When it comes to adhering to a Meatless Monday-diet, a growing trend across the country, it can become a little difficult to figure out how to plan a meal or decide on a recipe. For many who eat meat-centric diets, this once-a-week change can be daunting, especially if the right tools and tips aren’t available.
Luckily, the passionate folks behind Meatless Monday reached out to five talented chefs across the country who offered their tips for how to make a delicious Meatless Monday dinner and enjoy every minute of it. These chefs offer easy-to-follow advice, from Louisiana cuisine (yes, you read that right) to grocery shopping tips. Plus, we’ve included a few meatless recipes to help make the process even easier.
Enjoy and happy cooking!
Gianfranco Minuz, Executive Chef, Locanda del Lago, Santa Monica, Calif.
"Build your meal around whole grains, which will fill you up with their fiber and chewy, nutty texture. I enjoy using Old World Italian grains such as farro, which is very traditional to my native Northern Italy. Use it in soup (making sure to parboil it first or buy it parboiled), or make a dairy-free risotto dish with vegetable stock and puréed vegetables for creaminess, such as peas, asparagus, or squash.
Farro is highly nutritious and filling. Served with fresh vegetables and herbs from your local farmers market, and perhaps a sprinkling of toasted nuts or vinegar and oil, it can be the base of a hearty and very flavorful meatless meal."
Note: Locanda del Lago was the first restaurant in Santa Monica to offer a regular, weekly Meatless Monday menu.
For the Spinach and Ricotta Farro Pasta recipe at left.
"Get fresh ingredients. It’s not necessary to buy everything organic. You can get regular vegetables fresh from the supermarket. The key is to cook the vegetables as soon as you are about to eat them. If you cook the vegetables, then put them in the refrigerator to eat later, they tend to get soggy. Drizzle the freshly cooked vegetables with extra-virgin olive oil before serving."
For the Sautéed Asparagus recipe at left.
"It may seem like an oxymoron, 'healthy Louisiana food,' but it’s absolutely possible to eat healthier and still have all your traditional favorites. One effective strategy for healthier eating with Cajun cuisine is to sample traditional, plant-based Cajun dishes and then use them as part of your Meatless Monday repertoire. The right seasoning is all it takes. You don’t need two sticks of butter for a delicious meal! Blackened seasonings — chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper — aren’t overly spicy, but add a Cajun kick to all sorts of meatless recipes. You can even try the mix on top of roasted sweet potatoes!"
For the Baked Sweet Potato Fries recipe at left.
"The best way to eat vegetables is to eat them raw. You slice and dice them any way you want to, toss them in a light vinaigrette dressing, season with salt and pepper, then add chopped herbs."
Try topping vegetables with a Carrot-Ginger Dressing.
"There are two ways to enjoy a meatless meal with vegetables. First, get a steaming basket, and put them in a pot with water. Throw in the fresh veggies in the steamer, turn the stove to low, cover, and after 10 minutes, the veggies should be cooked. Toss them with a light dressing.
Another way is to use a wok and sauté the cut-up fresh vegetables very quickly in a little oil. Don’t put the heat on too high or you’ll burn rather than sauté the vegetables. Food cooks in a heartbeat in a wok."
Try the Steamed Green Beans recipe at left.
Try these two Meatless Monday recipes to start the day off right!