So after my preachy post about meat-eating and whatnot, I decided to do a little experiment and see what a week of veggie cooking would look like. This experiment was prompted by a couple of factors, the first of which was the fact that pasture-raised meat is much more expensive than feedlot meat, so we were going to have to eat less of it. Second, we’d been in a bit of a “food rut” so adding some new recipes into the mix would be nice. And third, I had a bunch of veggies and dried beans that I’d needed to use, so it all timed out perfectly. To assist me in this endeavor, I had Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and a crock pot cookbook that I’d gotten at the library from this woman. On Sunday, I went to the store and got the additional ingredients we didn’t have and got the dried chickpeas ready to use. (Sorry in advance for the lack of pictures, most of the dishes were pretty ugly, so it’s probably for the best!)
Monday: Pearl Couscous Gratin with Pesto & Goat Cheese
The original recipe called for mushrooms & asparagus, which would also be delicious, but we subbed in canned artichoke hearts and frozen peas. A very yummy dish that we’ll definitely add into our regular rotation. They sell the pearl couscous at our bulk foods place, but I’ve also seen it at Trader Joes. This week is off to a great start!
Tuesday: Veggie-fried rice with tofu
This one was less successful. I couldn’t get the tofu to brown properly, so it was just sort of soft and bland-tasting. I also used brown rice, which absorbed more of the sauce and added to the blandness. I think if I try this again, I’ll do it with white rice and with more veggies sans tofu.
Wednesday: Noodles with Peanut Sauce, Tofu & Spinach
I don’t know what I did wrong but I totally messed up the sauce. Not only did separate, but it had no flavor of any kind. And considering it had lemongrass, turmeric, shallot, coconut milk and yummy Trader Joes peanut butter as a base, I found this totally unacceptable. I ended up running it through the blender to help with the separation but the taste remained disappointing. I was trying to multi-task, so I will try it again and see if I can get it to behave itself with some one-on-one attention. On the plus side, I did successfully brown the tofu so at least that part was tasty.
Thursday: Crockpot Moroccan Lentil Soup
(from Crockpot book – recipe here)
After the disastrous long run, I was in no mood for any catastrophes but thankfully this soup was awesome. The Moroccan spices were amazing and I liked the combo of lentils, pinto and garbanzo beans. T made a bread to go with it, as well as a green salad. And best of all, I didn’t have to cook since the crock-pot (and T) did all the work!
Friday: Baked Chickpeas with Cauliflower & Fresh Cheese (from Bittman)
This was probably the most ambitious dish of our week, which is why it got pushed back to the last day. I ended up going to IKEA with M, so T had to cook this one on his own. It’s an Indian dish that came out a little spicy for my taste, but still pretty yummy. It probably tasted the most like what you’d expect “vegetarian cooking” to taste like – you’d probably use the phrase “It’s very good for a vegetarian dish” rather than the preferred “Wow, that’s good” reaction I was looking for, but I’d like to play with it and see if we can improve upon it in future versions. I think I’ll try a different cheese as the paneer is hard to find and a little blah.
All in all, it was fun to add some new dishes into the mix so I think we’ll pick a few nights a week to do experimental veggie dishes. It will lower our food bill and expand our cooking repertoire. Not to mention help me fit into my wetsuit in a month or so, which is a pretty powerful motivator right now.