I hear that some readers are interested in my family's ongoing project to eat "lower on the food chain," consuming fewer meat meals and less meat overall. I have written a number of posts about this topic, and I think it would be good to gather them together in this new category.
Most people know how to make a meat meal and how to make a meatless meal, but a very-low-meat meal -- the "meat as a flavoring agent" meal -- often seems trickier to put together. I want to blog some more about those recipes, but even more, about the whole menu -- because it's really the menu, the way a small amount of meat can fit into a whole meal, that is the tricky part.
Last night's dinner was an excellent example of a summer low-meat meal. I split one twelve-ounce steak among five people (our genders and ages are, by the way, M-37, F-35, M-10, M-6, F-4). The baby is only just beginning solids so he doesn't count.
Here was the dinner menu:
Marinated White Bean Salad
Roast Sweet Potatoes
Sauteed Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic
Skewers of Bell Peppers, Red Onions and Sirloin Steak
One thing you have to get over, if you're going to eat low-meat meals, is the idea that it's not worth firing up the grill to cook one steak.
Skewers help. Midday, I partially thawed the 0.75-lb steak and cut it into about twelve one-inch cubes -- so I guess each cube was about an ounce -- which I threaded onto two skewers and then salted. I placed the skewers over a plate so the beef could drip if necessary, covered it up so I wouldn't contaminate anything, and left it in the fridge until about an hour before grilling.
Three bell peppers and part of a red onion, I cut up and put on different skewers. I find it's better to skewer veggies separately from meat, because they may cook for different times.
Roast sweet potatoes are pretty easy, of course, you just pierce them and put them in a parchment-lined roasting pan in the oven for a couple of hours. Or, if you forget until the last minute, you can always microwave them, or peel them, cut them up, and boil them for ten minutes.
The marinated white bean salad I made the day before. This is one of those recipes that doesn't need a recipe. Cut into small dice: some celery, some carrots, some red onion. Mince a couple of cloves of garlic. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, and dill. Stir in a couple of cans of well drained white beans. Refrigerate at least a few hours, overnight is even better.
The broccoli was cooked briefly in boiling water ahead of time, and then as soon as the other stuff went on the grill, I finished it by sauteeing in olive oil with minced garlic and lemon zest, the juice of the lemon being added at the end.
Mark and I each got three cubes of meat, and the three eating kids each got two cubes of meat, plus as much of the veggies as we wanted. I put my steak on top of the white bean salad, but everybody else dredged theirs in ketchup or barbecue sauce.