Lots of Flavor, Less Meat

Hello and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. There is so much news vying for your attention right now that I wanted to be sure you saw this article about diet and climate change: New research says that in order for humans to even hope to keep global emissions in check, there have to be sweeping changes to the food system.

A good thing about this — to the extent that there can be a good thing about this — is that there’s a concrete thing you can do, and that is adjust how you eat. Our big food and climate change F.A.Q. goes into a lot of practical detail about how your diet affects climate change. And while a vegan diet would be best from an emissions perspective, some scientists are urging people to simply move away from animal products and more toward plants.

I’ve been cooking far less meat, especially red meat, and I’m liking it. At home we eat more beans and eggplant Parmesan and eggs and soup and fish and pasta (a fair number of the classics are entirely meatless or pescatarian), all delicious. And so below you’ll find recipes that minimize meat, rely on fish or are totally vegetarian. I’m [email protected] if you want to get in touch.

Here are five dishes for the week:

1. Vegetarian Skillet Chili With Eggs and Cheddar

This recipe by Ali Slagle is a speedy way to make chili, and the eggs take it to a pleasingly shakshuka-like place. Cheddar has a more significant carbon footprint than chicken or pork (you need cows to produce the milk, and a lot of milk to produce the cheese), so dial it back here or lose it altogether in favor of toppings like avocado and chopped onion, or even better, pickled onion or jalapeño. Serve with corn tortillas.

View this recipe.

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2. Roasted Cauliflower With Pancetta, Olives and Crisp Parmesan

Melissa Clark is a proponent of using meat sparingly in your cooking, as a way to bring oomph to a dish. A little pancetta (or bacon) goes a long way here, adding deep flavor to a recipe that’s already rich with it. (Of course, you can leave out the meat.) This could be a side, but I’d serve it as a main with some farro.

View this recipe.

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3. Coconut-Miso Salmon Curry

To quote a comment I recently saw on NYT Cooking: “This recipe is the business.” People love it. And fish can be a good option for the climate-friendly cook, depending on what kind you buy; check Seafood Watch to see what’s sustainable. Kay Chun uses salmon here, poaching it in a light coconut broth flavored with miso, ginger and garlic. Cod would also be great.

View this recipe.

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4. Tofu and Green Beans With Chile Crisp

Chile crisp, a fiery sauce from Sichuan Province, has been steadily gaining devotees in the United States, including Sam Sifton, who wrote this easy, delicious vegetarian recipe for marinated tofu and blistered green beans. (Sub in a little sugar for the honey and it becomes vegan.) Use extra chile crisp on an ice cream sundae.

View this recipe.

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5. Broccoli-Walnut Pesto Pasta

Genevieve Ko uses broccoli, lemon and mint in this pesto, making something fresh and more filling than traditional versions. This recipe is a great way to get more vegetables into your meal, and it’s flexible too: It can be vegan if you skip the dusting of Parmesan to serve, and nut-free if you replace the walnuts with sunflower seeds (or omit them altogether).

View this recipe.

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