While vegetarianism has been mentioned in several posts (particularly by my awesome co-bloggers Meigan, Noa, and Sheila), I have decided to write about how much fun it is to be vegetarian. First, on any social occasion being a vegetarian is one of the greatest conversation starters in the history of the universe. Ever need a fun fact about yourself? Tell everyone why you became a vegetarian. Whether you’re my friend David who realized at the age of 3 that meat was made out of an animal like Piglet (his childhood stuffed animal companion from Winnie the Pooh) or myself who wanted to impress a popular friend by joining in on the trend 7 years ago (I am now a vegetarian veteran among my peers– an accomplishment I am intensely proud of), being vegetarian is a life changing experience that continues to be more amazing and exciting with each moment. Even if you’re vegetarian for just a few weeks (although, I would definitely prefer forever, but I’ll take what I can get), you will become a part of an important cultural shift. I can promise you, if you do your research, you will find your own reason for being vegetarian and no one will ever be able to get you to stop talking about it. If you’re interested, I can send you plenty of literature and my own research on the subject. Being a vegetarian is great for the environment, reducing water usage and increasing biodiversity, as well as health, decreasing the risk of many diseases and increasing our ability to feed the world. Don’t worry, some day I (or someone else on this blog) will follow this up with a very thorough list of facts.
Anyway, my main purpose in writing this blog tonight is to give you all one of my favorite recipes (with a variation at the bottom). And, this is by far the best part, they are extremely adaptable and super easy. When you don’t have to handle meat products that bring an added risk of bacteria, you can often just cook in your own way until you have what you want.
Spicy Vegetarian Pasta-
(in my world this serves about 6-8 people but it may serve more, and takes about 20 minutes to make)
4+ cups of spaghetti (cooked using the instructions on the box– do this while making the sauce) OR Spaghetti Squash (shown above). If you’ve never had it… You really should. It’s probably the best vegetable you will ever have)
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
3 tsp garlic salt
2 cups uncooked broccoli, chopped
1 medium fresh tomato, diced
1 cup uncooked bell peppers, chopped
1 cup diced onions
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup celery
4 cups spinach, chopped
4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups tomato sauce (you can also use tomato puree and more chopped tomatoes, but often store bought pasta sauce that you enjoy is just easier)
Set water to boil, add pasta while you are doing the sauce–try to time these two items to finish simultaneously). Sautee the vegetables with the olive oil, in order, onion (until golden), celery, broccoli, bell peppers, add spinach (and once withered), finally add any tomatoes. Add sauce, red pepper flakes and garlic sauce. Strain the pasta and serve. Plan for extras and eyeball the amounts you want of each vegetable. As I said before, the best part of any vegetarian dish is the improvisation involved. You can literally do anything you want (just make a point not to burn anything). [also, it is sometimes fun to add tofu chicken to the sauce, but sautee that with the onions at the beginning as well. Harris Teeter has some great fake grilled chicken.]
Many of my other recipes are variations on this previous one. For example, my vegetarian chili just replaces the spaghetti noodles with at least 4 cups of black beans and kidney beans. I also enjoy adding canned corn, jalapenos and teaspoons of salt, chili and curry powders until it tastes good– which is probably the best way to do anything. And, if you want to mess with any meat eaters, Harris Teeter and Giant have some great tofu options that come out with a similar texture to beef when cooked with chili. If you do so, you should sautee it with the onions and the spices at the beginning and then add all of the vegetables to stew for an hour.
These recipes can honestly be whatever you want them to be, and I know that they’ll make anyone happy– even our most carnivorous friends.
(My pictures are borrowed from Google since I cannot seem to find any of mine at the moment)