5 Hearty Vegan Dinners
1. Zuppa Di Pane
Heat the oven to 450°F. Cut good-quality bread into large cubes; toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper; and toast on a cookie sheet until golden. Meanwhile, cook some chopped onion in olive oil for about two minutes. Add a can of drained pinto, red, or white beans; six cups of vegetable stock; and a sprig of fresh thyme. Continue cooking until warmed through. Add a couple handfuls of chopped spinach and the croutons; stir until the spinach is wilted; season with salt and pepper; and serve, topped with a few more croutons.
2. Chickpea and Zucchini Tagine
To make a thicker stew that you can serve over couscous, just drain the tomatoes. Cook chopped onion, a sliced zucchini, some ground cumin, a pinch of saffron, and some salt and pepper in olive oil. When the onion is soft, add a can of drained chickpeas (reserving the liquid), along with a large can of chopped-up tomatoes, with their juice. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer and heat through; serve with a spoonful of plain yogurt and freshly chopped cilantro.
3. Roasted Squash with Kale and Vinaigrette
Heat the oven to 425°F. Halve and seed 2 small to medium winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.). Place in a deep baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, and bake until just tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Coarsely chop a bunch of kale (about 3 or 4 cups); add to the squash and bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make a vinaigrette by combining 6 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons wine vinegar with salt and pepper and 1 chopped shallot in a blender until a creamy emulsion forms. When the vegetables are tender and easily pierced with a fork, cut into 1-inch pieces, toss with the kale, then dress with vinaigrette.
4. Wild Mushroom Crostini
Use any kind of mushrooms you like here; a combination is best. Slice a pile of mushrooms, and cook them in a few tablespoons of olive oil with some minced garlic, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking until the mushrooms release their liquid, then add a splash of dry white wine. Cook a few minutes more or until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Stir in chopped parsley, taste and adjust seasoning, and spoon onto good-quality toasted bread.
5. Crisp Tofu and Asian Greens with Peanut Sauce
Use baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, or tatsoi here; napa cabbage is a great alternative too. Slice firm tofu into strips or cubes and pat dry; roughly chop a bunch of the greens. Pan-fry the tofu in some vegetable oil until it browns on all sides, about four minutes; remove and pour off all but a little of the oil. Add the greens and a pinch or two of red chile flakes, and continue cooking until the vegetables turn dark green, about three minutes. Mix together a half cup of peanut butter, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, and fresh lime juice to taste; add a bit of water if necessary to get a nice consistency. Add the sauce to the pan along with reserved tofu and toss to coat. garnish with crushed peanuts and serve.
Photo: Yunhee Kim