So. Scullery things. Pots and pans and bustling women in flour-dusted smocks. Or, in our kitchen, flour-dusted pots and flour-dusted pans and bustling women in flour-dusted yoga pants. And bustling fathers in flour-dusted smocks. I’d talk about my affinity and obviously affluent talent for baking, but Madre’s already covered that. So here’s a post on my biggest food related struggle: trying to be a vegetarian in a household filled with ardent meatloafers. Not a typo, Word.
I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m curious about what it would be like and whether or not I would survive. I guess I’m a vegetarian in the same way that most non-nutcases view the Mayan apocalypse: I know it’s not going to happen, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like. Could I live without running water? Electricity? Burgers?
See, my meatphobia differs slightly from the norm. I’m not refraining from carnivorous activity because I love animals. I mean, I do love animals. But that wouldn’t exactly keep me from eating them. That was not phrased tactfully either. I really excel at this blogging thing, huh?
Take two. I love animals. I went through my childhood arguing with pretty much anyone who tried to convince me that animals have a lower level of intelligence than humans. However, I have no problem with humans eating animals, as long as that meat lived a healthy life and died humanely. (Kind of a funny contradiction, when you think about it. I hope the animal lived the most naturally animalistic life available to him/her. And died a death fit for a human.) BUT. The point is that sizzling bacon doesn’t awaken an instinctual meat craving in me. It just makes me want cake.
This house is packed full of some hardcore meat enthusiasts. (BROTHER.) And by hardcore, I mean the what-the-hell-are-you-doing-with-that-green-thing-burn-it-now type. Homemade Polish sausage. Thick strips of bacon. Juicy steaks on the grill. Juicy chicken breasts on the grill. Juicy anything on the grill. My brother’s tried frogs’ legs. My dad loves any internal organ, or so it seems.
My mother even had the unique experience of tasting delectable duck’s blood soup in her gullible years. You see, my grandparents are thrifty and Polish. They’re from the era where if you kill it, you use ALL of it. Most of their jewelry is made from teeth.
But despite the frequency of fleshy food in this family, my mother has managed to incorporate an impressive number of vegetarian recipes in her cooking, as well as magic up any (wannabe) vegetarian’s dream … a beautiful garden. If any doubts exist concerning a human’s capability to live off the land, one merely has to lay eyes on the abundance of colors in our backyard. Not just green, blogees. But red. Yellow. Pink. Blue. Orange. All SO MUCH MORE APPETIZING than the boring black char. (Though if black’s your thing, our blackberries will rival any. Literally. Our blackberries will sword fight yours to the death. So there.)
One of my new favorite herbivore-chow dishes came directly from the garden. Using the broad, leafy greens she grows, my mother tossed out the books and whipped up this fantastic thing.
Make it. I insist. Better yet, grow it, then make it. All the cows in North America will moo appreciatively for you.
Swiss Chard Farro Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper, Goat’s Cheese & Tomato Sauce
6-8 large leaves of chard (rainbow, swiss, red or even big kale) (double them up if they’re small)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups farro
5 cups vegetable broth (or salted water)
10 oz good quality jarred roasted red pepper/tomato sauce
4 oz goat’s cheese
(We also threw in a simple side dish of layered, sliced zucchini and yellow squash, mixed up with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and cheddar and Parmesan cheese.)
Soak farro grains for 25 minutes. Strain and add to simmering vegetable broth. Cook for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic till translucent.
Transfer farro to the onion/garlic mixture. Season with salt and pepper and feel free to add in chopped olives, a few sundried tomatoes, caper berries, a handful of arugula – be creative.
Wash chard leaves until free of dirt, then remove stems up to the body of the leaf. Lay the leaf flat on a work surface and put a few tablespoons of the grain mixture onto the lower fat end of the leaf. Roll that puppy up and place seam side down into a 9×9 baking pan. Tuck in any loose ends.
Continue until you run out of leaves or space. Place chunks of the goat’s cheese over the rolls. Pour the red pepper/tomato sauce over everything and pop into an oven set to 375 for 30 -35 minutes.
Somewhere around minute 25, I pulled mine out and tossed some Parmesan cheese over the whole lot and then popped it back in for the last 10 minutes.