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Fast, Non-Salad Vegetarian Options


Chris Amirault
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Focus or lack thereof is an interesting subject. I find that as I get older I really enjoy dinners that have no focus--which usually translates as no entree. In a good light I would call it a meal of tapas. In the height of summer, on a day I go to the farmers' market that's most likely to be a vegetarian meal, since I can't chose between beautiful corn, beets, tomatoes, fingerlings etc., so we just have them all. You don't necessarily need an entree to make balance. To me, the above small plates with the addition of some yummy cheeses or oysters or pate as an app with drinks would be a perfect meal, but I make the assumption that most guests would prefer a more traditional dinner. I think I have become a pretty quirky eater in some ways; although there aren't many foods I don't like, I do need to limit cholesterol and fat.

Many in my husband's family are vegetarians and have grown up with very typical casseroles that often rely on carbohydrates and cheese like the old standards of lasagna, eggplant parm, savory pies and enchiladas. I am used to making that type of thing when we eat with them. Since I need to stay away from cheese and butter, when we eat vegetarian at home it's seldom stuff like that. Perhaps that's why the multi-salad tapas-style is very appealing to me.

Back to focus and balance, I would probably have been quite happy with the meal you served, but I can certainly see how that cornucopia of medit food would make you yearn for lamb kabobs. I am guessing you have had them by now or are about to!

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I kind of don't think so, Chris. I think the concept of an entree--if that is indeed what we are talking about when we talk about focus--is pretty much a standard for vegetarians as well as meat eaters. Whether it revolves around separate hunks of protein, smaller amounts of protein mixed into stir-fry or big soup or a casserole with no animal protein at all, it represents the "main event" in a staggered meal that marches along in a more or less orderly fashion. And my experience with vegetarians (I hope I don't get a lot of flack for this), which includes many many years of eating with my in-laws, is that many vegetarians--at least many who became vegetarians in the sixties--are actually very traditional in the way they approach a meal. They are the folks who forged the "substitute" entrees--tofu burgers, etc--dishes that try to make vegetarian foods look and taste like non-veg foods and which emulate the traditional meals of an American childhood. Many of my daughter's college-age friends who, like her, grew up eating lots of ethic foods have a much more sophisticated approach to a vegetarian diet. But I've digressed.

I really don't know much about the origins of Spanish tapas, but that's hardly vegetarian. Clearly in this country we elevated the concept of small plates or tapas from bar food to "why not make a meal of this stuff?" since it was often better and more interesting than just eating one entree, and you could fool yourself into thinking you were eating less. Always appealing for the American Waistline. But have the Spanish had a long tradition of small plates as a complete dinner option? In restaurants that's easy to do, but if you are eating in a Spanish home, or out for country/rustic food in Spain (and I've never been) aren't you most likely to find more traditional menus with a main course?

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5067/sp...s-with-halloumi

This is one of my faviourite veggie options, i add a tin of chopped tomatoes to it though and a bit more chilli - the whole websitwe is actually very good fro veggie options too....

Thank you for that link! I hate to admit this, but I know nothing about Halloumi cheese other than (after a fast Google search) that it's from Greece and you can grill it. Can you tell me anything more about it?

pat

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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... I hate to admit this, but I know nothing about Halloumi cheese other than (after a fast Google search) that it's from Greece and you can grill it.  Can you tell me anything more about it?

On cooking, it gets chewy.

Somewhere between caramel and rubber!

So its great for kebabs. (Or at least, it stays on the skewer...)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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i cook mine in a griddle pan with a touch of oil, careful not to cook it at too high a temperature as it browns and can stick to the pan if you do. You want it to be golden on the outside and you should eat it almost immediately as it can go rubbery as mentioned earlier. another favourite is pitta bread filled with a salad of diced cucumber, coriander, red onion, cherry tomatoes, avocado and roasted peppers (or jars of sweet peppers) and then halloumi on top.

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Thank you to you both! Chewy sounds good, not too sure about rubbery. Does it have a flavor of its own or is it more like tofu or paneer in taste?

So far I'm intrigued, although since I'm in the US, I suspect its going to be quite a challenge to find.

pat

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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I really don't know much about the origins of Spanish tapas, but that's hardly vegetarian. Clearly in this country we elevated the concept of small plates or tapas from bar food to "why not make a meal of this stuff?" since it was often better and more interesting than just eating one entree, and you could fool yourself into thinking you were eating less. Always appealing for the American Waistline. But have the Spanish had a long tradition of small plates as a complete dinner option? In restaurants that's easy to do, but if you are eating in a Spanish home, or out for country/rustic food in Spain (and I've never been) aren't you most likely to find more traditional menus with a main course?

Katie, this is probably a thread of its own (and a question for Rogelio or Pedro or someone who is actually Spanish) but in my two years in Madrid and the rest of the country, eating both in restaurants and in friends' homes, the main meal with a main course is more likely to be the midday one, and it's fairly common to set out a bunch of little plates and everyone kind of graze during the evening, especially in summer. So you have both.

and just to keep it on topic, I think you were craving lamb kabobs because lamb kabobs are good. Basta.

:biggrin::wub:

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