Read 'em and eat

Two kickin' vegetarian recipes (that won't have you missing meat) from Dirt Candy chef Amanda Cohen

Roasted golden beets, beet greens and beet pasta with creamy goat cheese and candied walnuts

Everyone makes pasta. It’s easy, fast and filling, especially in winter when we’re all carb-loading just to get through the day. But after a while, you feel like you’ll scream if you see another tomato. That’s where this recipe comes in. Don’t be intimidated—it’s much easier than it looks.

1/4 c plus 2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb fresh beet pasta (if you can’t find any, go ahead and use fettuccine)
2 medium-size beets with greens attached
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c goat cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, thyme or parsley
1/4 c store-bought candied walnuts, chopped
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
Salt for water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1 Slice off the beet greens and save, leaving a bit of stem. Toss beets with 2 tbsp olive oil, spread on a sheet tray and roast at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Start checking them after 45 minutes to make sure they don’t overcook.

2 Once the beets are cool, peel off the skins and cube. Set aside.

3 Wash beet greens thoroughly and slice into thin strips.

4 In a small bowl, whisk the cream and goat cheese until well blended.

5 In a deep, heavy pot, cook pasta in salted water for about 3 minutes if using fresh, and according to directions on the package if using dried. Drain immediately, but reserve a little of the pasta liquid just in case the sauce needs to be loosened up.

5 In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and let it cook through. Add cubed beets and 2 tsp salt. Heat them through and then add beet greens.

6 Once the beet greens have wilted, add goat-cheese mixture, lemon juice and lemon zest. Reduce heat to medium-low for about 3 minutes, just about when the sauce starts to thicken. Add fresh herbs, and add salt to taste. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken slightly.

7 Add the pasta to the skillet and toss until it’s well coated.

8 Serve in pasta bowls with the walnuts and some grated Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Cumin and wasabi pea soup

Though peas are technically not in season, it’s hard to resist something bright, lively and green in the middle of winter. Nothing fits the bill quite like peas. This soup helps me talk myself down off the ledge during bleak winter months.

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 c diced onions
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp minced ginger (peeled)
3 c vegetable stock
2 c defrosted frozen peas
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp wasabi peas

1 Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until they start to darken and you can smell them. Immediately take them off the heat and transfer to another dish. You don’t want them to keep cooking. Once they have cooled, grind them in a coffee or spice grinder and set aside.

2 Heat olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and saut until translucent. Then reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, ginger, cumin, salt and pepper. Once the garlic and ginger have cooked through, add the stock and let it come to a slight boil. Turn the heat off: and let the mixture cool until lukewarm.

3 Put the peas in a blender and pour the broth over them. Blend until slightly chunky. Do not overblend: We’re talking a textured soup here, not a smooth puree.

4 When ready to serve, reheat the soup over medium heat and serve with a sprinkling of wasabi peas on top.