Friday, May 14, 2010

10 vegetarian foods from other countries

To most meat-eaters, a plate piled high with vegetables is missing something. It is no doubt beautiful with its red tomatoes and light green avocados and dark green spinach and white cauliflower and orange yams - but where's the beef?

Get past the expectation of meat, two vegetables, and a starch. Try something entirely different tonight. Eat food that is neither North American nor Northern European. Go south, or west, or east.

If you want easy and familiar: Eat Italian or Mexican. You know the foods. It's easy to find vegetarian options. There's probably a suitable restaurant just down the street.

If you want to expand your horizons: Find a restaurant from a country you've never visited, serving food you've never tried. Tell the server you want to eat vegetarian, and let him or her guide you to typical dishes.

If you like to experiment: Forget the restaurant. Cook at home

Though everybody is eating more meat nowadays, many countries have traditional dishes that use meat sparingly or not at all. Here's a list of 10 such countries in alphabetical order, with links to vegetarian recipes you might enjoy. ( If a recipe calls for chicken broth, use vegetable broth.) To find countless more recipes, Google [name of country] vegetarian recipes.

1.    China: Szechuan eggplant
2.    Ethiopia: Mesir wat (red lentil puree)
3.    Greece: spanakotyropita (spinach pie)
4.    India: gujarati dal (spicy red lentils)
5.    Italy: eggplant parmigiana
6.    Lebanon: falafel (bean patties)
7.    Mexico: spinach enchiladas verde
8.    Spain: tortilla (Spanish omelet)
9.    Thailand: pan seared tofu in orange peanut sauce
10. Turkey: cauliflower with bechamel sauce

Cautionary note to would-be vegetarians: Maybe you'd like to get healthier or save the environment or boycott factory farms. Should you become a vegetarian? Perhaps - but probably not overnight. Start by eating meat-free meals at least once a week. Try new foods, whether you prepare them yourself or order them in restaurants. By cutting back on meat consumption, you're already helping your body and the earth. And when you find plant-based meals you truly enjoy, you may decide to cut back - and help - even more.

1 comment:

Russ said...

I think the hardest thing is when you just need to make dinner, and don't have the ingredients or energy to follow a specific recipe. For that, here's my all-purpose vegan recipe: Cut tempeh (it lasts a long time in the refrigerator, so we always have some on hand. We actually buy it by the case at Whole Foods) into slices, stir fry in sesame oil, then add pretty much anything else (onions, garlic, broccoli, spinach, carrots, red peppers, zucchini, etc.) and pretty much any sauce (teryaki, soy sauce, Thai chili sauce, lemon-pepper, lemon and honey, orange juice and cayenne, lime and agave, peanut, etc. - whatever's around), and serve on rice.