Fact: We should all be eating less meat for the health of our bodies and our planet. But I’m not here to yuck your yum, so let’s focus on what’s in the pages of this special issue rather than what’s not. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds offer infinite variety, utility, and nutrition, whether you’re eating them on the vegan tasting menu at a world-renowned restaurant or a simple spread in your own backyard. Fresh produce, especially now, empowers a world of good cooking.
Consider this a prompt to inspire your meatless cooking in the months to come, from the gloriously messy cheesesteak hoagie made with plant-based protein from Atlanta restaurateur Pinky Cole and Philadelphia native Derrick Hayes to the sorrel stewed in a rich pipián sauce from Imelda Campos Sebastián, who draws on generations of plant-based cooking traditions in Michoacán, Mexico. Here are five simple vegetable recipes I’ve been making a lot lately to get you started.
Five Simple Vegetable Recipes
Skillet Potatoes and Zucchini
I love creamy new potatoes, diced and crisped in a pan with zucchini for textural contrast. I serve this at breakfast or dinner with a dollop of yoghurt — fried egg or smoked trout optional.
Dice 2 small-medium potatoes, and simmer in a pot of salted water until just tender. Drain and pat dry. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over high until shimmering. Add potatoes, and season with salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add 2 small diced zucchini and 1 small minced onion or shallot; season with salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. Cook, stirring until zucchini is just tender. Stir in minced chives.
Cherry, Jalapeño, and Cilantro Salad
This riff on the signature “Lali” salad at HaBasta in Tel Aviv is on repeat in my kitchen. Once cherries are out of season, I’ll use halved and seeded scuppernongs or muscadines or cube slightly firm, unripe summer peaches, nectarines, or plums.
Combine 2 cups halved and pitted cherries or other stone fruit, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 small thinly sliced jalapeño (seeded, if desired), and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup torn or chopped cilantro just before serving. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Radish and Blue Cheese Toasts
Chef and writer Gabrielle Hamilton shared the original version of this vegetable recipe in The New York Times in 2016. Her pairing of creamy blue cheese with crunchy marinated vegetables is simple magic.
Thinly slice 4 radishes and 1 celery stalk; combine in a bowl with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, and a few torn celery leaves. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let stand 10 minutes. Smear 1 ounce softened Cambozola cheese on each of 4 slices of toasted crusty bread. Top with vegetable mixture and minced chives or torn fresh oregano.
Goma-ae (Sesame Sauce)
Aiko Cascio, who teaches virtual and in-person Japanese cooking classes at her home via the League of Kitchens, shared this versatile sauce during a class for Food & Wine editors. You can use it on blanched green beans or steamed broccoli or as a dip for crunchy kohlrabi, green apples, or carrots.
Whisk together 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (or 2 tablespoons tahini), and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Toss with blanched green beans or other green vegetables, and scatter toasted white sesame seeds on top. Refrigerate up to 7 days.
A Party Trick
Let these marinated tomatoes be the talk of your cocktail hour. If you’re growing your own, add a couple of tomato leaves to the marinade to ramp up the vegetal flavour.
For this vegetable recipe, use a knife to cut an “X” into stem ends of 1 pint of cherry tomatoes. Combine tomatoes in a bowl with 2 ounces dry gin, 2 tablespoons olive brine, 2 tablespoons packed freshly grated horseradish (or 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish), 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add 2 (2-x 1/2-inch) lemon peel strips and 2 oregano sprigs. Chill, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 4 hours. Drain; reserve liquid for 2 cocktails. Serve tomatoes with toothpicks.
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