You Don’t Win Friends With Salad

Peppers And Salad And Bread, Oh My!

We’ve recently entered my favourite segment of summer; abundance.

You can’t swing a cat at the farmer’s markets around town without hitting a veritable cornucopia of jewel-toned fruits and veggies just ripe for the eating.  The dazzling arrays of produce are mildly hypnotic, and I often end up purchasing more than I would normally eat just because it looks so yummy.  Of course, there’s really no downside to increasing your fruit and veggie ingestion, just let your senses guide you toward the items you find pleasing to the palate.

To that end, I’ve been running a bit of an experiment in our household this week, using the Everyman and I as guinea pigs.  Not only has our f&v consumption increased due to seasonal factors and availability, but I’ve also been decreasing our meat intake and replacing it with vegetarian protein sources for lunch, therefore only consuming modest amounts of meat for dinner.  In a roundabout way it’s sort of an offshoot of Mark Bittman’s VB6 (vegan before 6) concept, except that I am not ruling out the occasional bit of milk, cream or cheese.  Otherwise it’s somewhat more challenging to provide ample protein to the Everyman who is allergic to nuts, averse to eggs and until recently, detested tofu.

As I mentioned earlier this week I finally mastered a decent tofu dish, and our lunch Tuesday was broiled tempeh in a cherry jalapeno barbecue sauce.  Yesterday’s midday meal was a textured vegetable protein (soy flake), bulgur and ricotta stuffed pepper, and of the three, only one was a dud (the tempeh).  I’ve been supplementing these meatless meals with all of the bounty my local markets have to offer, including gorgeous yellow watermelon wedges, handfuls of plump multicoloured heirloom cherry tomatoes, the second coming of strawberries, wild blueberries, grilled corn, beets, nutty sunflower sprouts and freshly shelled peas.  We certainly haven’t been starved for options in the Foodie and the Everyman kitchen this week.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I could give up meat forever (far from it), but the exercise has allowed me to get more comfortable with omnivorousness and the flexitarian mentality.  I can cook well, but there is a marked difference between making a veggie side dish tasty and making a vegetarian meal satisfying enough that you don’t miss the meat.  Except for the tempeh fiasco, the Everyman’s not complaining either, so I must be doing something right.  The main upside for me is that this more plant-centric diet has left me feeling lighter, less sluggish and bloated during the blistering heat and humidity wave we’ve been enduring.

I intend to continue messing around with a few veg-friendly options for the next little bit, having been intrigued after reading about seitan over at 30 Bucks A Week, as well as picking up some teff, corn grits and amaranth over the weekend.  I’m always looking for ways to inject new ingredients into my cooking, and for once it might actually be healthier for me.  Variety, as they say, is the spice of life, after all.

Foodie’s Meatless Stuffed Peppers

0.25 c. bulgur

0.25 c. textured vegetable (soy) protein (TVP or TSP)

1.5 c. broth

1 tsp tomato powder

1 tbsp italian herbs

salt to taste

2-3 tbsp ricotta cheese

1-2 bell peppers, halved from stem to stern

Preheat oven to 350*.  Heat broth in a small saucepan until near boiling.  Add bulgur and TVP, spices and salt, remove from heat and cover.  Allow to sit for 20 to 25 minutes while the TVP and bulgur rehydrate.  In the meantime, clean the split peppers.  Once 20 minutes has elapsed, check to see that the grains are fluffy and soft.  Add ricotta cheese and stir to combine.  Using a tablespoon, stuff the pepper cavities with grain mixture.  Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until tops are crisply browned and pepper shells are softened.

Makes 2 to 4 servings, depending on how stuffed you like your peppers.

And so, I will close with the words from one of my favourite Simpsons episodes of all time, Lisa The Vegetarian;

“You don’t win friends with sa-lad, you don’t win friends with sa-lad!”

Methinks they’ve never enjoyed a sun-kissed Caprese salad before… that’s a salad that’ll win you all sorts of friends, including me!

Until next time…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.