Much to my dismay, my sister and girlfriends are going on a 10-day detox where they'll eat vegan and give up alcohol. Since I'm not participating (what can I say? I can't live without cheese and a glass of wine!), I'll get in on the fun by hosting a vegan dinner. This flavorful meal that's chock-full of vegetables starts with a chickpea, mint, and parsley spread slathered on pita bread. For the first course I'll offer a colorful beet salad with tangerines.
The star of the show is a curried red lentil stew with vegetables and rice. It's a menu that's hearty, healthy, and downright scrumptious, so get the recipes after the break.
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 small garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 to 4 warmed pitas, for serving
- Heat 1/4 cup oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add garlic, and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add chickpeas, and cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool 15 minutes.
- Add chickpea mixture, mint, parsley, lemon juice, and salt to a food processor, season with pepper, and puree. With machine running, add remaining 1/4 cup oil in a slow, steady stream, mixing until emulsified. Spread can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, and drizzle with oil. Serve with pitas.
Makes 2 cups.
24 baby orange beets
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 small shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Put the beets in a roasting pan, cover with foil and bake them for about 1 hour, until they are tender. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and quarter the beets.
- In a pie plate, toss the pine nuts with 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil and toast them in the oven for about 3 minutes, until the pine nuts are golden brown.
- Using a sharp knife, peel the tangerines. Working over a medium bowl, slice in between the membranes to release the tangerine sections. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a small bowl; you should have 1/2 cup.
- In another small bowl, toss the sliced shallots and raspberry vinegar with a pinch of salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 cup of tangerine juice and the remaining 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and season the dressing with salt.
- Arrange the beets and tangerine sections on plates and drizzle with the dressing. Top with the toasted pine nuts and serve.
Make Ahead: The roasted beets can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 (2- by 1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, quartered
5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
5 1/3 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
3 medium carrots, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cups chopped trimmed spinach leaves (3 ounces)
1 cup frozen peas (not thawed)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
basmati rice; roasted cauliflower fresh cilantro sprigs, for serving
- Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion with 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, purée ginger, garlic, and 1/3 cup water in a blender. Add purée to golden onion and cook, stirring, until water is evaporated and oil visibly separates from onion mixture, about 5 minutes.
- Add curry powder, turmeric, and cumin and cook over low heat, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in lentils and remaining 5 cups water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
- Add carrots and remaining teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and lentils have broken down into a coarse purée, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in spinach and peas and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season stew with salt and pepper. If necessary, add enough water to thin stew so that it can easily be ladled over rice.
- Just before serving, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook cumin seeds and red-pepper flakes, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker, 30 to 45 seconds (be careful not to burn spices). Pour hot spice oil in a swirl over stew.
Make Ahead: Stew, without spinach, peas, cilantro, and spice oil, can be made ahead and chilled, uncovered, until completely cooled, then covered up to 5 days, or frozen 3 months. Reheat over moderately low heat, thinning with water to a pourable consistency and stirring frequently, before adding remaining ingredients.