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Meatless Monday: Roasted Cauliflower

roasted cauliflower

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

My current food obsession: cauliflower. It seems random, and maybe a little boring — it’s the least colorful vegetable out there. But what it lacks in vibrancy, it makes up for with versatility. Cauliflower totally transforms into something new depending on how you cook it. Steam and puree it and it becomes so silky, you’ll swear there’s cream in it. Add the pureed cauliflower to soups, mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese to thicken them and add flavor and creaminess without dairy. Bake it with cheese and cream for a hearty gratin that’ll trump any potato casserole you’ve ever had. You can pickle cauliflower and add it to salads, appetizer platters or sandwiches — it’s especially good on falafel. Deep fry cauliflower and eat it as a snack, like popcorn, or toss the crispy, fried florets into a salad. Roast it — on its own or with other vegetables, like carrots — till it’s golden brown and tender and serve it as a side dish or add it to pasta to make a complete meal.

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Meatless Monday: 8 Vegetarian Pasta Recipes

pasta with spinach
Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

 

Pasta is every home cook’s secret weapon: it’s inexpensive; you can buy it anywhere from bodegas to gourmet grocery stores; it lasts (practically) forever; and it’s super easy and super fast to cook. Keep your cabinets stocked with your favorite shapes and types and you’ll never be stuck without dinner ideas, even if you have little else in the house. Some of these are made with bare-bones kitchen staples, like lemon and garlic.

Penne With Spinach: Make a pesto-like sauce from spinach and cheese and mix it with hot pasta and even more spinach for a super-easy, veggie-packed meal.

Penne With Spinach Sauce (above)

Classic Spaghetti: Everyone should know how to make a good red sauce for ladling over your favorite pasta. Gabriele and Debi’s recipe is traditional and meat-free, though it can be paired with sausage and meatballs for the meat-eaters at your table. Make a big batch and freeze it; use the sauce to make lasagna, eggplant Parmesan, pizza or eggs in purgatory.

Red Sauce and Spaghetti

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Lucky Charms Layer Cake

lucky charms layer cake

I haven’t had Lucky Charms cereal in a good 15 years. I eat grown-up food like yogurt and fruit and poached eggs for breakfast instead. And because I like this grown-up food, I assumed that my mature self wouldn’t enjoy the fantasy food of my childhood: super sugary cereals that my mom only allowed once or twice a year, if ever.

I was wrong. Lucky Charms cereal is good. Maybe because I haven’t had it in a decade +, or maybe because it’s laced with some kind of magically delicious, addictive fairy dust, when I recently popped a handful of hearts, stars, clovers and what’s essentially sugar-coated Cheerios in my mouth, I was sort of in love. Do I love it enough to add it into my grown-up breakfast routine? No. But I love it enough to turn it into a cooler-than-corned-beef-and-cabbage St. Patrick’s Day layer cake.

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Meatless Monday: Clean-Out-the-Fridge Frittata


Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

On any given day there’s quite a random assortment of whacked-out ingredients in my refrigerator: a few tiny portions of leftovers I’m likely to never eat, a half bottle Sriracha, pickled dilly beans, a jar of mom’s homemade blueberry jam, a hunk of aged Parmesan, a half a carton of buttermilk from last weekend’s pancakes and, way in the corner, a shriveled apple that’s been around since fall. Some of it, like the ancient apple and the buttermilk are bound for the trash, but some of the other assorted bits can be turned into an actual meal.

My fridge is always flush with produce in many states — whole, roasted/steamed/baked in small containers, or, like the unfortunate apple, slightly decayed. Plain old vegetables or tiny amounts of leftover cooked vegetables are not satisfying on their own, but in a couple of minutes can be turned into a complete meal — a fancy-sounding one at that: fritatta. Beat some eggs, grate some cheese and grab your vegetables — you’re not only minutes away from dinner, but pretty close to a clean refrigerator as well. You can make the frittata in a skillet on the stove, or you can coat a pie plate with cooking spray, add your vegetables and enough beaten eggs to come up to the tops of the vegetables (8-10 eggs), salt and pepper (add some fresh herbs if you have them) and a sprinkle of your favorite cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until frittata is set and cheese is bubbly.

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Meatless Monday: Spicy Quesadillas

quesadillas

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Mexican food is the one cuisine I never tire of. After spending last week in Mexico on my annual get-me-out-of-here-it’s-too-cold-vacation, I’m craving more salsa, guacamole, beans and spiced vegetables stuffed into tortillas or scooped up with tortilla chips, even though that’s what I lived on for the last 7 days.

The thing about Mexican food is that it’s usually pretty heavy on the meat, but most of the classics are easy enough to make meatless, especially if you’re doing the cooking yourself. If it’s burritos or tacos you’re craving, substitute black or pinto beans for the ground beef or chicken; you can season the beans with the same spices. Same goes for nachos — pile on refried beans or seasoned black beans along with the cheese, onions and olives and all that good stuff. For fajitas, use grilled or sauteed vegetables instead of the beef or chicken. Huevos rancheros, chiles rellenos, chilaquiles, beans and rice … the meatless Mexican possibilities are endless.

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Meatless Monday: Obsessed With Hummus

hummus

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

How much hummus is too much hummus? Whatever the threshold is for normal people, take that number, double it, and you’ll see the approximate amount of hummus I eat in any given week. It might make me a vegetarian cliche (vegetarians eat nothing but tofu and hummus!) but hummus is so delicious and convenient that I’m not interested in breaking cliche.

How do I love hummus? Let me count the ways . . .

Homemade:
I make homemade hummus most of the time because it’s super easy and takes like 10 minutes. Dave Lieberman’s recipe (pictured above) is a good basic one and you can easily add other stuff to it, like roasted red peppers or a shot of sriracha if you like your hummus fancy or spicy.

Hummus Dip

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Meatless Monday: Cauliflower With Sweet Potatoes

cauliflower and sweet potatoes

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Living in New York City, it’s easy to get lazy about cooking at home. Most people I know live on takeout (when they’re not dining out). It’s so tempting though; I have easy access to amazing food to suit any craving. I can get standard American fare, Mexican and Italian, of course, but more exotic options like Ethiopian or Peruvian are just as easy to come by. Takeout isn’t always indulgent or expensive either; there are plenty of healthy places (smoothie/juice bars, vegan cafes, raw food restaurants, or restaurants that serve variations on oatmeal or yogurt) within walking distance from my office and apartment, and most are really affordable or have plenty of cheaper options.

So why cook at home at all? My kitchen is ridiculously tiny, it’s a pain to carry loads of grocery bags home and cleanup isn’t exactly a breeze (I have a dishwasher but it only opens halfway because the fridge is in the way). But the answer is simple: I cook at home because I like to. After a long day at work, cooking a meal actually helps me decompress. And there’s no better feeling than making a meal that tastes better than something I would have picked up at a favorite restaurant.

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Meatless Monday: Sesame Eggplant With Tofu

eggplant with tofu

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Some people assume that vegetarians eat nothing but tofu. Tofu and plain lettuce. Maybe some vegetarians chow down on bean curd all day long, but for me, it’s one meatless protein that I do eat along with beans and nuts and dairy and all of that good stuff. But contrary to the belief of many, I did not stop eating meat so I could subsist on tofu alone.

That said, I do like tofu if it’s prepared properly. Tofu isn’t difficult to cook, but on its own it doesn’t taste great (it doesn’t taste like anything, actually), but it does absorb the flavors of spices, sauces or marinades quite well. You can add it to a stir-fry and it will take on the flavors of soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Add it to a Thai or Indian curry and it will soak up the richly-flavored sauce. You can fry it to a crisp, French-fry-style, or slather it with barbecue sauce. Add tofu to soup and it will absorb the flavors of the broth and add interesting texture to your bowl.

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Meatless Monday: Curried Squash Soup With Apple-Cheddar Melts

butternut squash soup
When I say that my favorite food is soup, I’m not speaking in hyperbole, I mean that in a completely literal way. It’s my favorite food delivery system. And I don’t just love one kind of soup: I love soup like Bubba Gump loves shrimp. I love vegetable soup and sweet potato soup and carrot soup and lentil soup. I’m crazy for chili and chowder and stew and bisque.

Here’s why I love soup so much: 1) it can be a meal or part of a meal  — eat it with a sandwich or salad or eat it on it’s own — and it’s really easy to include all of the food groups in one bowl. 2) You can use up the extra stuff in your fridge and pantry easily by throwing it into soup (add spinach or eggs or rice or potatoes to your soup if you have ‘em, or make croutons from day-old bread). 3) Soup is usually made from pretty healthy ingredients which makes it totally okay to have seconds (thirds?) without worrying if your pants will fit. You can’t say that about pasta dishes.

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Meatless Monday: Veggie Garbage Bread

veggie garbage bread

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

When I was a kid, my mom used to make us something called “garbage bread.” The name instilled fear instead of craving, of course; one surefire way to get your kid to avoid a meal is to let them think it’s made from trash. But at some point, she convinced me (forced me?) to try this bread that was made not from garbage, but from pizza toppings all folded into pizza dough. The unfortunately-named loaf was amazing and became something I requested over and over again.

I can only assume that the name “garbage” is used for this stuffed bread to illustrate the fact that it can be made with all kinds of fillings — it’s not pepperoni bread or sausage bread or broccoli bread  — it can be made with any or all of those things. So instead of All Kinds of Stuff Bread, someone used the name Garbage Bread and it stuck.

You can fill garbage bread with whatever you like — I like to fill store-bought pizza dough with leftover sauteed greens and whatever kind(s) of cheese I have sitting in the fridge. This recipe uses sauteed zucchini, squash, onions and tomatoes — it’s like a baked veggie sub. Or an inside-out vegetable pizza. But whatever it is, actual garbage it’s not.

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