What’s on the menu? Nothing with a face

veggie dogMany of you already know that my 11-year-old son, Jake, went vegetarian about 10 months ago. His decision was precipitated by the compassion he felt for a beheaded pig we happened upon during an outdoor cooking demonstration on our Colonial Williamsburg vacation last Christmas. Looking back, I can't blame him.

Feeding a vegetarian kid isn’t difficult, in theory. Feeding a vegetarian kid who doesn’t love vegetables, that’s the hard part. Making sure that every meal isn’t some jumbled reworking of black bean vegetarian enchiladas, that’s next to impossible.

That aside, the real challenge for me is working in the meat that the rest of us enjoy without relegating Jake to PB&J five times a week. What every parent really wants is to make one dinner, not one dinner for every member of the family, right? And Jake doesn’t mind if the rest of us eat meat—he just doesn’t want to gag any down himself.

Then Monday, a breakthrough. My sleepless night (see my 10/19 post) gave me some menu planning time, during which I realized that I can use vegetarian main dishes as side dishes on the nights that I’m making a roast or serving burgers. This strategy may have been obvious to everybody else out there, but I guess I’m a little slow on the uptake. And, considering that Monday was the first time I’d done any intentional grocery shopping since…well, I can’t remember when…it was a great opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

Here’s what I’m planning on cooking this week (recipes can be found in the cookbook, Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin):

Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Spinach and Feta Cheese (Sounds good with pork roast!)

Baked Orzo, Broccoli, & cheese (Chicken breast as well!)

Bow Ties with Green Beans in Tomato-wine sauce (1/4 tsp red pepper flakes goes in this sauce—tangy!)

Caramelized onion, walnut, and goat cheese pizza w/beer crust (Only for grown-ups tastes? We’ll see. )

Havarti & Sprout sandwiches (Had this on Monday night with pickles and cheetos—HOME RUN!!!!)

Classic Vegetarian Split Pea Soup & Shepherd’s Pie too (Classics—how can we go wrong?)

I’m two days in to my new cooking plan, and so far, so good. I think today will be baked orzo day, with chicken for the carniv’s among us. It’s just crazy enough to work, so keep your fingers crossed!