Sometimes Ben and I talk about becoming vegetarians. Meat can be expensive, both in terms of money and environmental costs, plus ethically we feel guilty about mass produced animal farms and uncomfortable with the conditions that these animals are raised in.
But on the other hand. We both really love meat. The occasional steak or salmon or sushi... mmmmmm... What to do?
Well, I guess baby steps in the right direction is better than none at all. I've tried to cut our meat consumption down to once or twice a week - and when we do splurge and get a cut of something I try to make it a really quality cut of something special, not just hot dogs or McDonalds. But that leaves 5 nights a week of vegetarian meals, which has me thinking a little out of the box to keep out of a cooking rut.
Anyway, I have turned to the blogosphere for help, with mixed results; while some sites look great they will use all sorts of exotic (read: expensive!) ingredients that in reality are only found half wilted in some whole foods shop in California. Not always available here at the corner market in Austria. But there have been some good recipe sites, my favorite being Cheap, Healthy, Good - a site that focuses on all of the things I care about (included in the title) while keeping the recipes simple, satisfying and still with lots of variations.
This was a sandwich recipe I saw a few weeks ago, and they were great and easy to pull together. With so much flavor, it was easy to forget that it was meatless and makes the whole vegetarian push a little easier.
Makes about 2 big sandwiches
1 red bell pepper
quality bread. Enough for 2 sandwiches.
3 tsp olive oil
8 oz cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp feta
salt and pepper
Wash and dry the bell pepper. Place entire pepper on a baking pan or broiler pan and broil, turning every 2-3 minutes (use tongs) until all sides of the pepper are charred and black. Then remove from heat and cover. Once cool, cut off the top and remove seeds. The skin should peel easily from the flesh. Slice the pepper flesh into large strips.
Cut your bread in half, brush one side of each piece with olive oil and place oil side down in a hot pan. Heat until golden. Then remove onto a plate, toasted side down. Sprinkle Feta on the fresh side of the bread and set aside.
Heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the mushrooms have released their moisture and it has mostly evaporated, stirring frequently.
Once mushrooms are done, divide evenly between sandwiches, placing them directly on top of the feta. Layer red peppers on top, and add lettuce and tomato if desired. Top with other half of bread and serve.