Category Archives: Meatless Monday

Meatless Tuesday with Meatless Ground

We try to limit our meat consumption and, like many of you, are trying to eat healthy. Recently, I picked up a package of Gardein Meatless Ground. We had eaten at a friend’s house on Monday so we moved Meatless Monday to Meatless Tuesday.

beefless

It is in the freezer section of the grocery store and needs to be kept frozen until just the time you cook it. Last night I made some vegetarian chili from a terrific recipe and used the soy ground meat in the recipe. Delicious. The texture is correct, taste is fine. I was quite happy with how it turned out. I’ve used other products in the past, but I do like the Gardein version quite a bit. I will try some of their other products and report back on how those work as well. Meanwhile, do think about trying the Meatless Ground in vegetarian chili. Here’s a link to the recipe I used. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/72508/the-best-vegetarian-chili-in-the-world/

The photo is of the Best Vegetarian Chili in the World from Jaxon’s Mom on Allrecipes.com where the recipe is posted:

recipe active photo

I made a few changes to the recipe. I prefer to not use canned beans, although I know they are fine. But I keep a variety of dried beans, peas, and lentils on hand and it is easier for me to use those. So, the night before I placed about 3/4 – 1 cup each of kidney beans, chickpeas, and black beans in a large bowl and covered with water. The next morning I put all in my Instant-Pot with a tsp. of salt and cooked for 20 minutes. You can do the whole recipe in a large Instant Pot. Mine isn’t quite large enough because the chili recipe makes a large batch, but I did use it to cook the beans and that saved considerable time. If you have a larger model you could do the whole thing in one pot.

The other changes I made to the recipe were that I used one, not two packages of the soy ground meat. I used two 28 oz. cans of tomatoes, not three and I added 1 small can of tomato paste. I think everything else I followed the recipe linked to above. It was very good.

We were very pleased with the whole combination. The Meatless Ground was actually easier to cook with than regular ground meat, at least in this recipe. When I do use ground meat, I use very lean grassfed, local, sustainably raised meat which has very little fat (a good thing) but tricky to saute with at times. The Meatless Ground was easy because I could just dump it into the mix and heat it thoroughly. I look forward to sharing some more soy ground meat recipes with you in the future.

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Luscious Late Winter Salad

This is a wonderful salad. It kind of visually symbolizes the hope of spring with sweet, juicy orange pieces and the still remaining bite of winter with arugula. Next time I make it, I promise I will take a photo and post it. It is tangy and sweet and bitter and juicy and soft and salty and crunchy! Delightful. Makes a great lunch.

  • 1-2 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned (see directions following red onion instructions
  • 1/4 red onion, peeled, sliced and wilted (see instructions following list of ingredients)
  • 4-6 cups of washed arugula (2-3 big handfuls)
  • 2-3 large romaine leaves, washed and sliced or torn into pieces
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese, chunked or 3-4 T. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2/3 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
  • salt
  • sumac to taste (optional but very nice)
  • 1/4 c. Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Red Onion preparation: This is a good way to prepare any kind of yellow, white or red onion but it is especially good for red onions, in my opinion. I cannot eat raw red onions unless they are prepared this way. The easiest thing to do is to prepare the whole onion, use what you need and save the rest for a few days in the fridge. Peel the onion, cut in half and slice into very thin half moons. Place all the onions in a small bowl and liberally sprinkle salt over the sliced onions. Mix with your hands. Set aside for 15-20 minutes. When ready to add to salad, squeeze the salted onions several times and rinse carefully in water, squeezing while rinsing. Take what you want to add to the salad and refrigerate the rest in a closed container or sealed baggie.

Orange preparation: Do this over the salad bowl so that you can capture the juice. Using a sharp paring knife or a special fruit knife if you have one, cut away the outer peel of the orange, down past the membrane just to where the fruit appears. Once you have the peel cut away, go around and loosen with your knife each of the sections. Then, you can use the knife almost as a tiny spatula and flip into the salad bowl.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 c. pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern groceries (you could substitute 1 T. honey and add 1 T. of lemon juice)
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. good quality olive oil
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. salt

Mix all ingredients together. Blend in a blender or shake like a crazy person. Use what you need and refrigerate the rest for another salad in a day or two.

Clean and prep the arugula and romaine. Add the orange sections. Sprinkle the wilted red onions over the mix. Add the feta cheese or parmesan. Put the walnuts on top of everything. Drizzle with dressing (start with 1/4 cup and add more if necessary).

Enjoy!!!!

One Pan Dinner: Salmon and roasted veggies

This could not be any easier. Not only do you just dirty one pan in the entire dinner, but the prep entails just one bowl. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 small bag baby potatoes or 2 c. butternut squash or sweet potato chunks
  • 1 large broccoli crown
  • 3 T. olive oil, mixed use
  • kosher salt, to taste OR garlic salt
  • soy sauce, to taste
  • sriracha sauce, to taste
  • 1 T. hoisin sauce or ketchup or 1/2 T. balsamic vinegar and 1/2 T. honey

If you plan to cook immediately after prepping the food, go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 F. If you are prepping ahead of time and want to let the fish marinate a bit, wait to preheat your oven.

Next prep the potatoes. Pour two T. olive oil into a largish prep bowl. Rinse the potatoes, butternut squash, or sweet potato chunks you plan to use. Rinse off the broccoli and cut into largish bite-sized chunks and drop into the oil. Cut the potatoes in half and drop into the olive oil. If using butternut squash or sweet potatoes just drop into the olive oil, stir around to make sure all the pieces are covered and then spread on a large rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt or garlic salt. Next, add soy sauce, sriracha, and hoisin to olive oil in the bowl and add one more T. of oil. Mix all together. Take the salmon fillets and place them into the bowl, skin side facing up, directly into the sauce so that they absorb the seasonings into the flesh. You can leave them to marinate 30-45 minutes. Or, cook immediately.

When ready to bake, first place the sheet pan into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. When the veggies have roasted for fifteen minutes, remove sheet pan from oven briefly and set on top of stove. Carefully remove the salmon from the marinade and place skin side down on the hot sheet pan (with the partially roasted vegetables) . Drizzle whatever remains of the marinade on top of the fillets. Return pan to oven and roast for another 20-25 minutes, or until vegetables and salmon fillets are done. You may need to adjust the cooking times based on the size of your potato/butternut squash chunks and the thickness of the salmon fillet. For 1-1 1/2 inch potato chunks and average sized salmon fillets, the times given are about right. Voila! Dinner is ready and there are very few dishes to wash! Enjoy.

Fan of tofu? Not so much? Try baking or grilling it…

Tofu is one of the mainstay ingredients of a plant-based diet. If you haven’t seen the recent piece in The Guardian, take a few minutes to read it. Here’s the link. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/16/new-plant-focused-diet-would-transform-planets-future-say-scientists.

Regardless of whether you embrace the idea that a plant based diet will save the planet (although it seems plausible to me), reducing meat and focusing more on a plant based diet seems to have some health benefits. ( https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/plant-based-diet-for-heart-health). Certainly, as 2019 begins, many of us are evaluating our lives and trying to make positive changes to improve our health and well-being. Incorporating tofu into your diet can give you some variety and flexibility as well as nutrition.

Not everyone likes the smooth, silky gooshiness of silken tofu, although it is great in some types of custardy desserts. Try Williams-Sonoma’s recipe for Very Chocolate Mousse, for example (https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/very-chocolate-mousse.html).  I made that a few years ago for company and no one knew that tofu was a main ingredient of the mousse until I told them.

But if you want to try something like tofu kebabs or Asian Inspired Wraps (found on Meatless Monday, contributed by Liz of This and That) (https://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipes/asian-tofu-wraps/) three things are key for success:

  1. Buy the right kind of tofu (has to be extra firm if at all possible)
  2. You must press it (not difficult, just takes a little time)
  3. You must season it before and during cooking.

Buying the right kind of tofu should not be difficult as groceries have all sorts of tofu now.

Pressing the tofu is easy. Most instructions encourage the use of wads of paper towels, a couple of cutting boards, and some sort of weight. I try not to use too many paper towels so I take maybe four sheets of paper towel, two for the top and two for the bottom. Lay a cutting board on a counter or table. Take some newspaper that you’ve already read and put say one section of the paper on top of the cutting board. Then fold the two sheets of paper towels in quarters and place on top of the paper. Next comes the tofu, another two sheets of folded paper towels, the second cutting board, and then some sort of weight. I used a metal canister full of flour. Set the timer for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Be sure to check on the tofu press because unless the arrangement is perfectly balanced,  the tofu can be pressed unevenly which may result in the weight sliding off the cutting board. I like to use newspapers on the bottom because they are absorbent and keep the tofu juice from dripping all over the counter or even on to the floor. Just be sure to use paper towels between the tofu and the old newspapers for cleanliness and hygiene.

Season the tofu you plan to grill or roast or bake after  it is pressed and after you slice or cube it. Assuming you’ve pressed the tofu well, and depending exactly on how you cook it, you usually wind up with a very flavorful result of tofu pieces with crunchy edges and creamy flavorful insides. Delicious.

In a subsequent post, I will try to post my friend Rashmi’s recipe for Tofu kebabs. Do try the Asian Tofu Wraps; they are quite good. Expand your horizons! Try tofu!

Zucchini Fritters for Meatless Monday

I LOVE zucchini fritters, called “mucver”  in Turkish. They are just a delightful meal, side dish or tea snack. Delicious. Beautiful green zucchini, a few green onions, a little white or yellow onion, dill, eggs, feta cheese, pepper, a few spoonfuls of flour and you are good to go. The recipe I adapted from Ozlem’s Turkish Kitchen is here:  http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2010/04/zucchini-courgette-fritters-flavored-with-feta-and-dill-mucver/

I changed a couple of things. While fresh dill would definitely be ideal, I used dried because I didn’t have fresh and didn’t feel like going to the store. I also used generous heaping tablespoons of flour. I think it is best to taste one fritter before adding salt. The feta may be sufficiently salty that you don’t need to add more. Finally, and this is really important, is that yes, you need to drain the grated zucchini. But after draining the zucchini, dump the drained squash onto a clean kitchen towel. Bring the ends of the towel together. Holding over the sink, twist the towel so that it wrings out more of the zucchini juice. It makes a big difference in how well the fritters hold together. I also think it makes them less greasy since the mixture holds together better, forms a crust and then you have a nice crisp exterior with creamy savory inside. As for all frying, use vegetable oil that you get hot enough so that the fritters cook properly. If the oil is hot enough, but not too hot, you will actually use less oil than if the temperature is too low. And, take my advice here. I tend to multi-task when I cook. Do NOT multitask when you fry. Just stop the other jobs and focus on frying. It will not take much longer and you will have much better results.

Enjoy!!

East-West Dipping Sauce for Roasted Veggies

We like to eat roasted veggies. Often, on Meatless Monday, we will have roasted veggies for lunch. It is a great way to use up all those stray vegetables in your refrigerator drawer before they turn into science projects. Plus it tastes wonderful. It tastes fine with just a little salt, olive oil, and red pepper flakes on it, but sometimes, especially if you are eating only roasted vegetables for the meal and not just as a side, it is good to serve a dipping sauce. This is my favorite one so far:

  • 2 T. tahin
  • 1 T. tamarind sauce
  • 1 t. soy sauce
  • 1 large spoonful yogurt
  • 1 tsp. sriracha

Put the tahin in a small bowl. Dump in the tamarind and soy sauces. Microwave about 30 seconds. Then whisk in the yogurt and the sriracha sauce. Serve with roasted veggies. Yum.

Enough for two to three meal sized servings of roasted veggies.

Not Just Meatless Monday Quesadillas

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!

Farro and Veggies for Meatless Monday

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.

For Stir-Fry

  • 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.

Fast and Delicious Tomato Soup

 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!!!!!

Simple Salmon Chowder: Comfort Food at its Best

This is incredibly good. I’m a big fan of Mark Bittman’s Salmon Roasted in Butter recipe as it is delicious and very easy to do. It is a perfect company dish. But I really do not like wasting the leftover salmon. Mark Bittman’s Salmon Burgers are good too, made with leftover salmon. But this chowder is truly comfort food.

I couldn’t find the exact recipe I wanted but put it together as I went along. Here’s the basic outline:

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 T. oil, if needed
  • 2 cups leftover roasted salmon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 4 cups low fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • flour or cornstarch and water to thicken mix (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill and/or parsley

Saute the bacon in the soup pot. When bacon is about done, if needed, add the vegetable oil and toss in the onions and potatoes. When nicely browned, add in the corn, stir and add in the milk, broth, and half and half. Then stir in the salmon. Heat gently over medium to low heat for about 30 minutes. Stir in the herbs. Taste the seasoning. If you want the chowder a little thicker, stir a tablespoon or so of cornstarch and/or flour together with a little bit of water and stir into the soup. This makes about 4 lunch or supper servings.