Vegan lunches can -- and should -- be a lot more interesting than bare salads or carrot sticks and hummus. New Veganism columnist Gena Hamshaw will be sharing inspiration for midday meals that stave off both hunger and boredom.
Today: A hearty, sautéed vegan lunch, for when you want a plateful of vegetables but you're too cold to think about salad.
I love to cook any and all things vegan, but my greatest penchant has always been for salad. I love salads for their endless variety, color, and texture. Like many people, though, I find that cool, crunchy greens are considerably less appealing in the winter than they are during summer months.
Simple green skillets are my wintertime answer to the lunchtime salad bowl. I begin by sautéing vegetables (like mushrooms, fennel, and shredded carrots or beets) in a touch of olive oil. I then typically add something hearty, like baked and cubed sweet potato, cooked legumes, or cooked grains (quinoa and rice are particularly good). When everything is warm, I’ll add a splash of water or broth, and a heaping amount of chopped greens. I cook until the greens are just wilted; sometimes I top them with nuts, seeds, or avocado. It’s not necessary to heat this dish as thoroughly as you would a stir fry; part of what makes it salad-y is that you can cook the vegetables only gently, letting them retain their crunch and freshness, but also making them palatable when it’s freezing outside.
In this skillet plate, I lightly sautéed some fennel, added brown lentils, and then threw in a heaping amount of kale and collards at the end. Fresh orange sections made a perfect topping, and helped to keep the dish light and bright -- a nice contrast to gray skies outside.
Photo by Gena Hamshaw