I love a chewy grain salad (this one has lentils too) with a lot of contrasting flavors and textures. Sweet, sour, chewy, crunchy, salty. You can go crazy and add more ingredients here; just don’t add toasted nuts or seeds ahead of time, as they will get soggy—throw them on top just before serving.
This earthy, tangy main dish shares a sauce similar to my Pomegranate Sriracha Shrimp, but the tofu, soy sauce, and vegetables turn it into something distinctively delicious. Tofu is typically deep-fried for dishes like this one, but panfrying is a healthier way to inject richness and character. For texture, complexity, and color, I add mushroom and mild-tasting chiles. Anaheims are my go-to but during the warmer months when chiles are in season, I love to use varieties such as Hatch and Corno di Toro. In a major pinch, half a large bell pepper will do.
This simple and flavorful rice gets its color from spinach and kale.
Patatas bravas meets marinara sauce. The Marsala makes the potatoes sticky and sweet, but it can be swapped for anything similar you have at hand, such as stock or water.
These beans are earthy, salty, and smoky. So simple and so delicious. Enjoyed with rice, wrapped in a burrito, or fried in a quesadilla, these beans always fill the bill.
When the idea for this popped into my head, I could almost taste it. It’s such a fine tumble of contrasting flavours and textures, and the sourness comes from the mango or the tamarind: you can never be sure of a mango until you taste it, so hold fire on finishing the dressing until you’ve tried the mango – add a little honey if it is unripe and sour; leave it alone if it is edging towards sweet. This is great with pea shoots in place of rocket [Ed. note: rocket is arugula], coriander rather than mint, a red onion instead of the shallot, and by all means cast pomegranate seeds over the top. Play with it as you like.
If you cook for others on a regular cadence, you’ll discover that not all the meals will be beautifully planned. Sometimes one thing leads to another and you forget to shop, or you forget that you need wood or propane or time to brine the meat. Sometimes you run out of time. Sometimes you run out of energy. Sometimes you just want to cook something simple and eat, toast one another, wash everything up, and take a long walk with the dog.
Pan-seared fennel alone is yummy, but mojo-inspired citrus and garlic-herb sauce, umami-rich plantain powder, delicate anise-flavored fennel fronds, rich sunchoke cream, and a drizzle of really good olive oil elevate this to a standout dish. While layered, this is a fairly simple dish to make. The key is preparing some of the components (i.e., the plantain powder and sunchoke cream) ahead of time so you don’t get bogged down making garnishes. Trust me, the payoff is BIG. If my persnickety five-year-old likes this dish, you will love it.
Mexico City chef Eduardo “Lalo” Garcia’s secret is to cook these beans very simply, for a very long time, until they’re super-soft, then to add his seasoning—a sofrito of onion, garlic, tomatoes, and dried chiles—and boil them for another half hour, simultaneously infusing them with flavor and concentrating their cooking liquid. These are some of the simplest and yet most complex beans I’ve ever tasted, let alone cooked. A straightforward pico de gallo adds a little freshness and crunch. Serve with tortillas.
Cheesy, tangy and oh-so-comforting, these stuffed potatoes are a lunch worth waiting for. I often bake the potatoes the evening before, when I already have the oven on for my evening meal, and allow them to cool overnight, ready to put together in no time for lunch. Alternatively, you could let your slow cooker do the first bake. Opt for vegan cream cheese rather than vegan hard cheese to get a creamier, more buttery texture.