Feast Without The Beast
The art of matching palate-pleasing wines with vegetarian dishes is soaring to new heights as the Meatless Monday trend sweeps into America's restaurants.
Photo courtesy Rita Maas
W hether for personal or political reasons, giving up meat one day a week is taking hold in the culinary world. It appeals to both fine-dining restaurateurs and foodies alike, with more than 200 restaurants in the United States embracing the trend.
“We’ve made Meatless Monday easy, fun and doable,” says Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of The Monday Campaigns, the nonprofit organization behind the Meatless Monday movement.
“One day a week, cut out meat from your diet for your health—and the health of our planet,” he says. “If you do, you’ll join millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, including celebs like Mario Batali, Sir Paul McCartney and Oprah.”
At The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, California—an exclusive health and wellness spa and retreat—it’s meatless all week long. “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food,” says Executive Chef Rob Dalzell. Dalzell points to research that suggests limiting meat consumption reduces the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, while also cutting your carbon footprint. But, he says, healthy fare must still invigorate and excite the palate.
“Diners should realize that vegetables are much more nuanced and interesting than meat,” says John Fraser, the Michelin award-winning chef and owner of Dovetail in New York City, which features a vegetarian and vegetable-focused, four-course prix fixe menu every Monday. While not a strict vegetarian, the concept of Meatless Monday forced Fraser to take a harder look at his own diet. “As I started to question what I ate, I realized I ate meat simply because I always had. That didn’t seem like a good enough reason.”
In addition to dreaming up delicious dishes, creating your own meat-free menu at home affords an opportunity to explore intriguing wine-and-food combinations.
“Vegetable-based dishes offer sommeliers the opportunity for unique wine pairings,” says Jaime Kaloustian, beverage director at Dovetail. “A fino Sherry really complements some vegetables otherwise considered difficult to pair, such as asparagus and Brussels sprouts.
“A textured saké works particularly well with dishes that utilize tofu as one of the main components,” she says. “Plus, tart or acidic vegetable dishes are mellowed by a sweeter style of saké. Belgian white ales are also very vegetable-friendly, they uplift salads with citrus and vinegar components.”
Dalzell takes an even simpler approach.
“In the end, wine and vegetables come from the same place,” he says. “If they grow together, they usually go together.”
Roasted Cauliflower with Chai Curry Spice, Apricots, Mint and Yogurt
Recipe courtesy John Fraser, chef at Dovetail in New York City
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
1 tablespoon chai tea
1 tablespoon Assam tea, or other black tea
½ teaspoon sugar, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head of cauliflower, broken down into
6 pieces dried apricots, medium dice
Mint, small leaves only
In a medium saucepan set over low heat, combine the Madras curry powder, chai tea and black tea, and toast for about 5 minutes. Add half of the sugar and salt, then transfer to a spice grinder and pulse the mixture into a fine powder.
Place the Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of water, olive oil and the remaining salt and sugar into a bowl and whisk together.
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Toss the cauliflower flourets in olive oil, and roast them on a sheet pan for approximately 12 minutes, or until tender and browned. They should be crispy at the edges and al dente at the core. Sprinkle the chai curry spice on top of the roasted cauliflower flourets.
To serve, spread the seasoned Greek yogurt onto four plates, and top with the cauliflower flourets. Place the diced apricots and mint around the florets. Serves 4.
wine pairing: “A few varietals would pair nicely, such as an Alsatian Riesling or a hybrid of Riesling called Müller-Thurgau,” says Jaime Kaloustian, beverage director at Dovetail. “From the wine list at Dovetail, we recommend Pacherhof’s 2011 Müller-Thurgau from Trentino-Alto Adige. This wine exhibits a rich mixture of stone fruits coupled with citrus, a fair amount of acidity and a slight hint of saline on its finish.”
Smoked Beets,Cashew Dill Cream, Orange Segments
Recipe courtesy Rob Dalzell, executive chef at The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, California
4 beets, peeled
1 cup applewood chips
½ cup raw cashews or cashew pieces, soaked 12 hours, rinsed and drained
¾ cup almond or hemp milk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon raw agave nectar or sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped dill
6 orange segments
Roast beets in a tabletop smoker (or an outdoor barbecue grill) for approximately 1 hour at 350˚F, or until you can cleanly insert a paring knife. Let cool, then dice.
Combine the cashews, milk, citrus juice, vinegar, nectar or sugar, salt and dill in a blender and process until smooth. Pour mixture into a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring with a whisk until thickened. Cool in the pan, stirring occasionally to release steam.
Scrape the cream out of the pan into a glass container with a lid. Seal and store in the refrigerator until cold.
To serve, spoon the cream onto a plate, top with the orange segments and smoked beets. Garnish with dill leaves. Serves 2.
For the smoked beet salad, Dalzell looks to Duckhorn Vineyards’s 2009 Napa Valley Sémillon. “This bottling shines a spotlight on Sémillon’s silky texture and enticing stone-fruit flavors of pear and nectarine,” says Dalzell. “The grapes were grown on a prized one-acre block of a small Napa Valley vineyard, and the wine was fermented and aged in 100% French oak. The smokiness of the beets plays off very nicely with the notes of French oak in the wine.”
Artichokes en Papillote with Potatoes, Olives and Capers
Recipe courtesy John Fraser, chef at Dovetail in New York City
12 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (keep rinds)
12 fresh baby artichokes
2 large Yukon potatoes
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon capers
4 sprigs oregano
12 tablespoons white wine, divided
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons caper juice, divided
1 teaspoon salt
Mayonnaise (optional, for dipping)
Combine half of the lemon juice, all of the lemon rinds and 2 quarts of water into a bowl. Cut off the top quarter of each artichoke. Now cut the artichoke stems, leaving about 1 inch still attached. Remove the tough outer green leaves of each artichoke, and peel off the tough green skin of the remaining stem with a vegetable peeler. Cut the cleaned artichokes in half lengthwise and place them into the water mixture, allowing them to soak for about 10 minutes.
Peel the potatoes and dice into 2-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl of cold water.
In the meantime, prepare the your dish. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Cut four 12" × 20" pieces of parchment paper, fold each in half and reopen. Divide the artichokes, potatoes, olives, capers and oregano evenly between the pieces of parchment, and place them in the middle of the crease. Refold the parchment, enclosing the food, and starting from either end of the crease, make small overlapping folds all the way around.
Before sealing your ad hoc parchment sacks tight, add 3 tablespoons of white wine, 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, 1½ tablespoons olive oil, ½ tablespoon caper juice and ¼ teaspoon salt into each indidual bag.
Place papillotes onto a sheet tray and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until
artichokes are tender. Once cooked, remove from the sheet tray from the oven and cool for 5 or 10 minutes. This will minimize the risk of burning your hands from the escaping steam when you open the bags.
Serve with a side of mayonnaise for dipping, if desired. Serves 4.
“Viognier or a Grüner Veltliner with just a bit of age are classic complements for any dish that incorporates artichokes,” says Jaime Kaloustian, beverage director at Dovetail. “Pascal Marthouret’s 2010 Condrieu exhibits scents of lavender while feeling textured and full of stone fruits on the palate. Another option would be Bründlmayer’s 2007 Alte Reben Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal. This wine exhibits harmonized notes of minerality, spice, acidity and notes of fresh green spring vegetables.”
Zucchini Fettuccini with Pesto and Cauliflower Bolognese
Recipe courtesy Rob Dalzell, executive chef The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, California
4 large zucchini or yellow squash
5 medium vine-ripened tomatoes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup pine nuts
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Trim and peel the zucchini, then use a mandolin or a vegetable peeler to thinly slice lengthwise
into wide ribbons (stop when you get to the seeds). Cut the ribbons into ¼-to-½-inch-wide
strips to make them look like fettuccine. Transfer to a colander and toss with ¾ teaspoon salt;
let drain in the sink, tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry.
Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Add ½ cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and
1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
2 large carrots, cut into ½-inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
4 cloves garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
3 pounds grated cauliflower
2 cups tomato paste
3 cups hearty red wine such as Syrah
In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan
over medium heat, coat pan with olive oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with
salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and the
mixture becomes nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Spread the grated cauliflower on to a cookie sheet and brown in a 350°F oven approximately 10
minutes, then add to pot with browned vegetable puree.
Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until
the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes. Add water to the pan until the water is
about 1 inch above the cauliflower. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to
combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don't
be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. If you try to
add all the water in the beginning, you will have boiled cauliflower sauce rather than a rich, thick
meaty sauce. Stir and taste frequently. Season with salt, if needed. Simmer for 3½ to 4 hours.
“The 2009 Black Sears Zinfandel is dark purple colored, with heady aromas of white pepper,
blackberries, and maple along with hints of bacon and wild brush; true to the Howell Mountain
terroir,” says Chef Dalzell. “The palate is bold and generous with juicy wild plums, blueberries,
and blackberries fusing with creamy oak and nutmeg. This wine is seamless, with great fruit
purity, soft tannins and a complexity that draws you in for another taste. The big fruit in the
wine will be a classic Italian red wine and pasta pairing for the vegetarian fettuccini.
Chickpea Cakes with Curry Sauce, Cucumbers, and Dill
Recipe courtesy Rob Dalzell, executive chef The Ranch at Live Oak/Malibu, California
3 cups cooked chickpeas (two 15 oz. cans, drained and rinsed)
½ cup green onions, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon minced rosemary leaves
¾ teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup homemade breadcrumbs
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
oil for shallow frying
Sea salt, to taste
1 cucumber, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a fairly uniform mixture,
but stop before it is completely pureed. You should be able to form it into a ball that holds its
shape. It should be neither crumbly nor a batter. Add liquid or breadcrumbs as necessary to find
the right moisture level.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over a medium-high flame. Take a golf-ball sized piece of dough, press it in your hands into a flattened 3-inch patty and place in the skillet. Repeat with as many as will fit comfortably. Fry on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. Remove to paper towels and finish with a little bit of sea salt.
Combine cucumbers with dill, vinegar and salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine.
3–4 cloves garlic
1–2 fresh red chilies (or substitute fresh green chilies, or 1-2 teaspoon Thai chili sauce)
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon tamarind paste (or substitute 1 tablespoon lime juice)
2½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Juice of ½ lime
Juice of 1 medium orange
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or substitute apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seed
To make the curry sauce, place all sauce ingredients together in a food processor. Process well.
Do a taste test for salt and spice. If not salty enough, add a little more soy sauce. If not spicy
enough for your taste, add more fresh chili (or chili sauce). If too sour, add a little more sugar.
Drizzle chickpea cakes with curry sauce and cucumber and dill mixture. Serves 4
“The 2010 Joel Gott Riesling has aromas of honeysuckle, stone fruit, mango and citrus,”
says Chef Dalzell. “The fruit aromas carry over to the palate, and the wine enters bright and
juicy. The balance of acidity and the low alcohol give the wine a pleasant finish. The flavor
profile of this wine will nicely balance the heat from the curry sauce and the acidity from the
Tips for going meatless:
From Chef John Fraser, Dovetail, New York City
“Make sure to have a balanced diet: Make sure iron intakes and essential vitamins in animal protein are still in your daily diet.”
“In a restaurant, ask questions of the server. [See] if they can alter some dishes to make them vegetarian as opposed to ordering the ‘veg pasta’ every time.”
“Eat seasonally and locally—your palate will become more excitable and less fatigued if you eat with the seasons.”
“Fall in love with tofu.”
From Executive Chef Rob Dalzell, The Ranch at Live Oak, Malibu, California
“Puree your produce. Add body to soups and sauces with pureed vegetables instead of heavy cream, evaporated milk, butter or cheese. This move will also add fiber and nutrients to your dish for very few calories.”
“Squeeze on the citrus. To add a powerful flavor punch with minimal added calories, use citrus on steamed veggies instead of butter or over a salad instead of a dressing. It’s even great on fruit salad in place of sugar and adds some zip when squeezed onto a pasta salad.
Don’t forget to use the flavorful zest of citrus fruits as well! Wash a lemon, orange or lime, then use a zester or grater to add the zest to dishes such as baked seafood.”
“Sauté—the skinny way! A couple of tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable broth can be used instead of oil or butter in your stir-fry or as the basis for a sauce. This method will add a nice flavor to your dish as well as a little moisture—and you'll save calories to use elsewhere.”
Celebrities on going vegetarian (occasionally)
Ming Tsai, Chef, Author and Owner of Blue Ginger in Boston
“People often think they have to sacrifice something when going Meatless Monday. Not so with my Wok-Stirred Vegetables and Rice Noodle Salad. It's easy, fast and loaded with flavor. The combination of crisp wok-cooked vegetables with warm succulent noodles makes it incredibly satisfying.”
Wok-Stirred Vegetables and Rice Noodle Salad
Recipe courtesy Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy by Ming Tsai with Arthur Boehm (Kyle Books, 2012)
8 ounces rice stick noodles
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
½ head white cabbage, halved, cored and cut into ½-inch dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into ½-inch dice
2 cups shredded carrots
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ cup packed basil leaves, cut into ¼-inch strips
Place the noodles in a large bowl and fill it with hot water to cover. When the noodles have softened, after about 15 minutes, drain, return to the bowl and set aside.
Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When
the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger and scallion whites and stir-fry until aromatic,
about 30 seconds. Add the cabbage and stir-fry until wilted, about 1 minute. Season
with salt and pepper, add the peppers and carrots, and toss. Add 2 tablespoons of
the soy sauce and the vinegar, toss, remove from the heat, and adjust the seasoning
with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Add half of the vegetables, the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the sesame
oil and basil to the noodles. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the noodle mixture to a large serving platter, top with the remaining
vegetables and garnish with the scallion greens. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
“Meatless Mondays are the perfect way to start the week: thinking about what is healthier for you and your family; by making a small change that has huge repercussions not only in our own lives but in the world that surrounds us. My own Meatless Monday tradition has become so beloved it lasts almost all week...The day starts very early, with a bowl of this granola, topped with a handful of berries or pomegranate seeds ... A bit early to pair wine with, but the perfect fresh start to the week.”
Seeds of Power Granola
Recipe courtesy The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David (Grand Central Publishing, 2010)
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup ground flax seed meal
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced raw almonds
1 cup un-sweetened coconut “chips” (or shredded)
¾ cup maple syrup
½ cup olive or nut oil
½ teaspoon salt
Heat your oven to 325ºF. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, toss with your hands until all the seeds and nuts are well combined. Spread the granola on an oiled baking sheet.
Place the sheet into the middle of the oven, check after 15 minutes, if the edges are getting too dark toss gently with a spoon, then bake for another 15 minutes or until golden and toasty. Let the granola cool. Mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
Before baking, add a little spice such as a teaspoon of vanilla, cinnamon or ginger.
After baking, toss in dried fruit like cherries, raisins or chopped apples.
Add even more power with a cup of chia, sesame or hemp seeds.
Tips from David: “This recipe uses some of the healthiest nuts and seeds available, all to give you a superpower leap for your day. Try to resist the temptation to stir until it is cool, that with leave you with more clusters and if you listen you will hear it is quite chatty, it snaps and squeaks and purrs as it cools. Serve with milk or yogurt and a few berries, or grab by the handful, straight out of the jar.”
“Whenever I've overindulged on the weekend, I love to balance it all out by making a dish with
chickpeas on Meatless Monday. High in fiber and protein, chickpeas are a great and filling
ingredient and I love to add tomatoes and some spices to this fantastic warm and comforting
Warm Chickpea and Tomato Salad
Recipe courtesy MarcusSamuelsson.com
1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon berbere or chili spices
½ cup chickpea flour
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup water
1 cup canned chickpeas, washed and drained
2 tomatoes, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
½ head of lettuce, shredded
1 small cucumber
4 pita pockets
Sauté olive oil, onion and garlic together in a medium saucepan for 3 minutes. Add berbere, chickpea flour and lemon zest, and stir for few minutes till the mixture comes together. Add tomato juice and 1 cup water and let it simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, fresh tomatoes and lemon juice and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in lemon zest and fresh parsley. Cool to room temperature. To serve, add half of the shredded lettuce to a pita pocket along with a two-inch piece of cucumber and a sprinkling of fresh tomatoes. Top with a few spoonfuls of the cooled chickpea mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 4.