Self-titled vegetable expert and dietary problem solver Lora Krulak (who shared her recipe for a lemon ginger cayenne shot with Good. Food. Stories.) takes nutrition seriously. But not once did I ever feel like she was preaching to me as I devoured her cookbook, Veggies for Carnivores.
Lora’s the definition of a globe-trotter—having lived and traveled in Tel Aviv, Paris, New Delhi, Rome, Bali, and Byron Bay, she’s no stranger to international flavors—and her adventurous spirit is the guiding principle of Veggies for Carnivores.
From an edamame-and-pea dip spiked with umeboshi, a salty Japanese plum paste, to a ginger-lime tonic deepened by the molasses-like flavor of jaggery, an Indian sugar, she uses what she’s found through her relentless exploration of the world’s markets to bring powerful flavor to simple vegetable preparations.
And though Lora brings elements of her worldly knowledge to each dish, her recipes return to the basics: “I’ve pared my recipes to the point where you can almost cook from the same ingredients everywhere—what you can get in New York, you can get in Rome,” she says.
Though she thinks fondly of the fresh, hand-delivered tofu and curry leaves that she can only find in Bali, Lora uses ingredients like maple syrup, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar to replicate exotic tastes in home kitchens.
Her stories pull you in, and her recipes inspire. They taste unexpectedly fresh and new, even when made with dead simple ingredients and preparations. Lora returns to fundamental flavors again and again to bring out the natural best in vegetables.
She calls them her “basic building blocks,” and here are her favorites:
Lora’s Top Five Building Blocks
- olive oil
“It works in any dish and won’t overwhelm the ingredients’ natural flavors. The finished product won’t necessarily seem like an Italian dish because the olive oil will fit in, a chameleon.”
“It brings out food’s best flavors and elevates them. When I think of Paris, I think of the Le Marche Boulevard Raspail… France happens to have some of the best salts—they could be harvested a mile apart and yet taste so different.”
- red chili flakes
“Red pepper brings a lovely round flavor to food, but not too much of a kick—so people who don’t necessarily like hot food won’t notice. They’ll just tasted a deepened flavor.”
“A little bit of lemon or lime is subtle but powerful. You can use the zest for a surprising twist—it’s fresh and crisp.”
- a knife
“It speaks for itself. What are you going to do out there without a knife?”
Try out Lora’s recipe for coconut-roasted broccoli below (featuring olive oil, salt, citrus, and a knife!), and see how easy it is to incorporate her building blocks into your regular cooking repertoire.
- 1 pound trimmed broccoli florets
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- zest of 1 lime (about 1 tablespoon zest)
- freshly ground black pepper
- kosher or sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
- In a large bowl, stir the broccoli with the coconut oil, olive oil, and lime zest.
- Transfer to the baking sheet, making sure the broccoli isn't crowded or piled up so it has a chance to caramelize.
- Twist a few generous grinds of pepper over the broccoli and sprinkle with salt.
- Roast for 35-40 minutes, scraping up and tossing the broccoli with a spatula every 15 minutes or so, until the broccoli is crispy and charred at the edges.
- Toss with unsweetened flaked coconut, if desired.
- Serve warm as a side, or cool completely and refrigerate for up to 3 days.