Ask a Chef: Karyn Calabrese

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Karyn Calabrese serves up tantalizing meat- and dairy-free dishes in her Chicago restaurants Karyn’s Cooked and Karyn’s Raw. A new year is all about getting unstuck from ruts, so we asked Calabrese, â??What vegetarian dish is most in need of redemption, and what’s your advice on redeeming it?â?

Most in need of a makeover is the bland vegetarian staple of steamed rice and boiled vegetables. Having been a vegan for over 30 years, there is no way I could have stuck to the diet eating bland, boring food!

I need spice, flavor, and excitement in life, including in what I eat.

At Karyn’s Cooked, I’ve created two variations on the rice and veggie staple. One is the Asian-inspired Buddha Bowl: a stir-fry of brown rice, tofu, broccoli, red peppers, zucchini, onions, cauliflower, carrots, garlic, ginger, and turmeric in a teriyaki sauce. The second I call Southern Comfort—here, the rice is spiced Cajun style with cayenne, paprika, and cumin; it’s mixed with thyme-flavored kidney beans, and served with collard greens seasoned with onion, and a side of cornbread.