Vegetarian Recipes

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Gajar Halva (Indian Carrot Halwa Dessert) Recipe

Halva means sweet in Arabic. India is home to many varieties of halva, and it can be found at almost all of our family gatherings.

This particular type is made with carrots. Lulu's aunt taught me how to make it. The base is a dense, sweet confection made of flour such as cream of wheat or garbanzo flour, nut butter such as tahini, or lentils like mung beans. My friend Carole, who is by the way the editor of the site, told me she loves this kind. Here's her feedback about carrot halva:

"Your halva was smoother [than the one I get at the restaurant], and at the same time more flavorful but more subtle, too. We loved it. I can't wait to see the recipe and what's involved. I have a sneaky feeling there's going to be more butter than I want to know about!"

I told Carole: "Well, don't be afraid, there are only two tablespoons of ghee". I prefer making it at home because the gajar halva found at restaurants tends to be too thin and cloyingly sweet. I suspect that the extra sweetness is used to conceal the lack of richness that one would expect from real gajar halva.

Gajar halva, like some Vietnamese desserts, is not always the most glamourous-looking sweet, but it is delicious. If you've never had it before, try making some at home. You will love it.


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Creamy Pearl Onion Gratin (Gratin d'Oignons Perles a la Creme) Recipe

Making a gratin d'oignons perlés à la crème requires two steps. First, braise the onions the way you would to cook pearl onion confit, then finish them in the oven as a gratin.

The pearl onion gratin is composed of pearl onions, crème fraîche, thyme, red chili flakes, nutmeg and parmesan. It's a nice accompaniment to poultry. I served it with the roasted pheasant stuffed with sage and Granny Smith apples I made for my 4-course French meal in honor of the movie "Julie and Julia".

One trick to making this dish look great is to use the right serving dish.  I especially like these individual serving dishes, which I got from Staub

Creamy Parmesan Pearl Onion Gratin with Picture


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Navets Persilles (Roasted  Turnips in Tarragon Parsley Butter) Recipe

Navets persillés are roasted  turnips in curly parsley butter. Roasting vegetables brings out great flavors and the addition of butter brings a nutty aroma.

Curly parsley and tarragon make the dish pop with a bright green color. I added tarragon for a nice licorice flavor. 

Navets persillés are a nice accompaniment to any kind of meat. I served them with the pheasant I made for my 4-course French meal in honor of the movie "Julie and Julia".

In France, every meal is served with a piece of bread on the side, generally sliced baguette. The meal is usually composed of a salad, a meat or fish accompanied by a vegetable and the essential piece of baguette. No other carb is necessary.


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Canapes au Camembert (Camembert Tartlet Shells) Recipe

Canapés au camembert are the perfect palate teasers. They have a flaky, buttery shell and are covered with a camembert sauce mornay, which is béchamel and some cheese. The key to a good homogenous spread is a ripe, gooey, aged cheese. The addition of mustard and a hint of red chili pepper make it slightly piquant.

You can serve them as appetizers, as a first course accompanied with a salad or bake in a large tart pan and serve it as a main course for a light lunch.

Making this dish took me back to my time in Paris just before I got married. I was working non-stop, and after work, my boss would often take me for dinner to a brasserie. We would always get some amuse-gueules to start our meal. Amuse, in French, means entertainment in a playful, casual way, and gueule is slang for mouth. Those wonderful appetizers were a perfect way to whet the appetite before a nice meaty main course. Amuse-bouches, like the canapés au camembert I made today, are just a more sophisticated name for the fare I had so often in those brasseries.


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Pissaladiere Nicoise Vegetarienne (Vegetarian Mediterranean-Style Onion Tarts) Recipe

In France, you can't start a proper meal without an appetizer. This recipe marks the start to my 4-course "French meal" in honor of the opening of the movie called "Julie and Julia".  I thought about making mini quiches, but I decided against it because of the vegetarians in the house who find them a bit eggy. I settled on making Pissaladière niçoise.

Pissala what, you say? Pissaladière niçoise is named after the city of Nice, located on the Mediterranean coast in southern France. The dish is composed of all the typical ingredients from the region such as black olives, onions, garlic and a bouquet garni (see tips). You can either use pizza dough or pastry dough. The only change I made is that I substituted nori for the anchovies. I know it's not traditional but none of the vegetarians in our house like anchovies. If you don't have a problem with them by all means, use them instead. They add additional flavor and complexity.


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