Dinner for 12: The Meat Hangover

One of the risks you take in setting few rules in a dinner co-op is the potential for too much of the same thing to be eaten in a given week. Surprisingly, we haven't encountered this problem often. But last week was one of those rare times: three nights of heavy meat-eating (all delicious, mind you, but whoa!). As expected the pendulum swung hard. Call it the meat hangover. This week featured a roster of (almost) fully vegan meals completely different from each other in cuisines and flavors.

This beauty does not deserve the name "Turnip Dip"

We'll call it terrine de navet, oui?

Russian red lentil soup

My meal this week included an apricot-kissed red lentil soup served with a hearty turnip-herb dip. "Dip" doesn't quite do this justice; it's more of a savory rich vegetable terrine or pate that you slice thickly and spread on the crunchiest cracker you can find. I think some people describe it as having umami, whixh means it leaves your mouth really happy. I also say someone should change the name because "turnip dip" sounds like a euphemistic insult. When I lived in Montreal, I loved the veggie pate made by a local vegetarian chain resturant. This recipe is the closest I have ever come to replicating that delicious pate in my kitchen. We added a small platter of pickles, olives, crudites and a wedge of creamy Delice de Bourgogne as accompaniment.

Russian Red Lentil Soup for 12

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
3 cups dried red lentils
12 cups of homemade chicken stock (NOTE: I just used veggie chicken-flavored base here)
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried thyme
Yogurt (for topping soup)
fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients except yogurt and fresh mint (if using) in a crock pot. Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer 3-4 hours. NOTE: I actually just simmered overnight and it worked out great. Serve up a bowl with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinking of chopped mint.

Hearty Turnip Herb Dip
(Adapted from the recipe in From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh, Seasonal Produce)

3 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup vegetable oil (I ran out so it was a mix of veg and olive oil)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups sunflower seeds
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups nutritional yeast
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp nutmeg
2.5 cups boiling water
4 cups shredded turnips
1 1/2 cups shredded onion
2 cups shredded carrot
9 bay leaves


  1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease three 9x9" baking dishes (You can improvise here, I was making servings for three families). 
  2. Combine the first 7 ingredients and stir well.
  3. Stir in spices and boiling water.
  4. Add vegetables and stir until well-combined.
  5. Pour mixture into the baking dishes and press 3 bay leaves into the top of each dish. 
  6. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 1 hour.
  7. Serve on rye crackers (Ryvita or a similar crispy kind).Itgets firmer and more terrine-like on the second day.

You can improvise with any number of root vegetables including potatoes, beets, turnips and carrots or anything you root out of the deep corners of your fridge, really.

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