Cutting meat out of our diet for 28 days (Chris and I kicked it off January 4 so as not to waste already-prepared meat dishes in the fridge) felt like a good way to kick off 2012, to repent for some of the overindulging that happened during the holiday season, to test myself in the kitchen.
We don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with, and definitely don’t keep a lot of it in the house, but it’s still been a fun challenge to find veg-friendly recipes and to stick to the meatless entrées at restaurants.
I must confess that neither of us get a 100 percent for sticking to the meat-free diet -- we both put the diet on a one-meal hold for Chris’ work holiday party at the ever-delicious Hawks -- but I’m still proud of what we’ve done over the past couple weeks. We’ve definitely gone through a lot more vegetables, and I’ve spent more time menu planning in order to waste less produce. I made my own vegetable stock, brought barley and quinoa home for the first time, and have consumed more tofu in the last month than I probably did in 2011.
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t looking forward to Feb. 1 and the promises of cheeseburgers, deli sandwiches and chicken enchiladas it brings, but I’m still happy with how our meat-free month turned out.
As previously mentioned, I finally got around to buying barley this month, which I used to make this super-hearty soup (recipe adapted from Epicurious) that would be perfect for a frosty winter's day.
Mushroom Barley Soup
1oz. dried chanterelles (I used Fungus Amongus)
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery with leaves, diced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms
6-7 cups vegetable broth
2 cups whole barley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
Soak the dried mushrooms in at least 2 cups hot water, to cover, for 30 minutes. Strain through a filter and reserve 2 cups of the mushroom water. Coarsely chop the dried mushrooms.
Melt the butter in a large pot (I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven) and sauté the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme and fresh mushrooms until soft, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and barley, reserved mushroom water and bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer, covered, for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender and soup thickens. Remove bay leaf and season with adjust seasonings to your liking.
Thanks for the tasty recipe! I'll be making it for sure!ReplyDelete