Have you ever heard of Meatless Mondays? It’s an initiative to encourage people to go without meat on Mondays for various health and environmental reasons. You can read about it on Canada’s Meatless Monday site – basically we could all benefit from at least one day a week sans meat. Meatless Mondays are not about changing your lifestyle or preaching to folks to become vegetarians and join PETA. They are for taking advantage of the health benefits of limiting meat (reducing obesity, heart disease, diabetes…to name a few). And you have the socially accepted bonus of being an environmentalist for a day by reducing your carbon footprint (raising livestock and fishing use up a lot of water and oil). But, let’s be honest here, there are 2 other really good reasons to go without meat: 1) Your Wallet & 2) Tasty No-Meat Meals. Eating meat is expensive. Especially if it’s good meat – such as wild Chinook (King) salmon (yes…we’re calling fish “meat” here. Get over it), very young lamb, or organic free-range chicken.
I think what intensely loyal meat eaters sometimes forget (or don’t realize because they’ve never gone a meal, let alone a day without eating meat) is that meatless food can be downright delicious. Sometimes…it’s even better than food with animal proteins. I like meat just as much as the next carnivore, but I can also lose myself to a mushroom risotto or a Chana Masala. We’re already pretty omnivorous in this household – we likely eat meatless dinners about 3-4 times a week. Okay…that’s only if we’re talking meat vs fish/seafood. You caught me.
When Kyle’s not home, I find the meat dwindling down to only a couple of times a week. I think I just don’t really have the drive to eat all those meaty leftovers or find new things to do with leftover pork and chicken. There’s enough food flying around here as it. It’s hard enough getting all the contents of the fridge eaten when I’m alone – no need to throw in the time constraints of festering meat leftovers. (Confession: leftover meat dishes are suspicious to me…I rarely can stomach eating them past 2 days)
If you and your family don’t already go meatless, then I encourage you to try it one day a week. Even if it’s not a Monday. Your wallet, the planet, and your body will all thank you.
Linguine with Zucchini, Tomatoes, & Ricotta
This recipe is truly just a rough guide to having a Primavera-esque pasta dinner. Substitute or add any quick-cooking veggies you have on hand. Don’t forget to keep some of your “pasta water” and don’t overcook your pasta – you’ll finish it off in the pan with the veggies.
1 lb linguine, uncooked
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
1 1/2 – 2 cups summer squash (zucchini & yellow squash), diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
a couple handfuls of arugula
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Boil pasta according to directions. Make sure you cook it “al dente” as your going to throw it into the pan with the veggies. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute for 30 seconds. Add the squash, salt & pepper to the pan and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pan and saute for another 2 minutes. I like to lightly squish some of the tomatoes to let out their juices into the pan. When the pasta is cooked, add it directly into the pan and mix up all the contents. Add the ricotta, parmesan, and arugula and combine everything. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water and toss to incorporate into the pasta. If the dish seems dry, add more pasta water (a little at a time) until desired consistency. Pour the contents of the pan into a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley and basil. Add more salt & pepper to taste.