I woke up yesterday feeling amazing. I often wake up feeling great, but not usually after a big night of entertaining. Normally an afternoon of preparation and a night of rich foods and heavy reds can leave me feeling achy, foggy, leaden the morning after. (Not that the price of a memorable meal isn’t occasionally worth it.) But yesterday was different. I woke up refreshed, invigorated… light! What was different?
We ate vegetarian.
If I hadn’t needed to test-drive recipes for my new book, I would have certainly led with meat. A special night might start with crab cakes or a nibble of smoked salmon. Instead I piqued palates with Pita Pizzas with Caramelized Onion, Dried Cherries and Gruyere.
Rather than my usual first course salad followed by something big and splashy, I served a trio of little plates: roasted carrot soup flavored with ginger and coconut milk, baby spinach salad with egg, mushrooms, red onion, and shaved Parm, and creamy Asparagus Risotto come to life with saffron-infused vegetable broth and knobs of cream cheese.
While the table was being cleared I fired up a shallow skillet of oil and fried Sharon’s leftover dough from the Cinnamon Donut Holes she had developed for an upcoming USA Weekend article. No gooey triple chocolate concoction or buttery pastry. I simply passed a plate of these warm cinnamon sugar-coated nuggets around the table. People could take as few . . . . or as many as they liked.
Usually I uncork a big red at a dinner party, and I would have, except asparagus is cranky even with most whites. So we stuck with wines from the Loire and Oregon Pinot Gris. It worked.
While developing recipes over the last few weeks for my new vegetarian cookbook, my meat consumption’s almost down to nothing, but I still crave it. After our vegetarian dinner party followed by a meatless breakfast and lunch the next day, David and I were ready for a meaty dinner. I sautéed a couple of chicken breasts and served them with a piquant lemon-caper pan sauce. “Ah,” I thought as I savored each bite, “this is why I am a part-time vegetarian.”