Yep. You read that correctly. This is not fake news. Liz and I decided to shake things up a bit in our culinary world and go vegetarian for all of January. Simply put, no meat products, not even fish.
Why did we do it? Well, we felt like we had slipped into a culinary routine that wasn’t pushing us. We knew this would encourage us to use different cooking methods and create new dishes. Now that we have been vegetarians for a week I can report that this has in fact been the case, and it’s been kind of fun. One cautionary tale — don’t look at this as a weight loss solution. We’ve actually learned that many people gain weight at first when becoming vegetarians. The reason? A substantial increase in carbohydrate intake. So, we have certainly kept our eye on that when cooking.
As an example, we made rice-stuffed red peppers with onions, garlic and feta cheese as our first vegetarian dinner. Instead of using rice we used cauliflower rice, which was delicious. Will this be a long term diet change? Heck no. I’m predicting a nicely grilled steak will be on the menu in early February. But, we are enjoying this culinary journey and there is no doubt it is expanding our cooking repertoire. And yes, there will be grilling involved in our vegetarian experiment. Let’s share our first recipe, blackened cauliflower soup which was rich, creamy and delicious.
1 head of cauliflower - cut into bite-sized pieces
1 garlic bulb
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
1⁄2 can of coconut milk
2 1⁄2 cans of vegetable broth (14 oz cans)
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Your favorite blackening seasoning
Your favorite hot sauce
1 baked red pepper - chopped (optional - we used it as a topping)
Crispy roasted chickpeas (also an optional topping)
Toss the onions and cauliflower in a healthy drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with your blackening seasoning. Cut the top off the garlic bulb, drizzle the top with olive oil and wrap loosely in foil. Spread out the veggies on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a fork easily slides through the vegetables. Bake the garlic too. You may want to turn the veggies halfway through baking. In the meantime, combine the vegetable broth and coconut milk in a large pot and slowly warm it over medium heat. Pull the veggies and garlic out of the oven. Unwrap the garlic and let cool a bit. Add the cauliflower and onions to the soup broth. Grab an oven mitt and squeeze the garlic out of the bulb. It should come out like a paste. Be careful. It’s a really hot paste. With an immersion blender, blend everything in the pot until it reaches a texture that you like. We like it really smooth with just a bit of texture.
Serve with crusty bread and top with hot sauce, parsley, red pepper, crispy chickpeas, whatever you desire! Enjoy!
Dave Lobeck is an Edward Jones financial adviser in Jeffersonville by day and a BBQ enthusiast on nights and weekends. Liz is his wife. You can contact Dave with your BBQ, cooking or grilling questions at email@example.com. You can also visit their YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/BBQMyWay