Please don't make me eat a tofu dog.
Or vegan cheese.
Look, I eat far less meat than I used to. I grew up in a neighborhood with a corner deli, so a roast beef on rye or a warm, drippy Reuben were never far from my dinner plate. I didn't give them much thought; I just wiped the grease from my mouth and took another bite.
But things have changed, and though I still eat meat, I eat less. Less quantity, and less frequently.
So when my colleague Tara Mataraza Desmond sent me a copy of Almost Meatless (Ten Speed Press, 2009), the new book she co-authored with Joy Manning, I was like, okay, of course, this makes perfect sense. It's a book for omnivores with recipes that use meat, but less of it. It's a book, obviously, for me.
Take the albondigas (big photo), which I made a few nights ago. They’re smoky, chipotle-spiked lamb meatballs, but the lamb is mixed with raw steel-cut oats (!). As a result, you only need ½ pound
of lamb for four people.
And before you go toss yourself off a bridge, I promise that these do NOT taste like oatmealy meatballs. They taste like lamb meatballs, because they are. It's just that as the oats soften, they take on the flavor, texture, and character of the meat so you can get away with using a whole lot less.
Have some watermelon on hand because they're spicy.
The book offers recipes for fish, eggs, poultry, beef, and pork, too, and they all follow the same philosophy of pairing smaller quantities of animal protein with unique, bold flavors, grains, and vegetables.
Want more recipes? How much are you willing to pay?
How about ZERO DOLLARS?
I jest, but just a little: today, a number of food writers and bloggers are linking up to our favorite recipes from the book and posting them all at a hub on Tara's and Joy's sites. Click through to access recipes from the book and discover new food blogs, too.
Just try these albondigas first.
Recipe for Albondigas
From Almost Meatless (2009) by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond (Reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press and the authors)
[from csr: Using a whole chipotle, even without the seeds, made these almost too spicy for my kids. If serving younger palates, you'll want to use less chipotle. Plain yogurt makes a perfect, and cooling, accompaniment, as does the cilantro-lime rice suggested in the recipe.]
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup steel-cut oatmeal (dry)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons, divided)
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped into a paste
4 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
Juice of 1 lime
Mix together the oatmeal, cilantro, half the garlic, the chipotle, 2 teaspoons of the cumin, 1 teaspoon of the coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Gently work the lamb into the mixture, distributing it evenly. Form balls out of tablespoon-size scoops of the mixture and set aside.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining garlic, cumin, and coriander, cooking for an additional 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and water and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and add the meatballs. Simmer partially covered for 45 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, squeeze the lime juice over the top, and serve with extra chopped cilantro.