutes. At this point pull each pan of vegetables and stir well and check for seasoning and degree of browning. All the veg should be soft to a fork or knife and developing a brown, crisp crust and sweet flavor. If they need more time for browning put them back in for 5-10 minutes as needed. If done, toss all the vegetable onto a large bowl or platter and serve immediately.


Meatless Monday: Cranberry Coconut Granola


Confession: I am not cooking this year.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and my favorite meal in a year full of cooking, but we’re just not doing it this year.  We’re running off to the desert for a few days of relaxation under the sun.

Playing holiday hooky.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll be forgoing every bit of Thanksgiving.  I’ll get my turkey and sweet potatoes and I’m already getting my cranberries by munching on our cranberry coconut granola. Slightly sweet and coco-nutty, this granola is great for breakfast and snacking on a Meatless Monday.

If I were hosting Thanksgiving, I’d have it out for breakfast and leave it out as an antidote to the hunger pains that only a roasting turkey can cause.  If I were a Thanksgiving guest, I’d scoop some into a jar, top it with a ribbon and present it as a hostess gift for a delicious morning-after breakfast.  The perfect warm up to your leftover turkey and mashed potato sandwich.


Cranberry Coconut Granola

Yield: 10 cups


4 cups rolled oats

2-1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

2 cups nuts of choice (we like sliced almonds or chopped walnuts)

1-1/2 cups dried cranberries

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8th of a teaspoon fresh nutmeg (2-3 swipes of a microplane zester)

1/2 cup coconut oil (make sure the bottle is marked good for medium-high heat)

Scan 1/2 cup honey


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconuts, nuts and cranberries.  Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and toss to combine.

Add the coconut oil and honey, stirring with a wooden spoon until the wet ingredients are mixed throughout.

Pour onto the prepared baking sheets, spreading the granola so that it will bake in an even layer.  Bake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes, removing the pan from the oven 1-2 times to stir the granola so that it brown evenly.  Let cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.  Granola will keep up to 1 week.

Meatless Monday: Spinach and Cheese Quiche


When one of our clients asked us to make a spinach and cheese quiche I realize I hadn’t made one since I was a little girl helping my mom prepare lunch for her girlfriends.  What an important, almost solemn task it seemed then.

Now I know quiche is an easy-peasy egg custardy delight.

If fresh corn were in season, I would have added one cob’s worth to the mix.

Meatless Monday for ladies who lunch, then and now.


Spinach and Cheese Quiche

Yield: 8 servings

*dough must be made and chilled at least 2 hours before baking


1 recipe pâte brisée

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 sticks butter, chilled ad cut into small pieces

1/4 -1/2 cup ice water

For filling

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 cups fresh baby spinach, cut into a chiffonade

1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (i like Gruyère but any Swiss or cheddar will work)


To make the quiche dough:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Alternatively, combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.  Add the butter cubes and work to combine, using your thumb and forefinger to pinch the butter into the flour mixture.  Keep pinching until the mixture has a sand-like consistency.  Add a few splashes of the ice water and continue mixing with your hands until dough comes together in one ball, adding more water (up to the full half cup) bit by bit if necessary.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

To make the quiche:

Preheat the oven to 375°

Roll 1 ball of chilled dough into a 10-inch round about 1/4-inch thick.  Gently lay your dough into a 9-inch pie plate, gently pressing at the sides and crimping the edges as desired.

Place the prepared pie plate on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper to catch any overflowing custard.

Combine the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender.  Layer the cheese and spinach into the bottom of your pie crust then pour the egg mixture on top.  Bake until puffy and golden brown, about 40 minutes.  Let cool until the puffiness settles and the crust is cool enough to touch before cutting into wedges.

Combine the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until blended.

Meatless Monday: Rosemary Spiced Nuts


Were you hoping for tonight’s Meatless Monday dinner recipe?  I hope you’re not disappointed. You won’t be if you actually make these nuts.  And I hope you will.  They kick off dinner with a woodsy pop of rosemary brown sugar.  And they have real heat.   They buddy equally well with cocktails or wine.  I can eat them all day straight from the bowl.

Sounds like the thing for your Thanksgiving cocktail hour, eh?

Plus, I roasted them for Lydia’s exquisite wedding this past Saturday and sharing the recipe lets me share two photos from her special day.

Adorable, right?  Lydia made the cute labels and I bagged the nuts in wax paper bags.  She stationed them next to iced tubs filled with individual bottles of sparkling lemonade—yellow and pink—French coke (made with real sugar instead of syrup) and those darling hot pink cans of Sofia Blanc des Blancs sparkling wine so guests had drinks and munchies to enjoy before the ceremony began.

Candy Stripe Straws

Our girl just thinks of everything.

You’ll have to wait until she’s back to hear and see more.  I can’t wait.

In the meantime, make these nuts.  They’re an amped up version of Ina’s and they never fail to win raves.


Rosemary Spiced Nuts

yield: 2 pounds


2 pounds raw mixed nuts of your choice. I recommend including cashews and pecans in te mix because the former is fantastic with the rosemary and the latter catches all the spicy brown sugar goodness in its crevices.

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon cayenne

5 teaspoons dark brown sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons melted butter


Preheat the oven to 350 °.

Place the nuts in one layer on an ungreased baking sheet and roast in the oven until fragrant and lightly golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

While the nuts roast, whisk the remaining ingredients into a brown sugar paste.

Remove the hot nuts from the oven and carefully scoop them into a large mixing bowl.  Pour the spice mix over the warm nuts, stirring gently to spice the nuts evenly.  Enjoy immediately or let cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Meatless Monday: Mediterranean Egg Salad


Mayonnaise is the food I like least in the whole world.  I don’t care if it’s homemade, spiked with spice or masquerading as “aioli”–I don’t want an egg yolk and oil whip  polluting my sandwich or my fries and I definitely don’t want it in my sushi.

I don’t even want it in my fridge.

And yet.

I love eggs, especially the yolks, and I love olive oil.

Hence my joy in discovering Le Pain Quotidien’s olive oil-based egg salad, a no-mayo Mediterranean take on the deli favorite.  Capers and sea salt make it brackish and the olive oil softens the yolks to velvet— lovely against thick dark bread.   Cornichons add satisfying crunch.

I also like it with a scattering of sunflower seeds and crisp romaine.  Delicious on Meatless Monday and every other day of the week.

If you have access to a farmers’ market, I can’t emphasize enough how nice it is to have farm fresh eggs.  You’ll notice a difference in the density of the yolks and the overall flavor.


P.S. With plenty of veg and vegan items on the menu, Le Pain Quotidien is a great option for eating out on MM.

Mediterranean Egg Salad inspired by Le Pain Quotidien

Yield: 4 sandwiches or tartines (open-faced sandwiches)


6 large eggs, the fresher the better

3 tablespoons good quality olive oil

1/4 cup wild capers. rinsed

a handful of parsley, roughly chopped to taste

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Cook the eggs until they are just hard boiled.  Fill a medium-sized pot with cool water to just cover the eggs.  Bring to a boil then cover the pot and remove from the heat.  Let sit 8 minutes total then uncover and drain.  Rinse eggs with cold water or submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

When eggs are cool enough to touch, gently crack all over and remove the shells.  The easiest way to do so is under cool running water.

Slice each egg in half and remove the yolks.  Use a fork to mash the yolks in a mixing bowl.   Neatly dice the whites and add them to the bowl as well.  Add the olive oil—you may use 1 tablespoon more or less, depending on how you prefer your salad— and gently stir to combine.  Add the capers and parsley and combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Mac and Cheese


Macaroni and cheese is so appropriate this time of year. Hearty, gooey and satisfying to the soul. Pair it with a big kale salad for dinner and you have a vegetarian feast for a crowd. Serving just your family? Portion the recipe into two smaller baking dishes and freeze one of them before baking for another night.

Mac n Cheese with orange tomatoes

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8-12 people


1 pound elbow macaroni

1 quart of milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

10 ounces Gruyere, grated (3 cups)

8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)

1 cup Parmesan cheese grated

1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2  pint fresh cherry tomatoes

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a large pinch of salt. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes, do not overcook. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan but be careful not to bring it to a boil. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and and slowly whisk in the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring often. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, Parmesan and 1 tablespoon salt, pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart buttered baking dish.

Stud the cherry tomatoes on top of the dish and then sprinkle the bread crumbs in an even layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top. Serve warm.

*The mac and cheese seen in the photo had slices of orange tomato on top instead of cherry tomatoes in honor of Halloween but I really love the pop of fresh tomato in every portion that the little guys provide.

Meatless Monday: Apple & Onion Fall Tart


My first attempt at an apple and onion tart yielded something that smelled delicious but looked like onion-spiked applesauce in a cookie crust—none too desirable!  The next time I thought ahead and decided to borrow elements from our favorite French tarts: the pissaladière, an anchovy and olive tart from the south of France that has a luscious base of caramelized onions and the classic tarte aux pommes with its beautiful decorative pattern of thinly sliced apples.  We then added cheese for a more nutty fall flavor and bit more ooze.  The resulting tart smells and tastes fantastic and looks the part.

Lydia took such gorgeous photos I had to share them all!


Apple and Onion Tart

Yield: Makes one 9-inch round tart (with a little dough left over) or one 1 9×13-inch rectangle tart,  one large crostata or 4 minis.

Note: dough must rest at least one hour and onion mixture needs to cool completely before assembling tart. Both can be done the day before.

1 Recipe pate brisée

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Tart ingredients

3-4 yellow onions, sliced into half moons

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt, to taste

3 tablespoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped, plus several whole sprigs for garnishing

3 teaspoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

1/4 pound gruyère cheese

3 red apples (Gala or other sweet and firm variety)

1/2 lemon

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon milk or cream

To make the tart crust:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Alternatively, cut the cold butter into small cubes.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar.  Add the butter cubes and work to combine, using your thumb and forefinger to pinch the butter into the flour mixture.  Keep pinching until the mixture has a sand-like consistency.  Add a few splashes of the ice water and continue mixing with your hands until dough comes together in one ball, adding more water (up to the full half cup) bit by bit if necessary.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

To make the tart:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and slice yellow onions into thin, half moon slices.

In a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter and add onions slices, tossing to cover with butter.  Cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle to taste with kosher salt. Add chopped herbs (reserving the sprigs of thyme to decorate the finished tart) and continue cooking until onions are a rich golden brown, about 10 minutes more.  Set aside to cool.

Please note that onions must be cooled before assembling tart.  They can be prepared the day before and kept covered in the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one dough ball to 1/8-inch thick.  Place in tart pan of your choice (you can use any shape tart pan), using the side of your hand to gently mold the dough against the scalloped tart pan edge.  Alternatively make one free-form crostata or cut the dough into 4 same-sized rounds to make mini-crostata.  Freeze the remaining dough ball for another time.

Using a sharp knife or cheese slicer, slice thin rectangular strips of the gruyere cheese.  You want enough to fill the whole tart.  Set aside.

Cut the apples in half and remove the core.  Cut thin slices, drizzling the exposed apple flesh with lemon juice to keep it from browning. Set apple slices aside.

Spoon the prepared onions into the tart shell, spreading them out to make an even layer.  Alternate apple and cheese slices on top of the onions in a desired pattern.  For example, if using a square or rectangular pan, build rows of apples and cheese.  If using a round tart pan, build circles from the outside in.  Crostata also look lovely if you build in a circular shape from the outside in.  If making crostata, leave a 2-inch border all the way around the pastry and simply fold the sides in and over the apple and cheese slices.

Fill in the empty space between rows with the reserved sprigs of fresh thyme.

Filling in the gaps with fresh thyme

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk or cream.  Using a pastry brush or your fingertips, brush the exposed dough with the egg wash.  This will help the crust brown beautifully.

Place in a hot 400 degree oven and bake until golden brown, rotating once halfway through cooking, about 1 hour.  If making crostatas, check oven regularly after the first half hour as the smaller tarts will brown faster and be ready anywhere between 40-55 minutes depending on the size.

9 x 13-inch tart

Free-form crostata

Round tart with red apples

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup


Few things make me happier than when cookbook authors build suggested menus around a recipe.  It’s so inspiring when they stride off down roads you’d never travel yourself.  Or, even better, when they take you in a familiar direction but add an unexpected twist.  Pull you out of your food rut and remind you that there are things like persimmons in the world just waiting to be used.

This menu doesn’t have persimmons, but reminds me that cheese sandwiches—room temp or grilled— taste better with fruit and that apples and squash pair as beautifully as apples & onions (natch).  Lydia started making this soup for our clients and I’ve been replicating it at home.  It’s an easy fall classic with a little sweater texture in the form of apple fiber.  Teamed with a green apple and Gruyère sandwich with smashed avocado and sprouts on seeded bread (see photo, below) and thin & chewy chocolate chip cookies, it makes a cozy feast for two.


Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Yield: 6 servings

1 butternut squash, topped, tailed, peeled* and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 firm apples (I like McIntosh or Gala), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 cups vegetable stock

*Once you’ve removed the top and bottom of a butternut squash, it’s easy to peel in long vertical strips using your regular old vegetable peeler.  No knife needed.

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Toss the squash, onion and apples chunks together with the olive oil.  Lightly season with salt and pepper and spread in one even layer on a lined baking sheet.  You may have to use two baking sheets.  Roast until tender but not brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Let vegetables cool slightly before scooping them in batches into your blender.  Add as much stock as is needed to puree each batch into a smooth soup.  Combine your batches and season to taste with salt and pepper.  I top mine with generous grinds of pepper.  The spice warms the whole bowl.

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Meatless Monday: Tofu Lettuce Cups


tofu lettuce cup

I created this recipe years ago at work when some (last minute, eek) weekend guests requested Vegan fare. This dish satisfies all the textures of the rainbow with the soft warm tofu filling nestled in a cup of cold crisp iceberg lettuce. Monday morning the guests requested the recipe and we’ve been making these ever since.

tofu lettuce cup fixings

Tofu Lettuce Cups

serves 2-4

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1 small carrot, minced

1/2 a small zucchini, minced

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

3 scallions, minced

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 lime, juiced

1 tablespoon sesame oil

8 oz baked tofu (Thai or Teriyaki flavored options work well), finely diced

1 small can of water chestnuts, drained and finely diced

1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 head of iceberg lettuce, cut in half and separated into “cups”

sriracha chili sauce for garnish (optional)

fried mung bean noodles for garnish (optional)

Prepare the friend mung bean noodle per the package instructions and separate the iceberg lettuce into cups and set aside. In a saute pan over medium heat saute the diced red pepper, carrot, zucchini and scallions in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Add the fresh ginger, tofu, hoisin sauce, lime juice and sesame oil to the pan. Turn the heat to low and gently mix until well incorporated and the tofu is warmed through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and black pepper if needed. Off the heat toss in the diced water chestnuts. Serve a heaping spoonful of warm tofu mixture into a cold lettuce cup and garnish with fresh cilantro, sriracha and a sprinkle of fried noodles. Serve with extra hoisin sauce too.

tofu lettuce cup close up

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