E is a pescatarian. After nearly 25 years of meat and dairy and basically everything else making him sick, and 4 years of me nagging him to try going vegetarian for a little while to see if it helped, he broke after one particularly awful car ride from New York to Massachusetts, and hasn’t eaten meat since. The dairy avoidance comes and goes, but he’s definitely better off when he’s not eating dairy. For some reason, seafood doesn’t really bother him, so he still eats fish and their water-going friends for a quick protein fix.
I still eat meat. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I still eat it. However, we don’t prepare meat at home. Neither of us in interested in making multiple meals to please individual diners, and I’m okay with not having meat for dinner, anyway. Most of the time. I find that, generally, our meatless meals are more thoughtful, healthier, cheaper and easier to prepare, especially since I never really got comfortable with cooking meat and was always convinced we were one meal away from lethal food poisoning.
Sometimes, though, meals without meat feel like a great betrayal to the elaborate meat-centric family dinners that my parents put on the table growing up. Meat, starch, vegetable — I admit that creating a dining experience where the various components complement each other was easier and more fun when you had more discrete elements. Occasionally I find myself wanting to just have a simple 3-item meal rather than concoct some elaborate vegetarian dish to satisfy us. It can begin to feel like every night we’re just throwing a bunch of vegetables and a grain in a pot and mindlessly eating whatever comes out – since we avoid fake meat, it seems like most vegetarian cooking blogs offer these one-dish meals as our only other option. And who can blame them? It’s easy otherwise to end up with a diet that feels like it’s composed entirely of side dishes.
So, I am always a little bit extra pleased when a dinner comes together easily and makes us feel like we got something tasty and satisfying out of the deal. Last night, we had salmon tacos full of the veggies pictured at left and some black beans, cheese, and, of course, salmon. It was a great way to begin to say goodbye to summer (I walk through the Union Square Greenmarket on my way to work, and every time I am overwhelmed by a desire to BUY ALL THE PRODUCE before they are gone!), and the leftovers made an awesome salad which, admittedly, felt a bit like making a meal out of a side dish. Can’t win ’em all, I guess.