I don't eat a lot of meat. While I'm not a vegetarian* (I'm one of those newfangled flexitarians, if you want an official word for it), I eat a lot of vegetarian dishes. Because they're delicious. And because I strongly believe that reducing the consumption of meat in one's diet is a way to improve both the body and the environment. Meat, particularly industrial, is unhealthy for the animals, unhealthy for humans, and definitely unhealthy on the environment. By reducing our consumption, we reduce consumption of corn (and corn subsidies), fossil fuels, and send a message to the food industry.
Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be a rant about meat. I still eat it occasionally and enjoy it when I do--because I typically buy locally produced, grass-fed (and ethically-treated!) meat. I may pay a premium...but damn. That's tasty. Because I don't want to buy cheap meat, I buy vegetables because they're cheap and really, really good. Especially when I buy them fresh from the Farmers' Market that's just down the road from my house.
I'm figured I'd share some vegetarian recipes and tips in case you're feeling the itch to try eating less meat in your own household. Last night I made this maple grilled tempeh recipe--if you want to try something unusual like tempeh, this is a good recipe to try because it's so good. I served it on a bed of brown and red rice with green beans and grilled zucchini. I just ate leftovers for lunch, and I was amazed at how good the simple marinade was on the tempeh**. Yum.
There are now many websites dedicated to making delicious meat-free recipes. One of them (the source of the maple grilled tempeh), is 101 Cookbooks. I've made many, many of her recipes and they're superb. And usually very simple for the inexperienced cook.
Another source that I turn to for recipes is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. A gift from a dear (and generous!) friend, this cookbook has been my guide for when I need some inspiration. The recipes are simple and easy, but they offer a host of variations that encourages playing with flavors and colors, as well as experimenting and substituting. Even if you're not a vegetarian, this cookbook is a valuable addition to any cookbook collection.
*Every time I seriously contemplate completely becoming a vegetarian, Lance waves a tasty bit of meat under my nose. Like lamb. Or venison. Or even buffalo. But if were just chicken and beef? Eh, not that interested.
**I realize tempeh, like tofu, is not for everyone. Heck, the first time I had tempeh, I was a little leery. It can be strange stuff, and hard to prepare properly. But the marinade and the grilling makes tempeh extremely palatable.