The Carnivore’s Guide to Vegetables

The Carnivore’s Guide to Vegetables

30 recipes that will help you live longer and leaner (and eat better) without giving up burgers and breasts.

I bet you could use a few more fruits and vegetables in your diet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 87 percent of American men don’t consume the USDA’s recommended five or more servings a day. And yet a huge body of evidence connects vegetable consumption to lower rates of cancer, obesity, and heart disease.

Vegetarians can teach us a thing or two about coercing big flavors and textures out of otherwise bland ingredients, as these recipes prove. Give them a shot. They’re not just fantastic vegetarian dishes. They’re fantastic dishes, period. 

Pasta With Broccoli, Cauliflower, or Broccoli Rabe

Makes 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes

A rich Bolognese sauce can be super-satisfying, but it has three times the ingredients of this recipe and can be cooked only a few different ways. This simple pasta dish is made with a terrific, explosive vegetable sauce that takes well to other flavors.

1 Tbsp salt

1 lb broccoli, cauliflower, or broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into pieces

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed

1 Tbsp chopped garlic, or more to taste

1 lb penne, ziti, or other cut pasta

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to boiling and add salt. Boil the vegetables until they’re fairly tender, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on what you use (broccoli rabe is fastest, cauliflower slowest) and the size of the chunks. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low; add the garlic and cook until it begins to sizzle. Scoop the vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon or strainer.

2. Drop the vegetables in the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring and mashing, until they’re hot and soft.

3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When it’s almost (but not quite) done, drain it, reserving about a cup of the water. Add the pasta to the skillet with the vegetables and 2 tablespoons of the reserved water. Toss it all with a large spoon until well combined. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, along with more of the pasta water to keep the mixture from drying out. Serve immediately.

Pump up this pasta

8 simple ways to add complex flavor

1. Cook 3 or 4 dried chilies along with the garlic, or toss some red-pepper flakes into the pasta. 

2. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic to the mashed vegetable 30 seconds before you turn off the heat.

3. Cook several threads of saffron in the oil along with the garlic.

4. Toss 1/2 cup of pesto into the cooked pasta.

5. When you combine the pasta and vegetable, stir in a small can of tomato paste or a cup of chopped tomatoes.

6. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive tapenade when you toss the pasta.

7. Add 1 cup of sliced mushrooms to the oil once the garlic sizzles.

8. Toss in a cup of peas, chopped spinach, or arugula during the last minute of cooking.

Beer-Glazed Black Beans

Makes 4 servings

Time: 2 hours soaking, plus 30 minutes cooking

Beans often intimidate beginners, so many people buy the markedly inferior canned stuff and then don’t like it. But dried beans actually take very little effort: Just soak, simmer, and eat.

1/2 lb dried black beans, rinsed, with any pebbles picked out 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 cup beer (stout or porter is best)

1 Tbsp chili powder, or to taste

1 Tbsp honey

1. Put the beans in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 to 3 inches. Turn on the heat and let the beans boil, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Put the lid on, turn off the heat, and let the beans soak for at least 2 hours.

2. Return the water to boiling, and reduce the heat so that the beans bubble gently. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally. Check the beans for doneness after 10 or 15 minutes and add a little more water if necessary. When the beans are tender, stop cooking and drain any excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, and then add the remaining ingredients (including the beans) and another good shake of salt and pepper.

4. Bring to a steady bubble and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Enliven these legumes

3 ways to give beer-glazed beans an edge

1. Sweeten the dish by adding 1 cup of chopped ripe tomato or 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato paste in Step 1, and then proceed with the recipe.

2. For extra tang, stir in 2 teaspoons of balsamic or sherry vinegar during Step 1. Proceed with the recipe.

3. Add an Asian flair with a tablespoon of peeled, minced fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans when you add the garlic in Step 3. Swap out the salt for a bit of soy sauce.

Asparagus Au Gratin

Makes 4 servings

Time: 15 minutes

Gratin is just a scary word for a baked dish with a crumb crust. It can be made gooey and cheesy or, as it is here, light and crunchy. This recipe calls for asparagus, but I can’t think of a vegetable that wouldn’t work well.

1 1/2 to 2 lb asparagus

1 Tbsp butter or extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2  cup grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese

1/2  cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Break off and discard the woody bottom ends of the asparagus spears (they’ll naturally snap off where they’re supposed to), and peel the top parts if they’re thick. Steam or microwave, covered, just until tender–5 minutes max.

2. Preheat the broiler and make sure the rack is about 4 inches from the heat source.

3. Use the butter or oil to grease a medium, shallow baking dish.

4. Sprinkle the spears with salt and pepper and place them in the dish. Cover with the cheese and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden. Add the parsley and a few more grinds of pepper (and some paprika if you’d like). Serve.

Build a Grander Gratin

5 vegetable and cheese variations worth checking out   

1. Substitute 5 cups of cooked mushrooms for the asparagus, and crumbled Roquefort for all or part of the Gruyère or Swiss.

2. Substitute 5 cups of roasted, baked, or boiled potatoes for the asparagus, and Manchego cheese for the Gruyère or Swiss. For garnish, sprinkle with smoked paprika.

3. Substitute 5 cups of chopped, cooked broccoli or cauliflower for the asparagus, and more Parmesan for the Gruyère or Swiss. Add a cup of pesto and omit the parsley. In Step 2, toss the broccoli or cauliflower with the pesto, sprinkle with Parmesan, and proceed. 

4. Substitute 5 cups of lightly sautéed onions for the asparagus.

5. Substitute 5 cups of sliced, roasted beets for the asparagus, crumbled goat cheese for the Gruyère or Swiss, and thyme leaves for the parsley. Sprinkle the beets with the thyme leaves and the goat cheese, and proceed with the recipe.

Chopped Salad

Makes 6 servings

Time: 15 minutes

The most popular nonrecipe in the world doesn’t have to be a bowl of nonflavor. You just have to know how to dress it for success.

2 celery stalks (preferably from near the heart), trimmed and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 small red onion, minced

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice, or to taste

1 tsp Dijon mustard, or to taste

1/2 tsp minced garlic

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine the vegetables and lettuce in a bowl; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and toss. Combine the vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, and garlic in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking until combined. 

2. Drizzle the dressing on the salad, taste, adjust seasoning to your liking, and serve immediately.

Strengthen this salad

Simply add one of the following ingredients. Better yet, mix and match.

1. Fennel, 1/2 bulb, trimmed and chopped

2. Avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped

3. Cabbage, 1 cup, chopped or shredded

4. Haricots verts or other green beans, 1 cup, briefly boiled or steamed

5. Fresh peas, snow peas, or snap peas, 1 cup, very lightly cooked

6. Cheese, such as Parmesan, blue, or feta–1/2 cup grated or crumbled

7. Radishes, 1/2 cup chopped

8. New potatoes, steamed and cut into small chunks–about 1 cup

9. Canned chickpeas, 1/2 cup (or more), lightly rinsed

10. Nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, or peanuts, 1/2 cup, chopped into large pieces
Fire It Up

There are few vegetables that don’t benefit from the smoke and char of a live fire. Toss one of these unlikely grillables onto the grates and you’ll never look at the produce aisle the same.  

Romaine lettuce Cut the head in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil, and grill until the leaves are lightly wilted, about 5 minutes. 

Sweet potatoes Cook in simmering water until just tender. Peel, cut into 1/2-inch slices, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes a side.

Tomatoes Cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill cut side down for 5 to 7 minutes. 

From Men’s Health

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