A Slow Start to This March

by Marina Chotzinoff

I have to admit I have not really been very prepared to tackle this meatless month. I had no real ideas, inspirations, much time or motivation. But lucky for us, we did have a variety of vegetables to choose from, so I got the party started and Ryan finished it. These collaborations are often the best if you are able to kill your initial visions because you set the stage for the meal and then it just arrives in front of you complete.
I had prepped some broccoli, roasted some tiny shiitakes (soy, sesame oil, mirin, garlic), cut and seeded a kabocha squash, pickled some carrots and started some rice. I had also picked up the same, wonderful, giant asparagus I had so enjoyed last spring. When I came back to the kitchen, I was presented with this lovely, healthy and satisfying plate. Ryan had simmered the squash in a delicious (and apparently secret) sauce which paired wonderfully with all the items on the plate.

The following night, having not done any grocery shopping or pondering, I pulled out the leftover veggies, coconut milk, cashews and made what turned out to be a really flavorful and great meal. I started just by simmering some veggie broth, coconut milk and a splash of soy. When it had slightly thickened, I added chopped kabocha, asparagus, the raw cashews and heated through. I also made a sweet, soy drizzle by reducing soy and mirin with a handful of shiitakes and ginger until it was a bit syrupy, then strained it. The coconut vegetables were put on top of some rice, topped with avocado, drizzled with sweet soy and finished with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro. I was reminded how incredibly satisfying and rich coconut can make a meal and made a note to grab some unsweetened shredded coconut for my favorite kale dish this week.

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