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vegetarian food help?

Last March, the apartment of one of my coworkers burned down, and she is still looking for a place. Since a couple apartments near me are opening up, and she looked really tired last night, I invited her over tonight – and even offered to feed her… because that’s what you do with guests, especially tired ones.

Only I forgot about it.

And now I am looking in my fridge and realising that I have been in the eating down stage of food buying and have gotten down to one bag of spinach of dubious virtue.

Did I mention that this woman is vegetarian and dieting? Did I also mention that she is a very good cook in her own right? And she is from india, so I probably don’t want to try making my amateur versions of indian food… which takes out most of my best vegetarian dishes.

I do have a grocery on the way home and the produce truck, but I need a plan.

Asian food? I can cook the spinach up and have rice – and season them with a sauce or spice that’d be appropriate. Or I could try to buy eggplant and tofu on the way home – I make a great eggplant and tofu stir fry… but that would mean stopping three different places: produce truck for the eggplant, grocery for peanut butter, and asian grocery for tofu.

Italian food? I could whip together pasta and spinach and olive oil with parmesan. … which would be great with sausage or bacon, but those are out. But I think it’s a low carb diet… maybe. I could stop by the produce truck for eggplant and squash and grill them to make sandwiches… but that takes time, and I’m likely to get distracted and burn them because my oven is tetchy.

American food? Well, I could see if the spinach is up to turning into a salad, but she usually has salads for lunch. I’d want to buy a blue cheese on the way home to crumble in.

So do any of you have any better ideas?

ETA: Suggestions in comments included – Pasta Primavera, an egg white frittata with spinach, lentil soup, chilled cucumber soup, hummus, peanut soup, and this recipe:

Here’s an adapted recipe, quick and tasty, good for two people (or more), great for vegetarians – the walnuts have protein, so it’s fairly complete, and the pasta gives it good heft. You can obviously leave the apple out, but it’s a fun, springy addition.

1/2 tablespoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 pound cavatappi, fusili, rotini, penne, or other small-sized pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound asparagus , bottom 1 inch trimmed and discarded, spears halved lengthwise if larger than 1/2 inch in diameter and cut into 1-inch lengths
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup walnuts , chopped
2 cups spinach (lightly packed), washed and dried thoroughly
3 ounces blue cheese , preferably Roquefort, crumbled
1 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 Granny Smith apple , peeled, for grating over pasta

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

2. While pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until beginning to smoke. Add asparagus, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, without stirring, until asparagus begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add walnuts and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until asparagus is tender-crisp and nuts are toasted, about 4 minutes; toss in spinach until wilted. Add asparagus mixture, cheese, vinegar, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pasta in stockpot; toss to combine. Serve immediately, grating apple over individual servings.

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