A plant-based diet is one that contains no foods that come from animals. This is a strictly Vegan diet, which means, no fish or chicken, milk or milk products, or eggs. Even things like gelatin are off the table since it is made using ground up pig bone.
|Figure A. Who Invited The Herbivore. Adapted from Gemma Correll. Retrieved on April 1, 2018, from: https://www.gemmacorrell.com Copyright © 2018 Gemma Correll|
Of course there are lots of other benefits to perusing a plant-based diet, things like religion and culture can play a big role in this. There are also environmental issues to consider. With less animal farming, there is less methane in the air and less deforestation to make room for livestock. There are also the ethical values to contemplate. We must look at the fact that we are consuming animal who were once alive. These animals have in fact given their lives so that we may be fed. That is too heavy of a burden for some people and it's quite understandable.
|Figure B. Your Choice of Toppings. Adapted from Fablefire. Retrieved on April 1, 2018, from: http://www.fablefire.com Copyright © 2018 FableFire.com|
Certainly plant-based diets are not for everyone. Me in particular. I have tried to go vegetarian in the past for ethical reasons, but I only lasted a few months before giving in. I have no issues with other people being on a plant-based diet, but I doubt that I will incorporate it into my menus. With baking, it is very difficult to create the high taste quality that I will be trying to achieve without things like butter, eggs, milk, cream and gelatin. If someone has a special request, I can certainly try my best to accommodate their needs, but I also have no issue with recommending them to another baker who specializes in that area.
For my vegan recipe, I picked one of our standard favorites and chose to modify it to be meat free. This recipe comes from one of my favorite recipe blogs: The Kitchen McCabe. (The Kitchen McCabe, 2015)
Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Sweet Pepper Lamb Ragu
⅓ cup Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Lamb
3 Bay Leaves
4 Garlic Cloves, sliced
½ cup Dry White Wine
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 pinches Chili Flakes
1 (15 ounce) Can Whole Plum Tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 large Red Bell Pepper, sliced ¼" thick
1 large Orange Bell Pepper, sliced ¼" thick
Coarse salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. Spaghetti alla Chitarra or thick spaghetti
Grated fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, to top
Basil leaves, to garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium/high heat. Add the ground lamb and cook, breaking
up into small pieces until browned. Add the bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper, and cook for
another 30 seconds.
2. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half, 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes,
and chili flakes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and let cook for 10-15 minutes,
until sauce is thickened slightly.
3. Add the peppers to the sauce and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the peppers have just
softened up. Check seasonings and add more salt, if needed. Discard bay leaves.
4. While the sauce is cooking, bring a pot of water seasoned with coarse salt to a boil. Add the
spaghetti alla chitarra and cook until al dente, about 11-13 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the
pan of sauce. Toss until well coated.
5. Serve with grated cheese on top and a few sprigs of basil.
Since the original recipe has meat and dairy products in it, I had to make a few alterations to it.
|Figure C. Ingredients. Copyright B MacDonald|
Firstly, I took out the lamb and parmesan that it calls for. I replaced the chicken broth with vegetable broth instead. Secondly, I added more vegetables to make sure that we were getting even more vitamins.
|Figure D. Sautee. Copyright B MacDonald|
I added both onions and green pepper to the already colourful red and orange pepper
|Figure E. Pop of Colour. Copyright B MacDonald|
|Figure F. Starting to Sizzle. Copyright B MacDonald|
Also, since there was no meat to absorb some of the liquid, I had to add a tiny bit of a cornstarch slurry near the end to help thicken it. It gave it a bit of a cloudy colour, but I don't think that detracts from it at all.
|Figure G. Almost Done. Copyright B MacDonald|
For adding extra flavour to the noodles, I added some crushed garlic and vegetable broth to the cooking water. I find this really helps to add another dimension to the meal.
|Figure H. Delicious Carbohydrates. Copyright B MacDonald|
And voila! I vegan meal out of a classic meat-based favourite. It was just as good as it has always been but I was happy to find out that it was easily modified and still had all the delicious flavours that we love.
|Figure I. A Meal Fit For A Vegan Queen. Copyright B MacDonald|
This was a great test and I'm glad that I was pushed to try something new with it. It makes me confident that if I wanted to add a meat-less day or two to our weekly meals, I would have much less trouble than I originally anticipated. It makes me wonder what other favourites I can modify.
The Kitchen McCabe (2015) Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Sweet Pepper Lamb Ragu. The Kitchen
McCabe. Retrieved on March 30, 2018