Steak of luck

Cottage cheese ‘steak’ with red bell pepper and green olive sauce

Vegetarian main course dishes that go beyond plated carbs, impress me a lot. While most Indian and international cuisines have an exhaustive array of appetizers, salads and soups that can be made using vegetables only, when it comes to mains, the options are often restricting. If you don’t believe me, thumb through any restaurant menu and you will see how your choices will be restricted to pasta, rice and potato-based dishes.

As a vegetarian cook, I admire roasts. Roasts are wholesome and fit perfectly into my idea of main course meals. I miss having an easy main course-friendly ingredient that can be roasted into a glorious brown, be dressed in a glimmering sauce and served just like that.

My answer to a non-vegetarian roasts, is this cottage cheese ‘steak’.  Continue reading

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On a sour note

Lemon and cream spaghetti with basil and chilli chutney

When I first heard about spaghetti al limone, I couldn’t bring the two flavours together in my head.  Since I usually like my pasta mild and easy, this combination got me cooking.

The role of bringing an edge to a pasta dish is mostly played by an herb or a sharp cheese, but using lemons provided a refreshing change.

To keep the dish from going hideously citrusy, I cut the flavours with a sweet and hot, basil-chilli chutney.

Lazy cooks, the sauce is almost no-cook, so it is perfect to stock in jars. Continue reading

Looks like a tart

Basil, bell pepper and two cheese tartlet

I’m a cheese friend. Sometimes it takes just a tiny piece of emmental or grainy parmesan to calm my craving and sometimes I go all the way with a four cheese pizza.

Out of all cheeses, smooth cream cheese ranks very high on my comfort meter. On a normal day you will find me slathering  spoonfuls on hot baguette  slices. And when mid-night hunger pangs need to be battled, I eat it straight out of the tube.

Today, I used it to make an eggless tartlet. The cream cheese, heavy cream and milk mixture, forms an emulsion that is good enough to bind all the ingredients together without the usage of eggs.

Continue reading

But naturally

Organic spinach and carrot flavoured fusilli with prune and lemongrass dressing

I’ve often imaged myself in knee high gumboots, wading through my personal vegetable patch, looking for the perfect piece of fresh tomato. I would someday like to dress up my salad with herbs that have been plucked from my own garden and roast crunchy carrots that have been unearthed minutes before they go into the oven.

Since I am far from ploughing my own patch, I often hit the weekly organic market where I can get my hands on locally grown vegetables and other goodies.

The whole idea of organic food fascinates me. Natural, unprocessed food that has not been through any drama has such a wholesome taste and texture. It manages to have a real taste that can never be found otherwise.

Recently, I visited an all-organic store in the neighbourhood city and got myself a packet of spinach and carrot flavoured pasta, among other things. Since the pasta had an obvious wheat flavour, I dressed it with a sweet and sour prune and lemongrass salad dressing.  Continue reading

Over the top cooking

Steamed and stacked vegetables with leek and saffron sauce

Although I’m not a salad person, crunchy vegetables are my weakness. Whether I’m having pasta or a chunky soup, I’m always fishing for crunchy bits of carrots, artichokes, water chestnuts, French beans, broccoli or whatever it is, that has a noisy bite.

I respect recipes that manage to bring out the perfect balance of smoothness and crunchiness in one simple dish. Considering I spend hours looking for that flawlessly, crisp piece of bell pepper or aubergine, carefully puncturing all sides to ensure firmness, I better get to eat just that.

Today, I combined a few crunchy vegetables with a creamy sauce to make that balanced-out dish. Continue reading