If you asked me a year or two ago whether I could be a vegetarian, I would have responded, “absolutely not!” I come from a long line of proud carnivores. My dad made the best ribs, took pride in ordering sweet breads and calves liver at restaurants and ate steak tartare. My grandmother’s pot roast (click here for the recipe) should be famous by now and my mother’s meat loaf… if only she would share the recipe… sigh. A few relatives have gone down the vegetarian path over the years, but all in all, meat has been an important part of our diet.
Today, if you asked me if I could be a vegetarian, I would surprisingly say yes. I still love eating meat and fish, but I can easily skip it a few days a week. In fact, we have done that here for a while, and no one seems to care. How did that happen? As we get older I know this is a healthier path for all of us, not to mention the environmental concerns about mass-produced meats. I do make a conscious effort to buy meat from our local farm. Absent the hormones, fillers and who knows what else, it just tastes better.
Even if the thought of eating vegetarian freaks you out, this book is a fabulous source for veggie dishes of all kinds. Pastas, curries, soups, veg tapas and more. I thought I’d share the cauliflower curry from the book. Green beans were not in the original recipe, but they were a nice addition.
No worries, pork wrapped in pork is still my favorite combination, and I will never turn away the opportunity to eat a perfectly char-grilled NY Strip steak.
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
- Large head of cauliflower (about 2 – 2 1/2lbs) – cut into medium florets
- 1/2lb green beans, ends trimmed
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
- 3 yellow onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- Large pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 star anise
- 1 – 28oz can plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 – 14oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 tsp garam masala
- A handful of chopped cilantro
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Steamed basmati rice for serving
* I used Cento brand Chef Cut tomatoes for this dish. The juice is nice and thick, adding to the consistency of the curry. I’ve found some canned tomatoes can be quite watery. Just break up the tomatoes a bit before putting them in the pot.
Place the cauliflower in a large Dutch oven and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and shut off the heat. Drain the cauliflower and set it aside in a separate bowl, covered to keep warm. Put the same Dutch oven back on the stove, add the oil and cook the onions, garlic, and ginger until tender and fragrant, about 7-10 minutes. Stir often to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn or brown too much.
Add the coriander, cumin, red pepper and star anise. Stir to combine and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juice from the can and the chickpeas. Add back in the parcooked cauliflower and the green beans. Add the garam masala, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Pour about 3/4 of a cup of cold water in the pot. Stir again and bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the green beans are crisp tender.
Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve over steamed basmati rice.
I also made this red lentil Dahl which was off-the-charts fantastic! I think it would be really delicious served alongside a nice piece of grilled fish. Not the most attractive dish I must say, but super yummy! Onions sautéed in black mustard seed and cumin seed, stirred into the soft lentils were vibrantly flavorful. I love all those spices. A sprinkle of fresh mint and cilantro at the end made it the perfect accompaniment to our cauliflower curry.