|L to R: yams with skin on, platanos fritos, brown jasmine rice with tomatillo-avocado salsa, black beans with jerk, and dinosaur kale. This is a salad plate, not a dinner plate, and after eating everything on it, I am 100% full!|
My friend RSJ is a vegetarian. She is also gluten intolerant. Her husband KJ, a carnivore who likes his ground beef nestled between two rounds of wheat, sums up her dietary needs this way: "So basically, you need a meal that is meat- n-wheat-free." Indeed.
I'm not a vegetarian. I'm not gluten intolerant. I don't spend a lot of time thinking up meals that would suit RSJ's needs, especially since we live in different time zones now. But I do eat a few meatless meals each week and have thrown together un plato of sorts that is inspired by some of my favorite cuisines. Best of all, it is free of meat, wheat, and dairy. You know, the way the other 99% of the planet eats.
There are those who believe that eating a meal with no meat in it is an utter waste of the energy it takes to bring fork to mouth. To this I say, quinoa-barley-seaweed pilaf doesn't really satisfy me either. But when I create meals that are not vegetarian versions of dishes I love, but instead are just good vegetarian meals, I am almost always satisfied.
The July/August 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times features an article on the best veg food trucks across the nation. The mention of one truck's coconut-mashed yams caught my attention, since I firmly believe that everything is better with coconut. Then the plantains ripening on the counter popped into my head. The free association-- I do this a lot when I am cooking-- continued with the jerk seasoning I haven't put on chicken yet, the black beans waiting in the pantry, greens in the crisper, and cilantro growing on the fire escape to go in the rice I wanted to put next to the black beans. (Yeah, I've heard that you don't have to eat these two together to make a complete protein, but I still like the combination.)
The prep and cooking time for this plate is super-fast, making it a good choice for I-got-home-from-work-late-and-I-don't-feel-like-cooking nights. Of course, if you choose to use dried beans and begin soaking them the night before and spend two hours cooking them when you get home from work late, well, hopefully you will earn some kind of Universe Points for your effort. For the rest of us, the beans, rice, plantains, greens, and yams are ready in under 20 minutes.
There are endless variations on this plate. The first time I made it, I added a little pineapple to the rice, along with cilantro. The second time I made it, I added tomatoes to the beans, used only about a milligram of cilantro, and didn't mash the yams. Or add coconut. But in all its incarnations, it is meat-n-wheat-free.
|Not pictured: all the other maduros I ate that night.|