Compassionate November: Moments in Our Vegetarian Kitchen

I. Avocados Everywhere for $1 or Less

Now that avocados are going for dirt-cheap prices at markets all across the Northeast, Cafe Drake HRV is scarfing these creamy, nutritional bombshells like crack rock. We've been reminded once again that avocados aren't just for guacamole. A good friend here in the Hudson Valley seasons and mashes them before tossing with hot linguine for a paradigm-shifting take on pasta. Avocado salads can be as simple as the one above, with only chopped onions, salt, pepper and minced mint and basil leaves, or more refined - try slicing the fruit into thick wedges and drizzling with a sweet miso dressing and roasted peanuts. The Smoothie du Jour at CDHRV combines 1/2 an avocado with 1 cup of water, a splash of vanilla soymilk, a tablespoon of grated ginger, the juice of half a small lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper. What a way to start the day!

II.  Artichoke and Cannellini Bean Puree

Beans and artichoke hearts ready to be blitzed in the blender.

Serve the artichoke-bean dip for dinner. Why not? With, as above, a well-dressed garden salad and rich, earthy Portobello Soup. A wedge of sourdough rye bread (not pictured) completed this light but satisfying meal.

The recipe for White Bean and Artichoke Dip is adapted from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin. Place in a blender 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans (rinsed very well and drained), 1 t. ume plum vinegar, 2 t. lemon juice, 1 t. apple cider vinegar, 1 small jar of artichoke hearts in oil (drained) and 4-5 T. olive oil. Puree until silky smooth and then season to taste with salt and white pepper. If you don't have ume plum vinegar - and you really should pick up a bottle for its distinctive salty, tart flavor - substitute rice or white vinegar. You'll also need to add more salt.

III.  November Spawned A  . . . Sleepy Pit Bull

Arabella Page rests patiently while waiting for us to finish preparing a biryani.

IV.  Moong Dal with Tomatoes and Collard Greens

A super-nutritious dal, this one, loaded with veggies, can make a complete meal alongside rice or bread.

Another adapted recipe, this one from Madhur Jaffrey's latest book, the truly game-changing tome Vegetarian India. Jaffrey's original recipe uses sorrel and toovar dal; our version emerged according to what we had in the kitchen, on a day we didn't feel like grocery shopping! Begin by rinsing 1 cup moong dal and placing in a large saucepan with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, skim the foam from the top and add 2-3 cups shredded collard greens (or kale or chard), 1 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped onions, 3/4 t. turmeric powder and 2-3 hot green chilies (quartered lengthwise). Cook over a medium heat, partially covered, for around 30 minutes, stirring often to ensure the legumes don't stick to the pan. Add more hot water if needed. Now, add 1 t. salt, 3/4 t. tamarind concentrate and 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Continue to cook for 15  minutes or until the dal is thick and soft. Remove from the stove and cover while you heat 2-3 T. coconut or peanut oil in a small skillet over a medium-high flame. As soon as the oil is hot, sprinkle in 2 large pinches of asafetida powder. Immediately add 1/2 t. brown mustard seeds. Cover the skillet and once the seeds have stopped popping throw in 2 whole dried red chilies and 2 cloves of sliced garlic. Finally throw in 8 or so curry leaves, cover the skillet again as the oil will sputter and then transfer to the pot of cooked dal and veggies. Taste for seasoning and serve hot with rice or flatbreads.

V. Tahini, Tempeh and Turmeric Rice

The simplest possible tahini dressing is also a favorite one at Cafe Drake HRV: combine equal parts tahini and warm water in a blender. Add 1 clove of minced garlic, salt and black pepper to taste, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Puree until smooth and adjust salt/pepper as desired.

There are just so many ways to prepare tempeh we know we'll only scratch the surface of possibilities in this lifetime of meals. Still, we return time and again to one of the true Essential Recipes at Cafe Drake HRV, Basic Baked Tempeh. The method and ingredients may be straightforward but there's nothing basic about the flavor. Grab the recipe HERE!

VI. Chickpea Flour Crepes, Coconut Chutney in a Flash and Mooli Raita

Why don't we make these more often? That's the question puzzling us as we savor these savory pancakes. Or call them crepes, or flatbreads, it doesn't matter, just make them! Feel free to use any variety of veggies you have on hand, remembering that longer-cooking ones such as carrots or sweet potatoes should be grated. Our original recipe for Chickpea Flour Crepes can be found HERE in the 2014 archives.

Our always popular recipe for Coconut Chutney can be found HERE.

While still warm a chickpea crepe is dusted with a spicy peanut crumble, folded and plated with a cooling mooli raita. Mooli is the large white radish better known in the States as daikon and it makes a terrific crunchy raita when grated and folded into yogurt.

Reheated Chickpea Crepes with Salad and Pickled Peppers

VII. Vegan Mushroom Bisque with Pumpernickel Croutons

A carton of vegan mushroom soup is a pantry staple at Cafe Drake HRV. Enhancing pre-packaged soup is as easy as adding a splash of sherry, spices to your taste and a crown of homemade croutons.

VIII. Lentil Sprout Curry, Rice and Saag Sabzi 

Go now to the Cafe Drake HRV 2013 archives and CLICK ON our recipe for Lentil Sprouts Curry


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