Saturday, March 13, 2010
First off, let me geek out for a moment and say that this time next week I'll be showing off my gleanings from the first Portland Farmers' Market of the year. ONE WEEK. Also, I'm going to be writing for the PFM eNewsletter this year - so click here to sign up!
I've always been skeptical of "fake meat". Don't get me wrong, I've gone through many a stage of filling my freezer with veggie burgers, fake sausage, and chickenless nuggets and my cheese drawer with fake lunch meat, but something felt funny. It's probably because, since I've lived on my own, I've really fell in love with ethnic vegetarian cooking, food cultures that adore the vegetables, pulses, and grains of the world, that I haven't felt the need to mimic meat. I much prefer getting the goods "from the source" and avoiding all the processing and stabilizers necessary to a lot of widely-available meat-less meats. If you've ever felt the same way, it's time for us to look again at that often intimidating section of the supermarket that caters to those wishing to cut down on or eliminate their meat intake. A few years ago, soy was the ruling class of the vegetarian world. As food sensitivities, phyto-estrogen concerns, and GMO fears have us all thinking about soy with a skeptical face, different forms of vegetarian foods have started making their way to the scene. Grains, mushrooms, legumes, and seeds are being used in really interesting ways. Even better, if you're in Portland or a similarly-minded locale, it's getting easier and easier to find products from local producers with readable ingredient lists.
My favorite by far is the grain meat sausages and loafs from Seattle-based Field Roast. These wonderfully seasoned, ready-to-eat sausages are really great, mostly because they aren't really trying to taste like meat, they're aiming to replicate the taste of the flavors that have traditionally been added to meat (which is one of my own tricks in the kitchen). From lentil-sage loaf with fresh garlic, pardina lentils, and rubbed sage, to a chorizo-like sausage with smoked chipotle and chili de arbol peppers, the flavors that hit you are the spices and herbs, and it totally works. Their Celebration Roast is filled by hand with sausage-style stuffing, fresh butternut squash, Granny Smith apples, and mushrooms seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and sage. I was introduced to them a few months ago by my friends Ryan and Allie, who fried up a couple sausages and served them up with pancakes for Thanksgiving breakfast. Everyone, even the carnivoriest amongst us, was floored by how great they were.
Today I sliced up one of their Mexican Chipotle sausages and sauteed the bits with red bell pepper and onion, cumin and dried oregano, threw them on a few tortillas. I topped them with greek yogurt, salsa, and fresh oregano. Then, in a flash of inspiration, I added a little lemon zest, which proved to be a very good choice. They were a great, spicy, and filling distraction from writing my thesis. Which is pretty much the best thing I can say about food right now.
I hope to see you at the market next week!