Healthy, hearty new year made easy with meatless meal

In my home, January is a month to reset. After the king cake is enjoyed on Jan. 6 and the tree comes down, we set about clearing out the clutter both in our home and our diet. I love the abundance of the holidays – eating and decorating with much abandon. I am equally grateful for the time to embrace the starkness of the winter season by clearing shelves and serving more vegetarian recipes.

Cooking meatless can be fast and simple. Take for instance the easy Mediterranean bowls we so love. Using quick cooking quinoa or reheated, frozen brown rice as the base, we pile on garbanzo beans, feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and lemon juice for a quick and filling meal.

On days when I have more time to prepare dinner, I love a veggie sheet pan meal. My root veggie and red lentil tray bake is maxed out in flavor and nutrition. It’s warm and nourishing – just perfect for a January dinner.  

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)

Root vegetable and red lentil tray bake

My mom would proclaim that she could live on pasta alone. Funnily enough, I don’t recall pasta featuring heavily on her dinner rotation when her dining room was full of kiddos. But I totally get her. It’s how I feel about this vegetarian tray bake. I could eat it noon and night for weeks on end before I grew tired. As I don’t just cook for myself, it is a dish that makes it onto the table every few months. It will show up more often in January, and I couldn’t be more delighted.

The warm Ethiopian spices scatter on before baking and drizzle of dressings at serving, make this a meal fit to impress should you wish to go meatless for company. The quick clean up afforded by preparing the entire meal on a single sheet pan, adds to the overall joy of the dish. 

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika 
  • 1 pinch of ground cloves 
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 carrots, washed and rough cut
  • 2 turnips, peeled and rough cut
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, cored, and rough cut
  • 3 large shallots, peeled and rough cut
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or avocado oil
  • 1 cup red lentils, sorted
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Tahini dressing for garnish (see below)
  • Mixed herb and walnut pesto for garnish (see below)
  • Handful of torn mint leaves for garnish

Heat oven to 425 F. Cover large sheet pan with parchment paper. Mix dried spices and salt in bowl. Toss vegetables with oil. Sprinkle spice mix and toss to combine. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. While vegetables are roasting, heat broth to a boil. When vegetables are done roasting, remove sheet pan but leave oven on. Scatter lentils over vegetables and cover with broth - gently stirring to ensure lentils are beneath broth.

Return pan to oven and cook for 15 minutes. With oven off, allow the vegetables and lentils to rest for five minutes. 

Just before serving, drizzle dressings over and scatter mint leaves. Serve with crusty bread and additional dressings on the side.

Tahini dressing
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Add all ingredients together and combine using an immersion blender.

Mixed herb and walnut pesto
  • 1 cup mixed green herbs (I used Italian parsley, dill, and mint)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
Add all ingredients together and process until smooth using food processor or immersion blender.


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