Monday, April 1, 2013

Vegetarian Week #3

Last week I did my third vegetarian week of the year and this was kind of a tough one. Not in that I craved meat, but I didn't do a very good job of eating things that would keep me full. I'm still trying to get an understanding of how much protein I need without eating meat. As you can imagine, after 30 years of being a carnivore, it's tough!

I've been really into kale salads lately. Who hasn't? I feel like kale is the buzziest of buzz food items lately. I really like bringing kale salads to work for lunch because I can make it the night before and put dressing on it and it won't be a soggy mess by the time I eat it the next day. In fact, I think kale is better when it's had a chance to absorb whatever dressing I put on it. It loses some of the bitterness and stiffness. 

I, of course, pulled this salad recipe from Pinterest. It just looked so good. It includes kale, pinto beans, raw almonds, carrots, dried apricots, and grana padano cheese with a simple dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. I added some sliced avocado earlier in the week as well, but I can only eat so much plain avocado before I get sick of it. I could eat a bucket of guacamole, but a plain avocado makes me gag a little. Blah.

This was a pretty good sized salad with two different proteins - the beans and the cheese - but it just didn't keep me that full. How to have a salad without chicken or tuna and stay full is definitely something I hope to figure out by the time my little vegetarian experiment is over. Dinner, I'm happy to say, was much more of a success this week.

I was thrilled to make another one of the recipes from Meatless and I sure picked a good one.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Parsley-Walnut Pesto (Serves 4)

12 ounces of whole wheat pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, etc.)
2 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 walnuts, plus more coarsely chopped for serving
1/4 grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 garlic clove
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 ounces baby spinach
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid; drain the pasta and return it to the pan.
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree the parsley, whole walnuts, cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and the water until it forms a paste. If you have a large food processor with a feeder tube, drizzle the olive oil in with the processor running, about 1 minute. If not, remove the lid and add the olive oil and process until everything is combined. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the pesto, 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and the spinach to the pasta in the pot and toss to combine. Thin with more of the pasta water if needed. Serve sprinkles with chopped walnuts, cheese, and red pepper flakes.

This is YUMMY! And so beyond easy. You do need a food processor and if you can't afford one of the big, high capacity ones, just get this mini one from Cuisinart like me. It handled this just fine. Side note - when I bought mine a few years ago I don't think it came in other colors. I am not happy about this because I would like a green one to match my mixer. Boo.

Anyway, this is a great dinner and when eaten with a side salad is perfectly filling. The parsley is a nice departure from a traditional basil pesto. It's a little bit spicy like arugula, but it adds a lot to the dish. There are so many different ways to make pesto. You can pretty much construct a pesto roulette wheel of greens, herbs, nuts, and cheese and know with any spin it will come out with a great combination.

Aside from having issues with staying full after meals, I had one tiny slip up. I attended a fashion show on Thursday night and downed a little piece of flatbread with bacon on it without even thinking. Like I said, after a carnivorous 30 years it's hard to remember to not eat meat! The flatbread was really delicious though... oops.

Do you have any tips for staying full while not eating animal proteins? What about pesto - what's the best combination you've ever tried?


  1. I have been stuck in a basil pesto rut. But I am ready to break free with a parsley walnut. Pine nuts are just so pricey too.

    1. Yes! I always forget how much they are and I'll put them on a grocery list for something. Then when I get to the store it's "oh right, they're $7 a bag."

  2. That spaghetti looks too good! I need to try it!