Vegetarian Friendly Christmas

Meatless Monday with Katie
The Meatless Monday movement is about improving personal health and the health of our planet by reducing meat consumption.  If you cut out meat on Mondays, you will eat 15 percent less meat every week, resulting in better health for you and the planet.

This holiday season, in support of the Meatless Monday movement, I propose cutting out the meat for one course at your Christmas dinner in addition to dessert.

Here are two fun and festive appetizers to get you started on a vegetarian friendly Christmas.

Begin your the vegetarian-friendly Christmas menu is Cucumber Dill Bites.  They are attractive, easy to make, and delicious.  To make these bites start with two cucumbers, fresh dill, 8 ounces creme fraiche, and two tablespoon pink peppercorns.  Cut the cucumbers into two inch tall segments and scoop out the seeds about an inch and a half deep.

Next, finely chop the dill and combine it with the creme fraiche and season with salt, to taste.  Spoon this mixture into the cucumber bowls and draw the dull side of a knife across the top to scrape away any excess creme fraiche.  Using a mortar and pestle or a pepper grinder, grind up the pink peppercorns and sprinkle sparingly on top.  Garnish with a few long sprigs of dill in the center of each Cucumber Dill Bite.

The second appetizer is an Italian riff on French toast: Bruschetta French Toast. For this you will need a French baguette, 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, three ripe tomatoes, a handful fresh basil leaves, and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and milk and half the parmesan cheese together.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.  Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch thick slices, submerge in the egg mixture, and set aside.  Chop the tomatoes and basil, toss in extra-virgin olive oil, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Working with a few slices at a time, place the soaked baguette slices in the skillet.  Cook for 3 minutes a side, or until golden brown.  Remove the cooked slices to plate while cooking the remaining slices.  Garnish with the remaining Parmesan cheese and top with the tomato mixture.