Savory Rhubarb, and Tofu Two Ways

I’m used to rhubarb baked into cobblers, crisps and crumbles, but it also shines when it’s treated as a savory ingredient, like in Naz Deravian’s khoresh rivas, a vegetarian version of the big, comforting spring stew often made with lamb. Here, rhubarb cooks down on a bed of beans simmered with fried parsley and mint, going soft and tender in the steam of the pot, but keeping its color and glorious tang.

This isn’t a quick dish — it takes some time to prep and fry the parsley and mint, and to fry the onions and simmer the beans. But the result is stunning, more like a Statement Bean, a Celebration Bean, a Party Bean! And if you’re using dried beans instead of canned, you can use two cups of that cooking water to give the braise even more depth.

If you want a faster meal, and you like the softly sweet and savory flavors of stir-fried tomato and eggs, I want to introduce you to Hetty McKinnon’s tofu and tomato egg drop soup.

The soup is quick, and you make it by seasoning a can of crushed tomatoes with fried scallions and ginger, ketchup, and sesame oil. While the cut tofu is bobbing in there, drizzle in some beaten eggs. It’s substantial enough for a hefty, end-of-the-day meal, warm and cozy and full of protein. Though if you happen to work from home, it could be a really nice lunch to make for yourself on a dreary day (it comes together in just 15 minutes).

Here’s another excellent lunch: fried tofu with mixed grains. Samin Nosrat, who wrote about how she made this regularly in a co-working space, recently told me that it’s still her favorite way to cook tofu. The dish is so spare, and the ingredient list so short, you might be suspicious at first! But soaking medium-firm tofu in liquid aminos, then frying it in coconut oil boosts its flavor and makes the most of its custardlike texture. For something so basic, it’s unexpectedly luxurious.

Go to the recipe.

In case you missed it, earlier this week, The Veggie hosted its first virtual event (watch the playback here). The New York Times Food editor Emily Weinstein, and the author and chef Samin Nosrat, both joined me to talk about the joys of vegetarian home cooking. Readers dropped in live to ask questions, and I mentioned a few books while we were chatting:

  • “Classic Indian Vegetarian Cookery” by Julie Sahni. This came up when a reader wanted to know why her homemade saag paneer didn’t live up to restaurant versions. Sahni’s version is less about cream and butter, which restaurants often lean on, and more about the texture and seasoning of the greens, with the luxuriousness coming from the fried paneer itself (though you can drizzle ghee all over the top if you want it extra buttery).

  • “East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes From Bangalore to Beijing” by Meera Sodha. This is a really great collection of recipes from one of my favorite cooks and recipe writers. The curries and noodle dishes are particularly rewarding, and I love how Sodha has quick ideas for cooking from pantry staples, too.

  • “Veggie Burgers Every Which Way” by Lukas Volger. This came up because a reader was on a veggie-burger journey, learning to make one that could stand up to the grill. There are so many things to think about: drying out ingredients as much as possible before making the patty, playing with the size and binder. This is the book for anyone looking to experiment and achieve something very specific with their patties, but it’s also a great general resource for ideas.

Thanks for reading The Veggie. Quick note: Last week, my editor Tanya Sichynsky stepped in to answer reader questions, including one about avoiding nightshades, and accidentally pointed toward a gnocchi recipe made with potatoes (a nightshade).

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