All right, so it's not compulsory in the literal sense. No one is holding a gun to my head making me go vegetarian this week. But my husband and I agree that if we can't afford that "fancy" free-range, grain-fed meat, we don't want meat at all. It disturbs us to think of the cruelty that goes on in those factory situations.
In any case, there are plenty of fantastic dishes out there centered on eggs (yes, I still bought cage-free eggs... I'm hopeless! We're going to be kicked out and living under the 408 overpass in no time), cheese, beans, and/or legumes. Publix had one lonely bundle of broccoli rabe that needed a home, and since I'd never tried broccoli rabe, I snapped it up, thinking it would go great in a lentil salad I had planned.
For those of you who have never tried it, broccoli rabe is like regular broccoli with a kick. Raw, it tastes bitter. But lightly steamed and then chilled in a sweet garlicky marinade, it adds a mild spice and enhanced green flavor that both my husband and I loved. Liz and Mary at Green Flamingo Organics are growing some as we speak, which is another reason I was curious to try it. Can't wait to get it from them and other local sources later this fall.
Lentil and Broccoli Rabe Salad with Honey-Orange Vinaigrette
Lentil and Broccoli Rabe Salad
1 c. steamed lentils
1 c. cooked brown rice (great use for leftover rice)
1 thick slice red onion, finely chopped or minced
2 carrots, finely chopped or minced
3 c. broccoli rabe, chopped
1/3 c. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. holly honey
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Steam the broccoli rabe until just tender (about three minutes in the microwave). Drain, allow to cool, then combine with the rest of the salad ingredients.
In a cup or bowl, add the salt to the vinegar and whisk until well-dissolved. Add the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk together.
Pour the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours to suck the bitterness out of the broccoli rabe and let the garlic do its thang. Serves 4 as a light main dish; not recommended as a an appetizer due to its strong palette-numbing flavor, but use your discretion.
This would also have been super-good with feta cheese and dried cranberries. As far as serving suggestions, my two cents' worth of advice is to pair it with something simple. My husband and I preceded it with hot chicken broth and fresh bread for a well-rounded, seasonally-appropriate meal.
As usual, if you try any variations at home, let me know how it turns out!
Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.