Meatless meals do not have to be boring!

Part of me doesn’t actually mind being stuck at home. Sheltering-in-home when you live in So Cal and have a pool translates into not a whole lot of suffering.

Pre Safer-At-Home mandate it wouldn’t have been unusual for me to make multiple trips to multiple stores to pick up interesting ingredients to strictly follow the recipe du jour, but when grocery store shelves progressively became empty, it was time to go to Plan B. Time to clean out the deep freeze and pantry. I set out on a culinary safari and challenged myself to limiting my grocery store visits to just once a week and getting creative with pantry staples.

I realize this post promises a meatless meal, but what inspired me to make this dish was finding a cap steak we had purchased last year in the bottom of my deep freeze. I’ve been cooking my way through JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls “Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day” cookbook. Man oh man, have these dishes been off-the-charts good. I came across this veggie recipe that could hang with the steak .. their notes say “The secret to this dish is taking market-fresh vegetables, roasting them until they are crisp-tender, and then tossing them in a spicy vinaigrette. Clean eating has never tasted this good.” I AGREE .. so very tasty. 

Roasted mushrooms

Roast the mushrooms on parchment paper for super easy clean-up.

King Mushrooms with Harissa Vinaigrette, Roasted Carrots, Carrot Curry Puree and Cipollini Onions
2 pounds king mushrooms, cleaned and left whole (I used an assortment from our local Korean market, H-Mart)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Harissa Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
Roasted Cipollini Onions (ditto)
Roasted Baby Carrots (double-ditto)
Carrot Curry Puree (doubling down on that ditto)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, flip the mushrooms, and continue roasting for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and tender. Toss the mushrooms with the vinaigrette while still warm.

Harissa Vinaigrette

Harissa viniagrette

A mini food processor works well for this job.

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 shallot, peeled
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon harissa paste or red chile paste
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil

In a blender or food processor, grind the cumin and coriander seeds to a fine powder. Add the shallot, mint, thyme, vinegar and harissa and blend until completely smooth. Continue blending and add the mustard. Once combined, slowly pour in the oil until the mixture starts to thicken and emulsify.

Pan-seared cipollini onions

Pan sear the cipollini onions then finish them by roasting in the oven.

Roasted Cipollini Onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds whole cipollini onions, peeled and trimmed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until deeply caramelized and tender, about 30 minutes. 



Roasted carrots

If you can’t find colorful baby carrots, cut the regular ones into bite-sized or long sticks.

Roasted Baby Carrots
1 pound small, colorful carrots, trimmed
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put the carrots in a large bowl and toss with the oil and spices. Arrange in a single layer on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast the carrots until they are tender and the spices are toasted, tossing once, 15 to 20 minutes.

Kathy’s note – the baby carrots I’m talking about are NOT the little stubby ones sold in a plastic bag .. look for small, thin colorful carrots or use normal sized and cut lengthwise and into smaller sticks, if you’d like.

I used central coast curry, a smoky sister to madras, then spiced it up with Hatch extra hot chili powder.

Carrot Curry Puree
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground harissa or chili powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the carrots and garlic cloves with the oil and a generous sprinkler of salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer and roast until tender and starting to brown, about 30 minutes, turning to cook evenly. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once the carrots and garlic have cooled to room temperature, put them in the bowl of a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust the spices as necessary. (Kathy’s note – I wanted a creamier texture so added chicken stock – veggie stock would work if you’re after a vegetarian dish).

One of the shortcuts I used when making this dish was to roast the mushrooms and all of the carrots at the same time so I wouldn’t have to run my oven for an extended period of time (ain’t got time for that!). I adjusted the temp to 400 degrees and increased the time I pan seared the cipollini onions before placing in the oven. Additionally, I roasted the veggies in the morning then warmed them up on a grill mat over a wood fire. This added a hint of smokiness.

I HIGHLY recommend that you invest in this cookbook!  In case you missed it above, Here’s a link so you can buy one today! Typically when I’m following a recipe I pretty much double the spices but no so with this book. The recipes I’ve made thus far have so much flavor and depth, there’s no need. Stay tuned .. more deliciousness to come.

There’s no good reason for this photo other than I think my cat Dali is pretty dang cute!