Satisfying meat-free meals

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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I know what it’s called when you feel lousy the morning after you’ve drunk a little too much, but what do you have after you’ve eaten more than any human being needs?

Setting aside the inevitable New Year’s resolutions, January is definitely the month to explore meat-and-potato alternatives.

 

Falafel pitas

You will see lineups just about everywhere at falafel carts on street corners in big cities, but we don’t seem to share the love affair. Once you have tasted these, however, you will be hooked. They are nutritious but you won’t feel even a tiny bit deprived.

One half of a pita may be enough for each serving, but I would count on two for most adults. This recipe should make enough for five or six people. Once formed, the falafel can be frozen and cooked later.

 

1 540 ml can (about 2 cups) chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tbsp. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh cilantro and Italian flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided

Sauce:

1/4 cup tahini (sesame) paste, available at most grocery stores now

1/4 cup plain yogurt, low-fat or regular

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. water, or as needed to thin the sauce

Toppings:

2 cups total of chopped lettuce, cucumber and tomato

4 of 5 white or whole wheat pita breads

 

Put chickpeas, onion, garlic, flour, baking powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper in a food processor and chop to a coarse, grainy texture. Stir in cilantro and parsley and chill for half an hour or so.

Divide mixture into 16 to 20 pieces and form into slightly flattened patties. Place on a greased baking sheet and drizzle about half the olive oil over the top. Bake at 425 F for  about 15 minutes; flip and bake another 15 minutes, or until outside is brown and crisp You can shallow fry or deep fry if you prefer.

For the sauce, stir everything together until it has a smooth consistency.

Divide hot cooked patties among the pitas and top with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and sauce. If you’d rather, use the type of pitas that open into pockets and stuff them.

 

Linguini with roasted onion and garlic sauce

The first time I saw a famous Italian TV chef top a plate of pasta with breadcrumbs I thought it seemed odd, but then I tried it. Millions of Italians are definitely onto something.

Six heads of garlic is not an error — don’t assume I mean cloves.

This amount generously serves four, but with other courses on offer it will satisfy a crowd.

 

2 tbsp. butter

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

4 whole heads garlic

4 medium yellow onions

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 lb. linguini

 

Melt butter in frying pan and add breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until golden brown and crispy; set aside.

Cut the tops off the garlic heads to expose the cloves underneath. Wrap each in a double-layer of foil. Do the same with the onions. Place in a roaster and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Remove and let sit until they’re cool enough to handle.

Remove the peel from the onions and either chop very finely or put in a processor to make a chunky paste. Squeeze the soft garlic flesh out of the husks and add to the onions, along with olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes.

Prepare linguini according to package directions, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir in onion and garlic mixture. Add a little of the cooking water to make a saucier texture. Pile in a warm serving bowl and sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs all over the top.

 

Cauliflower, broccoli and olives in vinaigrette

What a fabulous side dish this makes. It is vibrant in colour and has a spicy, tangy flavour to add zip to any menu. This makes what will look like enough for a bunch of people, but it will disappear faster than regular old steamed cauliflower and broccoli.

 

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. red or white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup pitted black or green olives, halved if large

1 medium head broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets

 

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook a minute or two, just until they are fragrant. Add vinegar, salt, pepper and olives. Cover and set aside.

Boil cauliflower in lightly salted water for three minutes then add the broccoli. Cook just until tender — don’t let them get mushy. Drain and add immediately to the frying pan with the olives. Toss together and serve right away.

 

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s.

Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram,

P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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