Monday, March 05, 2007

Making Do On Monday: Help in the 'meatless' department

Well, there are endless recipes floating in cyberspace right about now as Catholic mamas everywhere pool their meatless meal ideas together to make it through the Fridays of Lent. I'd encourage you to poke in over at also. This is my favorite online resource for food ideas and their vegetarian options are sure to lend you many ideas (we made a creamed corn chowder last week that was superb!). In our house, on meatless days, we eat a lot of quesadillas with beans, salsa, and sour cream. Or grilled cheese with tomato soup or fried peanut butter/jelly sandwiches. And whenever I boil potatoes for a supper, I like to have extras that I keep in the fridge and use for easy breakfasts when chopped up and fried with some garlic, salt and pepper. Speaking of breakfast... that happens often around here on Friday nights: pancakes or french toast, with eggs. Or you can use the above potatoes, fried, and mix in some eggs, green peppers, cheese (mmm, pepper jack!), onion or zuchinni etc., and scramble it all together for a pretty hearty meal. I can do a meatless spaghetti or macaroni or twice baked potatoes and tuna casseroles, but that's about as far as I go. So for some general tips on cooking without meat, I'll turn you over to Sia, who is extraordinarily adept in this department (her black bean and rice burritos saved me when she cared for me while I was postpartum.).


You can make nearly any soup you like with a base of sauteed onions&garlic in olive oil. The liquid component for your soup can be cream/milk, stock/broth, or tomato juice with water. An excellent healthy addition to any brothy soup is to add sliced kale or spinach at the last minute before serving. This way the greens are fresh, colorful and yummy instead of cooked until flavorless and brown. Add to the above any pureed vegetable and you have a fine, tasty, thicker, creamier type of soup. Touch up as needed with appropriate seasoning. Pureed carrots go well with nutmeg, salt & pepper and cream; pureed peppers go well with s & p, oregano and bay leaves... but with broth instead of cream...every vegetable has it's complimentary seasoning. The protein aspect of your soup can be lentils, beans, miso, etc.
Some soups in this household...
Lentil soup: use above base. Add lentils and water; cook lentils until tender; add water or stock and a can of crushed or diced tomatoes; reheat to simmer and add a couple bay leaves, s&p. Thin by adding more water or stock; thicken by cooking longer with lid off.

The basic-broth-anything-soup:
Make above "base"... add whatever you want: diced potatoes, carrots, chopped green beans, whatever you have in the fridge. Add some broth and cook/sautee until tender. If left to simmer for a while, soup becomes very flavorful. You'll be surprised at how delicious even a base of half-water, half-broth will taste with flavors of nothing but vegetables. All a handful of cooked beans or lentils and you have a delicious complete meal.

The basic-pureed-creamy-soup: Make above base. Steam any vegetable(s) and puree with some warm broth. Add pureed vegetable(s) to the base and thin with a combo of cream/milk and water. Season as neccesary. Our favorite is cream-of-carrot seasoned with a dash of nutmeg, s&p and just the right amount of added broth to the cream/carrot puree.

Rice and Beans:
Rice and beans are one of the healthiest combinations and delicious base for a meal. Rice and beans (cooked, of course) can be served with corn or flour tortillas or alone with a salad. What makes this delicious is a simple addition of salsa, sour cream, cheese and such, or just salt and pepper and a side salad.

It is winter, but salads are still an option. Add a can of cooked garbonzo beans or tuna or whatever and you have a simple, complete meal.. and very low-fat!

Peanut Butter Sauce (for rice or pasta) ...excellent with a side of stir-fried veggies, especially peppers. I like to cook up some white basmati, stir-fry some vegggies, then toss all in a bowl with this sauce and serve --with chopsticks.:)
Puree: 1-2 tsp. crushed ginger; 1 clove crushed garlic; 1/2 cup-2/3 cup peanut butter; few Tbs. chili powder; 1/8-1/4 cup sesame oil; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 1/8 cup orange juice; water to thin if neccesary.
Simple Carrot Salad (goes really well with the below tofu!):
mix together: about 6-8 carrots, grated; a handful of raisins; 1 crisp apple, finely chopped. Add: enough mayonnaise to moisten to your liking. Mix in some pepper to taste. Serve fresh and cold.

Tofu: Oh, so plain but can made oh, so yummy!
Tofu can be simply stir fried in olive oil and soy sauce, or can be baked. My new favorite form of tofu: Slice into thin little squares (1/8 inch thick, in 2x2 squares) and lay into bottom of a glass casserolle dish. Cover with terriyaki sauce and bake on 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or so. Take out of pan and gently lay onto paper towels to soak up grease/excess liquid. When cool, put into container or ziplock bag and refrigerate. This makes a delicious quick-protein snack.



one of us :: 7:26 AM :: 2 Comments