Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vegetarian Man Food

I've noted before that when I cooked only for myself, I cooked mostly vegetarian meals. Now that I cook for a hungry 6'3 male, however, I feel oddly pressured to include meat in every meal. This is not because T tells me that he needs to eat meat every night. In fact, when I wistfully bring up my veggie meals of the past, he reminds me that he doesn't need to eat meat all the time. Yet I hardly ever listen to him.

Until nights like last night, that is, when the day got away from me without a trip to the market and there was too much good stuff on television to want to go out to dinner. To the pantry, then, where the range pretty much consisted of veggies, beans, and rice.

Chana masala (spicy chickpeas, essentially) used to be a go-to Single Maggie meal. Quick, delicious, nutricious, and inexpensive. My first recipe was from an ancient Martha Stewart Living magazine, and like most of Martha's savory recipes, the seasoning always seemed off to me. (I know many folks swear by Martha's baking recipes, but as a non-baker, I wouldn't know.) Over the years I crafted a chana masala recipe of my own that, while better than Martha's, still never felt like more than a careless throwing-together of pantry items. And since chana masala is one of my "whatever's in the pantry" meals, I never really took the time to dig around for a recipe that I liked better. The dish, it seemed, was to remain an afterthought in every way. An inevitably delicious afterthought, but still an afterthought.

This week, however, I finished Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life*, a wonderful book full of charm and tenderness. Staring abysmally into our pantry and already wearing pajamas, I decided that it might be time to sneak in a veggie dinner, but that this time, I'd use Molly's (Brandon's, really) recipe instead of winging it. I caramelized the onions longer than I normally do; I layered the spices differently than I normally do; in essence, it was my dish, just a tad more refined. And it was delicious, of course - how could spicy chickpeas not be delicious? Piled on top of some basmati rice, served with a dollop of soft goat cheese (I didn't have yogurt on hand, which the recipe called for, and who am I to deny a swirl of goat cheese in my dinner?), topped with a garnish of fresh cilantro, and sprinkled with a dash of garam masala, it filled me up nicely.

Even better? It filled my guy up, too. I should really listen to him, I think. Probably. Maybe.

Make Orangette's Chana Masala tonight and dare your man to need meat with it.

*True testament of Molly's book: She actually makes me want to bake. I never want to bake. Martha doesn't make me want to bake.


  1. I just picked that book up at the library yesterday. Love dishes like this because they are even better the next day for lunch!

  2. Funny, when I started reading The Homemade Life and she started in with the recipes, I thought it was going to be a good mix of mains, starters and desserts. Seems however that it was 95% dessert and salad. I won't complain!

    What a sweet book it was - ! -

    Maggie, if you're looking for a new foodie book ... Check out I loved, I lost, I made spaghetti! I am about 10 pages from finishing it. Started off slow, but then I really got into it.

  3. Yumm this looks delicious. I love chick peas and they are a great source of protein

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