Is a large piece of meat the centerpiece of your plate? Is eating the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables a chore for you? Maybe it’s time to make room for more plants on your personal menu. With so many people opting for alternatives to the meat-heavy American diet, it’s becoming easier to enjoy healthier produce-heavy recipes at home and away.
Chefs Leading the Way
For inspiration on the creative use of fruits and vegetables in main courses, I look at menus at small, local restaurants where a chef is creating new recipes to tempt diners. One great example is a lobster salad that has been on the menu the last few months at Select Oyster Bar (shown in the photos above).
Like many New Englanders, I love lobster. But for me a whole lobster meal or hot buttery lobster roll has to be an occasional treat. The lobster salad that Chef Michael Serpa created is something that I’m comfortable eating more often. He has loaded it with vegetables; dressed it with a light, zingy dressing; and used a generous amount of lobster as a part of a more complex and, in the end, more interesting dish.
Chef Jody Adams’ new restaurant Porto in the Prudential Center complex tempted me with a meatless meal made up of a wonderful salad and delightful pasta dish. Adding figs, pecorino cheese, and crispy, thin croutons to an arugula salad made it fun, filling, and delicious. That and a plate of pasta (campanelle with feta, soft herbs, pine nuts, and tomato) were all I needed for Sunday brunch. I didn’t realize, until I looked back on it, that I had selected a meatless meal.
Meat as a Condiment in Ethnic Favorites
If you are looking to boost your veggie intake, think about some of your favorite ethnic meals, especially from places where those dishes are less Americanized. A takeout order from a more traditional Chinese restaurant like Gourmet Dumpling in Chinatown or their sister restaurant Dumpling Palace on Massachusetts Avenue can easily be vegetable-forward.
I usually add an all-vegetable dish like sautéed string beans to our order. But many of the dishes that do include meat use that protein as a condiment rather than as the majority of the meal. With a more traditional, less Chinese/American approach, even a dish like Kung Pao Chicken has more vegetables than meat in these hands.
Think of your favorite noodle and rice dishes like the Bun Thit Nuong from Pho Basil shown above. How much meat vs rice or noodles do they contain?
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photos: ©2017 Penny & Ed Cherubino
(Adapted for BostonZest from one of her Fresh & Local newspaper columns.)