One of the things most people worry about when contemplating a vegetarian diet is getting enough to eat. There’s this myth that if we’re not eating meat, we’re going to be hungry. It’s not true, but we build our meals around that idea. Most traditional meals have three main components: meat main dish, starch side dish and a token vegetable of some variety. On the other hand, vegetarian eating is a lot more interesting and isn’t limited to three dishes. You can spread the protein part of the meal through several different dishes, and there can be four or even five different dishes in the meal. It’s about color and texture and taste. The main thing is that each dish should be healthy, nutritious and even fun. Below is one of my favorite savory dishes to brighten up the gray days in January. Add a bean salad, some broccoli with lemon butter, and some spiced tomatoes. I guarantee no one will leave the table hungry.
I love savory dishes and one of my favorites is a recipe I discovered recently for Carrot-Tarragon Tart. This is a beautiful dish and although it sounds too fancy for a midweek meal, it’s really pretty easy. I’ve added some of my own touches to this, so feel free to experiment a little.
Lisa’s No Fuss Crust
- 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried tarragon leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons cold milk
- Sift flour into ungreased pie plate or tart pan.
- In a cup, combine oil and milk and mix until cloudy. Pour onto the flour and mix with a fork.
- When flour is combined and the mixture is somewhat lumpy, use your fingers to press the dough evenly toward the edges of the pie plate and up the sides to cover the plate and form a crust.
- Or, you can take the easy way out and use a pre-cut pastry round from the super market.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake the crust until set but not browned for about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or canola oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion (thinner is better)
- 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (you can do this in the food processor)
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry (not cooking sherry, use dry sherry, the kind you would drink) or rice vinegar, divided
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (you can experiment with other cheeses – not mozzarella)
- 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk
- 2 large eggs (in a pinch I’ve used three medium eggs and it turned out just fine)
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or 3/4 teaspoon dried (if your using dried be careful not to overdo it-tarragon is a strong herb)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté gently, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the grated carrots and 1 tablespoon sherry (or rice vinegar) and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Spread mustard over the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle with cheese and just a tiny sprinkle of dried tarragon and spread the carrot mixture evenly in the tart shell.
- Whisk together 1/2 cup yogurt, milk, eggs, tarragon, the remaining 1 tablespoon sherry (or rice vinegar), 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and pour in the filling.
- Bake the tart until the filling is firm and the edges are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
- You can make this the day before. Just loosely cover and refrigerate the baked tart for up to a day.
Green Beans with Nuts and Berries
- 1 14-oz package frozen green beans (fresh is great if you can get it, but most of us use frozen in the wintertime)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry or rice wine vinegar
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries and/or cherries
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced (you can use a shallot if you’re so inclined)
- 2 ounces feta crumbles
- Blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender-crisp, 3 -5 minutes. Remove the green beans from the boiling water, run under cold water for a few minutes to stop the cooking, and then drain, dry and let cool.
- Whisk together the olive oil, sherry or vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Stir in the salt and pepper.
- Add the cool green beans to a large bowl and toss in the walnuts, berries and onion and drizzle in the vinaigrette. Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with the feta cheese.
Broccoli with Lemon Butter
Steamed fresh broccoli is great, or you can use frozen. In a small sauce pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter, and add the juice of one fresh lemon and pour it over the broccoli (add the zest for some extra kick).
- 1 15 oz can of diced low sodium tomatoes
- 2 star anise
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- freshly ground pepper
Use an extra teaball for the spices, or make a bag of cheesecloth. In a small sauce pan combine the tomatoes, sugar and spices. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes or bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. The more it cooks down the better. Remove the spices and serve either warm or cold as a side dish or as a relish.
Color, texture, taste and nutrition. Anybody leaves the table hungry, it’s their own fault. Enjoy!