You’re not fooling him, sister.
It’s a pairing more common than takeout Caesar salad and two buck Chuck. There’s even a song about it: you’re a vegetarian and your boyfriend isn’t about to part with bacon in this lifetime. It’s not that he hates the planet; it’s just that tofu deeply worries him. The mere mention of a vegetarian dinner brings your old nickname (Chick’n) back to life for at least a week, or on more exciting nights, a spirited debate about whether mock meat nuggets taste more like chicken nuggets than actual chicken nuggets. I’ll save you the suspense: nobody wins.
Help your manly meatatarian out with some veg recipes that he’ll actually love. That means filling, substantial, tasty and preferably hand-held. These recipes are fast, cheap, and easy. Something every man appreciates.
1. The Carl’s Jr. Is Scared of This Sandwich, Sandwich
This is a sandwich everyone loves, and the ingredients are so filling no one notices the lack of meat. The best part is that it only takes 10 minutes to make. Note: this is not a sandwich for someone on a diet.
Ingredients: sourdough or rye bread, 1 large avocado, 4 slices sharp cheddar and 2 slices gruyere cheese, 1 tomato.
To make: this is just like a grilled cheese sandwich, except you’re also adding in avocado slices (half an avocado for each sandwich) and tomato slices (ditto). Each sandwich gets 3 slices of cheese. To make the sandwich really good and greasy – but somewhat healthy – skip butter and lightly coat both sides of each piece of bread in olive oil. Give the oiled bread a tasty treatment of coarse salt and, if you have it, a tiny sprinkling of chopped rosemary. Trust me, this is insanely filling – and good. To rev it up a bit, shake a little Tabasco over the sandwiches while they’re grilling.
2. The Chop
My grandmother learned this recipe while living in Guinea, Africa. Over the years everyone in the family has adapted it in different ways. She always called it Chop, and while her recipe used ground beef and beef broth, you don’t need the meat and you can use vegetable stock.
Ingredients: 1/2 cup red wine (cheap is fine), 1 cup tomato paste, 2 cups chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a few pinches of salt, a handful of chopped oregano (or marjoram), a few dashes of Tabasco, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth. If desired, use 1/2 cup of peanuts or 1 can of chickpeas as a meat substitute.
To make: combine everything in a large sauce pot, stir, and simmer on medium-low for at least an hour (it’s best if you can let it simmer for 2 or 3 hours to help the flavors blend). This is not unlike spaghetti sauce, but the peanut butter gives it more of an exotic flavor – and makes the sauce more substantial. Serve over brown rice. If you want this really chunky and thick, use more peanut butter. You can also include a chopped white or yellow onion and a few fresh minced garlic cloves in the sauce.
3. King Burrito
Men like holding their food.
Ingredients: 2 very large soft flour tortillas, 1 can vegetarian refried beans, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1 small diced white onion, 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce, 1 cup leftover brown rice, 1 diced tomato, 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro, 1 small jar verde sauce. Salsa, guacamole and sour cream as garnish.
To make: this sounds like a lot of ingredients, but it all comes together fast. Ready? Heat the refried beans. Spread them on the tortillas. Now sprinkle the cheddar cheese in equal portions. Add all the vegetables, also in equal amounts. Perform classic burrito roll ‘n fold. Place two burritos in an oven-safe dish – choose a small size dish so they’re snug. Lightly coat in olive oil. Cover burritos with the verde sauce, sprinkle with the Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and tortillas are beginning to look a little golden. Serve hot with salsa, guac and sour cream on the side. You can use mole sauce or any hot sauce if you don’t like green. Note: please don’t put broccoli or carrots in your burrito. That’s just wrong. Kay ‘n Dave.
4. Magic Pizza
Since we’re being cheap and easy here, you don’t have to make a pizza from scratch. Just buy an organic ready-made cheese pizza.
Ingredients: one cheese pizza, 2 cups extra cheese (any kinds, but go for something stinky if you’re brave), 2 cups grilled mushrooms, fresh basil.
To make: chop and grill 2 cups wild mushrooms for 3 minutes on medium heat (anything interesting and savory, like shiitakes or chanterelles) in olive oil, a few dashes of Worcesteshire, and coarse salt. Add some dried rosemary and sage for extra savoriness. Top pizza with the grilled mushrooms and fresh basil. Sprinkle cheese. Bake as directed and enjoy! You should probably avoid garlic on this one. Note: this is one meal where mock meat won’t be a big deal – add in some sliced spicy faux sausage if you like.
There’s no need to “trick” a guy into eating a salad, despite what sexist articles in lame women’s magazines may tell you. Most people enjoy a salad if it’s loaded with good ingredients and has a decent dressing. This salad focuses more on the goodies than the greens, so it’s sure to please everyone.
Ingredients: 1 cup of cubes or crumbles of 2 of your favorite cheeses, 1 cup of candied, salted or raw nuts, 4 cups of your favorite greens, 1/4 cup salted pepitas or other seeds, 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins, 1/2 sliced red onion, 1 can well-drained artichoke hearts (cut hearts in half or quarters to make them bite-sized), 1 chopped green apple or pear, and your favorite dressing. If you want more substance and aren’t feeling lazy, hardboil a few eggs, chill, slice, and add them in to the mix.
To make: you know what to do. There’s really no rule; use whatever you have on hand that you like, from olives to tomatoes to persimmons. Enjoy! P.S. A killer dressing: 1/2 cup minced red onion, 1 tablespoon spicy mustard, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, a splash of red or white, a dash of salt, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/4 cup of oil. Orgasmic.
6. Overnight Omelet
Overnight as in, he won’t be hungry for breakfast if he has this for dinner.
Ingredients: 6 eggs, olive oil, 1/2 cup filtered water, 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers, 1 seeded and finely minced jalapeno, 1 cup chopped mushrooms, 1 minced white onion, 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, 1 diced tomato.
To make: it’s a myth that cream makes lighter eggs. Water is far better for the fluff. Prep the eggs for the pan. Chop up all your veggies. The trick to a good omelet is a properly heated pan and plenty of grease – but this will be provided by heart-healthy olive oil. If you’re lazy, add all the veggies – but not the cheese – into the egg and water mixture and fry up your omelet messy style if you’re not good at flipping a loaded omelet. This way you’ll only have to deal with adding the cheese; fold as usual once it starts to melt. Serve sizzling and don’t forget to give it some Tabasco or salsa love. Note: this isn’t the actual omelet, but I’ve included it so you can see that mixing the veggies right in with the eggs is fine.
7. Chow Down Chowder
This is perfect on a cold night when you’re watching the game. Serve with a strong, local microbrew.
Ingredients: 1 cup cream cheese, 3 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup cream (yes, this is a fattening soup), 1 tablespoon olive oil, “Seafood blend” fresh herb pack or, if not available, chopped fresh thyme, tarragon, basil, marjoram. 2 cloves fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste (lots of fresh black pepper is best!). You will also need 12-16 baby red or fingerling potatoes (I prefer to cook these ahead of time; if you cook them in the stew make sure you boil them for a while first and rinse the starch off before adding everything else, or you’ll have a very foamy soup…yuck). What else? 1 whole diced white onion, 1 whole diced large carrot, 1 cup frozen sweet corn, and 1 whole thoroughly washed and sliced leek.
To make: wash and quarter potatoes and boil them in water, NOT your soup ingredients (cream and stock). Drain and rinse the potatoes – they should still be a little hard, because you don’t want a mushy final product. In a small pan, saute the herbs, garlic and onion in olive oil. In your soup pot, melt the cream cheese into the cream and stock slowly – low heat. (This soup does take patience but it really isn’t hard to make.) You can be boiling the potatoes in another pot at the same time. Once all your separate mixtures are ready to go, and the potatoes are rinsed, combine everything, add the leeks (they soften fast) and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Serve with crackers or hot sourdough rolls. I like a dash of Tabasco and a squeeze of lime, but I’m a rule breaker.
Make these recipes and he’ll be licking more than his fingers!
Note: use organic ingredients whenever possible – it’s better for you and the earth! All recipes serve 2 (and then some – this isn’t Stick to Your 2009 Resolution fare).