Delicious low-carb, high protein recipes from We Ate Well founder, Vasudha Viswanath
Vasudha Viswanath is the founder of We Ate Well, a community for foodies that focuses on eating mindfully and sustainably on a vegetarian diet. Her debut cookbook, The Vegetarian Reset, takes inspiration from traditional eastern and western cuisines, with 75 low-carb and high-protein recipes that are rooted in whole foods such as vegetables, legumes, spices and healthy fats.
Here are two recipes from the book that would be perfect to whip up for lunch or dinner, season by season:
I started on my paella journey after watching a chef make it with great flair by the beach. Usually made with a short-grain rice such as Spanish bomba, this paella is made with cauliflower rice, which absorbs the flavors surprisingly well. It is loosely based on the Valenciana style, fragrant with saffron and rosemary. Whether indoors or outdoors, this is a great summer party dish that’s easy to make and easy on the eyes.
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1 lb/450g cauliflower rice
1 small onion (4 oz/110g), diced
1 small red bell pepper/capsicum (4 oz/110g), sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1 tbsp minced garlic
20 green beans (4 oz/110g), ends trimmed and sliced in half
1 (14 ½-oz/400-g) can chickpeas, drained
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
Pinch of saffron
1 cup/260g canned diced tomatoes (two-thirds of a 14 ½-oz/400-g can)
1 cup/240 ml vegetable broth or water
2 marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
½ cup/80g frozen green peas
6–8 large green or black olives, sliced
2–3 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
4 lemon wedges, for garnish
Step 1. In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower rice and sauté until dry, 10–15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Step 2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan, add the onions, bell pepper, and garlic, and sauté over medium heat for 3–4 minutes. Add the green beans, chickpeas, paprika, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and saffron, reduce the heat to medium-low, and sauté for 3–4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 more minutes.
Step 3. Add the broth or water and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower rice and stir to distribute evenly. Simmer, uncovered, without stirring, until the water has mostly evaporated, 10–15 minutes.
Step 4. Scatter the artichokes, peas, olives, and rosemary on top, gently pressing down to incorporate. Do not stir. Cook, uncovered, for a few more minutes until dry and you no longer see water bubbling to the surface, (you can press down gently with a spatula to help any water bubble up).
Step 5. Optionally, turn up the heat to high for 1–2 minutes to char the bottom of the rice. This creates a crispy crust, called the soccarat, at the bottom. Remove the rosemary, garnish with parsley and lemon wedges, and serve.
Overstuffed mini peppers
These mini peppers started out modestly, filled with just the masala peanuts and cheese. Then, of course, I decided to make another filling with mushrooms and overstuff them. Definitely the right call. They make a hearty appetiser and will be much loved at any party.
2 tbsp chickpea flour
4 tsp water
2 tsp avocado oil, or other neutral oil of choice
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
½ cup/56g raw or roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews
10 oz/280g mini sweet peppers/capsicums (8–10 peppers), halved lengthwise with stem intact and seeded
2 tsp olive oil
8 oz/225g white mushrooms, finely diced or blitzed in a food processor
2 tsp minced garlic
¾ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp red chilli flakes
1 cup/112g goat cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp chopped cilantro/fresh coriander
Step 1. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F/180°C or oven to 400°F/200°C.
Step 2. Mix together the chickpea flour, water, oil, paprika, turmeric, cumin, salt, and black pepper in a bowl to make a thick marinade. Add the peanuts and mix. Try to ensure that all the peanuts get coated with the paste. Lightly spray the air fryer base with oil and spread the nut mixture evenly on the base, or spread the nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet (you can also lightly spray the parchment). Air fry for 5 minutes, tossing halfway through, or bake for 12–15 minutes, turning over halfway through (you may need to use a spoon to scrape the peanut mixture off the parchment), until golden brown. Remove from the air fryer or oven and let cool (leave the air fryer or oven on). The nut mixture will stick together. Once cool, finely chop or pulse 3–4 times in a food processor and set aside.
Step 3. Place the mini peppers on the air fryer base or spread on a baking sheet. Spray lightly with oil if desired, and air fry for 5–6 minutes or bake for 10–12 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the peppers are soft. Let cool until you can hold them, about 5 minutes.
Step 4. Meanwhile, for the chilli-garlic mushrooms, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, mushrooms, garlic, salt, and chilli flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.
Step 5. Combine the peanuts with the crumbled goat cheese. Stuff each mini pepper with the mushrooms, then top with the peanut-goat cheese mixture (press the mixture down; you want to overstuff these!). Garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately.
Use ½ cup/40g nutritional yeast instead of the goat cheese (but mix it in with the mushrooms instead of the peanuts so that it blends more easily).
The Vegetarian Reset by Vasudha Viswanath is available through Amazon. Image credits: Alexandra Shytsman