I reached a major milestone this week.
If you compare it to, say, getting married or graduating college or getting your driver’s license, it might not be a big deal. I’ll admit it’s not a huge milestone in the greater scheme of things. But it was an important step for me none the less!
Last month I wrote about how I had kind of turned into a vegetarian by accident (read here). I didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did and I can’t undo it. The only two times I ’ve gone back to my carnivore ways since late April was at a Sunday night family dinner at Dad’s where he served meat, and a family dinner at Mom’s where she served fish. Both times I happily finished my plate and mentioned nothing about my new dietary beliefs.
It haunted me a bit, though. Way to stay true to your values, Christine, whether they’re new or old ones. Am I so weak that I can’t even say no to something that I don’t particularly want to eat just because I don’t want to come off as the weirdo who likes to eat lettuce?
This lead to new questions. When is it okay to call myself a vegetarian? When should I ”come out” to my family?
It just seems so fussy. Are people always going to roll their eyes when I come over to dinner because they have to make a vegetarian dish? Am I going to become the family joke at the dinner table Christmas Eve? Nobody wants to be an inconvenience. I sure as hell don’t. But since I don’t see myself eating hot dogs any time soon, I realized I needed to grow some balls and wave my new vegetarian flag proudly.
The reason I’ve been thinking about this so much so that I can write 700 words about it, is because I had plans this week to go to Dad’s for a family BBQ. And today I sent him a text message to ”inform the chef that I’m not eating meat these days, so count me out when you’re buying pork chops but feel free to chop up some extra salad”. And this is the major milestone I’m talking about. I know when I get there my family will be all “Yo, you trippin’? How come you don’t want pork chops, yo?” (My family doesn’t really talk like this, I’m just trying to bring back ‘yo’). I know I’m going to have to explain to them that No actually, I don’t miss chicken. I can live without it, believe it or not. I know they’re going to bring up the point “But what about Christmas? You won’t still be a vegetarian by then, will you?” And then I’ll start sobbing because I really haven’t though that far ahead and I get emotional when I think about Christmas and all the traditions I won’t be able to take part in.
But that’s okay. The worst part is over. I came out to Dad and it feels like a load has been lifted. Nevermind the fact that I went for the phrasing ”I’m not eating meat these days” as if I’m just on a two-week cleanse.
Baby steps, my dear, baby steps.
To celebrate this milestone, let’s make a salad for dinner!
Ever since I was a kid, broccoli has been my favorite vegetable. Facing some tough competition now that I’ve discovered sweet potatoes, but making 2 different broccoli salads last week has reaffirmed to me that broccoli never ever goes out of fashion. I kinda always liked brussels sprouts too, even though kids are supposed to hate them. I must have seen a recipe somewhere online using brussels sprouts because I could not get them out of my head this week. I was craving them so freakin’ bad.
I made a really big batch of this salad on Saturday and I’m so glad I did because it was delicious. DELICIOUS, I tell you…! Add some bacon or pancetta and it would reach new heights, for sure. I used regular couscous for this, but of course quinoa or bulgur would work really well too. I dress it with some creamy balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper, but even just EVOO and salt+pepper would be perrrrfect.
Broccoli & Brussel sprouts Couscous Salad
This recipe serves 4
1 head of broccoli
500-600 g brussels sprouts (I used frozen, but it’s obviously best if you can get them fresh)
1 red onion
1 stalk of spring onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups/450 g of chickpeas
1-1.5 cup couscous
1 tbsp butter (optional)
Oil for cooking
Salt+pepper to taste
How to make couscous
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil
- When it boils, remove from heat and add the couscous. Stir in a little less than a tablespoon of butter, add some salt and pepper, put the lid on and let it rest for 10 minutes. The couscous will then absorb the water and become really fluffy and tasty thanks to the butter – if you don’t like butter, that’s fine. Just add salt and pepper and let it rest. But for god’s sake, don’t use margarine.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, and blanche your brussels sprouts (do not over-cook them! 2 minutes in boiling water is all they need)
- Cut off the little heads on your broccoli and divide them all into small inch-sized bites. Heat them in a frying pan over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until they’re cooked but still offer bite-resistance.
- While you broc’s cooking, roughly chop up your onion, spring onion, and peel your garlic cloves. Rinse the chickpeas.
- When the broccoli is ready, put it in your large salad bowl and sauté the onion. After a few minutes, add minced garlic and the chickpeas. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, and add in the spring onions in the last 2 minutes. You want them green and crunchy. Salt and pepper.
- Lastly, I chop all my little blanched brussels sprouts in half and fry them in the same pan for 60 seconds on high heat.
- Mix it all together and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and salt+pepper to taste. Serve with proper Modena balsamic vinegar and black pepper.