If you think about human evolution, until quite recently, meat was never a regular component of our diets. Our ‘hunter-gatherer’ ancestors ate seasonal fruit and veggies and gorged themselves on meat whenever the hunters were successful (which, I think, was less often than we all imagine). Our agrarian ancestors in Mesopotamian cities or pastoral Ancient Greece had domesticated livestock but they had to make stretch out amongst very large families or was eaten only on special occasions.
Basically, only modern, first-world humans think that it’s normal to have a 16oz rib eye for dinner most nights of the week. And even then, our ancestors a generation or two ago who regularly enjoyed plates full of chicken fried steak with biscuits and white gravy were waking up at evil hours to bust their hind quarters without end on the farm! I think we can all agree that’s not level of activity most of us experience these days.
It’s time to wake up America, the way we eat isn’t healthy! Completely disregarding demons like processed food, soda and agro-business, we need to adjust the macro-nutrient proportions that make up our regular meals. [protein:carbs:fats] Certainly, keep your T-Bone and loaded baked potato for a special treat; but a healthy, protein rich, vegetarian meal every now is what we all need.
Clearly, I could rant on and on endlessly about what’s wrong with the American/First-World food system. Instead of boring and guilt-tripping everyone to death all at once, I’d like to put up a pint-size diatribe along with a tasty vegetarian or vegan recipe every Monday for my next little series. I hope you guys like it! Let me know if there’s a specific recipe or cuisine you want to see!
Pasta con Ceci Stufati – Pasta with Stewed Chickpeas – served with bread
This recipe is based off of one in the book ‘Cucina Povera,’ a favorite of mine with recipes and stories from leaner times in Tuscany.
Serves 3-4 – cost approx $1.03 per person, including bread
- 1 onion ($.30)
- 2 carrots ($.13)
- 2 ribs celery ($.11)
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight ($.41)
- 15 oz can tomatoes – any type, such as crushed, whole, dice, etc. ($.50)
- 1 Tbs dried Italian herbs – I used a pinch each of thyme, basil, oregano and rosemary
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 bunch greens, thinly sliced – any type, such as chard, collards, spinach… ($.50)
- salt, to taste
- 1 lb pasta ($.89)
Start this lovely vegan meal by putting the onion, carrots and celery into a food processor to chop them very fine. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pot or saute pan and saute the finely chopped veggies and the garlic cloves for 5 minutes. Add in the chickpeas, tomatoes, dried herbs and stock and bring to a simmer.
Gently simmer the sauce for 1-2 hours, or until the chickpeas are tender. Add in tougher greens, like collards or kale, 20-30 minutes before the dish is done and more tender greens, like spinach or chard, 5-10 minutes before the dish is done.
Adjust the seasonings and toss with your favorite sort of cooked pasta. Buon Appettito!