Cooking for a woman can be a daunting experience, and even more so if she doesn’t eat any of your staple dishes. More and more women are showing up at your door gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free—and hungry. What do you do? The good news is that, assuming she doesn’t have too many cats, a woman who’s gluten-free, vegan, or both is probably a woman who cares about how she looks and feels. It’s a good sign. Here’s how to show her you care, too.
Asparagus and White Peach Salad
White peaches are one of the most sensual fruits on the planet. They lend themselves nicely to a salad of cooked asparagus dressed lightly with hazelnut oil and lime juice. The undeniable sophistication of the unique flavors in this dish—or even the texture alone—is well worth a second helping. Not overly filling but loaded with goodness from Mother Nature’s garden, this starter is a guaranteed date pleaser.
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 white peach, firm yet ripe
- 1 tbsp hazelnut oil (you can substitute with walnut, pistachio, or extra-virgin olive oil)
- 1 tbsp olive oil lime juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 1⁄4 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
1) Blanch the asparagus in boiling, salted water until tender to the touch, approximately 5 minutes. Cut asparagus into 2-inch lengths.
2) Split the peach in half, remove the stone, and cut each half into four pieces.
3) Make a dressing with the oils, adding just enough lime juice to give you a slightly tangy flavor, approximately 1 teaspoon. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Assemble the ingredients by tossing peach and asparagus through dressing, lay onto a plate, interlacing the basil leaves, and scatter with hazelnuts. Serve.
Sicilian Chickpea Stew
This is one of those meals that is full of flavor and texture, and the smell alone will take you to Sicily. It is relatively quick and simple and certainly won’t break the budget.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 Spanish (red) onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery, peeled, leaves removed, and diced
- 1 tsp fennel seeds tsp paprika
- Juice and zest of one orange
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 14 oz can chickpeas, drained
- 4 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
- 6 large leaves of Swiss chard, stalk removed and roughly shredded
- 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1) Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat; add the onion, carrot, celery, and fennel seeds. Cook slowly for about 15 minutes or until carrots are tender. Add paprika, orange zest and juice, and white wine and cook until liquid is almost reduced.
2) Add chickpeas, tomatoes, Swiss chard, and parsley. Finish with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Allow to sit and steep for 20 minutes before serving.
Mangoes with Dessert Wine and Black Pepper
The flavor of this dessert can’t be described as anything other than sexual! As far as gluten-free and vegan goes, I guarantee this will do the trick.
- 2 ripe mangoes (fresh figs and raspberries are great, too)
- 1⁄2 cup dessert wine
- Cracked black pepper
1) Cut the cheeks from each side of the mangoes. Remove skin and cut flesh into large chunks. Place in a bowl, douse in dessert wine, cover, and chill in the fridge for an hour before serving.
2) Before serving, add a generous amount of black pepper. Serve in a martini-style glass.