Many people believe that vegetarian food is boring and predictable so I set out to create a balanced vegetarian menu with a twist. For many vegetarians the options at restaurants can be very limited and are often bland. There is usually only one vegetarian choice based around pasta or risotto. Vegetarian meals can be very innovative and exciting when a little bit of creativity is used.
Most restaurants plan their meals around meat. It is a well-established fact that Americans eat more meat than any other ethnic group in the world. Information is coming to light that high meat consumption is not conducive to optimal health as a result of the high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. Most health professionals will recommend that individuals eat vegetarian meals at least 1-2 times per week. Plant foods are filled with compounds that protect health and are not found in animal products. The nutrient most lacking in the American diet is fiber. When an emphasis is put on replacing some meat protein with veggie sources, we will be well on our way to replenish the void. With meat becoming more and more expensive it would be economical for restaurants to provide more vegetarian options on their menus. Additionally, meat production is damaging to the environment because it takes so much more land to raise animal foods than it does to produce plant crops.
For many vegetarians an important component of a balanced meal is to ensure that they get adequate protein. My menu was planned based on a protein source being present in each course. The focus of the menu is also to vary the textures of each dish for example in the main course the cauliflower steak is crunchy, the cauliflower puree is smooth, and the farro salad is chewy.
Farro is becoming increasingly trendy in vegetarian meals because of its high protein content and nutty texture and flavor. It is an ancient grain commonly known as “emmer.” It is grown in Northern Italy and has been consumed since Roman Times. In Roman Times it was eaten by the peasants and today because of the low crop yield and high price it is considered a luxury item. It is the mother grain of all durum wheat and is commonly eaten in salads and soups but can be ground and used to make bread and pasta. It is encouraging to see that health conscious chefs are starting to cook with farro because it is high in vitamins, protein, and has a low gluten content.
Keep checking back this week for all of the recipes from the menu!