Archives for category: meatless monday

let’s be honest, i am a card carrying omnivore, and with the exception of maybe eggplant and okra, i love most food and will eat just about anything. that being said, i am also health and environmentally conscious, so i am always looking to find different ways to limit my meat intake, but also not lose the all important protein factor.

eat food. not too much. mostly plants. -michael pollan, in defense of food

i have always loved curries, whether it is indian or southeast asian, and often think of them as being, at the very least, a vegetarian option, so it was easily enough to make one vegan, plus i am always looking to incorporate more turmeric into my diet. also, i think because of the spices and coconut milk this recipe has a lot of flavor, and with the lentils and peas you get the protein. i don’t miss the meat.



  • olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small cauliflower (with leaves, if possible), chopped in the small florets and pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-sized disks
  • 2 cups baby potatoes, cut in half or bite-sized
  • salt + pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh turmeric, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp madras curry
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste, i like it spicy)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, more if needed
  • 1/2 cup mixed lentils (any kind will work just adjust cooking time accordingly)
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 cup peas
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped


heat a generous amount of olive oil over medium high heat. it should be enough to cover the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven. i use my 7.25 qt le crueset. add the garlic and onions and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. stir in the cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes with a few generous sprinkles of salt, and several grinds of fresh ground pepper.


let cook about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies start to brown a bit, and a fond starts to form on the bottom of the pan. add the ginger, turmeric, and tomato paste. mix to combine.


add the dried spices and mix in well until all of the veggies are covered.


add the vegetable stock, and use a wooden spoon to scrap the fond off the bottom of the pan. add the lentils, bring to a boil, and then add the coconut milk. bring to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are done, about 20-40 minutes depending. it should be the consistency of a thick stew, but you can add a little more vegetable stock if it thickens too much, or would prefer it a little more soup like. add salt to taste.


add the lemon zest, juice and peas at the end, allowing enough time for them to warm, about 5 minutes. stir in the cilantro off heat.


serve with basmati rice.

makes about 8 cups.


i have always liked and known what quinoa is for a while now, but there is a certain recent video that i can’t quite say the word without singing the song…and laughing. granted not a bad thing…

last week i was working on a commercial, and they had to bring in a caterer last minute, because (shocker, i know) they didn’t finish by lunch like they had planned. well, this caterer had a salad that inspired this dish:

  • 3 ears of corn, roasted on a grill with oil and chili powder, then cut off the cob

  • 1 cup dry red quinoa, boiled in 2 cups of water, with a bit of salt for 10-15 minutes, drained
  • 1 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped, stems included
  • 2 limes
  • olive oil
  • s+p

toss the corn, quinoa, onion, garlic and cilantro together. squeeze in the juice of 2 limes and drizzle some olive oil over the salad. toss to combine. add s+p to taste.

i am not often inspired by dishes from caterers that feed me on film/commercial/tv sets, but this one was really good.

note: all the above ingredients were purchased at a farmers market, with the exception of the quinoa and canola oil from trader joe’s and the spices from penzeys. i was nowhere near a whole foods parking lot during the creation of this dish.

summer meets fall by combining delicious sweet tomatoes and vibrant red kuri squash. i’ve also added a bit of madras curry to give it a little bit of heat. i know it was a bit crazy to make soup on a hot so-cal september day, but the colors of these beauties inspired me.


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 onion, diced small, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 3/4 cup carrots, diced small
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs red kuri squash, skin removed, seeded, and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 2 tsp of madras curry powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)
  • 6-7 medium tomatoes, seeded (reserve juices, strained of seeds), roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp of thyme, plus extra for garnish
  • pinch of cayenne
  • s+p to taste (i ended up using about 2 tbsp of coarse hanapepe salt and at least a dozen grinds of a pepper mill)
  • crème fraîche, as garnish
  • 1 cup half + half (optional)

yield: 8 cups, 4-6 servings


melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan, such as a dutch oven.

add onions and carrots, and a touch of salt. let cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. then add the squash and stir to combine. cook, stirring occasionally, until a slight brown fond starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.

add the curry and cayenne. stir to combine.

add the reserved tomato juice and stock. use a wooden spoon to remove any fond from the bottom of the pan. add some s+p. i added about 1 tbsp of hanapepe salt and several cranks on the pepper mill at this point.

bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer. add the tomatoes and thyme. let cook about 20 minutes, or until the squash is soft.

purée until smooth. i use a hand blender for sheer ease, but a regular blender will work, just make sure you do it in batches and don’t over fill.

taste and add any additional s+p at this point. i added another few cranks on the pepper mill and probably another tbsp of hanapepe salt. then i allowed the spices to meld a little while longer on low heat.

there are a few finishing options. add a dollop of crème fraîche, and a pinch of thyme for garnish.

to add creaminess all the way through, turn off the heat and add 1 cup of half + half. if saving some for the next day, or freezing it, hold off on adding the cream until slowly reheating it.

also, one of my favorite things is grilled cheese and tomato soup, and this makes a wonderful alternative to a mainstay meal.


i prefer to make my own salad dressings. i toss some oil, acid and herbs in a mini blender and purée. today i decided to use a lemon infused olive oil from adams’ olive ranch that i had picked up at the santa monica farmers market several weeks ago when i was following the farmers market fairy around for the day. i added some fresh lime juice, a little bit of avocado for creaminess, fresh cilantro leaves, and a touch of s+p.

it was really tasty tossed with all the fresh greens and colorful vegetables that i picked up yesterday at the hollywood farmers market.

my sister kate made me one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches i have ever had, and i’ve been trying to repeat it since. i have reason to believe it didn’t really have anything to do with her sandwich making skills, though they do run in our family, but more because of our dad’s toaster oven. it also helped that she used good bread, and extra sharp cheddar cheese. i found some of my dad’s hot tomato jam in the refrigerator and slathered some of that on it as well. for today’s meatless monday lunch, this was my attempt to recreate it:

good rustic sourdough bread from two bits market


slice sharp cheddar and gruyère thin.

brush or spray a little olive oil on the outside of the bread, and layer with cheese on the inside.

carefully place on a rack in a 350º oven for 5 minutes. turn over for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

remove from the oven. open up the sandwich, and spread some tomato jam on the inside.

i like to have a little extra to dip it in too.

it was close, but still not as good at the one kate made me. damn it.

danny’s hot tomato jam:

  • x pounds of tomatoes and equal amount of sugar (out of season this may be made with large cans of plain whole tomatoes)
  • crushed red pepper flakes (to degree of hot)
  • 1-2 lemon juice and rind slivered
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 stick of cinnamon

scald the skin the tomatoes in a large heavy pan. cut tomatoes into small pieces and crush fine. cover with the sugar, stir. add 1 tsp pepper flakes (or more to taste). add cinnamon stick, zest and juice of lemon, grated ginger to taste. let stand in the fridge overnight 8-10 hours. Drain juice from pulp and cook down. add pulp and cook down until jam begins to pearl and thicken. while cooking prepare jars and lids by boiling them for 10 minutes. let jars cool. if you use paraffin, fill jars to within 1/4″ with hot jam and let cool a bit. then cover with paraffin and seal with lids. or, fill jars close to full, cover with lids and tighten slightly. when jars have cooled seal them tight.

(wf+t notes: i found a whole clove in the jar i just opened, so they may have been mistakenly omitted from his recipe. personally, i wouldn’t mind a little more heat, but because he doesn’t state the amount of tomatoes he used for the 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, that will have to be experimented with. also, even though i would have liked to talk to him about his recipe while he was still alive, because there are a few things left unclear, they will have to be left up for interpretation, which is how he liked to cook anyway, so it seems fitting.)

thanks pops! miss you + love you.

kale is one of the healthiest foods around, so i am continually looking for new ways to eat it. i first made this simple and delicious salad with raw kale, but i found that uncooked was just a bit too tough, and then i read that it actually has better cholesterol lowering benefits if it has been steamed. it is a great option for a meatless monday salad for lunch or a side dish for dinner.

for one serving:

  • 5-8 kale leaves, chopped 1-2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 small beet, cooked and sliced long into 1/8 inch wide pieces (see photo below)
  • 1 oz crumbled chevre goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds (or sesame seeds)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • black pepper, to taste

blanch the kale leaves buy putting them in boiling water for 1 minute and then transferring them to ice cold water and submerge for 3-5 minutes.
drain really well to get excess water off the leaves. i’d even recommend to put them in a salad spinner or toss them in a towel in order to dry them as much as possible. chop kale leaves into small pieces.

put the kale in a bowl. add beets, crumbled chevre, and toss in flax seeds. drizzle some olive oil and balsamic, and add black pepper to taste.

toss to combine.

what to do with leftover mashed potatoes? want potatoes with your morning eggs, but don’t want to go through the process of making hashbrowns? looking for a breakfast option for meatless monday? this is extremely easy, and adjustable to how much and what you have on hand.

this is what i had in my kitchen this morning:

  • mashed potatoes (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 small shallot, minced (onion or garlic would be good substitutes)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • splash of whole milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of your pan
  • sour cream (for garnish)
  • fresh parsley (for garnish)

if you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, simply peel and boil potatoes until soft, and mash. stir in shallot, milk, and thyme.

mix in egg until combined.

heat oil over medium high heat. add large dollops to the pan, careful not to splash oil, and flatten out a bit.

fry for about 4 minutes, but keep an eye on them, because just like regular pancakes, they can go from golden brown to burnt quickly. flip them over and fry a few minutes longer until the other side is brown as well.

i served them with scrambled eggs and garnished them with sour cream and parsley. salsa, hot sauce, or even apple sauce are good options too.

makes 4 cups

  • 8-10 medium-large carrots, or about 3 cups, diced small
  • 2 celery ribs, or about ¾ cup, diced small
  • ½ large onion, or about ¾ cup, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock (can be made with vegetable stock)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper, several cranks on a grinder
  • dash of cayenne pepper, optional
  • crème fraîche (or sour cream), for garnish
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. add the carrots, celery, onions and salt and sauté until the celery has softened and the onions are clear, about 5-10 minutes. stir in the garlic, tarragon and black pepper and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.

pour in the chicken stock, stir and bring to a boil.

reduce the heat to a simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the carrots are very soft. turn off the heat and use a hand blender to purée the mixture. you can use a regular blender, but it is just more of a process.

gradually pour in the milk, mix well, and season with more salt and pepper to taste. add cayenne if you want some kick.

garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche (or sour cream) and sprinkle with parsley. you could easily make this with a vegetable stock, and would be a great option for a meatless monday meal. i just always have homemade chicken stock on hand. also, this is a great chilled soup.

this is stupid easy.

you will need:

  • 5 cloves of garlic, about 1/4 cup
  • 4 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 2/3 cup parmesan, medium to coarsely grated
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil
  • juice of a fresh lemon
  • a food processor

with the food processor running, add the garlic until finely chopped. stop the motor and add the basil, parmesan, nuts, lemon juice and s+p. process until very finely chopped and looks like this:

then while motor running, slowly pour the olive oil in until smooth and completely incorporated.

yield: about 1 1/3 cups.

toss with your favorite pasta, mix with hummus for a dip for pita or chips, or use as an alternative or additional sauce on pizza.

perhaps you have been hearing about meatless mondays lately? well for those who haven’t, it is a movement to try to reduce the amount of meat we are eating by at least 15% in order to improve our health and ultimately the health of this planet. i am by no means becoming a vegetarian, and will remain an ominvore, mostly because i love all kinds of meat, but here are a few things to think about:

“going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. it can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.” – from the meatless monday website

also, as mark bittman states in a recent article meat: why bother? for his blog in the nytimes:

“in limited quantities, meat is just fine, especially sustainably raised meat (and wild game), locally and ethically produced dairy and eggs, the remaining wild or decently cultivated fish.”

lastly, michael pollan states in his book in defense of food: an eater’s manifesto even more simply,

“eat food. not too much. mostly plants.”

now being that all of those diseases mentioned above run in my family, and the fact that i love vegetables, taking meat out of my diet once a week seems completely doable. this will be the first of many (hopefully weekly) meatless monday recipes.

mattar paneer (serves 2)

  • 3 tbsp oil (i’ve been on a coconut oil kick, but you can sub canola or olive)
  • 1 cup paneer, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 tsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tsp water, set aside
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp corriander
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp cream

heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. fry paneer cubes for a few minutes until light golden brown. remove from the pan and place on some paper towels to remove any excess oil. set aside.

blend the tomatoes and ginger together. heat remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat. add in the cumin, cinnamon and bay leaf for a few seconds. then add the tomato ginger purée and remaining spices and stir for a few minutes allowing it to reduce a bit.

add the peas and 1/4 cup of water and let cook covered over medium heat for a few minutes letting the peas soften a bit.

add the cornstarch water mixture and let it thicken up. gently stir in the fried paneer.

turn the heat off. discard the bay leaf, and mix in the cream.

i suggest serving over jasmine rice, or as i did today, quinoa. sopping it up with warm naan would be delicious too.

happy mondays!

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