Recipes Inspired by "The Compassionate Carnivore"

This month's book club selection, The Compassionate Carnivore, by Catherine Friend, chronicles the author's journey to better understand and appreciate the face on her plate. Here's a short excerpt from Indie Bound, describing the book:

For most of her life, Catherine Friend was a carnivore who preferred not to consider where the meat on her plate came from—beef didn’t have a face, chicken didn’t have a personality, and pork certainly shouldn’t have feelings. But Friend’s attitude began to change after she and her partner bought a farm and began raising sheep for meat. Friend’s ensuing odyssey through the world of livestock and farming is a journey that offers critical insights—for omnivores and herbivores alike—into how our meat is raised, how we buy it and from whom, and why change is desirable and possible.

In honor of this month’s book club selection, Twin Cities personal chef Kristin Hamaker (whose Farm to Fork business offers discounts though Simple, Good, and Tasty's Local Food Lover program) has created two terrific sounding meat-loving recipes just for us. Enjoy! Really Good Spaghetti and Meatballs Serves 4-6 For the meatballs, combine in a large bowl: • ½ lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed, such as Thousand Hills Cattle Co. brand or Grass Fed Cattle Co. brand) • ½ lb ground pork  • 1 large organic egg • Some chopped parsley • 1 diced garlic clove • A handful of grated fresh parmesan cheese • A handful of fresh breadcrumbs (preferably sourdough) • Salt and pepper. Get a plate ready with a sheet of parchment or wax paper on top. With your hands mix together your ingredients and then form into meatballs; place them on parchment and set aside. Get a pot of water on the stovetop set to boil. For the tomato sauce: • A splash of extra virgin olive oil • 1 small yellow onion • 1 garlic clove • 1 - 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes • 1 - 14 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes • Small bit of basil and/or marjoram • Sugar • Salt and pepper. Chop the onion and sweat it in a large saucepan in the olive oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, slice the garlic clove and add it to the onion, with a bit of salt. Once the onion and garlic are completely tender, add in all of the tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. At this point you can add a bit of sugar to curb any acidity, and another layer of salt and pepper. You can also add a bit of beef stock or red wine to taste at this point, but it is not necessary. While the tomato sauce is slowly simmering, heat a wide skillet over medium heat and add a small splash of olive oil. Once it is warm, add the meatballs. While these are beginning to brown, toss in a bit of salt to your boiling water on the stovetop and add the spaghetti noodles. Give a stir with tongs and cook according to the package’s instructions. Continue to taste the tomato sauce and make any adjustments to seasoning; now add the torn basil and/or marjoram. Continue to brown the meatballs on all sides until cooked through. Once they are done, add them to the simmering tomato sauce and cook for a further few minutes. Once again, check for seasoning. Now top the spaghetti noodles with the sauce and meatballs and shred more fresh parmesan cheese on top. Spiced Lamb Shoulder with Eggplant Serves 6 • 2 lbs shoulder of lamb • 2 medium-sized eggplants • 1 large yellow onion, sliced • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil • Chopped mint • Chopped marjoram (or oregano) • Salt and pepper • ½ lb very ripe tomatoes or 14 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes • 1 garlic clove, crushed • 1 tsp cumin seed Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes and then cut the eggplant into the same size cubes. Unless the eggplant is extremely fresh, sprinkle the eggplant cubes with salt and put in a colander to drain with a plate on top to weigh them down. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sweat the onion. Add the meat and allow it to color, sprinkle with a bit of mint, marjoram and salt and pepper. Transfer the meat and onions to a casserole dish that will hold them. Wash off the eggplant and drain them with paper towels. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Toss in the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes or so. Then add the eggplant to the meat and cover. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, blanch and skin them, chop them, and then add them to the casserole with the meat mixture. Add the crushed garlic. Heat the cumin for a few minutes over low-medium heat in a pan until fragrant and then crush in a mortar and pestle and add to the casserole. Cover and bake in the oven for about 1½ hours. Taste, correct the seasoning, and degrease the cooking liquid if necessary. Best served with rice.

Mississippi Market Co-op in St. Paul is hosting book club tomorrow night, 3/25. Read the details here.

Lee Zukor is the founder of Simple, Good, and Tasty. Email him at