My co-worker Donna is a beautiful redheaded mother and linguist from South Dakota. She speaks with a prosody that is characteristic of American dialects influenced by Dutch-German ancestral blends, dialects that develop in spread out, isolated spaces. She moves very slowly, even when she is hurrying, so it looks like God is bestowing upon her the gift of time and tranquility all at once.She looks maternal, she thinks like a mother, and even though I met her when she was busting at the seams pregnant, even though she is a relatively new mother with a daughter who's barely one year old, I cannot imagine her being any other way. I sometimes wonder if I, as a mother, would ever look as dew-faced, as tender, as tranquil, as her. Hardly.
Donna and I have had some short chats on vegetarianism. She knows I am a vegetarian, so she asks me about protein alternatives, balancing my nutrients, and taking supplements, every now and then. It makes me wonder if she wants her daughter to be raised as a vegetarian, but I have never asked. She appears to be a very "meat and potatoes" kind of gal, and this "vegetarian thing" is clearly uncharted territory for her. Recently, she mentioned how disappointed she was with Vegetarian Times, a vegetarian lifestyle magazine, and I agreed with her that it's interesting how vegetarians are pegged, and how most people forget that normal, mainstream people can also be vegetarians, for many different reasons. Vegetarians are oftentimes depicted as bohemian hippie-types who spend their days in search of the rarest, oddest, most obscure variety of beans and leafy greens. Not all vegetarians wear hemp, Veg Times, so quit it with the ads for all the Marley clothes. The magazine also likes to assume that no vegetarians like cheese; all the recipes are healthy, borderline lifeless. Native Americans in the 10th century had more elaborate and flavorful dishes than some of the featured recipes in this publication.
When Donna asked me what publications or sources I turn to for vegetarian food, I told her that I basically make it up as I go with a lot recipes. If I see a recipe, so long as the main part of the recipe isn't meat, I think it can be transformed into a vegetarian dish, or, at the very least, a pesco-vegetarian dish. On many nights, I get off work, it's dark out by the time I get home, so I feel like I have little time and energy to concoct something suitable for consumption, and I simply end up trying to combine random ingredients from my cupboard. As long as I have some type of chopped nuts, beans or legumes, and some spices, I can make a variety of things. My savior, the dutch oven.
Here is a recent invention, Donna and other new converts would appreciate this:
Thursday Night Stash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of cumin (I know, sounds like a lot, but it's really 2)
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon of seasoning mix*
1/2 yellow onion
3 zucchinis, halved, then chopped into slices
3 skinny carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
a handful of mushrooms of your choice (but preferably a plump round kind); chopped
2 hands full of pecans, walnuts, cashews, or pinenuts
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
white balsamic or red vinegar
*Seasoning mix is kept in a mason jar, and consists of equal parts of the following:
Lawry's seasoned salt
course sea salt
(you can also use a rub or Old Bay as an alternative)
Turn range on to medium heat.
In a dutch oven or deep, large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil with all spices, until this combined spice mixture becomes fragrant, (one minute). Add onions, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. Heat onions until they become slightly transparent, then add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Add chopped veggies to mixture, and stir. Cook veggies on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, then add nuts and bread crumbs, stirring the mixture gently. Add a splash of vinegar to mix, I'm not really sure exactly how much, but drizzle as though you were drizzling dressing on a salad. Stir mixture, then cover for 5 minutes. Reduce heat, taste for salt, and continue stirring occasionally. Remove from heat before veggies get soggy; you want them to remain tender and crisp on edges. It's really a matter of personal taste; if you like your veggies a little softer, cook mixture a little longer. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt, a slice or two of crusty bread, like a pugliese, and a glass of Malbec.
Let me know how this turns out for folks.