NOTE: “veggie” yes, “vegetarian” not yet.
As a kid, I hated plain yogurt. However, after a period of eating fruity yogurt until it was as delicious as ice cream to me, I found that I’d also developed a taste for plain yogurt and was able to enjoy plain unsweetened yogurt almost as much. With this and similar recipes, I am playing a similar trick on myself to develop my enjoyment of and satisfaction with eating mostly veggies while appeasing my legacy palate with a tasty addition or two — in this case bacon and tamari.
I usually make tamari-toasted sunflower seeds ahead of time and keep a container in the fridge to sprinkle on salads and other dishes: In a seasoned steel skillet, toast 1 cup of sunflower seeds over medium-high heat (about 6–7 out of 10), watching and stirring every 1/2 minute or so to prevent any blackening (we just want a light toasty brown color). Once the seeds are toasting, splash in 1/8th cup of tamari, which should steam back up from the bottom of the pan into the toasted seeds. Remove from heat and stir/sauté to prevent sticking. Allow to cool.
The trick of this dish is NOT that it’s a “bacon bits” kind of recipe in that the small chunks of bacon aren’t really what makes the difference between plain and “enhanced” sautéd veggies here. The difference, sorry to say, is mostly due to the fat which is not drained out but allowed to mix with and coat the veggies. This might sound off-putting at first since pure bacon fat (like pure butter) isn’t appealing, in and of itself, nearly as much as it is when combined with a host of other ingredients. This recipe makes about 4 good-sized bowls of veggies — stretching the bacon fat a good deal.
I can well imagine how even diluting the fat that much would still not have sounded good to me in the years when all fats were shunned. My attitude for fats was partly reformed when a Japanese friend introduced me to a veggie dish that used fish-belly fat from Salmon (in this case) with green beans and other veggies to a very good effect. But I digress — the point is to keep an open mind about fats and leverage them.
Using good bacon is important. I get a zero-antibiotics, naturally raised “Beeler’s” thick-cut bacon where I live (Oregon).
Cut 2–3 strips of bacon into 1/2" pieces and fry these with one large yellow onion (chopped) since the bacon and onion require more cooking that the other ingredients. Once the bacon and onions are cooked (onions are soft, sweeter and looking clearer than raw onions), add the other chopped veggies:
1 bunch kale
1 bunch chard
1 yellow summer squash
1 ear’s worth of cut corn
Cover and let steam in the water that cooks out of the veggies for about 5 minutes or until softened (but not overdone)
Serve with tamari & tamari-toasted sunflower seeds.
For Further Research:
- My sweetheart says this dish needs some crushed/minced garlic. I tend to agree.
- If going for lower carb, the corn can be omitted. If you’re okay with carbs, a chopped potato might provide a starch to make this dish more “filling”. The goal is to ENJOY the path to a “mostly plants” diet by leveraging existing subconscious associations about what’s “tasty” and “filling” to transfer the same feelings of satisfaction, over time, to nearly 100% veggie dishes.
- Over time, I intend to transition to vegetarian fats, substituting veggie oils (coconut, olive) and mushrooms (shitake, lion’s mane, blue oyster, etc.) for texture and chewiness.