Very Delicious Vegetarian Eating - The New York Times

May 25, 2024
Dining & Wine
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If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter (hi, Mom), you’re familiar with the name Hetty Lui McKinnon. I talk about Hetty’s recipes a lot — they’re delicious, of course, but also consistently satisfying, delivering a lot of wow and oomph (technical terms).

Hetty, along with Alice Callahan, a Times reporter who covers health and nutrition, have shared everything you might want to know about vegetarian eating in a special collaboration with Well. “We tend to cook and eat what we know, but giving up meat doesn’t mean leaving behind your favorite flavors,” they write. “If you enjoy the vibrant flavors of larb, make it with mushrooms or tofu, just as you can create an adobo with either eggplant or cauliflower, riff on Indian butter chicken by using chickpeas, and satisfy your schnitzel or breaded cutlet craving with halloumi or tofu. Change takes time, but it is much easier if you lean on familiar flavors and dishes.”

Speaking of familiar dishes, if you haven’t already made Hetty’s cold noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce, now — specifically this long weekend — is the time. The soba noodles and peanut-butter-based sauce provide a savory, nutty foundation for the crisp vegetables (a mix of zucchini, radishes and bell peppers) and the garlicky, limey peanut sauce can be as spicy as you’d like. I use chile crisp instead of chile oil to add extra tingly crunch; I’ve also subbed tahini for the peanut butter, and I can’t tell which version I like better. In other words: Make these noodles and make them yours.


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These cumin green beans and mushrooms are a new Hetty recipe, and I already know it’ll be on repeat in my home. I love the bright and earthy note that cumin adds to everything (see: Hetty’s vegetarian take on the signature lamb dish at Xi’an Famous Foods); combining it with spicy ginger, sweet green beans and umami-rich mushrooms feels like a no-brainer. Will I add a fried egg on top if I’m feeling ravenous, breaking the yolk so that the yellow goodness mingles with the already gold-stained cumin mix? I will indeed.

In the spirit of wedding season, let’s move on to “chicken or fish.” If you get your chicken in its citrus-chile marinade Saturday morning, you’ll be all set for Ham El-Waylly’s pollo asado come Saturday evening. This roasted lemony fish with brown butter, capers and nori, a recipe by Danielle Alvarez adapted by Melissa Clark, doesn’t require any marinating, though you could whirl up the nori oil in advance. Given how simple the nori oil is to make — just put seaweed snack sheets, olive oil and black pepper in a blender — it’s probably worth making extra to slick on some baked chicken thighs or pan-seared salmon.

Maybe you’re headed to a party this weekend, and maybe you’ve offered to bring a salad or dessert. Maybe you’re remembering this just now. Ali Slagle’s refreshing cucumber salad comes together quickly and requires just four ingredients (not including salt, pepper and sugar). It’s the sort of party-pleaser that won’t steal the show from the main event (ribs, shrimp boil, grilled salmon), but will provide a welcome crisp and cool contrast.

For dessert, Samantha Seneviratne’s blueberry pie bars are much easier to transport and serve than a blueberry pie (no forks or plates necessary). They also contain a delightful secret: Between the jammy fruit and buttery shortbread is a bonus layer of sweetened cream cheese. “Superb!” says Thom, a reader. “Remarkably, this is better than blueberry pie.”

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