A lot of people mistakenly think I’m vegan, and that No Meat Athlete is a vegan website. Maybe that’s because most of the recipes I’ve posted recently are from vegan cookbooks.
But I absolutely do not want potential vegetarians to be scared off, thinking it’s gotta be vegan or nothing. By most people’s definition, you can be a perfect vegetarian and still enjoy milk, cheese, butter, and eggs.
Why I’m Not Vegan (Yet)
You’ll likely find that as you become accustomed to eating less meat, animal products as a whole become less appealing. And that’s why I (and many others) have started out vegetarian and tended towards veganism. But I’m not there yet, and I don’t want to make it a rule that I can’t eat any animal products.
If not eating meat were strictly about health for me, I wouldn’t need to call myself vegetarian. I’d eat meat maybe once a month as a special treat, about the frequency with which I eat any other unhealthy food. But it’s not just about health—it started out that way, but the act of eating less meat made me aware of the fact that on those occasions when I did eat fish, I was actually eating an animal. Once it became about that, I became completely vegetarian.
Veganism, right now, is still about health to me. I recognize that milk and cheese are pretty sucky for my body. And I rarely eat them, for that reason. Dairy and eggs don’t yet seem gross to me the way meat does; I don’t feel the same guilt eating a bite of cheese as I do eating the meat of what was once a living animal. And that’s why I’m not quite vegan yet.
I’m moving that way though. I blame Earthlings.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, the purpose of that prelude was to introduce the first non-vegan meal I’ve posted in a while: Portabella and Pea Macaroni and Cheese. (Vegans, you are dismissed early today; check out Mac n’ Chard, an unbelievably good vegan mac n’ cheese recipe.)
This recipe comes from a new book Wiley Publishing sent me to test-drive, The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook. But wait a minute: It’s not vegetarian, I’m not celiac, so why am I cooking from it?
Well, it has an index of vegetarian recipes, and there are quite a few of them. And Brendan Brazier argues in Thrive that gluten slows a lot of us down, not just those with a recongized allergy to gluten. So I’m interested to learn a bit about gluten-free cooking.
The macaroni and cheese turned out pretty well. I loved the concept, with the portabellas and peas in there. And for the amount of dairy in the recipe, the sauce turned out really nice and light, with a fresh flavor from the white wine. My biggest problem with it was that there were lots of white specks in the cheese sauce. When in doubt, blame the potato starch.
And I forgot the paprika. Dammit.
Here’s the recipe. Again, it’s from The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook, by Vanessa Maltin, published by Wiley, 2010.
Portabella and Pea Macaroni and Cheese
- One 1-pound package gluten-free elbow macaroni
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 cups thickly sliced portabella mushrooms
- 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon potato starch
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and peas and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, mix the potato starch with 1 tablespoon of water to make a paste. Pour the paste into the milk and wine mixture and cook, stirring rapidly, until the sauce thickens.
- Slowly stir in the cheeses and cook, stirring, until they are fully melted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta, cheese sauce, and vegetables. Add salt to taste.