Welcome to the very first Meatless Monday here on GF in the City. Starting today, I will be posting a new meatless recipe every Monday. In addition to being free of meat, I am also going to make every effort to make these recipes vegan. But I think I should remind you that I was raised in Wisconsin, so I hope you will forgive me if a little cheese sneaks in every now and then.
So why meatless? Why me?
I am doing this for many reasons, one being that there are health benefits to reducing one’s meat consumption. I’ve mentioned before that, while I absolutely understand and fully respect the choice, I do not intend to ever be a vegetarian. I believe from an anthropological/evolutionary perspective that humans are built as a species to be omnivores (that and the whole meat being super tasty thing). I do, however, acknowledge that the way we eat now is far from the way nature intended and am of the mind that upping our intake of plant-based foods even once a week is a positive thing.
Also, in addition to making an effort to buy naturally raised meat, I feel as though making the choice to cut it out completely on occasion is one more small step toward reducing the overall demand. Less demand translates into a decreased need of supply, which means we can hopefully begin to move away from the current methods of mass meat production and back to a more humane way of doing things.
Oops, was that my gosh-darn soap box again? Let me just move this off to the side for now. Wouldn’t want anyone to trip….
In short, there are many reasons to go meatless, even for a day. If you want to learn more about this movement and find how how you can get involved, click here.
In preparation for my very first Meatless Monday dinner, I ventured down to the Union Square green market. You can’t really go wrong here. Weaving in and out of the farm stands, you’re bound to find something that looks good, and something else, and just one more thing, until you’ve got the makings of something fresh, delicious, and wonderful. Just let your creativity (or a quick recipe search) guide you from there.
My creativity led me to a summer squash “fettuccine” with a lemon basil pesto. (Apparently there’s been something in the air.)
Some of you might be going yum, but I’m just going to admit up front that I don’t like summer squash. I’ve had it, both green and yellow, on multiple occasions, but the texture and bizarre blandness of the thing made it something that I’ve never more than sampled. I take that back–I do sometimes like zucchini, when it’s baked into bread with brown sugar and spice.
So what on earth possessed me to buy summer squash? It was pretty. And I’m always one for trying something again in a new way. It’s a good thing too, because this time around I rather liked it. In fact, I’ll probably eat it again.
Summer Squash “Fettuccine” with Lemon Basil Pesto
4 medium summer squash
1 bunch of lemon basil*
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup EVOO
1 pint cherry tomatoes
To prepare the “fettuccine,” cut the ends off of each squash. Using a mandoline, slice the squash 1/8″ thick, lengthwise. Stack these slices and cut into long strips, roughly the width of fettuccine.
Optional: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and blanch the squash for about 2 minutes. Drain. This will make the squash slightly more tender, but is mostly a matter of whether you’d prefer a warm or cold dish.
Place the basil, pine nuts, avocado, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt into a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients start to come together. Begin to slowly drizzle in the olive oil, continuing to blend the mixture until smooth. Add more or less olive oil depending upon your personal taste.
Add the pesto to the squash. Toss together with the cherry tomatoes and serve.
*If you can’t find lemon basil, add a teaspoon of lemon zest to the pesto while processing.
I’m really looking forward to exploring this type of cooking and can’t wait to share more meatless recipes with you all every Monday. Please feel free to share any tips that you have about about eating vegetarian or vegan. I’m already starting to see that there are some amazing possibilities out there.
Next week: A vegan variation on traditional lentil soup.