I’ve been thinking lately about vegetarianism. I’m not a vegetarian, as you know. I love bacon. I’m a huge fan of hot dogs. And I haven’t met a beef taco I didn’t like. But the idea of vegetarianism intrigued me, for sure. Complete meals sans meat? The thought seemed impossible. Meals are meat and two sides, unless it is pasta night. At least that is how I’ve always eaten. Meat, a veggie and a starch.
I started thinking about what it would be like to try vegetarianism. Not just giving up meat. I can give up meat and subsist on a diet of french fries and cupcakes (as a vegetarian friend jokingly suggested… though we both didn’t take it as a joke. I might one day live on cupcakes). That’s not really eating though, is it? Sure, it is putting food in my mouth but will I end up satisfied if I eat fries, washed down with a side of broccoli? What about the meat? What do I put in its place? And how do I eat healthily without meat? I realize the options are limitless but foregoing meat started to result in a real need to recalibrate my thinking.
And thus, I embarked on my week as a vegetarian. I went to the grocery store and grabbed lots of veggies and grains. I stocked up on cans of black beans (my favorite bean on Earth, maybe even my favorite food). I put a few new things in the cart (lentils, cello noodles, chia seeds). And I researched and planned. Not as thoroughly as I had hopped but really, one can only spend so much time browsing Pinterest for vegetarian recipes. Either way, I came up with a few delicious and hopefully filling meals that would sustain me during my week.
Let the record state: I did not, nor will I ever, give up eggs. I love them with every fiber of my being. To give up eggs would mean death. Thus, eggs stay.
Here, I’m hoping to share my dinner choices for the week. First up was a tomato cobbler that I slightly adapted from Joy the Baker. Trying to think of cobbler as something savory is a definite brain teaser, but so is not eating meat. I used a tomato trio that I grabbed at Wegman’s. It had three different kinds of cherry tomatoes: traditional red, yellow and black cherry. In this cobbler, you whip up some white cheddar black pepper biscuit dough, then toss it in the fridge to cool. Caramelize some onions (life is better when onions have been caramelized) and add a little balsamic. Then, get the tomatoes working with some freshly chopped basil your mom gave you from her garden despite the fact that it is now almost bare because of you and your basil needs. Combine the onions, the basil, the tomatoes and a few extras, then bake (don’t add the biscuits yet, that comes later). The tomatoes and onions get a nice caramel color and begin to just burst a little. The smell will waft through the room and you’ll want to grab a spoon immediately. But not yet. Grab that biscuit dough and cut out about 8 to 10 biscuits. Layer 6 of them on top and bake again until they are nice and golden. Then dig in.
For the record, I’ve always had a love/hate with tomatoes. I’ve wanted to love them but really, just sort of hated them. Until a year ago, I wouldn’t eat them at all (unless you count ketchup). So this was a bold choice for my first meatless meal of the week. It could have shot the entire experiment to hell, really. But it was so satisfying and so filling. I ate one serving with a mashed sweet potato on the side and couldn’t have eaten another bite. It also made a tasty lunch the next day. Winner winner, non-chicken dinner!
- For biscuits:
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup white whole wheat flour
- 2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes
- ½ cup white cheddar, grated
- ¾ cup cold buttermilk
- For cobbler:
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
- ⅛ cup chopped basil
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- pinch red pepper flakes
- To make the biscuits, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Add butter and use a finger or a fork to break up the butter. Once finished, it should resembled coarse crumbs.
- Add in the cheese and stir well. Create a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir well to combine, forming a shaggy dough.
- Pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead it until it comes together. Cover it in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the cobbler.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat butter and olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions. Brown until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
- Remove from heat, add balsamic vinegar and set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together cherry tomatoes, basil, flour and red pepper. Add in onions and toss until everything is well combined.
- Place cobbler ingredients into a square glass baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove dough from the fridge. Roll the dough into a ¾ inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits into rounds.
- Remove the filling from the oven and place 6 biscuits on top of the cobbler. You may have additional biscuits left over, you can bake those along with the cobbler.
- Return the cobbler to the oven and bake 20 additional minutes until the biscuits are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.