It’s been a full week of meatless meals and I really haven’t missed the meat at all. I’m not surprised, and I’m not lying.
One night we had sloppy Joe’s made with seitan, an interesting meat substitute made with wheat that has been given texture to resemble meat in a recipe. I have mixed feelings about seitan. It’s tough to track down – the only place I could find it was at Whole Foods, of course. Plus, whatever they do to create it involves some kind of marinade and you need to watch that the flavors are compatible with your dish. But it’s very easy to cook with and does give you that meaty texture if you can’t live without it as a vegetarian. Overall the recipe gave a good approximation of sloppy Joe’s, although the Moroccan type seasoning was a little sweet for the girls. This recipe came from the cookbook I received for my birthday, “Isa Does It,” and so does the dish I made the next day.
The next day we ate pan fried tofu with a curry peanut sauce. It was so full of flavor that we didn’t have time to notice that there wasn’t any meat in it. And, the funny thing is that after years of making jokes about tofu, and teasing the girls when they were younger that we were going to Tofu World for dinner (eww, no Mom!), everyone now really likes tofu. Life is so funny that way – if you wait long enough they will come around.
Last night our dinner was a quick pasta recipe from Martha Stewart, which uses my favorite pasta trick of cooking it in the sauce. Except, in this recipe, you could use homemade or sauce that comes from a jar. I chose the jar option. Whaaaat??????? You heard me, I used a sauce from a jar, which I found really hard to do as a long-time proud Italian that cooks her own Sunday gravy. But, I’ve learned to embrace some shortcuts if they involve quality ingredients, and so I shelled out the cash for a jar of Rao’s tomato and basil sauce, which my friend Lori recommended as a decent sauce from a jar. The sauce was finished with fresh garden basil and creamy ricotta, which was my favorite part of the dinner.
As you can see, each night was a different protein, a different seasoning profile, a different mix of ingredients. And we haven’t even had any bean dishes yet! My only complaint about vegetarian meals is that there’s usually more prep and clean up than with your traditional meat dish. With meat, you can put a steak on the grill or a roast in the oven. With vegetarian food it takes a bit more effort to turn out a delicious meal.