It takes a tough mom to cook tender-lovin' great tasting vegetarian food. And Vicki Schultz Hernandez of Minneapolis has been at it since day one.

"I've been a vegetarian since grade school [30 years], with a few slips," she writes. "When pregnant with my first child, I tried a steak but then realized I wasn't missing anything and that I feel better when not eating meat. I am always looking for protein-rich, animal-free, one-dish meals for my family. I love healthy food and dishes that use a lot of spices, but that don't require a lot of prep time." These days, Vicki cooks for her family (kids ages 6 and 8), neighbors and friends.

Today's recipe fits the bill. It's easy, tastes better when made ahead so that the seasonings marry and it's nutritious and low in calories. Plus, Vicki notes, it includes lovely, golden saffron.

"Saffron threads are hand-picked from the center of the purple crocus [only 3 per flower]; it takes 13,000 strands to make just one ounce," she says, enriching the tasty dish with interesting facts. "Serve it with a loaf of crusty French bread and a bottle of Argentinean malbec," she recommends. Good stuff all around.

What's your signature dish? Please send your recipes, along with stories, to Beth Dooley at bdirish@earthlink.net or by mail to Star Tribune, Taste / One Great Dish, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. All letters, stories and recipe submissions become the property of Beth Dooley.