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Dirty Sexy Vegetarian

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I am in no way, shape, or form a vegetarian. However, it is exceptionally simple to understand why people choose to become vegetarian. Many make this choice for ethical reasons regarding the treatment of animals. Educating yourself on the barbaric practices of factory farms will do it. Factory farms raise livestock in confinement at high stockpile bulk. The main products of this industry are meat, milk, and eggs for human consumption. Confinement requires antibiotics and pesticides to combat the distribution of disease made worse by the tight living quarters. Does this sound like anything you would put in your body? How about feeding it to your young, innocent children that depend on you for sustenance? I can sum up factory farming in three words: grotesque, heartbreaking, and pitiless.

Another reason for turning to vegetarianism is better health. Vegetables contain plant proteins that reduce cholesterol, in comparison to animal proteins that have the opposite effect. The main health benefit is reducing the risk of heart disease. Some of the other benefits include lowering blood pressure, controlling diabetes, facilitating digestion of food, and eliminating toxins from the body. Congratulations on choosing to become vegetarian: your prize is possibly a longer life. On the other hand, forget about eating out because restaurants really do not care about you. Get ready to eat some crunchy, bland rabbit food. Does it have to be this way? Can vegetarian food be interesting, creative, and sexy?

Undoubtedly, the answer is yes. The problem is that lazy cooks take the easy way out when it comes to meatless dishes. They spend so much time obsessing over the filet mignon, the foie gras, or the pan-seared veal chop that they cannot be bothered with alternative courses. Luckily, the blogosphere is rife with inventive sorcerers ready to take veggies to another level. My cousin, Nancy Martinez Batts, co-author on our blog Lazaro Cooks!, is vegan and a remarkable cook. In 2009, she came across The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Nutrition Study Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long Term Health by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and it changed her eating habits forever. We have had the misfortune of losing many relatives and loved ones to diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Nancy strives to prove that healthy food can be yummy food.

The dish pictured above is her vegan spin on Tortilla Soup, a Mexican classic. In this recipe, she uses a flavorful faux chicken bouillon base that you would never know is vegan. Traditionally, crumbled Cotija cheese or shredded cheeses are added to the soup. However, in order to keep the fat intake low, she uses multiple freshly chopped herbs and vegetables to garnish the soup. Complete the dish with organic corn tortilla strips and your guests will be back for seconds.

Do you require more convincing? How about Michelin star-quality vegetarian presentation? Feast your eyes on this light, seasonal, summer fling. The artist responsible for this masterpiece is Silvia Gregori, a personal chef from San Francisco. Zucchini tagliatelle with edamame, pictured above, should be in a museum. Here zucchini ribbons, sliced thin on a mandoline, play the role of tagliatelle pasta. All the while, a balanced and harmonious flavor profile of shallots, garlic, ginger, and rice wine vinegar create an explosion in the palate. This course is smart, inventive, tasty, and visually striking, everything you want a dish to be.

Personally, my creative juices get challenged by the idea of making veggie food sexy and satisfying. The dish pictured above is a vegetarian take on an enormously popular scallop course I serve. The mock “scallops” are firm tofu that I cut out with a biscuit cutter. The tofu rounds are then seared on a pan at very high heat. Topping each mock “scallop” are pieces of crispy caramelized soyrizo. Soyrizo is a soy based meat alternative that has the delicious flavoring of a chorizo sausage. Rounding out the plate are dollops of avocado puree crowned with edible flowers. Do any of these dishes seem boring to you?

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  • Kate

    They don’t seem boring at all – they look beautiful! And now I’m hungry. Way to go with the attention-grabbing headline. Signed a clean, schlumpy vegetarian.

  • Tanantha

    This is a great article. Some people have a wrong perception of “vegetarian” dishes. Hopefully, after reading this they will have a better understanding and realize that vegetarian dishes ain’t boring no more.

  • LazaroCooks!

    Tanantha…Thank you for your support. Veggie food can be as sexy, interesting, and creative as any other dishes. If cooks only take the time to care!


  • Joanne Huspek

    None of them are boring to me. Are you available this weekend?

  • Stella

    Both vegetarian and vegan cooking and baking have come a long way! I always find that the best foods on the table are most often vegetarian. And your’e dishes are sexy, Lazaro and Silvia! For sure…
    Bravo Lazaro for another forceful article on a topic that is so important and real.

  • LazaroCooks!

    Kate…Thank you for the kind words. The title is an attention grabber.


  • LazaroCooks!

    Joanne…Thank you for commenting. I am take a bit of a leave this weekend.


  • LazaroCooks!

    Stella…Thank you. You are a wonderful vegan baker. And quite the conjurer of some fantastic spirits as well. Thank you for all the generous support you give me.


  • citronetvanille

    I love your tofu dish, so pretty! I never tried the soyrizo, next time I see it around, I will try it out. Yes you are absolutely right about all of it, and raising animals pollutes the planet too! I am glad you are writing about this topic, maybe more people will realize that vegetarian is the opposite of boring and the feeling of wellbeing after eating vegetarian meals is something you cannot describe! Thanks Lazaro! Great article as always!

  • lequan

    Great article Lazaro! You picked three beautiful, not to mention delicious looking dishes to show that vegetarian food can absolutely be sexy. I love vegetarian food but have to admit I also need the occasional steak or burger once in a while. Even if the dish wasn’t as sexy as these 3 dishes I would still feel 10 times better (guilt free) eating a dish full of mushrooms than a plate of steak.

  • LazaroCooks!

    Silvia…Forget about my crappy dish. It’s all about yours. Gorgeous!

    Thank you for sharing your amazing talent with me.


  • LazaroCooks!

    Lequan…Thank you so much for your support. I agree, I love meat in moderation. Everything is better in moderation.

    I just wanted to show that veggie food can be interesting food.


  • Realist

    I’m a little out of my normal region being here, but a more vegetarian diet is a part of my treatment for what could prove to be a debilitating illness. These dishes are making me hungry! Thank you, I’ll be back for seconds!

  • Nancy Batts

    Wow Lazaro, another great, informative article. Not only do you inform your readers about the sad reality of factory farmed meat, but you follow up with some delicious alternatives. You prove that vegetarian food can DEFINITELY be sexy. I mean, what can be more sexy than nourishing your body, mind and spirit with such nutrient-dense, disease-preventing food that improves your health the minute you eat it? Good health is sexy indeed!! Thanks for the article.

  • My Carolina Kitchen

    Another great article Lazaro. You’ve definitely proved your point with me – vegetables can be VERY sexy. The presentation in each of the three dishes is a knock-out.

    I have several vegetarian friends and you have given some great ideas on what to serve them other than the same old grilled vegetables.

  • Carla

    Bravo. Great post. All three dishes are magnificent. I would be very pleased with any one or all three.

  • LazaroCooks!

    Realist…Best of health to you. Hoping for a speedy recovery. Thank you for commenting.


  • LazaroCooks!

    Prima…You are showing us all that vegetarian can be sexy, interesting and creative. Great job.


  • LazaroCooks!

    Sam…Thank you for your support. I really hope we can move past the same old grilled veg.


  • LazaroCooks!

    Carla…Thank you for commenting and the support. Greatly appreciated.


  • Kenzie (Healthy Purpose)

    the second one is especially tantalizing! i might try to recreate that! thanks for telling me to check this out!

  • LazaroCooks!

    Kenzie…Thanks for the support. The second dish was done by Silvia a fantastic cook.


  • John Wilson

    Vegetables don’t need to masquerade as meats and fishes in order to be tasty and varied. They are quite tasty and appealing on their own. After a few weeks of a vegetarian diet almost anyone will discover that. After a few months a meat dish may seem disgusting (the thrill is gone).

    It’s just a matter of what you’re accustomed to.

  • Zibi

    I agree with everything you say about the factory farms, but have my sources for ethically raised meats so I am not a vegetarian. I do love my veggies though. I wish I could have a taste of the zucchini tagliatelle… my goodness!

  • denise fletcher

    I love the line up and if anything it’s only reinforced the image of the new vegetarian – no more dusty, boring and lentil loving. Try fresh, mouthwatering and yes, sexy, instead!