Dec 9, 2010

vegetarian review

Sometime last week, I decided to go vegetarian until Christmas.  I don't have any real reason other than I just want to see how I like it.  PJ agreed to join me, which surprised me a little, but he's been a good sport about the new diet in general, so I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised.  Anyway, I thought I would share some of recipes we have tried with reviews from me (as the food preparer) and from PJ (as the food eater) as well as the approximate cost of the meal.  I ate the food too, but PJ will be more honest in his opinion.  I try really hard to like everything I cook.  The cost is VERY approximate since I will never know exactly how much a 1/4 cup of olive oil costs.  I just estimated. 

Meal #1:  Tuscan Minestrone with cornbread ($13.72)

from Jessica:  Anyone who wants to cook a delicious pot of soup has no intentions of doing it quickly.  This soup is no exception; it took me a solid two hours.  However, it was a fantastic two hours of Sufjan Stevens Christmas music, hot chocolate, and chopping.  No, I wasn't chopping for the entire two hours; I fed Cara her dinner while my beans were boiling away.  But there was a good bit of chopping.  My kitchen was a disaster afterwards, but it was worth it.  I omitted the pancetta and cabbage from this recipe, and I don't think we missed it.  Next time, I probably won't drain the tomatoes because I wanted just a little more broth.  I made this soup on Sunday evening with the idea that I would put the leftovers into containers for lunch this week.  After we had both eaten it for dinner, I still had enough leftover for five lunch portions.  That's a lot of soup.  The price may seem a little steep, but this is huge nutritional bang for your buck (kale and red chard!!) in addition to spreading over several days of lunch.

from PJ:   This is a hearty and flavorful soup, as vegetable soups go.  The white beans were mild, they didn't have that 'lima bean' taste that white beans sometimes have.  I just read here that the beans were supposed to be cooked with pancetta, that sounds pretty good to me, but we are vegetarians until Christmas.  It went great with the corn muffins that Jessica also made; it was just the right meal after the cold afternoon outside we had today.

Meal #2:  Eggplant, Tomato, and Chickpea Casserole  ($8.54)

from Jessica:  I prepared the casserole on Sunday night after I made the soup.  The tomato sauce is simmering away as we speak, and it smells fantastic!  I used dried chickpeas that I soaked overnight and boiled for 30ish minutes because that is what I had in the pantry.  Plus, dried beans from the bulk bins are much cheaper than canned.  I have never cooked with eggplant before, and I think I burned it just a little in the oven!  Hopefully, it will still turn out okay.  All I have to do tomorrow is bake my casserole.  *sigh of relief*

from PJ:  This casserole is more of a stew than a casserole.  The chickpeas and cinnamon give it a Middle Eastern/Indian flavor.  It is super tasty and has a good balance of sweet and savory.

Meal #3:  Baked Limas with Spinach and Feta ($10.02)

from Jessica:  Tuesday night was a good time for leftovers.  Since I didn't actually cook dinner, I cooked the limas to prep for Wednesday's Thursday's meal.  When I planned this week's menu, I didn't know that PJ doesn't like limas...I hope that the feta will cancel out the "lima bean taste."  PJ even asked me what we were going to do for dinner after we taste this dish!  In an effort to make this recipe more pleasing to my husband's palate, I added dried Greek seasoning to the beans, an extra garlic clove and some red pepper flakes to the spinach, and a lot of feta on the top.  Earth Fare didn't have fresh dill or chives when I went last weekend, so I had to omit those ingredients.  I had my doubts, but I started to think this one might turn out okay as I was assembling it.  We'll see...

from PJ:  This meal has been the biggest suprise so far.  It was really good; I even ate all of Cara's and Jessica's when they got done.  The lima beans were very well seasoned (if you didn't notice from earlier posts, I don't like lima beans) and the feta cheese is amazing on top of the beans and spinach.  It was filling, healthy tasting and just salty/cheesy enough to satisfy us meat-eaters.

Are we converting to vegetarians?  Are we really going to keep this up until Christmas?  Um, no, we've definitely already cheated...Chic-Fil-A was calling my name Wednesday night.  I have so little willpower.  But, I think we can probably make it until Christmas.  And then it will be turkey time for real.

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