We’re shocked. While I was making dinner last night I suddenly realized that the only meat we consumed all week was two chicken breasts in a quinoa casserole on Wednesday. It’s happened then. We’re Flexitarians. Quasi-vegetarianism has crept up on us by such slow degrees that our capitulation to it feels anticlimactic. (Last month I did think it was a little funny when, spotting an article entitled: “Cauliflower Steak–Better Than the Real Thing?” in a cooking magazine I not only read it but took notes. I put it down to stress at the time.)
It all started a few years ago, when I began trying to cook vegetarian at least once a week. That was a shift in thinking because I was used to planning meals by thinking first of what meat to cook: rotating chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc. Then moving to the UK helped me know how to reduce meat portion sizes within healthy limits, as meats are sold in these amounts. In the beginning of all this my main vegetarian recipe was an Eggplant Parmigiana, a version I developed after several years of soggy experimentation.
Over time we’ve added a few more, especially recently, but it’s a slow process. This week we’re having spinach and tortellini soup and caesar salad*, the chicken and quinoa casserole, tomato soup and cheese souffle and cauliflower with brown butter, eggplant parmigiana, and chickpea curry and rice. The problem is, my vegetarian repertoire is limited. We have a couple of really great no-meat recipes, but if we’re going to keep this up we need more. That’s where you come in. Now launching the 2014 Part of the Main contest: Best Vegetarian Recipes. A periodic contest is all part of the main fun, and, unlike The Baby Name Contest of 2010 and The Baby Hair Contest of 2011, this one serves a useful purpose at the same time. (What is it about Harriet that inspires contests?)
We all probably have at least a few yummy recipes without meat: let’s pool our brains! Here’s the plan: you email your recipe(s) to email@example.com. We sift them, make them, judge them, and publish the best of them in a forthcoming series that will, hopefully, give us all some new ideas. The best one of all will receive our Grand Prize: the inspiring vegetarian cookbook Meatless (2013) from Martha Stewart Living.
We can’t wait to get started! Here’s the rules:
(1)This is a vegetarian contest, but we’re flexitarians. The recipes should be meat-free but don’t over-think the protein content because we’re eating plenty of meat at other meals. Also, recipes can include chicken stock, etc. (though this can probably always be substituted with vegetable stock).
(2)It doesn’t matter what the source of the recipe is, whether it’s your own genius concoction, your great-grandma, a website or a cookbook. But please remember to cite where it comes from so we can use it.
(3) Please send a recipe you have made before.
(4) Please email your contribution on or before February 28.
A big thank you in advance to those who participate!
*Thanks to Erin!