We still haven’t heard back on the latest attempted coup to get home to Colorado, so I have no news to report. But I have made a few dinners this week, fueled by immeasurable hope that things are going on in my favor behind the scenes. Plus, I had some rage to release, and it was getting a bit long for Facebook status updates (my usual preferred method for raging). So here I am. Raging. At things.
My number one source of rage is currently that there are only two “high-end” restaurants in Golden, Colorado, and neither of them offer vegetarian options. I am not a vegetarian, but I’m not eating meat right now. It’s a number of factors, really, but much of it boils down to the fact that I can’t find free-range meats at restaurants reliably, so this has become kind of a defense mechanism when I go out to restaurants. It’s easier to be a vegetarian than to try and hound the kitchen to find out where they sourced their steaks and whether or not I’m going to be chomping down assloads of hormones and mutating all of my eggs and having flippered children down the road. Also, I get guilty about sad-faced cows in feedlots. But you know that well already.
Anyway, my brother is having a rehearsal dinner next month, and now I’m yelling at my computer screen a lot while I try to figure out how the fuck it’s possible for two established restaurants to not have a single vegetarian option on their menus. I guess one of them offered to do “pasta with vegetables” when my mom asked, but COME ON. Way to phone it in, chef. There are eight bazillion ways to make interesting, exciting vegetarian food, and you’ve elected to go with the “I’m drunk and it’s 3 am and I only have dried pasta and cheese and red peppers in the fridge so hold my beer while I throw some shit together” option? Naw, son. Not for those kinds of prices.
I’ve been coming up with more interesting ideas than that in the 10 minute breaks I’ve been taking from playing Final Fantasy XIII. Then I’ve been making them in like, 10 minutes. And you can, too. It’s not hard. Maybe I’ll just throw on my hateful chef whites and prance into the kitchen, remove the tongs from the head chef’s hand and be like “Listen, weinerface. This is how it’s done.”
Case in point: yesterday I roasted tomatoes, sweet peppers, garlic, and onions in olive oil until they got all soft and sweet. Then I threw them in the Vitamix with salt, fresh basil, and pepper. I blended for 3 minutes on high and served the soup with cheesy mozzarella toasts and a splash of cream. It was so tasty and healthy, and it took me about 4 minutes of actual effort. Also, I finished chapter two of FFXII while I did it.
Second case in point: the day before yesterday I made vegetarian fajitas that were seriously hearty and delicious, and they used almost all the same ingredients but tasted completely different. Here is the recipe, because I feel like you should try them out, too. Whether or not you’re into steak fajitas (believe me, I usually am), you’ll enjoy these and give your arteries and colon a valuable day off from dealing with animal fats.
Baby Bella Fajitas
.5# sweet peppers, sliced into fajita-sized pieces (these can be multi-colored bell or the smaller ones you get in a giant bag at Costco)
1 large onion, sliced into similar-sized pieces
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1.5# baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T grapeseed oil
.75 t ground cumin (freshly ground if you can)
1 T red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Fajita trimmings (warm flour tortillas, shredded jack or cotija cheese, salsa, lettuce, cilantro, sour cream, or whatever you like best)
-Get out a giant skillet (cast iron is the gold standard if you have it–at least a 16″ size) and heat it until it’s very, very hot.
-Drizzle in grapeseed oil, then immediately add garlic and stir for 10 seconds.
-Toss in peppers, tomatoes and onions, and continue to saute until they’re soft and getting some color in places. Letting them sit for a few seconds between stirs helps ensure you’re getting enough color. The onions should be reaching golden brown when you’re done with this step.
-Toss in the cumin and stir. It’ll release some pungent fumes, so keep a source of ventilation handy–like a window.
-Remove all vegetables from the skillet and return the skillet to the heat. When it’s almost smoking hot again, throw in all of the mushrooms at once. Don’t stir them. Don’t move the pot. Don’t disturb them in any way for at least 30 seconds. Then stir them a bit and repeat the 30 second wait. You’re trying to get a good sear on them, meaning they’re brown and crisp on the outsides but tender in the middle.
-At a certain point in the last step, the mushrooms will release a bunch of fluid. Add a good sprinkle of salt and stir them a bit. Allow them to cook, stirring occasionally, until all the fluid has evaporated. Immediately return the rest of the veggies to the skillet and combine.
-Sprinkle with red wine vinegar and stir well. Then taste and add salt and pepper to get them seasoned to your liking. Cayenne pepper can add zing if you want it.
-Serve hot with your fajita fixings and allow everyone to create the fajita of their dreams.
These could have been photographed a bit better with the EGO light that I have used in the past, but the spring sunlight is too pretty to waste, so I went with that.
How easy is this? Seriously? Almost no imagination, eight ingredients (if you include the spices) and a few minutes of time out of my afternoon. If I can do this while I’m moping about the possibility of Biloxi, and with very little experience preparing vegetarian foods, then I’m sure the chef of a highly-regarded restaurant can pull a rabbit out of his ass, not slaughter it, and think of a vegetable to feed his guests. In spring. Which is vegetable season, in case he was curious.
I always assume it’s a “he” because I’m sure a woman wouldn’t be like “meat meat meat meat meat meat meat meat pasta meat.” Then again, I’m probably wrong. We have been given the vote now and all, so who knows what type of atrocities we’re committing in the workplace.
Also, and this is the part that really boils my turnip, it costs MARKEDLY LESS to make a good vegetarian dish than to make a good meat dish. Now, I’m in no way assuming that they’re using good meat. All indications show it’s not free-range. But even so, vegetables in that area are cheap and easy to come by and meat costs a lot of money. So if they can find something that sounds and tastes and looks pleasing and exciting, and they charge similar to what they’d charge for a meat dish, then they make more money. But maybe they don’t like money.
Meat meat meat meat meat meat meat meat Biloxi meat.