Blu veggies

Times-News

reporter Mychel Matthews found a perfect light vegetarian lunch of salad, rice, and black beans for less than $5 Monday at Blu in Twin Falls.

MYCHEL MATTHEWS, TIMES-NEWS

I stopped eating meat a very long time ago for no particular reason.

Actually, I was born a vegetarian, but I never had the opportunity to abstain. You see, my father was a cattle rancher.

On my 16th birthday, however, I realized I could say “no” to meat.

And I did.

My dad told me I would be dead in six weeks.

Dining out was difficult for any vegetarian 44 years ago. Salads were limited to a tiny plateful of iceberg lettuce and dressing — the concept of a salad bar hadn’t made it to southern Idaho.

Except for a grilled cheese sandwich, few meatless dishes were available. And rightfully so — only 1 percent of the population then was vegetarian.

But while the combined vegetarian and vegan population may now be as high as 13 percent, finding veggies in meat and potato country remains a challenge.

I remembered just how challenging it is Monday as I hunted for lunch. Then I found Blu at 1986 Addison Ave. E. in Twin Falls.

I was torn between Blu’s meatless appetizers. As I expected, the Parmesan garlic mushrooms consists of small button mushroom caps sauteed in garlic Parmesan butter sauce. And the garlic and jalapeno bread bowl is stuffed with pepper jack cheese and served with jalapeno jelly. Both cost $8.

But I was in a hurry, so I chose fast food: a house salad with loose-leaf lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and red onions, served with blue cheese dressing, and a small bowl of jasmine rice and black beans, topped with diced tomatoes.

It was the best $4.77 meal I’ve ever eaten. I can’t even get my favorite bean burrito for that price.

Nearly anything on the menu can be cooked without meat, server Krista Kulhanek told me. And, the servers knock a few dollars off the price of the meatless version.

Here are a few meals served at Blu that can go meatless:

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Carnitas Verde salad (minus the pork) with red onions, diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos, chopped cilantro, topped with an avocado verde dressing — $10, less a discount

Mediterranean salad (minus the chicken) with pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives and feta cheese, topped with feta dressing — $10, less a discount

Mac and cheese plates (with the seasonings but minus the tri-tip steak, pork, buffalo wings or blackened shrimp) — $10 to $12, less a discount

Here are a few of the meatless sides:

Sweet potato waffle fries — $4

Sea salt and black truffles — $4

Steak fries — $2

And, yes, they do serve grilled cheese sandwiches.

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