The Lyles Try Vegetarian

Yes, yes, “the Lyles.” Poor David was sucked into one of my cooking experiments (cooking is nothing but applied biochemistry, after all).

Let me preface this post with noting that, no, we are not making a lifestyle change; we are both full-fledged carnivores, and I’ve only accepted salad as a legitimate food for maybe two years. There’s no way either of us could or would ever go strictly vegetarian. However…

For the past several weeks, David and I have been trying to get healthier: making salad for dinner twice a week, cutting back on portion sizes and paying more attention to how much better, cheese, etc. that I use when I cook, limiting how many times I make pasta, putting less sugar in our big batches of sweet tea, limiting how much tea we drink and substituting more water or Vitamin Water, exercising more… the list goes on and on. We even signed up for our first 5k (! So far, we’ve seen results in that the scale is now reading smaller numbers for both of us already (YAY!!).

I love cooking and trying new recipes, and lately I’ve been trying out some new ones off of Pinterest, as well as some I have concocted myself. Some have been hits and some have been misses. That much is to be expected, I suppose.

My mom makes an amazing lasagna. We didn’t have it very often, but when we did… Yum! Anything with pasta, and I’m in. David, on the other hand, is not a fan of lasagna. (His loss… sorry honey!)  David has had my mom’s, and liked it… although it’s still not his favorite pasta dish. (His cousin Mandy makes a version very similar to my mom’s, but at Christmas he wouldn’t even try hers. His loss, it was good!) However, one of the many reasons I love him is because he is always willing to be my guinea pig taste-tester whenever I’m in the mood to try my hand at something new.

At several functions I attended at IUS, the campus catered and usually had a carnivore lasagna as well as a vegetarian version. When it comes to food, I know what I like but every so often I’ll try something new, that I never thought I’d try before. I tried leeks, mutton, and Chinese while in England, Scotland, and Wales… not bad. But there are some things I have attempted to try and it just is NOT going to happen. I really wanted to be adventurous in Vegas at the buffet… I thought I’d try sushi. It made it to my plate. It made its way onto my fork. But it did not make it into my mouth (fail!). But I did try the vegetarian lasagna at the IUS functions, and it was actually pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised.

And so the idea was born to attempt to find a vegetarian lasagna recipe on Pinterest that I could talk myself and David into trying. I found one that looked like I remembered that didn’t sound like too much of a stretch: mushrooms and spinach. Ok, I think I could do that. But David, who doesn’t even like good (carnivore) lasagna?? Oh boy. This is going to be an adventure.

So when I got home after my Sunday class, I attempted to do some meal prep for the week. I decided to go ahead and put the lasagna together so I could bake it as soon as I got home from work the next night. As I’m layering everything, he asks what I’m making. I’d already told him my “great” idea while grocery shopping over the weekend… he didn’t look thrilled, but he didn’t say a word against it. So when I hesitantly told him what I was making… again, he didn’t look thrilled, but he didn’t scrunch up his nose, make any sort of face, or even give me a look either. Granted, he’s more adventurous than I am, but my biggest concern was if he’d like it. I hate, and I mean hate having to throw out food because it was an experiment of mine, but what I dislike even more is disappointing him, since cooking is (what I like to think is) my specialty.

The recipe I found called for two 10-ounce bags of baby spinach. I only bought one 6-ouce bag of fresh baby spinach for this little experiment, and I didn’t even use it all. The whole bag would have been way too much for me, let alone how much the recipe called for. I also strategically put all the spinach on the bottom layer, so we could take it off and have an “out” if it wasn’t to our liking, while still having something left that was edible. (Always, always have a Plan B as a backup!)

On Monday night, as it was cooking, I was anxious… This was my first lasagna ever, and vegetarian at that… but it smelled so good! I knew I’d be okay with eating the end result no matter how it turned out since I didn’t have  a preexisting disposition to lasagna, but David made me nervous (more on newlywed anxiety later). I had been craving corn on the cob (I can’t wait for summer!) for awhile, so I also had that as a side. As we sat at the dinner table, I waited for his verdict.

The first thing he says is, “So, what do you think?” I laughed and replied, “No, what do you think?”

Not bad, not great. It must not have been too terrible, since he did eat what was on his plate (although I noted that this was one time he didn’t go back for seconds). He said he didn’t mind it, but he wouldn’t specifically ask for it. I’m the same way with meatloaf.

So, long story short, we didn’t starve that night, and I didn’t lose my My-Wife-Is-A-Damn-Good-Cook badge either. I just might make it again sometime… with the addition of something more along the carnivorous route to make it more hearty and to both of our tastes.


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