Meatless Monday

Meatless MondaysIt’s Meatless Monday and we’re having Kale Lemon Pesto with Gluten-Free Fusilli for dinner tonight. I’m trying a totally new recipe and my sister will be joining us for the experiment.

I reduced red meat in our diets several years ago. It was a great budgetary move and had it’s health benefits as well. Even though we don’t eat very much other meats, I’ve been wanting to reduce our intake. We already have a fairly healthy diet, being gluten-free, dairy-free, seasonal locavores. We NEVER eat processed foods (gluten hides out in all those nasty chemicals) or mystery meats (never, ever! And that was before I read Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle in high school).

Meatless Monday was introduced because it fit in nicely with my systematic approach to meal planning. Planning out meals and having staples on hand totally revolutionized my readiness to prepare meals. There’s nothing worse than having to think of what to eat, and then hunt-and-gather on the way home from an already l-o-n-g day at work. I can be very creative, but it certainly helps to have some forethought organization and planning.

I had no idea Meatless Monday was an international public and environmental health campaign practiced in almost thirty countries! I thought some vegetarian or vegan was being clever!

Meatless Mondays have been around since 2003 and have a historical precedence, at least here in the U.S. Traditionally, devout Catholics and Orthodox have refrained from meat on Fridays. During World Wars I and II, reducing consumption of meat on Mondays and wheat on Wednesdays was a conservation effort because so much food production and availability worldwide had been interrupted by war. Today, Meatless Mondays public health and environmental sustainability initiatives are obviously catching on with celebrities, campuses, communities, and countries actively participating. Even Paul McCartney and his daughters have a website for meat free Mondays.

Health benefits, planet sustainability, and expanding our solidarity and cuisine diversity with other global communities is one way to extend hospitality and welcome others to the great table of life.

Here’s my recipe for Kale Lemon Pesto with Gluten-Free Fusilli

Serves 3 as a meal and 4-6 as a side dish.

2 cups torn kale leaves, tightly packed
1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachio nuts
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup walnut oil *
1/4 cup flaxseed oil *
1/2 cup Percorino Romano **
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
12 oz gluten-free fusilli ***

Start large pot of water to cook pasta and follow package instructions.

Wash kale under cold, running water, tear into medium-sized pieces, discard ribs, and spin dry in salad spinner.

Place pistachio nuts and garlic in food processor bowl. Add kale, oil, cheese, lemon juice, and zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Process to fairly fine consistency. You want the pesto to retain a little texture. If the pesto is too thick, add a couple of tablespoons of pasta water.

Drain cooked pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add pesto and toss to coat pasta. Adjust seasoning and add a few tablespoons of pasta water if the pasta seems dry.

Serve in shallow bowls.

* Most people use extra virgin olive oil, but I almost always use walnut oil as it is lighter and healthier. Instead of using all walnut oil, I divide the total quantity of oil between walnut and flaxseed oil because of the health benefits of flaxseed oil.

** Percorino cheese is a hard cheese from sheep. It’s easy to get and dairy-free!

*** Not all gluten-free products are equal. Many gluten-free products are made with lots of chemicals and are NASTY tasting. If I’m going to eat carbohydrates, even if it’s gluten-free, it must be high quality and tasty. I recommend Schär or Tinkyáda gluten-free pastas.


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