Build A Meal 2 – Three-Course Veggieful

Okay, there’s quite a bit of chopping going into this meal, but it’s worth the taste of tons of fresh vegetables.


Tomato Vegetable Soup

Main Course

Creamy Asparagus Penne


Masoor Dhal Salad

Dessert (pick one)

Let’s go with the simple and healthy here… fruit salad.  You want to be a little bit unhealthy?  Add a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream or mascarpone cheese creamed with a little honey and lemon zest.


For something quick and warm, try out my Sweet Pastry Bites.


Creamy Asparagus Penne


1 lb penne

1 bunch asparagus, tough parts discarded, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 medium onion, finely diced

3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups skim milk

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 to 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper to taste


1.  Boil water for the pasta.  Add salt to water.

2.  While water is reaching a boil, heat the butter in a large saucepan.  Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is just becoming translucent and the garlic is fragrant.  Add the fresh herbs.  Add the flour and mix well.  Cook until the raw flour smell is gone, about 2 minutes.

3.  Add the milk slowly to the sauce base, mixing well and ensuring no lumps form.  Cook on low to medium heat, stirring frequently, until the milk is heated through and the sauce begins to thicken.  Add salt and pepper and crushed red pepper.  Continue cooking until sauce has thickened.  Add peas and remove from heat.

4.  While the sauce is thickening, the water should have reached a boil.  Add the pasta and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is not quite done.  Add the asparagus and continue cooking until both asparagus and pasta are cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Drain.

5.  Add the sauce to the pasta and toss well to coat.  Serve warm.

Carrot Lentil Tahini Soup


1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

4 to 5 large carrots, diced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups red lentils (masoor dhal)

1 quart vegetable stock or water

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp tahini (sesame) paste

Salt & pepper to taste


1.  Saute onions, celery and carrots in oil until just starting to soften.  Add lentils, spices, herbs and vegetable stock.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are soft and the carrots cooked through (about 30 minutes).

2.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the cilantro and tahini paste.  Puree using an immersion blender or, in batches, in a blender.

3.  Return to heat.  Adjust seasonings.  Bring to a simmer.  Serve hot, garnished with some more fresh cilantro.

Taro Tapioca Fritters

Taro root = colacassia = sepankazhangu = arbi/arvi

Tapioca = javvarisi = sabudhana

Here’s my take on the traditional sabudhana vada/javvarisi vadai, only with taro root instead of potatoes.  These are a bit heavier than the traditional recipe due to the consistency of the taro root, but nice and crunchy on the outside and smooth and soft on the inside.  We’re pan frying instead of deep frying, so we’ll save a bit on oil and oil calories, and oil splashing and other oil-related accidents.


2 or 3 taro roots, cooked, peeled and mashed (can be steamed, pressure cooked or boiled)

1/4 cup tapioca pearls, soaked at least 2 hours and drained

1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

1 small onion, finely diced

1 to 3 green chillies, minced (according to your heat preference)

5 or 6 curry leaves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp rice flour

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp salt

Pinch of hing

Canola or vegetable oil (enough for shallow pan frying)


1.  Mix all of the ingredients except the oil in a bowl.  If the mixture feels too wet, add a little extra rice flour to bring it together.  Form 2-inch wide and 3/4-inch thick patties.

2.  In a deep frying pan, heat 1/4 inch deep oil until a drop of water splutters when it hits the surface.  Reduce heat to medium.  Working in batches, fry the patties until golden brown on each side (about 5 minutes per side).  Remove to a plate covered with paper towels to absorb excess oil.  Pat the tops with a paper towel to pick up more oil.  Serve warm with the chutney or hot sauce of your choosing, or just eat them plain.