One advantage of going meatless for a month: Learning new recipes. Certainly cooking is easier and faster when you're working familiar foods and recipes.
But it's a lot more fun -- at least in our house -- when we challenge ourselves to cook with unfamiliar ingredients like eggplant and sardines.
Here's a menu that involves both for our first week in our mostly meatless month. We made the Jalepeño Creamed Corn, Fallen Spinach Soufflé and Stuffed Poblanos over the weekend (the spinach and poblano dishes use eggs; picture above). I created the Roasted Root Vegetables based on a recipe in Gourmet magazine many years ago. I've lost the original, but this recreation works great.
Roasted Root Vegetables Makes 6 Servings
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Fennel bulb sliced
3 Carrots cut into 1-inch strips
2 Celery stalks coarsely chopped
2 Garlic cloves coarsely chopped
1 Green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Cup onion chopped
1/2 Fingerling potatoes
Salt, pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom of roasting pan with olive oil.
In a large bowl, toss carrots, celery, fennel bulb, garlic, onion and bell pepper with 2 tbsp. of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Mix in roasting pan with potatoes. Add salt and pepper and cook for about 90 minutes or until potatoes are tender. I've added fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme in the past, but the fennel bulb adds enough aromatic flavor to this dish for us.
Jalapeño Creamed Corn Recipe
I love the fresh corn part of this recipe, but it can be a lot of work. I use a serrated knife to score and scrape the corn from the cob. It's okay to substitute one can of creamed corn for half the fresh ears, but you're missing out if you don't use any fresh corn.
Stuffed Poblanos Recipe
I'm not a big fan of frying food -- I love the taste, just not the mess and added fat and calories. But this dish is really fantastic when you pull it off. You can skip the frying and roast the stuffed poblanos in the oven long enough to melt the cheese inside.
Asparagus and Gruyére Tart
Asparagus is in season! This is a neat twist introduced to me via Twitter this month. Can't wait to bite into it.
Garden Turkey Meatballs: Love spaghetti and meatballs but hate all the extra fat and calories? Registered dietitian Liz Weiss shows you how to give your meatballs a makeover--with turkey .
Cut Out Meat for a Month: Want to cut out meat for a month? That's what Everwell's Sean Kelley is doing. See how his family is reducing their meat consumption -- and find out what rules they're following.
Veggie Prep: If you're not preparing your vegetables right, you may not be getting their full nutritional value. Here's how to prep your veggies and keep all their healthy nutrients.