Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On the menu...

I haven't written much about what we've been eating lately, but I've made a few good culinary discoveries of late.

First: Goat cheese, when mixed with hot pasta, veggies, and some fresh herbs and garlic, makes a wonderful sauce! The heat of the pasta should melt the cheese for a nice thick, creamy sauce. If the cheese is too thick, add some of the hot pasta boiling water to thin it a bit. We had this last night, using only basil (which smelled so good I almost ate all of it before it ever hit the pan), grape tomatoes, and sqaush (lightly sauteed first). I have a picky eater on my hands, so when he asked for a second serving I knew I'd done well! Credit for inspiration on this one goes to "Serving Up the Harvest" by Andrea Chesman.

Part of the aforementioned pickiness is a strong aversion to salad. This is balanced by a fierce love of any food that is Indian. So I thought I'd see which side of his personality would win by making this curried chick pea salad - the Indian food lover totally beat up the salad hater! Another victory! (Hint - my picky eater hates anything sweet in his meals, but the raisins really do add a nice touch in this dish. I used the golden raisins rather than the traditional dark ones...they blend right in with the chick peas and I don't even think he realized they were in there!)

I mention this salad not only because I am very proud that I have finally made a salad that somebody in this house besides myself will eat, but because it's a great example of how I've learned that recipes are suggestions, not laws. In this recipe, I substituted lemon juice for the lime, skipped the red peppers altogether, and used green onions instead of red. I also don't buy curry powder (this is sort of a made up thing, it's really just a combination of other spices) so I threw in some ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, and a touch of red chili and turmeric for good measure. Really, my recipe was fairly different, on paper, than what the site instructed - but the end product, I'd venture to guess, was substantially similar. What's more important, it was really good!

These culinary triumphs aside, what I'm surprised to find in the past few weeks is that I've run through my vegetarian repertoire, and since deciding to cut out most meat at home, I am scrambling to find more good vegetarian main course recipes. I guess I'd never realized how cooking meat once or twice a week really gave me a lot more variety of choice in my menu planning. I don't miss the meat itself, I miss the options it gave me in deciding what to cook, if that makes sense.

Breakfast and lunch are easy enough - I've never really eaten a lot of meat at breakfast anyway, and lunch is easy enough to eat salads with lots of nice eggs, nuts, and beans thrown in to make sure I'm getting enough protein so my mom won't worry about me. Dinner is where I'm struggling, though. I like a fair amount of variety in my diet, and I've made all the chili, tacos, eggplant parmesan, calzones, bean soups, and fritatta recipes that I know recently and feel like I've hit a bit of a wall.

I guess this is where I should confess I'm a bit picky too. When I eat meatless meals, I don't like to feel like I'm eating a large portion of a dish that should really be a side. I also don't like meat substitutes. Soy products really bother my stomach. So that leaves me with lentil or pea/bean based meals, for the most part.

So I need your help! My sister is sending along a recipe for black bean fritters, which sound awesome, but I'd like some other suggestions too. Please share! What is your favorite vegetarian main dish recipe that doesn't contain tofu? I'd love some creative ideas! Do you have a recipe laying around that you've been wanting to try but haven't found time for yet? Let me know...I'll test it out for you!

If you'd like to leave a comment with your favorite or just something you're curious to have tested, please do so, (or email me...the link is on the sidebar) and I'll try one each week and review it. I'm looking forward to everyone's ideas!


arduous said...

A vegetarian lasagna is always nice.

Beany said...

How about quesadillas? The basic one we make has black beans (my favorite) which is cooked in a crockpot overnight. Then add vegetable stock and cook and mash until a creamy consistency is reached.

We make the tortillas from scratch which is basically flour, water, salt.

The way to make quesadillas not boring is in the topping. I like homemade salsas or some other sauce (store bought even). Cheese also changes the quesadillas into something out of this world. I love goat cheese esp. if infused with herbs.

The other thing is a basic rice and beans. Its pretty filling. I like Brazilian rice and beans (omitting the meat of course).

Pizza is another standby.

How about stir fried noodles/rice?

I think that is about all our basic meals.

Heather @ SGF said...

A couple things come to mind.

You mention that you don't like to eat a huge portion of something that feels more like a side. What if you made a veggie plate of 3-4 different sides - green beans, mashed potatoes, corn, etc.

I like stir fry over rice. You can throw anything in stir fry.

Everyone has been talking about mac-n-cheese lately. That's always WAY better when it's homemade.

Make your own loaded baked potato.

I made stuffed tomatoes this week for OLS (or you could do stuffed peppers). It was tomatoes stuffed with sauteed onion, green pepper, zucchini, mushroom, and tomato guts; then mixed with cheese and rice. Fill the tomatoes with the filling and bake for 30 mins at 350 (I put some extra cheese on top for the last 10 mins of baking).

Or you could have "french night" and do baguettes, cheese, and wine.

Or speaking of baguettes, how about a veggie panini? Maybe mozzarella, basil, tomato, then toast it on french bread or a baguette. Mmm. Dang it! Now I'm hungry again.