Cozy Vegetarian Dishes for Cold Nights

Vegetarian Pairings PA Wines

Many classic cold-weather dishes revolve around a hunk of meat cooked low and slow. And while those pots of braised goodness certainly scream winter, so do these warm, hearty vegetarian dishes.

Whether you don’t eat meat, are trying to eat less of it, are serving veggie guests, or are just looking to try something new, these comforting meals are sure to please all eaters. And do you know what’s even more pleasing? A perfectly paired glass of Pennsylvania wine.

Cauliflower Gratin

The key to this dish is browning the chopped cauliflower on a sheet pan to add sweetness and roasted notes, before mixing it with your bechamel and rebaking. The other key is a crispy layer of buttery breadcrumbs on top. Oh wait, one more key! Mix in a teaspoon of lemon zest as well. To make this creamy marvel into a full meal, add par-cooked noodles before the final bake. Choose a wine with plenty of acidity to bring out that lemon zest — Grüner Veltliner will do the trick and provide a crisp counterpoint to all that creaminess.

Veggie Chili

Every home cook should have a veggie chili recipe in their back pocket — it’s the ultimate pantry meal. Throw whatever beans you have on hand (pinto, black, kidney) into the pot along with onions, powdered or dried chilis, and crushed tomatoes. Here’s a quick hack you can employ to ramp up the umami notes: miso. Just drop in a spoonful and witness the magic. Serve your chili with sour cream, chopped scallions, shredded cheddar, fluffy rice, and a fruity red. Chambourcin has that wonderful combination of brightness and berry notes — plus a backbone of earthiness — to will bring out the rich savoriness of the bowl.

Saag Paneer

This Indian takeout staple is surprisingly easy to prepare at home, and it’s a great way to use up a bunch of wilting greens. (Spinach is traditional, but kale, mizuna, and chard all work.) Also, if you can’t get your hands on paneer, the firm, fresh, and sliceable cheese, then you can sub in salty feta or even tofu. The rest of the flavor comes from spices including ginger, garlic, cumin, and cardamom. You’ll want a wine with a bit of residual sugar to bring out the natural sweetness in the cheese while also being bold enough to stand up to the spices. An off-dry Vidal Blanc, with its tropical notes and high acidity, will fit the bill.

Pad See Ew

Like the previous dishes, this one is warm, filling, and vegetarian. But unlike the options above, it’s FAST. Like 15 minutes fast. For this Thai favorite, stir fry rice noodles (wide and flat are the best option, but use what you have) with plenty of broccoli, broccolini, Chinese broccoli, or bok choy, and then quickly scramble an egg using a space you’ve cleared in the pan. Finish it with a simple mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar; for the restaurant-level version, use a combination of dark soy sauce and light soy sauce. Make sure you crank the heat and get a bit of sugary char on those noodles. This dish is not only meatless, but it’s also great for kids and spicy-food haters. Open a bottle of Cabernet Franc to sip alongside your meal — the earthiness of the wine will contrast with the slight sweetness of the dish.

Braised Celery

Celery is often overlooked in the United States, relegated to garnish status in stuffings, soups, and salads. But in Italy, they know how special this vegetable can be. One beloved approach involves braising big chunks of celery with onion, olive oil, and high-quality canned tomatoes. The structural strength of the stalks will help keep them together during the long, slow cook. In the end, this is celery as you’ve never seen it: creamy and sweet. Serve this dish with plenty of crusty bread and a bottle of Lemberger. With its dark color, medium tannins, and high acidity, this wine will play up the brightness of the sauce.