Meatless Mondays

Yes, you can reap health benefits from one small change—by going vegetarian one day a week. MARK BITTMAN offers delicious recipes that won’t leave you asking, “Where’s the beef?”

By Mark Bittman
meatless mondays, vegetarian, mark bittman
LIGHT AND LUSCIOUS Creamy polenta is topped with browned mushrooms and Brussels sprouts.
Photograph: Levi Brown


Polenta with Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts

Fried Brown Rice with Shallots and Carrots

Pasta with White Beans and Escarole

Pizza with Spinach and Olives

Chiles Rellenos

Pasta with Spinach Pesto and Zucchini

Cauliflower, Chickpea and Potato Curry


AS Mark Twain might have said, everybody talks about eating less meat, but nobody does anything about it. Yet for people who like meat and aren’t ready to go whole hog (so to speak) by becoming vegan, there are many approaches to cutting back on red meat, poultry and fish, and just about anyone with any food disposition and lifestyle can find easy-to-stick-to strategies.

Meatless Mondays is a dead--simple strategy. Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t require major sacrifice. Even if you eat a typical American diet replete with processed, junk and fast food the other six days of the week, going meatless on Mondays will still cut your carbon footprint, improve your health and reduce demand for factory-farm meat.

Once you’ve tried a few easy, delicious, healthy and satisfying vegetarian recipes on Monday, you’ll probably be tempted to start making them Tuesday through Sunday as well. You just might change from someone who merely talks about improving your diet to someone who’s actually doing it.


Prep time: 32 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound Brussels sprouts,
trimmed and halved
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
8 ounces mushrooms, preferably
a mixture, trimmed and
halved if large
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup coarse cornmeal
½ cup milk, preferably whole
½ cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

1. Heat the oven to 450°. Put the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet that can hold them in a single layer, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, toss, and continue to roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the sprouts and mushrooms are quite brown and tender, 10 to 20 minutes more. Taste, and adjust the seasoning.

2. Meanwhile, put the cornmeal and a large pinch of salt in a medium saucepan; slowly whisk in 2½ cups water and the milk to make a lump-free slurry. Set the pot over medium-high heat; bring almost to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cook, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, whisk in a bit more water; you want the consistency of thick oatmeal. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Divide the polenta among four bowls; top with the vegetables. Garnish with parsley and grated Parmesan, and serve.



Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 18 minutes
Serves 4

4 tablespoons peanut oil
4 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
4 carrots, julienned or shredded
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
4 cups day-old cooked brown rice, at room temperature
4 eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce

1. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When it’s hot, add the shallots, carrots, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender but not browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Raise the heat to medium, and add the rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.
2. In a nonstick skillet, fry the eggs sunny-side up in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, until the edges are set but the yolk is still runny. Divide the rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg, and drizzle with ½ teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce; serve.



Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

First Published September 14, 2011

Share Your Thoughts!


ruth 10.05.2011

I love the menu -- too bad its not "meatless Fridays," would be a nice feature for Lent.

Post new comment

Click to add a comment