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MENU PLANNER

Who Needs Meat?

March 23, 1995|MAYI BRADY | TIMES FOOD STYLIST

OK, I admit it. I love meat. I mean, I just can't imagine life without double-bacon cheeseburgers, broiled lamb chops or a sage-roasted pork loin. I was brought up believing no decent meal was complete without at least a little meat.

But there are times, faced with a refrigerator devoid of even a gummy old strip of bacon, when I am forced to improvise. I've discovered that it's not only possible but easy to have a rich, hearty meal without any meat at all. It's less expensive too.

This menu requires no great culinary skills, pricey ingredients, exotic spices or tedious, time-consuming preparation. It's just good, tasty, healthful food.

MENU

White bean, tomato and oregano salad

Spaghetti with Gorgonzola and tomatoes

Poached apricots

Suggested Wines

A light, spicy red wine such as a Chianti Classico or Vino Nobile de Montepulciano

GAME PLAN

Morning of dinner or 1 hour before: Poach apricots in ginger syrup and put into refrigerator to chill.

1 hour before: Prepare white bean, tomato and oregano salad. Put into refrigerator to chill.

30 minutes before: Prepare spaghetti with gorgonzola sauce. Serve at once.

Staples

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1/2 pound spaghetti

1 (28-ounce) can peeled tomatoes

Balsamic vinegar

Sugar

Shopping List

1/4 pound gorgonzola cheese

1 small hunk (at least 1 ounce) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans

2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes

1 bunch fresh oregano

3 apricots

Crystallized ginger, optional

SPAGHETTI WITH GORGONZOLA AND TOMATOES

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, sliced thin

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28-ounce) can peeled Roma tomatoes

Salt, pepper

1/2 pound spaghetti

1/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add onion and garlic. Saute until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice to skillet, breaking tomatoes up with wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Let simmer slowly, 10 to 15 minutes.

Cook spaghetti in pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 10 minutes.

Crumble gorgonzola cheese into tomato sauce and stir gently until melted and well-combined. Simmer another 5 minutes. Serve over cooked spaghetti. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Makes 2 generous servings.

Each serving contains about:

844 calories; 873 mg sodium; 73 mg cholesterol; 28 grams fat; 112 grams carbohydrates; 37 grams protein; 3.27 grams fiber.

WHITE BEAN, TOMATO AND OREGANO SALAD

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans

2 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt, pepper

Gently toss together beans, tomatoes and oregano in large bowl. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

Each serving contains about:

319 calories; 896 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 38 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams protein; 2.86 grams fiber.

POACHED APRICOTS

3 apricots

Water

3/4 cup sugar

1 piece crystallized ginger, optional

Peel apricots by dropping whole into pan boiling water approximately 30 seconds. Remove and rinse under cold water. Skin should come right off. Cut apricots in half and remove pits.

Combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar and crystallized ginger in heavy saucepan. Bring to boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Let boil 5 minutes. Drop apricot halves into syrup and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Serve apricots with syrup either warm or chilled.

Makes 2 servings.

Each serving contains about:

314 calories; 1 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 81 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.32 gram fiber.

* Dinnerware in photo from Utensils on Larchmont Boulevard.

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