Friday, June 10, 2005

THE ACCIDENTAL VEGETARIAN. I've liked vegetables more than the average carnivore. Broccoli, asparagus (of course), lima beans -- even brussels sprouts, but only after I learned what they tasted like when not overcooked. Cauliflower and beets, in particular, speak to me. When my friends and I rented a hotel (OK, motel) room on college-graduation night, in fact, the most passionate happening was an argument over the merits of beets (me, pro-. I can understand visceral aversion to the green vegetables, but beets are practically candy).

Still, when I cook I generally cook one thing at a time. Two, if steak frites counts as two. And vegetables aren't usually main-dish recipes. So my eating-at-home diet tends to consist largely of pasta or meat, period. (Sure, pasta is vegetarian, but, well ...) And, frankly, I've always tended to look askance at vegetarianism. Well, I don't know if my body was trying to tell me something or what, but for the past couple of weeks that one thing I've cooked (in our new kitchen) has tended to be vegetarian -- not just as in no meat (again, my years of cappellini with Ragu sauce would qualify there), but as in actual vegetables.

Let's see, there was the eggplant-tomato-onion-garlic-mushroom-cheese casserole. Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce. Cauliflower with garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Cauliflower with Indian spices. Cauliflower and peas with Dubliner/parmesan cheese sauce. Eggplant parmesan. Roasted beets. Grilled portobello mushrooms and broiled tomatoes. That's all for now, but it's a big veggie world. I'm looking to re-create and retool some of the red-lentil recipes I came up with when I went on a big red-lentil cook as part of a misguided low-fat regime several years back.

I'm not elevating this to a fetish. I had crabs the other day, and beef fajitas the day before that. In Las Vegas I'll be all about the meat. If you invite me to Morton's, I'll be at Morton's. But I figure that I might as well make up for lost time as long as this kind of cooking remains appealing to me. I feel healthier already.

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