Friday, March 26, 2010

Week 12: Vegetarian Week (recipe: Tomato and Black Bean Quinoa)

So, we're going (sort of) vegetarian. At least for a while. Kind of. We've been steadily decreasing the amount of meat in our diets anyway, so it's not that big a leap into trying to go meatless, at least at home. It'll be a fun experiment, and I have no intention of being a permanent vegetarian. We'll see what happens. If someone drops a source of locally grown ethically treated low cost chickens in my lap, I'll probably change the plan!

Sunday was our first official night, so I did a spread of pita, hummus, falafal, tzatziki, all that good stuff. I did make two delightful discoveries: my homemade pita bread makes amazing pita chips (just cut into chips, brush lightly with melted butter, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 3-4 minutes until crisp), and you can make an awesome dip just by tossing a can of (drained) white beans into the food processor with a head of roasted garlic, a couple of tablespoons of melted butter, and enough water/bean cooking liquid to thin it. Super yummy, and also great warm.

Monday's dinner:

Pita chips with the white bean dip, a small green salad topped with leftover falafal and tzatziki, and the back bean and tomato quinoa you can find here. Delicious, although the cooking method for the quinoa is insanely complicated. Just cook it like rice, it'll come out just as well. Also, it makes an absolutely enormous amount, way more than the four servings the recipe claims.

More pita chips (what can I say, they are SO good) topped with bruschetta-type mix and some balsamic vinegar, asparagus, and a mushroom patty that I made out of mushrooms, onions, and a generous scoop of the leftover quinoa from Monday. Added a bit of flour to help bind it together, fried it up, and topped with some crumbled blue cheese and a poached egg. Delicious! Since the husband type person doesn't like mushrooms, for his I mixed together some quinoa and some white bean dip. He said it was good.


Stuck pot brown rice with ginger, sesame seeds, and almonds (good, but I put in too much ginger), and pita chips (again!) topped with a chick pea/tomato/cucumber/bean sprout salad that was tossed in a basic vinaigrette. Then I chucked some feta on top, just because.

Thursday was pasta with tomato sauce and cheese, and tonight is our usual Friday night pizza night.

All in all, I did not miss meat at all this week. I think Mark Bittman is right, when he says in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian that the secret to a good vegetarian meal is to stop thinking about having a main dish - instead, think about every part of the meal as equally important. So you have a few bites of this, a few bites of that, and the next thing you know you are full, satisfied, and you haven't missed meat at all. So, in addition to the food above, every meal also included a veggie tray with dip and usually fruit as well, just to add that little bit of extra variety (and get more fruit and veggies into the kids!).

Speaking of the kids, they did great. The baby just eats anything anyway, and the 4 year old was surprisingly willing to try almost everything, although I did save her plain portions of things like the quinoa, and I made a big batch of plain brown rice that she worked through over the week. I do have to do a bit of research on getting them both adequate B12 and iron, and I'm sure they will both eat meat at grandma's house and when we go out to restaurants, so I'm not particularly worried about them getting enough nutrition.

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