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A Vegan Take on Carbonara? Mmm Hmm.
Plus, a super simple fish recipe and the best way to repurpose leftover rice
Dinner for Everyone came out a couple of years ago now, and it’s a cookbook that people really responded to. Each recipe in the book falls under an umbrella with two other recipes — one easy, one vegan, and one perfect for company, i.e. a bit more time-consuming. (Fun fact: For a while, we called the book “Three Ways.”) A couple of the below recipes are from Dinner for Everyone, and I like both a lot. The pasta — inspired by carbonara, but it’s vegan — is fun, I must say. Hope you enjoy. —Mark
Creamy Pasta with Chickpea Crumble
Time: 1 hour
Instead of eggs, my vegan take on carbonara features aquafaba — the water left behind after draining cooked or canned chickpeas — which is usually thrown out.
One 15-ounce can chickpeas
2 tablespoons and 1/4 cup olive oil, or more as needed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 large red onion, peeled, halved, and sliced
1 pound bucatini or other long pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it. Heat the oven to 400°F. Drain the chickpeas into a colander set in a bowl to reserve the canning liquid. Rinse the chickpeas, and drain again; spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and mash lightly with a fork or potato masher. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with the paprika, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Roast, turning with a spatula once or twice, until crisp and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast and toss to coat.
2. Put the onion in a large dry skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the onion is dry and beginning to stick to the pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and a large pinch of salt and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning, until the onion is soft and darkened, another 5 to 10 minutes. Keep warm.
3. Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, then start tasting. While the pasta is cooking, put the chickpea liquid into a medium bowl and beat it into a foamy sauce with a whisk or mixer.
4. When the pasta is tender but still has some texture, scoop out 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta. Immediately toss the pasta with the onion mixture and the chickpeas in the skillet; if it’s too dry, add a little cooking water. Add lots of pepper, the foamy sauce, and the parsley; gently toss, then taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.
— From Dinner for Everyone
Crisp Sesame Fish Fillets
Time: 20 minutes
Sesame seeds make for the best crunchy coating — use black or white, or a combination of both. Any thin fish fillet will work here, up to an inch thick. Remember, though, that all fillets continue to cook after you take them off the heat, so fish fully cooked in the kitchen will likely be slightly overcooked at the table.
1 ½ pounds thin fish fillets, cut into 4 portions
Salt and pepper
1 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons butter or good-quality vegetable oil, plus more as needed
Chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or mint for garnish
Lemon or lime wedges for serving
1. Put ovenproof dinner plates or a serving platter in a 200°F oven to warm. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper. Put the sesame seeds in a shallow bowl.
2. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the sesame oil and butter. When the butter foams, dredge one of the fillets in the sesame seeds, pressing them gently into the fish, then shake off any excess. Add it to the pan and repeat with another fillet. Adjust the heat so the fish sizzles and cook until the fillets are golden on the bottom and release easily, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and repeat on the other side, cooking just until the fish is opaque but is still juicy inside.
3. Transfer the fish to the warm plates or platter and put in the oven. Repeat with the other fillets, adding more butter to the pan if necessary. Garnish with the herb and serve with lemon or lime wedges.
Cauliflower Fried Rice with Fresh Chiles
Time: 45 minutes
This (vegan) fried rice is a favorite, with delicious bits of cauliflower in every bite.
1 small head cauliflower
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 small fresh chiles (like cayenne or Thai bird), seeded and cut into chunks, or to taste
5 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 ½ pounds silken tofu, drained
4 scallions, greens and whites separated and chopped
2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice, chilled
1/4 cup rice wine, dry white wine, or water
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 lemons, quartered
1. Cut just the florets (without much stem) off the cauliflower and chop into bite-sized pieces. Cut the stems into chunks. Put the ginger, garlic, and chiles in a food processor and pulse a few times, then add the cauliflower stems (not the florets) to the food processor and pulse until the pieces are chopped but not pureed. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more chile if you like.
2. Put 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the chopped cauliflower florets, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat if the mixture threatens to scorch. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with 1 more tablespoon oil and the chopped stem mixture, and add it to the platter.
3. Add another 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Crumble in the tofu with your hands and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid cooks off and the tofu is golden and dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the tofu to the platter with the vegetables.
4. Put the remaining tablespoon oil in the skillet and add the white parts of the scallions. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring often and breaking up any clumps, until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Return all the cauliflower and tofu to the pan and stir with a spatula to mix. Add the rice wine and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the sesame oil, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Turn off the heat, mix in the scallion greens, and serve with the lemons.
— From Dinner for Everyone