Last Updated on January 20, 2014 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD
We aren’t major carnivores, but I’m trying to plan the veggie meals in more intentionally.
Well, maybe I should rephrase that. I am not a major carnivore. My hubby deals with this, and appreciates a hot meal on his plate, even if he’d really prefer that his daily dinner once had a heartbeat.
For a few years, we’ve been pretty consistently buying only organic eggs and dairy, and buying mostly organic produce. I’m certainly not the preachy “excuse me, is your hot chocolate syrup organic?” coffee shop patron, but I feel okay about paying the extra few bucks at the checkout for the warm visual I get about happy cows and chickens, and healthy soil.
Still, I’ve had this niggling guilt about the conventionally- (read: kinda terribly-) raised piggies who provide delicious, delicious bacon companions for my waffles, and all their little farm friends.
I have, nonetheless, never totally been able to stomach the giant price hike associated with buying everything organic. Remembering the hefty price tag on our organic Christmas turkey still makes me twitch.
SO I am trying out a new approach, which involves buying meat more “thoughtfully”, but simply buying less. With a few meals a week relying on legumes, tofu, nuts and dairy for the protein, I find I’m able to make the bottom line work out.
Making meat stretch further with mixed dishes (soups, casseroles, stir-fries, curries, etc) bulked up with grains and veggies (rather than meat and potatoes style meals) helps economize, too.
Let me just say, I am most definitely not trying to toss out guilt to anyone – I know that where I’m from, conventional food is expensive enough, and many people struggle to afford healthy meals for their families. The real change has to be made at the policy level, and no one should feel bad about the food they put on their plates because of our country’s sucky questionable agricultural practices.
But in any case, I just thought I’d share my personal strategy, in case it works for your wallet, too.
One of our meatless meals this week was this gorgeous thai-inspired creamy linguine pasta, lush with coconut milk, ginger and garlic; speckled green with bright flecks of mint, kale and spinach.
The sauce is made in minutes by wilting big bunches of hearty greens with coconut milk, and pureeing it all together.
It is so insanely scrumptious that you WILL lick the plate, and will probably make the sauce again the next day as a soup…
I used kale and spinach, but feel free to sub any greens you have on hand – swiss chard is an easy switch, but rapini, broccoli, or even zucchini would work well!
If you’re not feeling the vegetarian-ness, a handful of shrimp tossed into the sauce after pureeing, simmered until just opaque, would be an absolutely perfect protein companion.
Creamy Greens & Coconut Linguine
- 1 lb/454 grams linguine
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno ribs and seeds removed if less heat is preferred
- 1 ½ tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 bunch kale stems removed, chopped
- 1 bunch spinach chopped
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente, 8-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, jalapeno and ginger; cook until garlic is soft, about a minute. Add coconut milk, cover and turn up heat to bring to a simmer.
- Add kale and spinach; cover and cook until just wilted and bright green (depending on the size of your pot, you may need to add it in bunches, letting a handful wilt then tossing in another handful).
- Add mint and remove from heat. Puree sauce using an immersion blender (or a regular stand blender - just puree in batches or the steam created can blow the lid off). Add salt in big pinches, tasting as you go, until the flavours pop - then it is properly seasoned.
- When the pasta is cooked, scoop out a cup of the pasta water before draining it. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding splashes of pasta water if needed to thin out to desired consistency.