In my youth I was an unrepentant carnivore. Gimme the Super Big Boy, the big ol’ steak, and I’m a happy camper.
I still like meat, but find that my appetite for it has diminished to the point where two really nice things have happened: (1) I find that side dishes are more appreciated by me, rather than just being go-alongs for the Main Event, and (2)I find that meat-free meals are something I enjoy more frequently. (I’m a convert to Catholicism, and I often joke that I joined the Church because I had to eat fish on five successive Fridays, and that was a PENANCE?)
I love some meals that are not, strictly speaking, meat-free because of the meat broth involved: Risotto, blackeyed peas & collard or turnip greens, French onion soup. But there are others that are entirely free of meat, fish, and poultry; I confess I especially like these at lunch, because for three years I worked with a guy who thought that EVERY meal had to include meat as its centerpiece–or ONLY piece, as he’d demonstrate when devouring a meal of sloppy joe meat in a bowl, spaghetti with meat sauce (two pounds beef to one jar sauce), and three pieces of fried chicken.
My favorite, though, is the baked potato. I have two preferred toppings. One is creamed spinach, which I like anyway. The other is from Marion Cunningham’s The Supper Book. It’s called, Idaho Sunrise. Bake a potato; cut a slice off the top and scoop out the insides. Fluff with butter and cream/milk, season with salt and pepper, and stuff back in the skin, placing the spud in a baking dish. Make a deep well in the potato flesh, and break an egg into it. Put the potato back into the oven and bake until the white is set but the yolk is not.
You can also add a layer of creamed spinach under this; I know, it was inevitable for me to try. You can add herbs, cheese, or any manner of other things to the potato pulp when mashing. I love this.