Friday, January 29, 2010

Minimal-Meat Meals

If like me you made the
French Lentil and Ham Hock stew earlier this week, you may have leftovers.

I had ample leftovers.

And so today, I'm finishing up my posts on Reducing, Refining and Replacing your meat consumption by offering several ideas using lentil stew as the basis for minimal-meat meals.

The challenge with leftovers is to create a new meal that doesn't look and taste exactly like the original meal, after all variety is more interesting to our taste buds.

As you can see from the pictures, one of the things I did was use winter greens to add color to my leftover stew.

The first picture above is a plate lined with a layer of stew which I'd heated until much of the liquid had evaporated causing the stew to thicken.

I topped the layer of thickened stew with greens that I'd sauteed with slices of apple in a dob of butter, finishing the dish with a handful of toasted walnuts.

It was a delicious combination since the greens added color and texture, the apples complimented the smoked ham, and the walnuts paired well with the nuttiness of the lentils.

In the next picture, you'll see I added greens, sliced spring onion, several mustard-flavored meatballs and cherry tomatoes to a bowl of the leftover stew thereby creating a hearty, soup-like mixture of flavor, texture and color.

To make the meat balls, I used half a pound of organic, grass-fed ground beef, adding a heaped tablespoon of grain mustard before forming the meat into 8 small balls.

I cooked them on med-to-high in a skillet, turning the heat down as they browned, serving them as a side with salsa and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.

Once the meat balls were stirred into the bowl of soupy French lentils, ham, and greens, the salsa and cheese blended into the mix adding more flavor and richness.

The raw cherry tomatoes were a fun addition; the brightness of their red skins against the dark greens and brown lentils and beef looks luscious.

And biting down on cold and juicy mini tomatoes in combination with rich and hot lentils and mustard-flavored meatballs is quite something.

From the original French Lentil and Ham Hock stew, I was able to create a number of different meals by adding vegetables, nuts and minimal meat.

Yet these were nourishing, winter-appropriate meals that were not dependent on meat as the feature to make them fulfilling.

I started the week by saying that it is easy to reduce the amount of animal protein we eat by replacing it with other high-quality vegetarian options. I hope you agree that the meal ideas posted here today and this week are great examples of that.

Next week, I'll be writing up several recipes and notes from an in-home Indian cooking class I participated in last night. Stay tuned!

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