A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Mark Bittman, cookbook author, New York Times contributor and frequent guest on the Today Show, speak at the Sixth and I Synagogue. Bittman was promoting his new cookbook, The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living. The cookbook is based off of the New York Times bestseller, Food Matters.
I really enjoyed Bittman’s presentation. Without coming across as preachy or overly aggressive, Bittman explained how detrimental it is for Americans to continue on the diet we currently maintain. Besides the obvious health problems we have developed as a nation (obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes), Bittman explained that there is an environmental and economic effect on the way we eat. His simple presentation was interesting and different enough that I thought I was learning something new. I also feel that Bittman’s approach to more responsible eating is easier to accept versus others out there that say we must all become strict locavores and vegans. I do the best I can. I try to buy farm-raised eggs, most of my produce from the farmer’s market, and hormone-free, grass-fed, free-range meat. But I’m not perfect—-and I’m not giving up meat 100%. Bittman says that is ok. As he teaches in his new book, perhaps the answer is not giving up meat completely but making our intake less (he calls this lessmeatavore). Perhaps cook a vegetarian dish 2-3 times a week (his veggie dishes are robust and delicious…you’ll be more than full). And most of his recipes significantly reduce the amount of meat on the plate. And guess what? You don’t miss it!
My favorite recipe I’ve found so far is the seasonal Cannellini with Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Sausage. I very rarely cook with sausage because I try not to eat pork and find most of the sausage at grocery stores, quite frankly, creepy. But I was able to find Italian-style chicken sausage from one of the meat purveyors at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market…score! This is the perfect dish for Fall. I served it over Israeli couscous but I’m sure whole wheat noodles, quinoa, or even a few slices of toast would be great.
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces Italian sausage (chicken, pork, or turkey), casings removed
3 tablespoons minced garlic
Red chili flakes, to taste
Salt and black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded in a food processor or roughly chopped
½ cup white wine or water
2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained
1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, crumble the sausage into the pas and cook, stirring occasionally to break the meat into relatively small bits, until browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for another minute or so.
2. Add the Brussels sprouts and wine to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the sprouts are tender but still a bit crunchy, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are heated through, just a minute or 2. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve.
Side note: Mark Bittman also has an awesome How to Cook Everything app for iPhones/iTouches. It’s based off of his famous How to Cook Everything cookbook…I highly recommend it.