Serious Entertaining »

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

Serious Entertaining: A Comforting Vegetarian Dinner

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, except for Macaroni and Cheese: Jennifer Olvera]

The other day I came home to find a pile of comforters on the couch, a pile of used tissues on the living room table, and a half empty box of NyQuil on the floor. There have been times in my life when I thought animate objects were talking to me, but those occasions have been few and far between since my more experimental college days. So I was surprised when the comforter started grumbling commands at me. The voice emanating from their depths didn't sound like my wife, but the content of the message quickly revealed her.

Gggrremmmmmghhhggaaannnghhhhh.

"What was that dear?" My sick wife interpretation skills are a bit rusty, but like riding a bike, they come back with usage.

Ingdsssseenggddd "gggrreemmmeeeefogoooddng."

"Ah, give you food. Got it."

mmmhmhhhunnnggghhhhy

"You're hungry? Yes, that's what I figured when you ordered me, your loving husband, to get you food."

nangnggggghhhhhhh.

"You're welcome! And yes, I agree, I am far too kind to you, but it's only because I love you."

All of this happened exactly as transcribed. I promise.

When my wife demands food, I've learned through experience that it's a good idea to feed her, lest I want to pay the consequences down the line.

So what do you feed a vegetarian with a stuffy nose in the icy cold of winter? Here are some of my favorite dishes.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Brown Butter and Thyme

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Brown Butter and Thyme

My wife is a butternut squash fiend. Luckily, this Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Brown Butter and Thyme can be made exactly as written with squash substituted for the pumpkin. It's rich, sweet, savory, rib-sticking, mouth-coating, stomach-soothing, cold-suppressing, and other adjectives as well.

Get the recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Brown Butter and Thyme »

The Best Vegetarian Chili

The Best Vegetarian Bean Chili

This isn't just great vegetarian bean chili, this is great chili period. The secret is to start with good dried chilies to form the base of the stew, then to use a mix of beans, including chickpeas roughly chopped to add both texture and body to the mix.

Get the recipe for the Best Vegetarian Chili »

Stovetop Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Stovetop Cheddar Mac and Cheese With Peppadew Peppers

Ok, so, dear, if you're reading this, I know that you are not a huge fan of the macaroni and cheese, but I'm constantly trying to convince myself that it's because you haven't tried the right macaroni and cheese, or perhaps you were not in the right frame of mind when you were eating it. Sort of like how I'm convinced that some day you will come around and admit to loving Star Wars.

This Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Peppadews just may be the recipe to convince you.

Get the recipe for Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Peppadews »

Spiked Hot Chocolate with Chili

Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate with Chili, Cinnamon, and Mezcal

What was that about not mixing NyQuil with alcohol? Ah well, I suppose I'll just have to drink all of this Spicy Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon and Mezcal by myself. Go ahead. I deserve it.

Get the recipe for Spicy Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon and Mezcal »

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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