This spring (and summer, and forever) we’re working on our vegetable literacy. We’re deepening our library, and moving past the everyday grocery staples into a new appreciation of textures, flavors and colors. Vegetables are magical, a world unto themselves – potent both in their power for healing and in their miraculous flavors. The satin of a perfectly ripe tomato – the kick of a perfectly charred onion. Yum.
We aren’t vegetarians exactly, but we’re certainly scaling down our meat intake to make way for these little dudes.
Having said that, sometimes you want a hint of the salty, greasy, oily, sizzling heat that meat provides so we did a little legwork to pair airy veggies from @Food52 and @BonAppetite with a taste of protein/meat to round out your meal (and to keep your plant-eating and carnivorous guests happy).
We hope you enjoy. Now to get back to “Botany of Desire”…
Zuccaghetti. A veggie alternative to pasta. Why we love it: zucchini holds flavor and, in the great tradition of “cucina povera” is a cheap and easily accessible ingredient. This recipe is seasonal as spring creeps into summer. For your meat: we suggest a small plate of guanciale, crudely chopped, seasoned with salt and pepper, and tossed in olive oil on the stove top.
Recipe here: https://food52.com/recipes/5383-zuccaghetti
Tomato bisque. This recipe is sparse on ingredients, and rich in flavor. Did we mention we can’t wait for tomato season? This dish can be thrown together quickly, and is delicious though minimal. For your meat: serve with a side of thick sourdough and some crumbled bacon bits to throw on top.
Recipe here: https://food52.com/recipes/382-my-grandmother-s-tomato-bisque
Shaved brussels salad with red onion lemon and pecorino. This recipe hits the reset button your palette as it’s both balanced and bright, with a zip of sharp pecorino. It stands alone but if you want to pair with a meat, serve up some sliced steak and charred bread on the side.
Recipe here: https://food52.com/recipes/7650-shaved-brussels-sprout-salad-with-red-onion-lemon-and-pecorino
Blistered shishito peppers. Since going to Portugal and eating these nightly, we aren’t over the blessed shishito. Best served in a thick ceramic bowl, with some vinho verde nearby. This recipe is easy, and pleasing, and barely makes a dent in your bank account. For some salt and intrigue, serve with a side of thickly cut bread, olive oil for dunking, sardines, and rough cut cheese (an English cheddar, or manchego would do nicely).
Recipe here: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/blistered-shishito-peppers
Last but not least: lemon, EVOO, fennel, burrata to light up your taste buds. Fennel is a current favorite – it’s delicious in citrus salads with grapefruit and orange, or in a green insalata mista. This recipe tapers the acidity of fennel with the creaminess of burrata, efficiently. If you’re adding a protein, serve up a little monkfish or mackerel on the side, with an olive oil/lemon marinade to keep things springy.
Recipe here: https://food52.com/recipes/21008-lemon-olive-oil-marinated-fennel-with-burrata-mint