As much as I enjoy cooking, there are days when I want a meal to come together with little fuss. Dal soups and curries are always a fine choice. Nourishing and warming, oftentimes such easy preparations are the ultimate comfort food. Soothing and modestly spiced with a lemony undertone, this creamy urad dal pairs well with basmati rice. To dress the meal up a bit more, consider serving the dal with cracked black pepper rice.
It seems that many people dislike or generally tend to avoid Brussels sprouts, a distaste that usually seems to have been born out of childhood experiences with a plate of bland, soggy and over-boiled vegetables. Their flavor is a bit more on the bitter side than many vegetables, which might also explain why children aren't so fond of them, but these little green cabbage-like buds are very healthy and should appeal to the adult palate once given a chance. Well, even as a child I'd never actually disliked Brussels sprouts, but nevertheless I seem to have largely neglected them in my meal plans. I'm not really sure why.
But I do adore making risottos, so when I saw a recipe for a Brussels sprouts risotto in Yotam Ottolenghi's latest cookbook, Plenty More, I immediately bookmarked it as a way not to enjoy a new risotto but to start to repair my neglect of this unique vegetable. Ottolenghi may not be strictly a vegetarian, but his love of vegetables shines through each of his four cookbooks, two of which — including this newest book — are entirely vegetarian. His recipes are always accessible and have a rustic and creative charm illustrated in a lavish collection of beautiful photographs.
I've changed up the original recipe, but I was quite smitten with Ottolenghi's idea of frying up some of the Brussels sprouts in hot oil until golden and crispy for garnishing the plates of risotto. Honestly, they are so delicious fried like this that I had a hard time making sure that enough of them remained to use for garnish! You'd better make some more just to snack on while cooking. More Brussels sprouts are shredded and cooked with the seasoned rice for a colorful and nourishing risotto that's finished off with lemon juice, soft goat cheese and plenty of fresh grated Parmesan cheese for a rich and creamy dining experience.
Cookies are something you never grow too old to indulge in. Though I've developed more of a taste for savory things, that doesn't mean decadence has to be sacrificed along with flavor. I just use less sweetener generally in my treats and desserts with attention to more wholesome ingredients that contribute plenty of flavor in their own right.
Enter quinoa cookies with fine dark chocolate chunks. These chewy cookies are sweet, but now overly so, with the goodness of nutty quinoa complemented by the chocolate, some vanilla and a hint of almond extract. They are easy to make up and a good way to use up any leftover quinoa and, in my opinion, fine enough to grace any holiday plate too.
I found out recently that my husband is a big fan of shepherd's pie. I suppose the subject never really came up before because when I met him, I was a long time vegetarian. The occasion for the conversation was a take-out meal from a vegan restaurant that had a version of shepherd's pie on the menu. Traditionally, shepherd's pie is neither vegetarian nor vegan. Technically not a pie as there is no pastry involved, it's more like a casserole. The usual components are a ground meat base, such as beef or lamb, with vegetables and a topping of mashed potatoes. It's inexpensive to make and one that many remember from their childhood as classic comfort food.