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Five Day Menu to Make Your Vegetarian Life Easier
Weeknights, for most of us, are pretty hectic. With some pre-planning and a menu to guide you, eating great vegetarian meals can be both easy and delicious. I’ve indicated which recipes are quick, so use these on nights when there’s athletic practice, school functions, or anything else that puts you on tight schedule. I’ve also noted two recipes that are economical. ET: If you aren’t a regular cook-read the recipe all the way through before you begin. This method will help you avoid mistakes.
I’ve made each of these recipes and have gotten wonderful responses from my family. Please comment after you’ve made them and let me know what you and your family like and any suggestions you have for improving them.
Monday: Spinach, Mushroom & Black Bean Quesadillas
Tuesday: Heavenly Pasta & Vegetables
Wednesday: Call it Cassoulet
Thursday: Elle’s Veggie Sandwiches
Friday: Quick Lo Mein
Spinach, Mushroom, and Black Bean Quesadillas
Including tender, fresh baby spinach in these wonderful quesadillas is a simple way to get kids–and veggie adverse adults–to eat thier greens. And if you still can’t win them over, that just means more quesadillas for you.
- 1.5 cups cooked or 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans-rinsed & drained, Progresso
- 1 tablespoon olive or grape seed oil
- 1/2 cup red onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (1 heaping teaspoon if using already minced)
- 2 cups sliced white mushrooms
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- 4 (10 inch) tortillas, Mission Carb Balance
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the rinsed and drained black beans in a medium bowl and coarsely mash them with a fork. Set Aside.
In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook uncovered, until softened. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper to taste, cook, stirring, until the spinach is just wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the smashed black beans and contiue cooking, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed.
To assemble the quesadillas, place 1 tortilla on a work surface and spoon about one quarter of the mixture onto half of the tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling and press lightly. Assemble remaining quesadillas. In a large skillet, heat a small amount of oil over medium heat. Place the folded quesadillas, one at a time, into the hot skillet and heat until hot, turning once. About a minute per side. Cut the quesadillas into 3 or 4 wedges each and arrange on plates.
Serve immediately with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.
Heavenly Pasta and Vegetables
12 ounces angel hair pasta
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil, Pompeian Grapeseed Oil
- 1/4 chopped onion
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- 1 teaspoon minced galic
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes-Hunts
- 1 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot medley
- 3 tablesppons grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta accourding to the package directions until al dente; drain and keep warm.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic-cook for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and vegetables. Break up tomatoes with a spoon, cover and cook for 8 minutes.
Heap pasta onto a large platter and spoon tomato-vegetable mixture onto center. Sprinkle with Parmaesan cheese.
Substitutes: I often use just broccoli, broccoli and cauliflower, or squash and zuchinni in place of the medley. This subsitutuion is based solely on my mood and personal taste.
Call It Cassoulet
What’s in a name? When it comes to cassoulet, a lot! If you tell your family they’re having bean stew for dinner they might scoff, but tell them their having cassoulet–a fancy French name for the dish–and Ohh La La! Trust me, call it cassoulet.
1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed (1 heaping teaspoon minced)
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, Hunts
- 4 cups cooked or 3 (15.5 ounce) cans white beans, drained, Progresso
- 2 cups vegetable stock (recipe follows)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 dried majoram
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened. About 7 minutes
Stir in the tomatoes, beans, stock, spices, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender and flavors have developed, adding more stock or water as needed, about 30 minutes. Serve hot. FYI: Need to stretch this meal? Serve it over rice.
Serves about 6
Cost per serving: less $1.50
6 cups chopped vegetables-onions carrots, and celery
Place the vegetables in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer; covered for 1 hour.
Let stock cool and strain, discarding any solids. The stock can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days or frozen for about 2 months. For convenience, freeze stock in 1 or 2 cup portions.
Quick Lo Mein
This is a great recipe when you have leftover spahetti and steamed veggies. It’s still a quick meal even when you have to cook everything on the spot, so no need to worry.
Quick & Economical
4 cups cooked spahetti
- 16 ounce tofu, drained and pressed–see my recent post Do You Tofu for instructions on pressing tofu
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, Argo
- 2 tablespons canola or other neutral tasting oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or Gourmet Garden Ginger
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 4 or 5 green onions , chopped
- 4 cups shredded cabbage
- 1.5 cups sliced white mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, Kikkoman
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, House of Tsang Sesame Oil
Cut the pressed and drained tofu into 1/2-inch dice. Toss with the cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt and set aside.
In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown all over, about 7 minutes. Remove from skillet and place on a plate lined with a tea towel or paper towel. Set aside.
In the same skillet or wok, heat the remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, carrot, green onions, cabbage, and mushrooms. Season with salt to taste, and stir-fry to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. ET: Stir fry veggies should have a bit of a crunch so don’t over cook. Stir in the soy sauce and seasame oil. Add the reserved tofu.
Add the spaghetti to the skillet or wok. Toss to combine, adding a tablespoon or two of water if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve Hot.
Cost per serving: less than $2
Elle’s Veggie Sandwiches
When I first became a vegetarian, I mistakenly thought sandwiches were no longer a part of my diet–was I wrong! I have discovered a world of wonderful ways to prepare sandwiches that rival those made with meat. The recipe that follows is one of my favorites during the warmer months of the year. The hummus takes the place of mustard and mayo. I usually set everything out in the middle of the table and let everyone create the sandwich they want–this also adds a bit of fun to mealtime for kids.
1 heirloom tomato or large beefsteak tomato, sliced
- 1 yellow bellpepper, sliced into rings, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- Red leaf lettuce, washed and seperated into leaves
- Sabra Spinach and Artichok Hummus
I prefer my bread toasted but this isn’t required. Spread about a tablespoon of hummus on each slice, add a tomato slice, 2 bellpepper rings, 4 slices of cucumber and lettuce. You can adjust to suit your taste, this is how I like mine. If calories aren’t a concern, a slice of cheese is a wonderful addition.
Serve with baby carrots and hummus, chips, pickles, pickled okra, or fries. I usually serve fuit that is in season as dessert to round out the meal.
Makes four sandwiches.
Copyright ElleVeg 2013