From here on out, Mondays will be dedicated to recipes. Vegetarian recipes.
There’s a movement called Meatless Monday and it’s gaining momentum. Even chefs known for bacon are embracing it in their restaurants (Mario Batali adds two vegetarian dishes at each of his restaurants on Mondays).
Because asking everyone to become a vegetarian for their health is unrealistic, but asking them to cut meat out of their diet once a week is manageable.
Does it really help?
If you want to make changes in your lifestyle for the better, there are a lot of benefits. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
If you need more reasons, it’s also more economical and it reduces your carbon footprint.
Please keep in mind, when removing meat from your diet, you must replace it with a healthy alternative such as beans, legumes or nuts (and dairy if used in moderation – alas, mac and cheese is not what they had in mind when they said it can be healthier for you). The Meatless Monday website is a great resource full of recipes and nutritional tips.
To start you off, here’s my favorite chili recipe courtesy of Emeril Legasse. This hearty meal is guaranteed to satisfy the meat-lovers in your life. It’s that good. We’ve been making it for a few years now, but we originally found it at http://www.foodtv.com, a great resource for cooks, especially if you have a celebrity chef obsession.
A few tips before you begin: Make this healthier by looking for reduced-sodium broth or even better, make it yourself (it’s easy). The plain yogurt is a more healthful choice than sour cream. And, if you’re tempted to skip putting the Essence on at the end because you just don’t want to make it, don’t! It makes the meal.
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003
Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 30 min
6 to 8 servings
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 to 3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced, depending upon taste
1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms (about 5 large), stemmed, wiped clean and cubed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespooon ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked black beans, or canned beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable stock, or water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Cooked brown rice, accompaniment
Sour cream or strained plain yogurt, garnish
Diced avocado, garnish
Essence, recipe follows, garnish
Chopped green onions, garnish
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.
To serve, place 1/4 cup of brown rice in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the chili into the bowls over the rice. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and spoonful of avocado. Sprinkle with Essence and green onions and serve.
Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from “New New Orleans Cooking” by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.