Meatless Monday, Farmers Market Edition

The whole idea of Meatless Monday is to spend at least one day a week trying to reduce the environmental impact of feeding ourselves. The easiest way to do that is to avoid meat, which is an incredible water, land, and energy hog and produces more greenhouse gases and other pollution than plant-based meals. However, if you make your plant-based meals with locally-produced organic ingredients, such as can be found at a local farmers market, you are reducing your carbon foodprint even more.

So tonight’s Meatless Monday dinner was centered around what I could get at my Farmers Market this weekend. We are lucky in that our local farmers are still bringing their food to the Cary Downtown Farmers Market, which has us line up along ropes that measure out the prescribed 6 foot social distancing.

However, even though the weather here in North Carolina is supposed to be 80 degrees most of the week, it is still a little early for spring produce. Most of the plant-based food at the market is coming from a greenhouse. Still, we take what we can get!

Saturday, I was able to buy salad mix, green onions, tomatoes, and kale, so I organized my dinner around those items. One farmer also brought fresh milk and butter from his neighbor, Mapleview Farms, so I had those as well.

I decided to make my version of Pasta EARLY-Primavera. I put on water to boil, and started slicing up garlic (not local) and green onions to sautĂ© in some local butter. Once they were done, I poured in some milk and let that heat up and thicken a bit. When the water was boiling, I dumped in a bag of Trader Joe’s gluten-free fusilli made of brown rice and quinoa (not that I can tell it from the finished product. I don’t bother mentioning it to my family, and they’ve never noticed the difference).

Meanwhile, I washed and shredded the kale and chopped up the tomatoes. I had an old wedge of asiago cheese, which my son happily grated for me. When the pasta was done, I grabbed a cup of the starchy pasta water and poured it into the sauce, then drained the pasta. I threw the kale and tomatoes into the liquids and cooked them until the kale wilted and the tomatoes warmed. I added the pasta to the sauce, threw the grated cheese on top, and gently mixed it all together. I served it with a salad made from the salad greens and fresh oranges (totally not local, but I figure we all need some more vitamin C these days).

So there you have it. That was our Meatless Monday dinner. It was easy to prepare, and was a big hit with my son, based on the amount he ate. It goes to show that it’s not that hard to make a meal that is good for both my family and the planet.

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