Not cooking with dairy if you’ve been cooking with lots of dairy your whole life is exactly as challenging as I thought it would be. I’ve had a couple of meals out again this week that had dairy and there was some grated Parmesan left that I put on some ratatouille because I was so desperately craving cheese. Since my goal isn’t to be 100% dairy free – this is okay. The goal I set is one I’ve kept to – I haven’t bought any cheese or yogurt (or milk or butter – though I may still buy some for baking as stated in my challenge) since the end of July.
What to cook without any dairy? I’m finding you simply have to shift your focus. I don’t want to cook things that normally would have cheese in them because it makes me miss the cheese. I don’t want to do mock-cheese dishes. I don’t want to be cooking dairy free but trying to replicate dairy with soy or coconut. For the most part I want to learn to cook meals that are simply and normally dairy free.
I love Indian food. It’s true that my all-time favorite Indian dish is palak paneer. Paneer, as you know, is CHEESE. I’m so predictable. One of the other things I love best is samosas. These are usually fried and I don’t do much (any) frying in my kitchen so I decided to experiment with doing a baked samosa. For the filling I used a recipe from a book called “India’s Vegetarian Cooking” by Monisha Bharadwaj. I didn’t have frozen peas (or fresh) so I used broccoli cut small. The filling turned out really well.
For the wrapping I used a yeasted dough recipe from Deborah Madison’s cookbook “Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone” (my most used cookbook). I loved the dough – it held up really well when used like a calzone – it didn’t get soggy. Admittedly, the filling wasn’t very moist. The dough has egg in it which helps strengthen it – I’d love a similar dough that doesn’t have eggs in it but has the same strength. Anyway – Bharadwaj suggests eating samosas with either chutney or ketchup. We ran out of our chutney so I ate mine with ketchup and loved them. To serve with them I made a cucumber salad with dill and vinaigrette. Just cucumbers. This was nice and cooling next to the spicy samosas.
Hummus. I think hummus has become our go-to snack and meal food. I can’t keep up with the demand for it. It’s fast, nutritious, and satisfying. I made pita last week too. I couldn’t find my baking stone which is how I usually make them but my friend Emma reminded me that I could cook them in a cast iron skillet so I tried that. I’ve never done them stove top before. I really loved the results. Since I never make pita to stuff it – it didn’t matter that they didn’t puff in the middle for me. I rolled the pita thinner than usual (I was worried about them cooking all the way through) and they were fantastic!
One of my favorite lunches (seen in the pic above) was a pita spread with hummus and then topped with sliced avocado and some sun dried tomatoes in oil. While I was eating it I didn’t think about cheese for a second. It was so satisfying and the tomatoes and avocado made it feel indulgent.
Another dish I made that was amazing was a cous cous dish using the leftover steamed potatoes and broccoli from the samosa project and caramelizing some onion and mushrooms to add to it. Then I made a lemon, olive oil, mustard, and dill sauce to dress it with. It was amazing! I will be making it again and posting the recipe for it soon. I love dill and think it’s underused in American kitchens.
Right now I’m making my own red curry paste and I’ll tell you all about that and the Asian market adventure I went on with my friend Chelsea to find some of the ingredients in the next post. In the mean-time – tell me what dairy free meals you’ve made recently that you loved?