Plant-Based Pleasures

You may not believe me when I say it, but a plant-based meal can be just as delicious and satisfying as a meat-based meal—and it

You may not believe me when I say it, but a plant-based meal can be just as delicious and satisfying as a meat-based meal—and it can be quick, easy and affordable to boot. The key to plant-based pleasures is simple: Skip the fake ingredients and go back to the roots!

First, let’s get some things out of the way regarding my view of plant-based eating. Yes, I eat meat. No, nothing plant-based can ever be as delicious as barbecue ribs. Yes, plant-based is a just a buzzy way to say “vegan.” No, you will not become protein deficient from one meatless meal. Yes, your kids will (probably) like it.

In his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, food writer Michael Pollan verbalized a food philosophy that really resonated with me: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

The first statement, “Eat food,” refers to the idea of avoiding heavily processed foods and instead focusing on simple ingredients. In the context of plant-based ingredients, that is solid advice.

Walk down the aisles of any modern grocery store and you will find an abundance of vegan foods that are made to replace something they are not (think “Beyond Meat” or vegan cheese). My advice: Skip the wannabees and instead look to the cultures that have cooked vegan for centuries for plant-based advice. Recipes from places such as India and Morocco often boast amazing flavors—and many are meatless.

Chickpea Curry
This Chickpea Curry recipe is a prime example of all the things that are great about plant-based dining. It’s quick and easy to make, has no strange ingredients, is filling and healthy—and, is absolutely delicious!

Time: ~30 minutes | Serves: 4-5
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 fresh jalapeño, seeds removed, finely minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz.), drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup of parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven (or other large, thick-bottomed pot) over medium heat
and add the bell peppers. Cook until they
just begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add jalapeño, ginger, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper and cook about 30 seconds. (Don’t let the garlic burn!)
Add chickpeas, tomatoes and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes while stirring occasionally. While stirring, mash about a quarter of the chickpeas. Add the parsley. Serve over rice and enjoy!

avocado-toastBetter Avocado Toast
Avocado toast is not only the greatest culinary contribution of the millennial generation, but it’s also a wonderfully versatile meatless meal, snack, or brunch. Try this version that kicks up the flavor profile a couple of notches with lemon and olive oil.
Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 2
1 large, ripe avocado
2 large slices of crusty
bread, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 pinch of salt, pepper

Toast the bread slices under a high-heat broiler on both sides. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh from both halves. Thinly slide one half, longways, and mash the other half.
In a small bowl, mix olive oil, salt, pepper and most of the lemon zest. Add the flesh from the mashed avocado half and mix. Spread the mixture evenly over the two slices of toast and arrange the sliced half on top. Sprinkle with the remaining
lemon zest and, if you like, some finishing salt (such as Maldon). Serve as is, or with a poached egg!

lemon-shelleyThe Lemon-Shelley
Since we are celebrating the culinary pleasures of plants—and the departure of our fearless editor, Shelley Basinger (be sure to read her editor’s letter)—we cannot skip over the wonder that is a well-crafted cocktail. This recipe showcases plants to the extreme with herbaceous chartreuse (infused by 130+ plants), gin (juniper berry, herbs and spices), agave syrup (agave plant—no, it’s not a cactus) and the queen of citrus: lemon.

2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. chartreuse (green)
1 oz. agave syrup
Fresh-squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon
Sparkling water to taste
Lemon peel or a sprig of your favorite herb
for garnish

Add a scoop of fresh ice to a cocktail shaker. Add the gin, chartreuse, agave syrup and lemon juice. Fill an old-fashioned glass (the low, wide kind) with ice. Strain cocktail into glass, topping off with sparkling water. Garnish with a twist of lemon—or a sprig of your favorite herb!

Photos by Ashlee Glen

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