Basic Carrot Slaw

Carrots are the perfect vegetable to star in a salad. Flavor-wise, they can range from savory to sweet. Presentation-wise, they are perfect for every style: long ribbons, pretty julienned batons, shredded, or even cut into simple coins. For this salad, you can julienne the carrots or shred them — your choice (or, you know, do whatever works to get dinner on the table).

About half an hour before assembling the salad, lightly salt the carrots to draw out moisture — this helps keeps your slaw crunchy despite the addition of dressing. Rinse and pat the carrots dry, then toss. The dressing below is Just A Suggestion. Carrots can handle just about anything, and the notes to the recipe include other ideas.

Lentil and Coconut Milk Stew

This versatile recipe is perfect for weeknight suppers. It can be made vegetarian, vegan, or with the meat of your choice. The flavors can be modified to suit your fancy. And it reheats like a dream, making it perfect for lunches.

I love to serve this dish over braised greens — spinach or chard do just fine.

Roasted Carrots

As you might guess, I am a huge proponent of roasting vegetables. Maybe it’s because I’m rebelling against my canned-vegetable youth. Or maybe it’s because roasted veggies are just so, so good. Or, more likely, it’s a bit of both.

Roasting brings out deeper flavors from vegetables, and it’s a year-round preparation. Once grilling season starts, substitute the grill for the oven. And note how the change in cooking method impacts the flavor.

No matter how you do it, roasting veggies, including carrots, requires just a few ingredients. You can, of course, play with flavors (I love my carrots with curry spices or just a dusting of cumin).

Traditional Lasagna

I’m not a huge tomato sauce person, but lasagna is one of my weaknesses. How could I resist? Gooey cheese, layers of meat and noodles, that sauce pulling the whole thing together. And because I couldn’t find gluten-free lasagna noodles ahead of time, I bought 12 boxes from Amazon. That’s a whole lotta lasagna.

The way I figure it, I have enough noodles to last me several years!*

It takes about five minutes of Internet research to discover that everyone has a favorite lasagna recipe, ranging from quick to laborious. Or, there is no wrong way to make a lasagna. Take what works for you and don’t worry too much about doing it “right” — as long as it’s tasty, you’re good.

This recipe involves making your own Bolognese sauce, so it will take some time (think of a terrific sauce simmering on the stove all afternoon, that’s what we’re doing here). Letting the sauce simmer develops a rich flavor — one I find hard to replicate with store-bought sauces (which, of course, I use when time is working against me).

As you will see in the notes, you can skip steps 1 − 6 if you are pressed for time.

* — Okay, truth: those noodles will be gone in no time since I’m testing different lasagna styles.

Sorta Chicken Pot Pie

Once, in a moment of weakness, I confessed my deepest, darkest secret to my former boss: at those times I really needed serious comfort food, I reached for frozen chicken pot pies served over rice. Ain’t nothing healthy about that, but so comforting.

Obviously, I never eat like this in front of my husband. At least, I hope I don’t.

My former boss has never forgotten this. Just like I know about her meatball sandwich cravings. Sometimes, you just need food that serves your soul. Food that reminds you of something…even if that memory is a formerly-frozen chicken pot pie made on an assembly line.

So one day, faced with leftover chicken and carrots and celery that needed to be used, I thought “pot pie”. Then I thought “do I really want to make gluten-free pot pie?” The answer was — and was based quite a bit on the time of day this craving hit — was no. However, I still had the chicken, carrots, and celery.

Something had to be done.

This is definitely not the stuff you remember from your childhood. I serve it over rice (score!). And — in another nod to my misspent youth — took advantage of GF Bisquik to make drop biscuits to serve as my “crust”.

Vegetable Stock

While I don’t make vegetable stocks as often as I make chicken stocks, I love the way different vegetables can make what seems like such a simple process taste so good. I like the rich flavor that comes from the right blend of veggies…without overpowering the rest of a recipe.

As with chicken stock, you can use leftover pieces from veggies you prepare. Just store them in an airtight freezer bag until you’re ready to make your stock. The proportions below are just guidelines.

Lentil Soup

When I get obsessed with a food, I get really obsessed. Like I’ll eat a particular food every day until my friends stage an intervention. I think the first time this happened was the summer I was nine. Ever wonder how many tiny tuna sandwiches a girl can make from a long, skinny loaf of French bread?

I know the answer. To say more is to tell you too much about me.

Luckily, I outgrew that obsession before it was taken away from me.

So, other foods that have inspired this level of devotion in me? Chopped salad. Oh, a good chopped salad is like heaven. This may be where I determined salads should be good or not offered at all.

And lentil soup. I think I was 28 or so when I first had lentil soup. I was wary, coming from a household where vegetables were regarded with suspicion. Of course, I was also trying to be totally cool with the fact that I tried a) hummus (OMG!) and b) lentil soup in the same meal.

Nothing was ever the same.

Making lentil soup is absurdly simple. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, there is only one rule, and that is the addition of acid right before serving. Lemon juice or vinegar turns lentil soup into something one obsesses over. Don’t be shy, taste and taste, adjust.

Trust me. After all, I ate lentil soup every day for, oh man, a month!

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This soup can be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.[/box]

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