Singh, 48, who is originally from Delhi, India, is married with a 25-year-old daughter and is a lifelong vegetarian.
Do you cook for your family alone?
In addition to cooking every day from scratch for family, I volunteer to cook at the Science of Spirituality Meditation Center in Amityville and also for a local senior center.
What inspires you to cook?
I like the real flavor of vegetables to come through. My husband and daughter are not into spicy food, but I definitely want the vegetables to be exciting.
How would you entice meat lovers to eat vegetarian more often?
All food should have flavor. I am a fan of tangy flavors, and also add tomatoes and ginger to perk up dishes.
What is your cooking style?
Quick. When my husband and daughter want something to eat, they want it right then. You just have to do some planning to always have things on hand. Stir-frying is a good, quick way to cook. And I like soup anytime of year. To make a soup more substantial, you can add such things as brown rice, pasta or a grain like couscous. And try to include different textures to make it more interesting.
What should a cook keep in the pantry or fridge?
Have fresh ginger and garlic in your refrigerator, tomatoes and potatoes in your pantry, and grains and pastas as well to make vegetarian dishes seem more substantial and less like side dishes.
What things are exciting to you in the grocery store or at the farmers market?
Fruits are the exciting things for me at this time of year. I like watermelon first thing in the morning. Cantaloupe is what my daughter likes. We make a lot of smoothies and fresh juices.
HEARTY VEGETABLE SOUP
1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
1/4 cup yellow lentils
2 medium carrots (grated)
1 teaspoon butter (optional)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup cubed tofu (drained)
1. Toast cumin seeds in a dry, nonstick pan on low-to-medium heat until they are dark brown but not burned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Allow to cool and then grind in a spice grinder or crush with a mortar and pestle.
2. Puree tomatoes and ginger in a blender, then add to a soup pot or other pot with a heavy bottom and high sides.
3. Add lentils, carrots and butter, along with 5 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 to 13 minutes. Add mushrooms and simmer an additional 2 minutes. Add broccoli, followed by spinach and celery, salt and pepper. Simmer an additional 3 minutes.
4. Add cumin powder to the pot, followed by the tofu. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 3 minutes before serving.
5. Serve the soup hot with a cooked grain -- quinoa, barley, rice -- or pasta of your choice placed in the bottom of the bowl and the soup ladled over it. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
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