These are so good, you are going to want to make them regardless of whether it is Meatless Monday or not. They are very quick to put together, nutritious, and filling. Here’s how:
- 4 large flour tortillas
- 1 can vegetarian refried beans (or see Bean Filling below)
- 2 cups corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
- 2 small avocados
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- juice of half a lemon
- salt to taste.
- 1 1/3 cups shredded cheese (American, Mexican)
- 1 cup tomato salsa
- butter for greasing skillet
Heat a skillet or cast iron griddle to medium. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds to make them more pliable. Heat the corn and the refried beans (or bean filling) for a minute or two in the microwave. Peel and seed the avocados in a small to medium sized bowl. Add in the lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Mash with a fork until it is kind of a chunky guacamole. Assemble the quesadillas. Lay the tortillas on the counter in a row. Spread a generous spoonful or two of the bean mixture on each tortilla. I like to cover about half the tortilla. Next, spread about 1/4 of the guacamole. Then, sprinkle 1/4 of the corn, and 1/3 cup of cheese on each tortilla. Lastly sprinkle the top with the salsa. Carefully fold in half. Quickly grease the griddle or skillet. Lay the quesadillas on the griddle and watch carefully so they don’t burn. Turn over and move to a serving plate. Repeat until all are cooked. Enjoy!
I have tried enough dishes calling for tri-color pasta to be dubious. I have found the flavors don’t always mix well with other ingredients or I undercook the pasta- it seems to take a bit longer to cook than non-veggie pasta. I don’t know, it just has not been a very positive taste experience. This one, however, is. It is an adaptation of a recipe in my cookbook, Turkish Family Favorites, which is available from Amazon.com (hint, hint). It sounds like a ho-hum recipe, but trust me: follow the directions exactly and be sure to use the yogurt sauce. That makes the dish.
- 1 6 oz. package tri-color veggie rotini
- Salt for cooking pasta and for seasoning meat
- 2 generous soupspoonfuls of tomato paste
- 1 pound ground beef, preferably lean*
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 T. oil
- 1 tsp. (or more or less to taste) hot pepper
- water if needed for meat and for cooking pasta
- 1 cup plain, low-fat or whole yogurt (do NOT use fat-free)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
Mix the salt, yogurt, and garlic together in a small bowl. Set aside to use when serving. This is one of the most delicious combinations ever, although when I first heard of it, I thought it sounded vile. But it is so yummy and elevates this simple dish to hard-core comfort food.
Cook the rotini in a generous amount of salted water until done. It will take about 11 minutes, but test it and be sure. Drain and set aside. In a medium skillet, heat the oil and saute the chopped onion until it softens and starts to brown. Stir in the ground beef, break up, and continue cooking until there is no more pink left. Drain the oil from the skillet. Stir in the tomato paste, hot pepper (I like Indian chile pepper but cayenne is also fine. Red pepper flakes are also good.) Add salt to taste. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup of water, but this part of the dish will be fairly dry, not soupy like spaghetti sauce.
When rotini is done and has been drained, empty into a serving bowl. Top off with the meat mixture and stir well. Serve and pass the yogurt sauce around so each person can put a dollop of yogurt sauce on their rotini. Excellent. 4-6 servings. Takes all of about 15-20 minutes and you control what’s in there. Beats takeout or packaged macaroni any time.
* There are several possible substitutions here. I think this would work well with soy protein, ground chicken, or ground turkey. I personally prefer the ground beef, but the others would work and would be very tasty.
I’m a pretty big supporter of Meatless Monday. Recently I was reading an article by Joel Fuhrman, MD. He seemed to advocate of diet of very nutrientious food in moderate portions as a means of weight control. I like to look at calories similarly to the way I look at space. There are places in my house that are very convenient and easy to reach. Those are the high-rent spaces and so I store items there that are worth taking up “high-rent” space. Similarly, since I’m trying to drop some pounds, really all the calories I consume should be “high-rent” calories: nutrient dense, healthy, and none of the empty calories. I was thinking about this at lunchtime and decided to cook farro along with some stir fried veggies for lunch. So, I did and it was delicious. Here’s how I made it:
For Farro Pilav:
- 1 c. farro, rinsed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 c. water
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2/3 c. chopped onion
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and saute onions in the oil for a minute or 2. Stir in the rinsed farro and saute another couple of minutes. Then stir in the water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover. Simmer on low heat,covered for about 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
- 1T. avocado oil
- 3-4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 3-4 inch lengths
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
- 1 1/2 cup cauliflower flowerets
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 T. hoisin sauce
- soy sauce to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 T. dry sherry or wine or water
In wok or skillet, heat avocado oil. When hot, stir in the onions, cauliflower flowerets, carrot and garlic slices. Cook, stirring occasionally about five minutes. Add the sauces and seasoning along with the sherry, wine, or water. Cover and cook covered about two minutes. Enjoy.
It is very tasty and quick. If you have adopted the vegetable saving method I discussed in an earlier post, it takes very little time to prepare. This would be easy to prepare ahead and take to work for an easy lunch. It is perfect for Meatless Monday. If I’d had mushrooms, I would have used them for a bit more protein.
Better late than never. Perhaps I am just a bit slow. Or distracted. But, recently, in my annual drop a few pounds in the first three months of the year program, it occurred to me that I needed to be eating celery and carrots as opposed to nuts. Nuts are healthy but not by the fistful. It also occurred to me that a salad would be better than a sandwich. Dutifully making my lunch salad one day, I realized how much I detest washing all of the salad ingredients prior to making a salad. I decided I would get all of the fresh vegetables out of my fridge, clean them, and put them in containers where all I would have to do is pull them out, cut up however I want, and voila! A salad or a snack.
I did some research and found that Rubbermaid has a new line of fresh food savers, designed especially for produce. They claim the food will stay fresh longer. We’ll see. I will report back on that in a future post. I bought some and have started using them, but not enough time has passed to tell if the containers are making a difference. If they do, I think I will save the purchase price of the set in not having to throw out fresh produce, which is not inexpensive.
Anyway, since doing this….I have done chopped onions for a while now, but now in addition I have carrots, celery, radishes, green onions, romaine, baby grape tomatoes, and cauliflower all ready in my fridge. It took no time at all to put together a salad. It is all done and really doesn’t take much time to do the whole bag of carrots or wash the whole bunch of celery. I’m very pleased with how much easier this is. And yesterday, I even ate celery instead of nuts when I needed a snack. Had I needed to clean and cut up the celery, I would have opted for nuts. Is a svelte Helen in the near future? Let’s hope so.
I have been making quite a bit of lentil soup lately. People I know have been sick or hospitalized and one of the things I can do is bring them soup. It can be frozen so it doesn’t force them to eat right away. Soup is easy to make and nutritious. But I have made three of four batches of lentil soup lately. I was craving soup for lunch yesterday. I normally would just make a double batch of whatever the soup was that I was taking to a friend, but this time I wanted something different!
I try to limit the times I go to a grocery store in a given week, so I was determined to make do with whatever I had on hand. So I made a creamy tomato soup. It was so delicious and here’s how I did it.
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 generous tablespoon chicken soup base
- 3 cups of water
- 1/2 cup cream (could substitute water)
- 1/2 tsp. crushed hot pepper
- 1 generous spoonful of dried basil (if you have the fresh, add to taste)
- salt as needed
- 1-2 T. oil
- 1 smallish onion, diced
- 3 T. orzo
Heat the oil in a stockpot. Throw in the onion and saute lightly for about five minutes. Add in the tomatoes, the soup base, the water, the orzo and the spices. Stir well and let simmer 10 minutes or so. Turn off or leave on very, very low heat. Add a few spoonfuls of the soup mixture to the cream, and stir well. Then add to the soup. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Make sure it is heated through and serve. Delish!!!!!
No wonder this recipe appealed to me- it seems that my taste buds may be similar to Amanda Hesser’s. I looked for orange salads, but something with a bit of pizzazz. Amanda’s recipe is on the NYT cooking blog website. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013107-spicy-orange-salad-moroccan-style
It is also the fact of this time of year and all of the political unrest all over the world. I am so unsettled and the grayness and cold, although the sun is making kind of a feeble attempt to show her face today. So, we are having friends over tonight for a Turkish meat and bean stew, some pilav, some dessert, crusty bread, etc. and we needed an interesting salad.
My husband will probably protest the sweetness of the oranges being in the salad. ( Did you know that sweetness is only for dessert?) No, I didn’t either. But the combination of flavors in this salad, as Amanda Hesser of Food52 created it, is delightful, interesting, and delicious. I’m going to add in some spinach, some toasted pinenuts, and if I had a pomegranate, I would add in some of those beautiful red jewels. I know there is a special name, arils, but I like red jewels better. If I had some parmesan I might consider adding a few shavings. But regardless, you need to try Amanda’s recipe. Add the spinach or baby kale if you want more greens. Jazz it up however you want. Or not. I never would have put oranges and olives together, but they are made for each other.
Do yourself a favor. Go to the recipe on the NYT page. Also, check out Amanda’s blog ( https://food52.com/) and consider following her.