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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"What Does Someone Like You Eat?"

I get asked a lot what vegetarians eat, and what I in particular have for dinner on any given night. It's really not as restrictive as you'd think. At restaurants that don't have a vegetarian option (rare these days) I've always ended up with as a last resort, grilled cheese or salad (bleck. places w/o veg. options don't do good salads!). At one Texas steakhouse I went to with my in-laws in Orange County, I had a baked potato. Not exactly a balanced meal, but it will tide me over until I get home and can make my own stuff.

So what do I tend to cook at home? Italian! Italian! Italian! I could have pizza or pasta every night for dinner and die happy. The week I spent in Parma was my stomach's favorite week of its life. ;) So I usually have whole-grain pasta with cheese, or I make my own pizza or calzones. Yesterday I made pesto pizza with whole-grain crust and smoked gouda & mozzarella. If you're interested, I could send you the recipe (but I made it up so not sure of quantities) or better yet, invite yourself over for dinner and I'll make it.

I also make a lot of Mexican food, but my versions are nothing close to authentic. I make quesedillas with whole-grain tortillas and the "Mexican cheese" pre-shredded from the grocery store, and salsa, sometimes refried beans and/or eggs also. I also do "Italian quesedillas" which I make up with Italian ingredients. This is usually fresh tomatoes from farmer's market, fresh basil from my garden, mozarella cheese and Parma cheese. I fry it in a little olive oil. If I have it, I'll add oregano, asiago cheese, pesto, Romano cheese, or other things.

For lunch, I like to have grilled cheese (light Irish cheddar or lite Jarlsberg on Milton's whole-grain bread toasted in the toaster overn) or baked potatoes with cheese.

If I go out to eat, I like to go to Asian places because I can't cook that cuisine. If I have to go to an Italian place, this sounds arrogant but I can usually cook pasta dishes better than the restaurant, so I never order those if I can help it. (With exception for really good Italian places like Valentino) Bad pasta is still better than the grilled cheese or a salad option some restaurants have, but I hate to think I'm paying $9.95 for angel hair in marinara sauce when I could make the same thing at home for about 50 cents and I wouldn't overcook it. ;)

Sometimes I get ambitious and make things from one of my hundred or so cookbooks (yes I have collected that many!) and one favorite is spinach souffle. It's this casserole type dish made with a bunch of different cheeses-feta, Romano, and cheddar, and spinach, eggs and breadcrumbs. Of course a few spices and olive oil too. I also love soups, and my favorite is my mom's minestrone, and next to that when I'm cooking it's Harira, an African stew. The Harira and Spinach Souffle recipes came out of the cookbook "Sundays at the Moosewood Inn" which is from the famous Ithaca vegetarian restaurant. If you're visiting Cornell you should definitely go.

Trader Joe's has great pre-made frozen vegetarian dinners. Their vegan tofu pad thai is THE BEST and half the town agrees with me because they are almost always sold out when I go to buy it. Their spinach lasagna is good but takes forever to microwave, something like 15 minutes, so what's the point? You could make your own by that time!

I eat lotsa pasta, whole grain, whole wheat things, and fresh organic produce from farmer's market whenever I can. I love to buy pounds and pounds of fresh strawberries at the Tuesday Culver City farmer's market and take them home, chop them up and freeze them and use them in smoothies. One simple smoothie I make often is strawberries, milk, and protein powder. If the strawberries were extremely ripe when frozen, that's all you need. If they're not quite sweet enough, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Are you hungry yet? :)

1 comment:

digital janitor said...

I could probably do without beef and pork and chicken, but there's no way I could live without fish. Sushi is one of life's greatest inventions.