“Top sirloin steak isn’t the most flavorful part, but it’s not bad,” said Dad. Challenge duly noted. A few weeks ago, I took on a different challenge starting with a courtesy shipment of Butcher Box’s beef and pork. Prior to the shipment, I wasn’t craving the usual chicken and seafood meals. For some reason, they were becoming boring dishes.
The conversations about eating different types of meat were interesting. Friends told me how often they eat beef or pork: three times a year, once a week, or every other day. After experimenting with the first beef recipe — a large pot of ground beef chili — we were overwhelmed with leftovers for two to three days. And, I was proud to have the foresight to freeze a few pints for a weekday meal in the future. The chili dish was a realization of how often we want to eat beef or pork: On a rare day every few weeks and leftovers aren’t wanted.
The flip side of this experiment, is having an increased appreciation for vegetable-based protein dishes. Immediately after eating a beef or pork, a vegetarian meal is served. And, we preferred eating leftover vegetarian meals for a couple of days.
Peas and carrots is a classic vegetarian recipe. When they’re sauté in the same cast iron skillet as steaks and whole cumin seeds, this classic dish silences “mushy baby food” memories. As previously mentioned, this cut of steak isn’t the most flavorful, but the sweet peas and carrots made the steaks better than their best. For this dish, more vegetables are plated than the steak slices, and the peas and carrots are occasionally tossed with rice or farro. Sometimes they’re spooned over baked smashed potatoes.
When I took on the beef and pork challenge, I didn’t expect to have a better appreciation for vegetable-based meals. And, I recalled an old meal planning tip: treat vegetables as a main dish and meat as a side dish. The tip demonstrates how to be creative with boring meals regardless of the protein source: eat more vegetables.