So, I thought that this month’s Vegetarian challenge was going to be daunting and hard and disappointing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s only Day 4, but it’s actually been awesome so far. Yes, saying that you’re vegetarian (even for a month) does invite some to question and some to be afraid to eat with you– we did have to reschedule dinner with friends because they weren’t sure what to make. But overall, this has been the challenge that so far has forced me to expand my mind and my cooking brain the most.
For most carnivores, the normal equation when they think of cooking dinner is: meat + 2 veg (1 green if you’re my mother)= dinner. For the last four days, and in planning the rest of the month I’ve had to shift my thinking. Cooking vegetarian meals isn’t just subtracting meat, it’s actually looking at every element of the meal and how each bit will work together with the rest. There is no star of the show.
It’s the difference between being Diana Ross & The Supremes vs. The Temptations, or for a more modern interpretation it’s the difference between being Destiny’s Child (no matter how good Kelly Rowland is/was, she’s no Beyonce) vs. New Kids On The Block or One Direction or The Spice Girls [Insert name of Pop Band here]. Diana Ross and Beyonce will always be stars (the meat), you could stick any two half decent performers behind them and the songs wouldn’t change much. She’d still be a Survivor, and you’d still Stop, In The Name of Love. However, with The Temptations or Spice Girls or whichever band, they all have to work together and work in harmony in order to pull off the show.
This is what I’m learning about cooking Vegetarian. It’s not just saying yep, we’ll have some peas and potatoes and hope for the best, it’s about planning out meals that have enough elements to be nutritious, tasty, filling but overall satisfying on their own. I’m not a fan of tofu and meat substitutes scare me, so for me, this challenge is really about exploring new things to cook and not faking it and not being afraid of being meatless. And I love it so far!**
So, what are we eating this week?
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto
Eggplant Au Gratin
Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Souffle
I’m already getting excited about dinner!
I found a couple of awesome Vegetarian Cooking blogs which have really helped:
There are obviously hundreds more out there but those are just a few!
And if you really are curious about what we might be eating this month…. here’s a photo with some menu ideas for the month!
**Small Disclaimer, yes, I do love it but I also love a good cheeseburger, a good steak, and fried chicken. So no matter how much I love this 30 day challenge, I am thinking that there is a Jazz City Milk Bar Cheeseburger at the end of it! If you’re in Sydney and haven’t been, you should go to Jazz City. Have a burger, a milkshake, and red velvet cake. You may not be able to button your pants, but you won’t regret it either.