Category Archives: Vegetarian Entree

Falafel Pitas

I was ‘iffy’ about trying these but it seemed easy enough.  At least it was labeled ‘quick and easy’ by the creator of this recipe (more comments about this later).  And for some reason I couldn’t recall trying falafel in the past and loving it.  So why I chose to do this. . .no clue.   The recipe calls for using your food processor which I rarely use so maybe this added to the already existing ‘unfamiliar’ feeling.  Well, here goes:

1/4 c plain dry breadcrumbs

1/4 c fresh flat leaf parsely leaves

2 tbsp chopped green onion

1 tbsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp salt

1 (15 oz)  can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)

1 lg egg

1 chopped garlic clove

pinch of ground red pepper

1/4 cup shredded seeded peeled cucumber

1/3 c plain 2% fat free Greek yogurt (I love Fage)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

2-6in pitas, whole wheat, cut in half

4 Bibb or mixed lettuce leaves

tomato slices

1. Combine first 10 ingredients in your food processor and process until finely chopped.  Divide mixture into 4 equal portions and shape each into a 1/2 thick patty.  Heat your skillet over med-high heat.  Coat with spray and cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned (I’d say almost 5 mins).

2. Combine cucumber and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl.  Assemble your pita and top each patty with a bout 1 tbsp cucumber mixture. Makes 4 servings.

. . .served with couscous :9

It turned out very well but I think the prep was more time-consuming than I expected (or maybe it was the mood I was in that day, who knows).  I don’t think I would have changed anything but I’m not sure I would make it again. (Sigh)

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 220

Fat: 4.4 g

Protein: 10.4 g

Carbohydrate: 37.2 g

Fiber: 6.7 g

Cholesterol: 54 mg

Sodium: 617 mg

Ham, Spinach, and Gruyere Bread Pudding with Kale and Potato Hash

It was time to do brunch again and I really wanted to do something different.  ZenChef inspired me as he has used Gruyere in tarts before.  If you like to branch out in your cheeses Gruyere is also wonderful as a dessert cheese and melts well for sauces and fondues (just a side note if you didn’t know this already!).  So here you are. . .

For the Bread Pudding:

4 large egg whites

4 large eggs

1 c skim milk

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp fresh minced rosemary

4 c whole grain bread (I left the crusts on) cut up in 1 in cubes

5 c chopped spinach wilted

1/2 c chopped jarred roasted red peppers

1 c diced ham steak (5 oz)

3/4 c shredded Gruyere

1. Preheat oven to 375 and prep your 2-2.5 qt baking dish.  Whisk eggs, egg whites and milk and then add your seasonings; whisk.

2. Toss your bread, spinach, peppers, and ham in a large bowl.  Add your egg mixture and toss well to coat. Transfer to baking dish and press down to compact.  Cover with foil.

3. Bake for 40-45 mins; uncover and top with cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes more.  Cool on wire rack.  Makes 8 servings.

For Kale and Potato Hash:

8 c torn kale

2 tbsp horseradish

1 med shallot, minced

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp salt

2 c cooked shredded potato

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Place kale in large microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Wilt – about 3 mins.  Drain and finely chop.

2. Mix the rest of the seasoning ingredients and add potato and kale.

3. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Evenly layer your hash and cook until potato is crisp and golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. (The ingredients above yield 4 servings so I doubled the recipe.)

Sunday brunch!

To offset the two dishes we whipped up some buttery pancakes and made homemade whipped cream topped with strawberries (sigh).  This was delicious!

Nutritional Information:

Bread Pudding:

Calories: 276

Carbohydrates: 25 g

Protein: 21 g

Fat: 10 g

Cholesterol: 169 mg

Fiber: 3 g

Sodium: 746 mg

For Kale and Potato Hash:

Calories: 240

Carbohydrates: 30 g

Protein: 6 g

Fat: 12 g

Cholesterol: 0

Fiber: 5 g

Sodium: 244 mg

Spinach and Tofu Stuffed Shells

Unless you tell, no one will ever be able to tell that the tofu provides the creaminess in this dish!

You will need:

18 dried jumbo shells

8 0z frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dried

2 tbsp green onion (green and white parts)

1 tsp bottled minced garlic

14 oz soft silken reduced fat tofu, drained

1 c loosely packed fresh basil, stems removed and chopped

whites of 2 large eggs or egg substitute equal to one egg or 1 large egg

2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

pepper to taste

1.5 c tomato based meatless pasta sauce

12 oz no salt added tomato sauce

2 more tbsp parmesan cheese

1. Cook shells according to package directions and carefully rinse in cool water.  Heat a large skillet over med heat, remove from heat and then spray down.  Cook spinach, green onion and garlic until all liquid has evaporated and spinach is heated through.  Put in a large bowl.  Crumble tofu into spinach and mash/combine well.  Stir in basil.

2. In a small bowl which egg whites and add parmesan cheese, nutmeg, pepper and stir this into spinach mixture.

3. Mix tomato sauces together and place half this mixture in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish.  Fill pasta shells with spinach mixture and top with remaining sauce and parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 mins at 350.  Makes approx 6 servings.  Enjoy!

Assembling the shells. . .

Your end product!

***I would have put in a tad bit more garlic and if you wanted something “heavier” you can use a meat based sauce as well.  Regardless, this was perfect paired with salad and don’t forget garlic bread if you want the whole “complete” Italian deal (refer to Van’s Truly Kick-Ass garlic bread!).

Nutritional Information (per serving – 3 shells):

Calories: 195 (Yup, that’s right!)

Total Fat: 2 g

Cholesterol: 2 mg

Sodium: 374 mg

Carbohydrate: 31 g

Fiber: 4 g

Protein: 12 g

Spinach and Tomato Eggplant Steak with Dill Rice

With some leftover Feta cheese sitting in the Fridge I thought I would do a Mediterranean-esque dish.  Here is something I have to admit – I’ve never consumed eggplant in my 32 years on this planet. 

Scary, huh?

That said, I truly had no clue as to what I was doing, I just went with what seemed right.

I used:

1 package of frozen spinach

2 small vine ripened tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

½ cup bread crumbs

¼ cup feta cheese

fresh parsley

fresh oregano

1 nice sized eggplant

olive oil

1) Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees

2) Cut your eggplant into four steak, roughly one inch thick.  At olive oil to a frying pan and brown the egg plant on each side for one to two minutes. Set aside eggplant steaks

3) Defrost your spinach, chop your tomatoes.  Using the same frying pan add additional olive oil, sauté the spinach, tomatoes, minced garlic, parsley and oregano.  Use the amount of parsley and oregano you see fit.   Also, salt and pepper to your taste

4) Place your eggplant onto a foiled cookie sheet, spoon on your spinach mixture.

5) Mix the Feta cheese and bread crumbs together, sprinkle over the spinach mix on the eggplant and bake for 25 minutes

While the eggplant was in the oven I quickly whipped up some dill rice.

2 cups of white rice

2 cups of chicken broth

1 cup of freshly cut dill

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

This is quite easy to do, just…

1) Bring the chicken broth to a boil

2) Add rice and lemon juice, stir

3) Add dill, stir

4) Cover and cook over low heat until rice is at your desired tenderness

Eggplant steak goodness!

Eggplant steak goodness!

OH WOW. This is the second vegetarian dish in two weeks that has really, really impressed me.  The eggplant didn’t have the flavor or texture I expected, and the “stuff” complimented the aftertaste of the fruit. And the dill rice tied everything together… I mean, come on, it’s dill rice!

Also, the spinach/tomato mix could be used for so many things…Actually, it could seem some variant of this being for a pita or chip “dip”… maybe even for stuffed mushrooms.

In the end I capped the entire meal off with a slice of the Cinnamon and Brown Sugar cake and I was in heaven. 

All and all a good turnout for  a “let’s throw something together” dish.

Baked Bean and Corn Chimichangas

I am obviously on a cooking kick because right now I have too much to share.  I made this dish this afternoon for lunch and dinner (since I work evenings) and am very well pleased with the results!  If you like Mexican food here’s a way for you to do it yourself.

What you will need:

6-10 in. whole wheat flour tortillas
1/2 c chopped onion
1-15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-8.5 oz can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 c purchased green salsa or red salsa (I went with tomatillo verde – spicy)
1/4 c snipped fresh cilantro
3 oz reduced fat monetery jack (I used Mexican blend) cheese (3/4 c shredded)

1. Preheat oven to 425. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in the oven for 5 mins.

2. For the filling, coat an unheated large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 min or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add black beans. Using a fork or potato masher,mash beans slightly. Stir in corn, tomatoes, and 1/2 c salsa. Heat through and stir in cilantro.

mashing black beans

 

chimichanga filling

3. For assembly, spoon about 1/3 cup filling into each tortilla just below its center. Fold bottom edge of each tortilla up and over filling. Fold opposite sides in and over filling. Roll up from the bottom and if necessary secure edges with toothpicks. Place filled tortillas on prepared baking sheet with seam sides down. Coat top and sides of the filled tortillas with cooking spray.

4. Bake for 10-12 mins or until tortillas are golden brown and crisp. To serve, sprinkle with cheese and top with remaining salsa. Makes 6 servings.

 baked bean and corn chimichangas

***Take note: working with whole wheat tortillas (as this is a low calorie recipe) is a bit more cumbersome in comparison to flour or corn tortillas.  If you have a few chimis that are not going to hold a perfect burrito-like shape before you put them in the oven (like I did) do not worry.  Once they are baked, they are crispy and will pretty much hold until you put the salsa on top which softens it up again.  Also, as you saw in the ingredient list I went with a tomatillo verde sauce (I prefers this over reds) and this was very spicy.  Just know that when you choose a ‘level’ of spiciness of the salsa it will go in and outside the chimichanga.  Lastly, I had enough of the filling to make an extra chimi.  I do not know why this is as I followed the recipe exactly.  You can also go with larger-sized tortillas if you want to stuff more filling in each.  These chimis came out to be about a 1/3 of the size of restaurants (which are ginormous) – perfect for pairing with rice or salad!

Nutritional Information (per chimichanga):

Calories: 315

Total Fat: 11 g

Cholesterol: 10 mg

Protein: 16 g

Carbohydrate: 47 g

Fiber: 10 g

Sodium: 1147 mg

Tomato and Olive Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Oh… the Tuesday evening dinner was simply amazing. I made a Tomato and Olive Stuffed Portobello Mushroom dish with a green salad side.  I started by researching a number of recipes and landed on this recipe, so let me share the joy.

Tomato and Olive Stuffed Portobello

  • 2/3 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1/8 teaspoon dried
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, 5 inches wide
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

This recipe calls for the mushrooms to be grilled, I however went for the oven.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine tomatoes, cheese, olives, garlic, 1 teaspoon oil, rosemary and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Discard mushroom stems. (well, really, I ate them…)
  4. Remove brown gills from the undersides of the caps using a spoon; discard gills. (yes, didn’t eat the gills)
  5. Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, lemon juice and soy sauce in a small bowl.
  6. Brush the mixture over both sides of the caps.
  7. Line cookie pan with foil, grease to prevent sticking (I used Pam)
  8. Bake for 25 mins

I wanted a nice side salad for this dish – nothing too complicated – so I created a Sherry Vinaigrette.

Having no clue how to make a dressing, I kinda just went out on my own and got creative using a recent dish I had at a local place as a starting point.  While they were not keen to give out the recipe, the tastes were very easy to pick out.

Green Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Blend the vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and black pepper in a blender and slowly add your oil.  Boom – there you go!

For the salad you’ll need (well, you can do what you wish…but this a good starting point).

  • fresh baby romaine
  • 1 chayote
  • 1 carrot
  • feta cheese

Cut your chayote into thin slices, shave your carrot and add into the the baby romaine.  Toss with some of your newly created dressing, add the feta cheese and toss once again.

100_0304

Holy god was this dish amazing.

This was perfect mix of flavor in the mushrooms and the sherry vinegar in the salad dressing. A meal to be had by all!

Lentil and hemp seed loaf

hemp

I like to experiment with everything and the day has come to experiment with hemp seed. I’ve used hemp protein powder for quite a while now and I’ve been fascinated with hemp in general for a long time. It’s an incredible versatile plant and the hulled seeds are delicious and nutritious. They even have all the essential amino acids just like meat and that makes them markedly different from other plant proteins.

Up until recently I’d only tried them in specialty shops and they were very expensive and roasted and flavored. Recently as I look for other forms of protein to try to limit my use of animals I bought a large 3 lb bag of raw hulled hemp seeds. They arrived in the mail and they are very very tiny and taste a wee bit like sunflower seeds. I like them plain just fine, but they are so tiny it’s not like eating other seeds or nuts. They would be yummy in a salad just nice and raw like that and I’ll be thinking about what else I might do with them now too.

Today, though I made a lentil/hemp loaf. I’ve made vegetarian nut loafs for my husband a number of times. Apparently they are popular in Britain and he grew up there. I’d never had or made one until I married him, and so the idea comes from the nut loaves I’ve made. They are essentially a vegetarian variant on meat loaf.

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked lentils

1 cup hemp seeds

3/4 cup pecorino cheese

3/4 cup oats soaked in plain kefir for a couple of hours (enough kefir to just cover the oats — you can use milk too)

1 large onion diced

5 cloves garlic

1/2 cup pesto

4 eggs

1 tbls red chili flakes

Salt to taste

Saute onions and garlic and then combine all the above ingredients and mix well. Put into a loaf pan or small casserole dish. I don’t currently have a loaf pan so I’ve been using a small casserole dish for my loafs, meat or veggie. I have to get a loaf pan!

lent_hemp

So I wrote the above while the loaf was cooking. I, again, failed to notice how long it took but it simply ended nice and golden brown like the picture and the texture was nice too. Not heavy or wet or anything. I was not initially thrilled with the taste. My husband’s comment was, “It tastes like nut loaf.” I topped mine with some hot sauce and by the time I was finished eating my piece I was thoroughly enjoying it! I suppose if I make it again and I imagine I will, I will put more thought into spicing it up somehow, but really it wasn’t bad at all and I will enjoy the leftovers.

Well, this has grown on me. I thought leftovers would be tomorrow, but I had a second helping tonight. It’s good.