Mastering The Art of Vegetarian Cooking

Day 46: Millet & Chickpea Pilaf, Carrots with Herb Butter, Cauliflower with Bread Crumbs

Planning the menus is so time-consuming; that’s something I hadn’t really anticipated. I can sit down with the book, my notebook, and the shopping list program on my phone and spend a couple of hours planning three day’s meals. Yikes. That’s why I’m so behind on the blogging (sorry)– the planning and cooking take up so much time!

On Monday November 23 (can I really be two weeks behind?), I decided to go with a millet dish. I hadn’t made millet for the family before, and I had a feeling Madeline would object to the texture (she doesn’t like quinoa), but I’ve committed to cooking everything, so… It turned out fine, though it was too tomato-juice-y to really be a favorite of mine. I’m not sure why, but I don’t really liked the taste of tomato juice in recipes (or canned tomatoes either, for that matter). I was right about Madeline, but the rest of the fam liked it fine. The carrots were good, with “herb butter and olive oil sauce.” I managed to remember to get the butter out ahead of time, something I am historically terrible at.

The cauliflower with bread crumbs is deceptively simple, but really good. One of the things I’m learning from this project is to remember there are infinite ways to spice up (well, not literally spice up, but you know what I mean) plain, steamed vegetables. I also made a saffron vinaigrette for some arugula; it was a happy accident that it went with the pilaf that also had saffron in it.

One little plug: My darling friend Emily introduced me to Penzey’s Spices in Arvada. They have a location in Old Littleton, too, though I haven’t been to that one yet. (I think I need to work there.) I have been using mostly fresh herbs, and I had already filled in (or replenished) my spice rack from the grocery store and Whole Foods, but I sure wish I’d found Penzey’s at the beginning of this project!

Millet & Chickpea Pilaf with Saffron & Tomatoes, p. 532; Carrots with Herb Butter and Olive Oil Sauce, p. 51; Cauliflower with Bread Crumbs, p. 354; Arugula with Saffron Vinaigrette, p. 188.

Coming: Skillet Asparagus, Pinto Bean Soup, Spoon Bread


Day Eleven: Composed Salad, Tofu with Paprika and Sour Cream

This menu was built entirely around the leftover Romesco sauce I had from Wednesday.  The recipe calls for cauliflower, carrots, potatoes and beets. I had potatoes and carrots from Saturday’s visit to the farm, meaning that I only spent about $25 at Whole Foods–a minor miracle.

I steamed everything up, and that went fine. I decided to roast the beets (instead of steaming them, as I did for the salad last week), since I had plenty of time. The book said a small beet would take about 25 minutes. 45 minutes later, most of the beets weren’t close to done. Ack! So I peeled the couple that were done, and plated it up. I think it looked kind of nice (with the exception of the even-fuglier-than-my-Corningware platter, a leftover of my mom’s Melamine set from the 70s). If I could do any of it over, I’d try to time it so everything was warmer.

See? At the bottom there? The lovely Harvest Gold pattern on the platter?

See? At the bottom there? The lovely Harvest Gold pattern on the platter?

Then there was the tofu with paprika and sour cream. By the way, I made it with fat-free sour cream, and it was fine. It tasted good– the kids love tofu, though maybe not as much when it’s not fried– but the sauce was deeply odd. Maybe I didn’t cook the vegetables long enough, but the sauce was crunchy. Yes, crunchy sauce. Not really what I was going for! And also, a little homely to photograph:

It tasted better than it looks. Honest.

It tasted better than it looks. Honest.

But, as mentioned, when you serve this food to kids, you never know what to expect. Baxter cleaned his plate, asked for seconds, and declared this the “best meal you’ve ever made, Mom!” Can’t beat that review.

Composed Salad of Winter Vegetables with Romesco Sauce, p. 165; Tofu with Paprika and Sour Cream, p. 606

Up next: Vietnamese Spring Rolls, p. 108; Vegetable Stir-Fry with Glass Noodles, p. 271; Tofu in Coconut Sauce with Ginger & Lemongrass, p. 600