So my college-aged daughter announced last week that she was becoming a vegetarian.
Cool, I replied. Just make sure you eat enough proteins. Since she won’t be getting any from meat, she will need to replace them with lots of beans and lentils, and leafy green vegetables.
Although I’m definitely a carnivore, I’ve been thinking for awhile about participating in Meat Free Mondays, a movement started by Paul McCartney (btw: This past summer, we attended his concert at Wrigley Field in Chicago: Awesome!). The plan is to give up meat one day per week in order to save money, reduce the impact on the environment, and live a healthier life.
My wife and I eat mostly poultry and fish, some pork, and hardly any beef, veal or other red meats, mostly for economic and health rather than ethical reasons. So doing without meat one day a week shouldn’t be any big deal, right?
For many years, I’ve cooked vegetarian in restaurants. Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen a noticeable spike in the number of diners looking for vegetarian and vegan options.
(An aside: When I was restaurant director at a big Chicago area hotel, we hosted a week-long confernece for a vegetarian group. Our biggest sellers? Meat-flavored vegetarian burgers and hot dogs. How does that work, exactly?)
My wife’s favorite meal in the whole world is the vegan burger at Leona’s, a great Chicago area Italian restaurant chain. So I made a Chickpea and Mushroom Burger that I adapted from one on the excellent frugalfeeding blog. I also made a wonderful Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup that I adapted from one I found on the Mom Makes blog. They were both amazingly delicious!
So here’s to saving the planet! And my money!
Chickpea and Mushroom Burger
15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained
8 oz button mushrooms (or any kind), chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili flake
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1. Heat a saute pan until hot. Add EVOO, when smoking, add garlic and spices and saute quickly, less than a minute. Add mushrooms and cook down completely, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Combine chickpeas, bread crumbs and coriander in food processor and pulse just until coarse. Combine in mixing bowl with cooled mushroom mixture and season with S&P to taste. Form into 3 or 4 hockey puck sized patties. These can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until read for service.
3. Heat cast iron skillet until hot. Add EVOO. When smoking, carefully place patties into pan and cook about five minutes per side. Serve on bun with Boston Bibb lettuce, and tomato and red onion slices.
Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup
1-1/2 lb carrots, peeled
1 medium onion, sliced thin
TBS whole butter
1 cup dried red lentils
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
2 scallions, cut on the bias, for garnish
1. Carmelize onions by combining in lidded pot with 1 TBS melted whole butter and 1 cup water. Cook until brown and sweet, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375F. Lay peeled carrots end-to-end on baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with S&P, turning to cover entire carrot. Bake for 20 minutes, turn and bake another 20 minutes.
4. Just before service, stir in orange juice and cilantro. Garnish with scallions and serve with crusty bread.
Do you have any favorite recipes for Meat Free Mondays? Why not share them in the comments section below? Thanks for reading my blog!