As you know I am a major meat lover. However, every once in awhile I try to do a Meatless Monday for my husband and I. It’s usually planned with the intention of being healthy but somehow there’s always Lots of cheese involved! Here’s a mix of different vegetarian dishes I’ve made recently. Enjoy!
First up something I’ve raved about before – Farro. Farro is an “ancient wheat” that is very similar to spelt or bulgar wheat. It’s nutty, chewy in texture and very hearty. The great thing about it is that it soaks up liquid really well, so it goes well with a vinaigrette. Sadly it’s not the easiest item to find. Your best bet may be an Italian delicatessen or health food store. Crazily enough, I bought my small bag in an Italian shop in New Orleans where they’re famous for their Muffaletta sandwich. I brought it back to Arizona and then all the way to London with me! Using seasonal butternut squash, I made a Farro Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese in a Sherry Vinaigrette.
Next up was a simple started of Fried Halloumi with a Red Onion, Caper, Coriander Vinaigrette. Halloumi is this delicious, salty white cheese from Cyprus. It can be made from either cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk and has a semi-hard, chewy texture. I find it’s nice crumbled in a salad, hot off the grill as a kebab or coated in flour and pan fried. I did the latter and it was incredibly easy.
It comes in a block about 4 or 5 inches long, about 3 inches wide and 3 inches high. Slice into pieces as thin as you can get it (maybe half a cm). Since it comes with a bit of water in its package (much like mozzarella), just dip it in flour and it will coat easily. Then fry in a bit of oil in a pan. Serve with a simple white wine vinaigrette with finely chopped red onion or shallots, chopped capers and chopped coriander/cilantro. If you have some lime, add the juice from half. You don’t need to add salt to this dressing as the capers and cheese will be salty. Enjoy!
Next up is a Vietnamese Carrot Salad. This dish isn’t entirely vegetarian as it uses fish sauce, but this can be substituted for salt. But this salad isn’t meant to be served as an appetizer/starter. It’s more of a side dish. While it’s not
entirely ‘traditional’, even the BBC has a similar version with cabbage. This is really a quick easy version of the actual traditional salad Goi Tom which has shrimp, daikon and cucumber. My mom makes this salad all the time. It’s really refreshing and she does a great presentation. She’ll mound the salad on a plate, slice the shrimp in half length wise and place them all over the salad ‘dome’. It looks gorgeous. She’ll also use green papaya at times. Check out this recipe for Goi Tom or this recipe for green papaya salad.
This quick and easy use of carrots is great with some grilled or pan roasted prawns/shrimp and some rice noodles. Or with some grilled Vietnamese style pork (lemongrass) and steamed rice.
Peel and then julienne or grate your carrots. Finely chop some red onion or shallots. Cut some mint in chiffonade (thinly slice) or chop some coriander if you don’t have mint. Add some chopped chilli if you have it. Gently toast your peanuts in a pan if possible, otherwise just crush and toss in. Make enough dressing (nuoc mam cham) with this ratio (2 parts water, 1 part sugar, 1 part fish sauce, 1 part lemon or lime juice, 1 clove garlic, chilli pepper). Go easy when adding the sauce to the salad though. It’s very strong! But just toss it all together and serve!
Last but not least is a quick and easy Beet and Apple Salad with Blue Cheese. I’ve done a similar salad before (click here for recipe) with avocado as well. But this one was even easier. In the UK, you can buy cooked whole beets in water in the salad section but in the States canned beets are just fine. Some people find this salad a bit too sweet but you can offset that by adding the blue cheese, lemon juice or some rocket/arugula leaves.
Slice the beets into matchsticks. Similarly slice the apples (skin on). Toast some walnuts and crush. Make a simple lemon dressing (lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper) with finely chopped shallots if you’d like. I like to toss the beets and apples in the dressing separately so that you can maintain the color contrast. Serve with a few knobs of blue cheese (I like Gorgonzola for this) and sprinkle the walnuts on top!