After my last post on eating naturally raised, local meat, a friend commented that she would like to eat more naturally raised meat, but it was expensive for her family. Then she added - maybe if I had more vegetarian options to balance it. Yes! That is exactly how we handle it. Naturally raised meat fits in my budget, because we don't eat it every day.
While Mark Bittman has his "vegan before 6:00" approach, our approach could be called "the weekday vegetarian." It's not a strict rule. With this current pregnancy, my protein needs have been incredibly high leading to the occasional weeknight meat meal, and every now and then we eat fish or seafood during the week. For the most part, though, we are vegetarians five to six days out of seven.
My plan then is to post some vegetarian, weeknight recipes. The first is more of a method than a single recipe.
Beans and Greens Over Pasta (for two, easily doubled or tripled)
Small clove garlic
2 cups (or one small can, rinsed) cooked beans (my preference is cannelini or chick peas)
1 large bunch of greens (kale, chard, spinach, broccoli, and broccoli rabe are all favorites)
2-3 ounces of pasta per person, rotini, penne, and medium shells work well
Grated pecorino and/or parmesan cheese
If you are using kale or chard, strip the leaves off the tough center rib, chop into bite size pieces, boil, and drain. If you are using broccoli, spinach, or broccoli rabe, you don't need to precook them. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the garlic. If you are using kale or chard, add the greens and the beans and heat through. If you are using broccoli, broccoli rabe, or spinach, add them to the oil and garlic and saute briefly. Add a little water and cover the pan to allow the vegetables to simmer. When the vegetables are tender, add the beans and heat through. If you are using beans cooked from dry beans, add salt to taste. If you are using canned beans, you may not need to add salt.
In the meantime, boil water and cook the pasta. Add it to the cooking pan. If the mixture seems very dry, you can add a little of the pasta water or a little extra olive oil. Add grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional cheese.
You can prepare the sauce in advance and then heat through right before adding the pasta and serving.
This can be a one-dish meal. It can also be served with any sort of salad. In the summer I love a fresh tomato salad with this.