Tuesday, April 05, 2011

To be or not to be... Vegetarian.

First, I feel I should preface my Facebook claim of "Day 1 of Vegetarianism" in its proper context:

I am not a confirmed, do or die vegetarian. It's not that I don't want to be. Well, kind of. But making life changes takes time, and patience, and I've learned that making concrete proclamations about things is a sure sign that I'm not going to follow through on it.

So instead, I try to go easy on myself and listen to my body.

It told me to please stop drinking coffee, so I gave that a whirl, finding that drinking tea made my body feel cleaner, lighter, and my heart even stopped doing that poundy-thing it had been doing when I was nervous about something. But if there's one thing I learned from Faery Tale, it's that once we begin to listen to our intuition, there's no turning back. Er, you could, but that wouldn't be very magical at all!

Lately, the conversation betwixt me and my body went something like this:

"Uh, is this meat?"
"No thanks."
"Yeah. Don't want it."
Okay. So.... (awkward pause) I guess that free-range chicken in the freezer is out of the question?

The texture, the flavor, the... meatness of it just didn't feel right. I found I was craving green things, and plant things, and so I decided as an experiment, to go veg for one week. Day One I half-assed my way through some white bean chili (lacking such essential things as green pepper, green chilis, onion or cilantro) but it turned out pretty darn good actually, and I felt like such a pioneer, soaking the dried beans in water and then boiling them. I am a survivor! I thought. All in all it was a good day. Plus there were so many leftovers, lunch was taken care of on Tuesday. Tuesday night I made my mom's spinach lasagna and garlic pan "roasted" brusselsprouts, which were freaking phenomenal, and after a few buddies wondered about how I made 'em, I promised to post the recipes on-line.
Vegetarian deliciousness

Linda Johanson's Spinach Lasagna

I box lasagna noodles
1 extra large jar Classico Four Cheese Pasta Sauce
1 pkg. shredded reduced fat mozzerella
2 pkgs. frozen spinach
1 large container of fat-free ricotta cheese
1 oz. chopped fresh basil
1 oz. chopped fresh parsley
1 oz. chopped fresh oregano (can substitute smaller amounts of dried for all three if fresh is unavailable)  
1 egg
pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper
1 can Kraft Parmesan cheese

Thaw the spinach in a colander and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pot put the pasta water up to boil and cook noodles in a pinch of salt until tender. While the pasta is cooking, empty the ricotta into a large mixing bowl. Create a little divet in the center and crack the egg into it. 
Toss in the basil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to combine. 
In a 9 x 13"  metal or glass baking pan spread a thin layer of red sauce, and on top of that place one layer of noodles. 
Gently layer your toppings  on top of the first layer of noodles in this order: 

Ricotta mixture
Spinach (be sure to squeeze any extra moisture out of it!) 
Red sauce 
sprinkle of Kraft parmesan

Layer your noodles in opposite directions in each new layer -- so if you laid them down the long way on the first layer, lay them across the width of the pan on the second layer, using scissors to trim them to the right length. On the final layer -- when you can fit no more -- put only noodles, red sauce, and parmesan. (My mom claims the mozz. is ill-fitted for the top layer because it's faster to burn, and I don't question Linda Johanson.)

Bake for 30 minutes, until the dish is bubbling slightly. Remove and cool for 10 mins before serving.

Tobias John's Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts
This recipe comes from KP's husband, a gardener and outdoor adventurer extraordinaire, and he made it for us over Thanksgiving, but I love brussel sprouts anytime of year!

Rinse brussel sprouts well in a colander under cold water. With a small paring knife, cut the white bottom from each sprout, and peel off any tough or brown outside layers quickly. Cut each brussel sprout into quarters (this allows them to cook sufficiently in the pan, so size does matter, heh-heh) and set aside.

Peel 2 big cloves of garlic and mince (or have your garlic press at the ready).
In a medium frying pan heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium high heat.
Add the sprouts and stir every minute or so until they begin to turn darker green and bit of them begin to brown. Add the crushed garlic, sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper, cook for 3 minutes more, and serve.

This week marks the beginning of our CSA boxes from Ambrose Family Farms.... grown with the gentle aid of South Carolina Fae, I'm certain.... I can't wait to dive in. Eric and I are ridiculously excited about this first box of vegetables. Write me with any great spring recipes!


  1. Hey Signe,

    Having been vegetarian for about 22 years and (perhaps more importantly) having a wife who recently switched over to vegetarianism and who is an AMAZING cook who's been cooking incredible veggie dishes for a while, I'd be happy to share some thoughts. Also, I'm very happy to see your recipes. Keep 'em coming!


  2. If you're going veggie do a little research first, eat sensibly and make sure that you take supplements if there are things that you're missing.
    No judgment here(I'm an omnivore,) but don't forget that whatever you eat, something died so that you can live.
    Respect your food, and enjoy it.

  3. GREAT point, Caryl -- and exactly. When I was on my trip in England this really started sinking in. I was looking at a chicken sandwich in a store, and I thought, do I really want chicken enough right now to accept that it's given its life for my lunch?

    The answer was no, and I actually didn't eat much animal life while I was there. I was ETERNALLY grateful to all the fish for allowing us to experience fish and chips!