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I like to go meatless at least a couple times a week at our house. My husband is definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so when I decided to try this, I wasn’t really sure how it would go. But I’ve learned a few things along the way and I’d like to pass them along to you if you are in a similar situation.
If you have not researched the benefits of going meatless for some of your meals, I encourage you to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good, juicy burger. But there are some paybacks from letting your body rest a little from meat now and again.
I’m going to give a little confession here. I never SAY the words, “vegetarian night” or “Meatless Monday”, or any other phrase that gives away my motives within earshot of my husband and kids. I know! It’s downright devious. I just make it, put it on the table, and let the chips fall where they may. Honestly, I’ve never had a complaint from my crew.
One thing I like to do is make a LOT of whatever my vegetarian dish is. This way, my husband and kids don’t feel deprived. They can go back and get as much as they want and fill up just as much as they would with meat.
Another thing I do is save the swaps, such as veggie noodles for my meat-filled days. I don’t do other swaps on veggie night. Veggie on top of veggie on top of veggie just feels like overload on a family just starting out with this idea. I will often substitute a whole wheat pasta if the flavors are right for the dish.
Also, you can add other forms of protein that make your belly full and satisfied, like beans. They are a great meat substitute. For the texture of meat, try mushrooms in exchange.
But the greatest tip I have for going meatless is flavor…make sure your dishes are flavorful. Use those herbs, salt the dish properly, use some cheese and a good olive oil. Don’t ever skimp on flavor, or your household may revolt!
This pasta dish has all of the above requirements for vegetarian night. The Parmesan and pesto have a nutty, savory flavors. I decided to add mint to my basic basil pesto because mint and peas pair so well. It paid off! The mushrooms make you forget there is no meat in this dish because they are so savory and satisfying.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it tonight! But remember, don’t say a word to those picky carnivores…This will be our little secret.
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Recipe for…Parmesan Spaghetti with Basil Mint Pesto, Asparagus, Mushroom, and Peas
1 Recipe Lemon Basil Almond Pesto + 1 sprig mint leaves
¾ lb spaghetti noodles, cooked
3 cups asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-2” pieces
3 cups sliced mushrooms (any edible type)
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
1 clove garlic, grated
3 tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt, plus 1 tbs for noodles
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Boil spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Add salt after the water begins to boil. In the meantime, make the Lemon Basil Almond Pesto in your food processor according to these directions, but also add one sprig of mint leaves along with the basil to the mixture. (You can also make this ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.) Heat the olive oil on medium high in a large skillet with high sides, then add the asparagus and mushroom and sauté until a golden brown color is achieved on the mushrooms. Add ½ tsp salt at this point (not before, or mushrooms will not brown correctly), black pepper, along with grated garlic and peas and cook another minute more. By this time, the noodles should be al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta water, then drain. Pour the drained pasta, pesto, and reserved pasta water into the skillet with the vegetables and combine. Cook for another two minutes until the water has evaporated and add the Parmesan cheese.