Magazine article Sunset

Vegetarians, Rejoice: Two Top-Notch Meat-Free Main Dishes for Thanksgiving

Magazine article Sunset

Vegetarians, Rejoice: Two Top-Notch Meat-Free Main Dishes for Thanksgiving

Article excerpt

SO OFTEN AT THANKSGIVING, vegetarians have to make do with side dishes while the carnivores feast on turkey. Well, these two meat-free main courses--layered with the hearty, assertive flavors of fall in the West--are sensational enough to fill the center of any plate. (And either dish is really good with turkey too.) INFO San Francisco chef Joanne Weir is the host of Joanne Weir's Cooking Class, which airs nationally on public television. Her new cookbook is Wine Country Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2008;$23).

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Pearl couscous with fall vegetables and caramelized onions

SERVES 6 to 8 TIME 21/2 hours A fragrant, brothy pile of chewy couscous, spicy vegetables, and tangy-sweet onions: Move over, turkey!

CARAMELIZED ONIONS

  2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  1 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  3/4 cup. golden raisins
  3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1 tbsp.honey

COUSCOUS AND VEGETABLES

  3 to 4 medium carrots
  3 medium zucchini
  1 jalapeno chile
  4 small turnips
  1 1/2 lbs.butternut squash *
  3 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  1 tsp. saffron threads
  3/4 tsp. coumin
  2 cinnamon sticks
  7 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock
  2 cups pearl (also sold as Israeli) couscous
  About 1 tsp. harissa *
  1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1. Make caramelized onions: Put onions in a large frying pan with 1/2 cup water, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until softened, about 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onions are golden. Increase heat to medium-high, add olive oil, and cook, stirring, until deep golden. Meanwhile, soak raisins in hot water 15 minutes; drain.

2. Stir in spices and honey; then stir in raisins and cook, stirring, until nutty brown, about 5 minutes. …

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