Hello, Five Weeknight Dishers! Nikita Richardson here. I’m a Food editor at The Times, and, this week, I’m stepping in for Emily as she enjoys a much-needed respite from running an entire newspaper section. What qualifies me to cover for her? Well, certainly my very low-key approach to cooking. I like to go all out for friends and family, but, for myself, I keep it simple and, in doing so, I usually end up going vegetarian.
The appeal of eating less meat has only grown since I started working on The Veggie, Tejal Rao’s vegetarian newsletter. Every week, I’m reminded that we have such a wealth of meatless recipes in The New York Times Cooking database, and so many of them are well suited for weeknights.
Here are just a few highlights from The Veggie’s short but exciting history: Mushrooms are the Beyoncé of vegetarian food! Tofu, chickpeas and lentils are protein powerhouses! Tejal’s dad’s granola recipe! The list goes on. Below are a small but hopefully inspiring selection of vegetable-centric recipes that I think are worth saving for the week ahead.
When a new tofu recipe from Yewande Komolafe drops, run, don’t walk. She has a way with those little soy blocks, and this new recipe for rich coconut milk broth with spicy red curry paste and silken tofu is no exception. She calls this one of her winter restoratives, and there’s no denying you’ll feel like a new person once you get to the bottom of the bowl.
I love contrasting textures in my food — warm chocolate chip cookies with coffee ice cream on top, please — and this Melissa Clark recipe from a few weeks ago strikes that balance. Crunchy tofu is a perfect foil to cherry tomatoes, red onions and garlic cloves softened in the searing heat of a 400-degree oven.
Take it from a Georgia native, a lot of Southern cooking is about preserving tradition. I respect that, but I also love when chefs dare to mess with the classics. This recipe from Vallery Lomas for a speedy jambalaya is a great example, as it works really well with vegan sausage, or, I suspect, without any meat substitutes at all. And that you can whip it up in 35 minutes? Even better.
It’s always pasta season, but especially so in the colder months. If you’re a meat eater who worries that a vegetarian meal won’t satisfy, know that’s never the case with pasta. This Genevieve Ko recipe goes just one or two steps beyond the typical pesto pasta with the delightful addition of broccoli (double the vegetables!) and earthy walnuts (texture!). And please don’t skimp on the good Parm.