I marvel at how little I need to eat to be happy

I marvel at how little I need to eat to be happy

My mother, in restaurants, used to order oversized meals far bigger than she could ever eat herself, with the sneaky plan of protesting fullness later so my brother and I could finish what was left. It was the whole "growing boys” thing.

The bad and kind of odd thing is she continued to do this to the end of her life, on the rare occasions she could be coaxed to eat somewhere other than home, when her health was iffy and she had difficulty eating anything but milkshakes.

She would still order a giant steak and look at us forlornly when she had to confess to being too full to finish something of which she’d taken nary a bite.

It was all fine when we were young men and insatiably hungry, with a bottomless capacity for eating everything in sight. Once we’d passed 30, we could hardly finish our own meals. A mother’s love never wanes, and her sons and daughters will always be her children. Mommy isn’t going to let her boys go hungry.

Mom passed long ago, and these days I marvel at how little I really need to eat to be happy, looking for light meals most evenings. Do I really need an animal protein for every lunch and dinner?

We have been eating a lot of hummus, salads and sometimes even just fruit for dinner. We have even found ourselves going a few days eating only fruits and vegetables. Please do not share this information with the guys down at the Carnivore’s Club.

Last week we tried a new recipe of roasted vegetables served with cooked navy beans and a tart dressing. It was one of the best things we have ever eaten, and I think you will enjoy it if you give it a chance.

You’ll need three baking sheets, more if you want to add additional vegetables like broccoli, green beans or asparagus. It’s best to devote one pan per vegetable to avoid crowding; otherwise, they will steam rather than roast. You want them to gain beautiful and delicious caramelization.

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and washed

5 or 6 small carrots, peeled

About 20 Brussels sprouts

1/2 cup white navy beans, dried

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, finely diced

Feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon za'atar (order online)

The night before you plan to serve this salad, soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover by 2 inches. The next day drain the beans and cover with water again. Simmer them slowly over low heat for about an hour, then begin checking them: pull a bean from the pot and look for signs of the skin splitting. Taste it, and if it is creamy but still holds its shape, they’re done. Drain and set aside to cool.

Finely dice the shallot and put into a small bowl with the red wine vinegar. Set aside.

Peel the remaining greens from the cauliflower head, then slice it into pieces, from top to core, about 1/2 inch thick. Spread olive oil on a baking sheet and then add the cauliflower “steaks.” drizzle with more oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Trim the bottoms off the sprouts and cut them into quarters. Add them to a bowl, drizzle with several tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper, and then toss to coat. Spread them onto another baking pan and set aside. Do the same with the carrots.

Heat your oven to 400 F. Put the pans of vegetables into the oven, and after about 10 minutes, begin checking them, tossing them around a bit as you do. Remove each pan as the vegetables are browned, blackened in places and tender. Sprouts will likely finish first, then the cauliflower, then carrots. Allow to cool.

Add salt and pepper to the vinegar/shallots and whisk in about 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil.

On a large platter, start with the beans, then add the vegetables in layers. Douse with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the feta and za’atar before serving.

(Recipe: "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" by Samin Nosrat.)

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