Just because there’s a Meatless Monday doesn’t mean your only alternative at dinner is a plateful of boring steamed vegetables.
The idea of eating “meatless” for an entire day started in World War 1 and continued through the Second World War as an effort to ration meat to make it available to the troops. Anyone growing up just after WW11 has heard about the ration stamps; my Mom always talked about how difficult it was to get meat back then. But she was a creative and good cook so she’d make macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and tomato sauce, potato omelets and other wonderful dinners when she couldn’t buy meat.
She continued those meals occasionally even through the 1950s and 60s. No one complained. When food tastes good you don’t complain whether there’s meat in it or not. In fact, you don’t miss the meat.
Today we’ve latched onto the Meatless Monday idea as a health matter. Americans typically eat too much meat so giving it up for a day could make us healthier.
Still, for people who love to eat well, the best reason to cook any dish is because it tastes delicious. Try this meatless recipe for Peppers and Eggs. It’s from my book, Hip Kosher. It’s a quickie version of Shakshouka, an Israeli dish that has stewed tomatoes and peppers and then you cook an egg right on top of the vegetables, in the same pan. This dish is spicy, filling and easy to cook. Add a piece of pita or chunk of bread and you’re done with dinner. It could be preceded by cold soup or with a salad.
The recipe calls for zatar as a final seasoning; zatar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture. You can make Shakshouka without it, but zatar is so tasty, why not get a jar and use it for vinaigrette dressing or on top of chicken and so on and so on?
Peppers and Eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 small habanero or other chili peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
6-8 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
8 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon zatar
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the tomatoes, basil and lemon juice, stir, cover the pan, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables are very soft and sauce-like. Crack the eggs into a bowl one at a time (to make sure they are okay), then transfer each one to the pan over the vegetables. Cover the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the eggs are set but are still slightly runny. Sprinkle with zatar. Serve each person 2 eggs with some of the vegetables. Makes 4 servings
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