February 19th, 2009

Eating Mostly Plants

I don’t eat much meat anymore.

It didn’t come as a lightening bolt; there was no conscious decision. I consider myself an omnivore. I still relish the rare juicy-grilled ribeye. But, there has been a gradual shifting in my tastes, a falling away of carnivorous desires.

No doubt, I trace it back to an experience from a few summers ago, while Bill and I were on our first Out-West driving trip. Our serene cruise across these rolling Great Plains was sporadically jarred by scenes of agricultural squalor: CAFOs, concentrated animal feeding operations.Miserable, crowded feedlots. wrong for myriad reasons. These sorts of images settled in the psyche and demanded resolution.

So, over time, I’ve moved away from a lot of meat in my diet. I haven’t missed it. When I do choose it, I do enjoy it. And, I try to buy that which is locally pasture-raised, pesticide-antibiotic-hormone free.
I’m happy to embrace the Michael Pollan Manifesto:
Eat food. Not so much. Mostly plants.

Following is a simple and beautiful “Mostly Plants” kind of recipe that I recently made for a small dinner gathering.
There’s much to love about it:
cheerful colors, contrasting textures, a balance of sweet-roasted buttery squash with savory-toasted pearly grains.
Its seasonings are minimal:
salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg are all that’s needed to enhance the butternut squash.
And, it’s versatile, pleasing just about anyone:
Vegetarians, vegans, heart-healthy dieters, weight-watching point-counters,
and evolving omnivores like me.

Sweet Peppers stuffed with Roasted Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous

1 large Butternut Squash
4 large Sweet Red, Orange, Yellow Bell Peppers
1 large Onion
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
1 ½ cups Israeli Couscous

Serves 6

Peel and cube squash; dice onion and one of the peppers. Toss together with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and just a few pinches of nutmeg. Spread out on a shallow baking pan and place in a hot (425 degree) oven. Roast for 20 minutes until cubes are lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool on the pan.

Fill a deep skillet or pot with water and bring just to a boil. Cut remaining peppers in half, remove seeds, and plunge into water. Blanche for 5 minutes, then pull them out and let them drain and cool.

In a 2 quart saucepan with medium heat, coat the Israeli couscous with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and saute about 5 minutes– until the couscous gets a toasty look to it. Pour in 1 ½ cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 12 minutes—until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and spoon in roasted vegetables, scraping in all the browned bits and oil. Fold the vegetables evenly throughout the couscous.

Coat a baking dish with oil. Place in pepper halves and stuff with couscous mixture.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Posted in Pastas, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables

7 Responses to “Eating Mostly Plants”
  1. Barbara Says:

    It looks delicious and basically easy for those of us that are not very good cooks. Thank you Nancy, for providing healthy recipes that not only look good, they taste great and not difficult to prepare.

  2. Wendy Says:

    You didn’t tell us about the feed lots–yuch!!!

  3. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Sorry, Wend. I don’t like to think about them , either. Troublesome. And true.

  4. allen Says:

    Looks appetizing. I’m not familiar with Israeli couscous. Where did you buy it?

  5. goodfoodmatters Says:

    I bought it at Trader Joe’s—it may come boxed under their own label. But I have found Israeli couscous at other global-style markets. Those larger pearls offer a pleasant change of texture and taste—well worth trying.

  6. annabelle Says:

    ahhh! this looks amazing! my mom discovered israeli couscous and we’ve been cooking with it a lot, and at this very moment I am cooking my first butternut squash.

    I too, have discovered I’m “mostly vegetarian”. I love it! I feel great with all of the fresh foods I eat

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