So, I decided to give it a go - we do vegetarian occasionally, but never for a whole week straight. Thankfully I have a willing husband who, so far, has enjoyed the meals without complaint. The last real meat meal we had was on Friday, on our vacation. Saturday we were in transit and you can't call travel food anything special!
Sunday Breakfast Brunch - egg, pepper and tomato burritos
Sunday Dinner - Spaghettini al Olio topped with a fresh tomato salad
Monday Lunch - a fresh salad with mixed greens, fresh cucumber, tomato, hearts of palm and some chickpeas
Monday Dinner - Vegetarian Lasagna - made with fresh lasagna noodles (purchased) and a meatless sauce made with TVP (I used the Yves Veggie Ground - Italian Flavour) and some freshly ground tomatoes. I think I can say honestly, that most people that have my vegetarian lasagna have a hard time telling there's no meat in in it. Served with a side of fresh beans from our garden.
Tuesday Lunch - leftover lasagna - of course! :-)
Tuesday Dinner - Chickpea and Lentil Curry w/ Rice Pilaf - a slow simmered stew of chickpeas, red lentils, tomatoes and spices. Here's my recipe:
1/2 c vidalia onion, chopped (about 1 c)
1 tb chopped garlic
1 lg tomato, chopped (about 1 c)
1/2 tsp fresh red chili, finely chopped
1 tb good quality curry powder (I like Lalah's)
1 tb ground coriander seed
1 tb ground cumin seed
1 tb dried thyme
1/2 tb chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 c canned chickpeas
1/2 c red lentils
2 c water
1 tb vegetable oil
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- In the vegetable oil, saute onion, garlic, tomato and chili over medium heat for about 10 minutes until translucent - sprinkle with a pinch of salt - this helps to release the juices from the tomatoes and onion and helps to prevent it sticking.
- Stir in the curry powder, coriander seed, cumin seed, thyme, chili powder and black pepper - your goal here is to have a saucy consistency - if it's dry or sticking, don't be afraid to add a 1/4 c of your 2 cups of water. Simmer this mixture for another 10 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas and the red lentils - stirring to coat the legumes in the mixture.
- Add the remainder of the water and bring to a gentle boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes
The red lentils will practically dissolve and form a thick sauce which cradles and coats the chickpeas.
When cooking vegetarian, since I can't rely on the 'body' that meat flavours add to the dish, it's important to develop the flavours along the way. Give your ingredients time to release their goodness into the pot. You will be rewarded with a heady, earthy dish.
The rice pilaf was really simple - cook 1cup of basmati rice according to the directions on the package (if your rice boils over, you're probably not soaking it or rinsing it long enough). Once cooked, I stirred in 1/2 a cup of chopped scallions and 1/2 a cup of fresh cilantro, 2 tsps vegetable oil and a pinch of salt.
Do try it!
Wednesday lunch was leftovers - they tasted even better the next day heated up in the toaster oven!
Dinner Wednesday was a Herb and Spice veggie burger by Soyerie. Sorry, in my greed that evening, I forgot to snap a picture. But here's the link to their site. http://www.soyarie.ca/english/home.html I have had their burgers in the past and have not been disappointed.
Thursday lunch was leftover Soyerie burgers.
Thursday dinner was 'Chicken' breasts with mushroom rice pilaf, fresh beans and carrots. I wanted to try this product called Gardein www.gardein.com . It is a vegetable protein/meat substitute. Yes, I was feeling a little lazy, but still wanted to continue our experiment. It is sinfully easy to prepare - take it out of the package, put in a microwave safe dish (I suspect this might be the best method of preparation), cover with the separately packaged sauce, and microwave until warm. I kicked it up with a little chopped green onion on top. I served it with an easy brown rice and mushroom pilaf. Cooked brown rice, onions, garlic and sauteed shiitake mushrooms.
The Vegetarian Experiment was a success!