Don't get me wrong, I still love a great bacon cheeseburger or juicy grilled steak.....that's not going to change. But I have been trying to switch around the portions in our household and make meat more of a 'side dish' and the veggies and other stuff the main deal.
It's a slow process trying to build more vegetarian dishes into the repertoire over time but hopefully one that changes habits for good going forward. It also helps that the kids are past that preschool picky stage and are actually starting to enjoy a wider variety of foods. I'm a no drama mama......my least favorite thing about cooking is hearing from diminutive food critics.
So I'm constantly on the lookout for good, easy - not too crazy - vegetarian recipes to add for variety. Plus I need inspirational pictures to motivate me and also prevent me from standing in front of the fridge after getting home from work with that blank stare of 'what should I make today?'. (and for all of you out there that do meal plans, good for you - you probably don't stand in front of your fridge doing that. But for all my organizational skills, meal plans are something I've never been able to get on board with - too restrictive or something about it - can't do it.)
Of course, now we have Pinterest which does help somewhat - providing recipe eye candy for inspiration. I do use Pinterest sometimes, but I guess I still like grabbing a well-loved book down from the shelf.
Here are my go-to vegetarian books.........would love to hear if you have some tried and true books you'd like to share......
And below, I've added a recipe I just made the other week to accommodate the couple eggplants I got in my CSA delivery. Personally, I'm not so big on eggplant but I have found that I like it as Baba Ghanoush.......plus I just like saying that ........Baba Ghanoush (come on, admit it, it just sounds fun).
The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: I love pretty much anything that comes out of America's Test Kitchen, but this one is a really beautiful and practical cookbook. Maybe its the science geek in me, but I love how they always explain the various potential problems with a particular recipe and then propose several hypotheses, and test them out so you have the benefit of doing it right the first time you make it. The recipes for the most part are those for normal everyday life - not the 'dinner party only' kind of recipes some cookbooks focus on.
I've had The Best-Ever Vegetarian Cookbook for over 10 years and it has been a great reference. Much of the first section is just a guide to the different types of veggies (hey, sometimes you just don't know what something is! I had to look at it the other day to see what the difference was between collard greens and kale). It has a bit 'fancier' recipes in them, but also some good standards.
Mayim's Vegan Table: This one I picked up just this past year....an impulse buy in Barnes and Noble. You may know Mayim from her younger years in 'Blossum', but maybe also from her current stint on the 'Big Bang Theory'. Sometimes celebrity books, especially vegan ones, can be a little bit preachy which is a real turn off. I think she did a nice job of presenting her information without being preachy and many of her recipes are designed for busy moms like herself. They're uncomplicated and fresh and based on kid friendly type dinners.
Baba Ghanoush (eggplant dip)
- Take 2 eggplants and prick all over with a fork. Roast on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil in 500 degree oven ~50 minutes, turning them periodically so they are dark, wrinkly and soft when squeezed. Let cool for ~5-10 minutes.
- Trim off the top and bottom and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out all the inside pulp into a colander and let drain for a few minutes (you can use some of that roasted veggie liquid for later to add a little flavor back in but it's important to drain so final dip isn't so watery). Put eggplant pulp into food processor with the following:
- 2 Tbsp tahini, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 4 tsp lemon juice, 1-2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. This is the traditional recipe, but you can adjust seasoning to taste - I like versions that add more garlic, some cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Puree into smooth dip and refrigerate until chilled. Sprinkle top with paprika and/or chopped fresh parsley before serving.
- Serve with pita or nacho chips, pita bread wedges, or baby carrots or cucumber slices. Or sneak into lunch wraps where you might use hummus.