Special of the Day: Meatless Mondays

09 Mar Special of the Day: Meatless Mondays

Meatless Monday campaign’s aim is better health

“Eat food.
Not too much.
Mostly plants.”

— Michael Pollan

Now there’s some sage advice from a seasoned Ameri­can author.

Almost every study on health and well-being these days rec­ommends eating more fruits and vegetables by touting their superpowers as providers of vitamins and antioxidants and their ability to lower blood pres­sure, reduce the risk of heart disease and even prevent some cancers.

Reducing saturated fat intake was in the forefront of Sid Lern­er’s mind when he launched his Meatless Mondays campaign back in 2003. Working in con­junction with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future, Lerner believed that encouraging peo­ple not to eat meat on Mondays would benefit the health of par­ticipants as well as the environ­ment as a whole.

Eating more plants and fewer animal products helps our planet by reducing harmful greenhouse gases, preventing further pollu­tion of streams, rivers and oceans and saving water.

School districts, university cafeterias and famous chefs have all climbed onboard, offering meatless alternatives on Mon­days. Most notably, Mario Batali and Wolfgang Puck have added meatless menu items at their famous restaurants, and last week former Beatle Paul McCart­ney spoke of the merits of his meat-free Monday campaign in front of the European Parlia­ment.

Skipping meat one day a week is easier than you might think, and when you consider all the ways in which it helps your health as well as your world, you might want to give it a try.

Here’s the Special of the Day: Meatless Mondays and three recipes so delicious you won’t feel like you’re missing a thing.

 
 
 BAKED STUFFED PORTOBELLOS

 4 large portobello mushrooms

 2 tbsp. olive oil

 4 garlic cloves, minced

 ½ cup fennel, chopped

 ½ cup tomatoes, chopped

 ½ cup Fontina cheese, grated

 ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

 ½ cup Italian bread crumbs

 1 egg

 2 tsp. dried basil

 ½ tsp. salt

 ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

 ¼ cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove insides fromportobel­lo caps. Set caps aside. Chop insides of mushrooms and set aside.

Heat olive oil in medium saute pan over medium high heat and saute garlic until softened.

Add fennel, chopped mush­rooms and tomatoes and saute until fennel is lightly browned, about eight minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, combine sauteed mushroom mixture with cheeses, bread crumbs, egg and seasonings. Stir to combine thor­oughly.

Brush insides of portobello caps with olive oil.

Brush glass baking dish with olive oil and arrange portobello caps in dish, cavity side up.

Mound filling into mushroom caps.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until hot.

Garnish with fennel fronds.

Serves four.



 

HEARTY MINESTRONE

 2 tbsp. olive oil

 ½ cup onion, chopped

 2 cloves garlic, minced

 ½ cup celery, chopped

 1 small zucchini cut in bite­sized pieces

 ½ cup carrots, chopped

 1 cup tomato puree

 1 quart vegetable stock

 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained

 15-ounce can cannelloni beans, drained

 1 cup pasta (I used cheese ravi­oletti)

 2 tbsp. fresh basil, minced

 2 tbsp. fresh oregano, minced

 ½ tsp. salt

 ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

 ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium Dutch oven or stockpot, heat olive oil over medium high heat until hot.

Add onion, garlic and celery and saute for three minutes.

Add zucchini and carrots and cook for another three minutes, stirring often.

Add tomato puree, vegetable stock, beans and pasta and stir to combine thoroughly.

Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until pasta is almost tender.

Add basil, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for an addition­al three to four minutes.

Ladle hot soup into individual soup bowls and top with Parme­san cheese.

Serves four.

 
 
 
 SPICY BLACK BEAN QUESADILLAS
 

 15-ounce can black beans, drained

 1 tsp. chili powder, plus addi­tional for garnish

 ½ tsp. cumin

 ¼ tsp. salt

 2 cups pepper jack cheese, grated

 ¼ cup sour cream

 2 tbsp. oil

 4 sundried tomato tortillas

Preheat electric griddle to 350°.

In a medium bowl combine black beans, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper jack cheese.

Brush preheated griddle with oil.

Place two tortillas on griddle and spread bean mixture evenly over the top of each tortilla.

Top each with a tortilla and grill until lightly browned about 2 minutes.

Flip and grill other side.

Slice into wedges and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chili powder.

Makes 16 quesadilla wedges

 Sydne George is a food journal­ist specializing in recipe develop­ment, food writing and food pho­tography. 
 She can be reached @ sydnegeorge@hotmail.com. 
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