Delicious One-Pot Wonders With Big Flavor

Maafé, chili, gumbo and more dishes brimming with coziness and comfort.

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By Tejal Rao

After reading Yewande Komolafe’s most recent column — the diary of a truly perfect fall day with her daughter in Brooklyn — I started daydreaming about getting a pot of maafé going, scenting my kitchen with sizzling garlic and ginger and simmering tomatoes and peanut butter.

Yewande makes the comforting Senegalese stew with plantains, squash, carrots and heaps of greens, but always adapts it to whatever ingredients she has around — parsnips, turnips, mushrooms, pumpkin, potatoes. If you don’t already have dawadawa, the fermented locust bean product, do a quick search for a local Senegalese food shop, or maybe a West African grocery store, to find it.

But listen, don’t skip the recipe if you can’t! Yewande suggests fermented black beans or fish sauce (a vegan fish sauce will work) as a substitution. These ingredients aren’t always interchangeable, but there are so many ways to tap into serious, savory depth in vegetarian cooking, and it’s practical to have a few different techniques up your sleeve! When I made Yewande’s glorious maafé, I turned to doenjang, the deeply savory Korean soybean paste with its own instrumental funk.

Doenjang, if you have it, is also a key ingredient in Eric Kim’s beans and greens, which begins with browned onions and scallions — another way to layer flavor. And J. Kenji López-Alt builds complexity in his vegan chili with three kinds of chiles, as well a touch of soy sauce, cider vinegar and a splash of whiskey. Vallery Lomas makes her vegetarian gumbo with a cinnamon-colored roux — the deeply toasted flour both seasons and thickens the dish — and then sweats the vegetables in Old Bay and Creole seasonings.

Vegetable Maafé

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Vegan Chili

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Vegetarian Gumbo

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One More Thing

It’s a bit too soon for me to start thinking about Thanksgiving — I’ll write a menu the week before — but my most on-top-of-it friend has already started holiday planning with her annual color-coded Excel spreadsheet to organize recipes, shopping and prep.

No matter where you stand on getting ahead, my colleagues have built a beautiful hub for Thanksgiving recipes with dedicated vegetarian and vegan sections, and it will be continuously updated with more ideas as we get closer to the holiday.

In next week’s Veggie, expect tips and new recipes from Alexa Weibel, a New York Times Cooking editor and recipe developer, on how to make a wonderful vegetarian holiday menu.

Thanks so much for reading The Veggie! 🌽

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