March 16, 2008
I'm not a vegetarian, but lately it seems I am hard pressed to eat (or cook) meat. Maybe it was the story about the abused cows at a major meat processor that did it. But that story just confirmed what I always knew to be true about industrially produced meat in this country. Or maybe it's that for about a year now I have been only buying and eating organic, free-range --and sometimes local-- meat. (Going out is another story but it's rare that I order a steak).
Last summer I was delighted to find meat from local farms being sold by a nice couple from Pulaski, TN (D&W Farms) at the farmer's market. Every Saturday I would buy whatever they had: pork sausage, beef, lamb, and I even bought goat once (with which I made some delicious slow-cooked 'cabrito' tacos). For me, buying meat from people you could talk to who live less than 50 miles away was a revelation. Not only did it satisfy my conscience, but of course it tastes so much better. I also recently discoverd Todd's Butcher Shop on Charlotte where I can buy fresh, organic, sustainable and humanely raised meats from a really nice guy--a good, old fashioned neighborhood butcher.
So, although the meat consumption at our house is infrequent these days, the quality of the meat we eat has definitely gone up.
This is all to say that I made yet another totally vegetarian meal last night. And it was so good and satisfying I don't know why I ever need to eat meat. But then I'll remember duck confit or lamb tagine, or herb-crusted pork loin and I'll remember why...
I made a simple vegetable curry. It had all the winter stand-bys: carrots and potatoes, kale... and pigeon peas (these are a Jamaican style pea, from a can, and very tasty, but weird). It also had a can of organic crushed tomatoes and lots of spices like coriander, cumin, chili powder and ginger. Yum. And if it wasn't healthy enough already, I threw in some barley for thickness (white or brown basmati rice is another option). It was warm and hearty and felt like the most nutritious thing I'd eaten in a while. I served it with sweet mango chutney that I'd bought recently for no reason but that it goes so well with curry.
And because I'd been swooning over the golden beets at Whole Foods and this last time just could not resist, I made a roasted golden and red beet salad with toasted almonds, parsely, pecorino cheese and a tangerine vinaigrette. That's right. A tangerine vinaigrette (shallots, mustard, sherry vinegar and the juice of one small tangerine). I found this recipe in bon appetit and altered it a little. I'm not sure beets could taste any better.
For dessert --because I had to balance out all the healthy vegetable madness--I made a pear tart in the shape of a heart for Daniel because he's been extra sweet to me lately, and it's his favorite.