Vegetarian Recipes + Wine Pairings
Whether for personal or political reasons, giving up meat one day a week is taking hold in the culinary world. It appeals to both fine-dining restaurateurs and foodies alike, with more than 200 restaurants in the United States embracing the trend.
“We’ve made Meatless Monday easy, fun and doable,” says Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of The Monday Campaigns, the nonprofit organization behind the Meatless Monday movement.
“One day a week, cut out meat from your diet for your health—and the health of our planet,” he says. “If you do, you’ll join millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, including celebs like Mario Batali, Sir Paul McCartney and Oprah.”
At The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, California—an exclusive health and wellness spa and retreat—it’s meatless all week long. “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food,” says Executive Chef Rob Dalzell. Dalzell points to research that suggests limiting meat consumption reduces the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, while also cutting your carbon footprint. But, he says, healthy fare must still invigorate and excite the palate.
“Diners should realize that vegetables are much more nuanced and interesting than meat,” says John Fraser, the Michelin award-winning chef and owner of Dovetail in New York City, which features a vegetarian and vegetable-focused, four-course prix fixe menu every Monday. While not a strict vegetarian, the concept of Meatless Monday forced Fraser to take a harder look at his own diet. “As I started to question what I ate, I realized I ate meat simply because I always had. That didn’t seem like a good enough reason.”
In addition to dreaming up delicious dishes, creating your own meat-free menu at home affords an opportunity to explore intriguing wine-and-food combinations.
“Vegetable-based dishes offer sommeliers the opportunity for unique wine pairings,” says Jaime Kaloustian, beverage director at Dovetail. “A fino Sherry really complements some vegetables otherwise considered difficult to pair, such as asparagus and Brussels sprouts.
“A textured saké works particularly well with dishes that utilize tofu as one of the main components,” she says. “Plus, tart or acidic vegetable dishes are mellowed by a sweeter style of saké. Belgian white ales are also very vegetable-friendly, they uplift salads with citrus and vinegar components.”
Dalzell takes an even simpler approach.
“In the end, wine and vegetables come from the same place,” he says. “If they grow together, they usually go together.”
Photos by Rita Maas