Tag Archives: vegetarian

Easy Teriyaki Noodles

18 Jun

A super-easy recipe post this week. This is a pretty no-frills dinner (though easy to “frill up” if you so choose) but I was pretty proud of it, the product of one of those “what do I have in the fridge” kind of lazy nights. In fact, these are all ingredients I have on hand pretty much all the time, so it was really nice to accidentally discover a new recipe I could throw into the no-effort rotation.

What You’ll Need:

  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Scallions
  • Ginger
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Angel Hair
  • Carrots
  • Peapods
  • Cashews
Yes — This was a no-measure recipe. Sorry! Have fun with it!

How You Do It:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and cook the angel hair according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil (probably about a tablespoon) in a large fry pan or wok over medium-high heat, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add about a clove of minced/grated garlic, a handful of chopped scallions (whites and greens), and a few dashes of ground ginger (more if you like extra spiciness), and sauté about 2 minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  4. Toss in carrots, peapods, or whatever veggies you choose, and sauté 3-4 minutes, until vegetables are slightly soft.
  5. Add about a tablespoon of soy sauce, a small pinch of sugar, and the cooked, drained angel hair pasta. Sauté to coat noodles.
  6. Add cashews and serve!

Everything here is easily substitutable — try it with whatever oil you have on hand, use rice noodles or orzo, etc. — so feel free to play around with ingredients and flavor, and let me know what else you have come up with!

Arugula & Goat Cheese “Ravioli”

4 Jun

This weekend, when I felt like spending some time in the kitchen, I decided to let the ingredients in the fridge speak to me. I knew I wanted to craft something vegetarian, and wanted to work with what I had.

The ingredients that automatically jumped out at me were arugula and goat cheese. I’ve been eating the two together as a lunch side lately, tossed with some homemade creamy balsamic vinaigrette. They seemed like a good pairing for the basis of a strong vegetarian dish, and I had just the pasta for it: lasagna noodles.

I’m always looking for creative new uses of lasagna noodles, because, while I really enjoy lasagna, I don’t always feel like making a dish that large. A few weeks ago, I tried, and liked this recipe for individual spinach lasagna rolls, so I wanted to use the arugula and goat cheese in a similar free form way that would require even less work on my part. I wanted to make a filling, and then just kind of throw it all together.

Hence, my fake-out arugula and goat cheese ravioli was born.

Here’s what you’ll need (for 16 ravioli):

  • Eight lasagna noodles, cooked according to the package directions
  • Your choice of sauce (I used tomato, but I think an alfredom béchamel or rose would work here too)
For the filling:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 5 ounces arugula
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 4 ounces grated parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper

Here’s how you do it (forgive me, when I write out recipe directions, I can only remember them in the order I actually do them. So the directions below bounce between preparing the noodles, the filling, and assembling the whole dish because that’s how it’s the most logical to me. I’m incapable of doing one thing at a time.)

  • Start cooking the lasagna noodles. Drain and lay out flat on a plate or towel to dry. While you wait, prepare the filling.
  • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic turns golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add arugula and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until arugula wilts, 2 to 4 minutes.Let arugula cool, then chop finely and transfer to a bowl. (I know it seems silly, and difficult, to chop wilted arugula, but it’s valuable so you aren’t picking arugula stems out of your teeth while eating.)

  • While the arugula is cooling, cut the cooked lasagna noodles into four squares each (for a total of 32 squares).
  • Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Lay half of the lasagna squares out along the bottom of the dish.
  • Stir the cheese into the wilted arugula, and spoon a tablespoon-sized dollop into the center of each square.
  • Cover each with another lasagna square, then spoon the sauce over the whole thing.
  • Pop it in the oven and bake about 15 minutes, until heated through. Enjoy!

I love this recipe and the idea behind it. The great part about the free-form style is that it doesn’t matter how messy you get, which is especially valuable for me in the kitchen. The building is also relatively speedy because of this. But on the other hand, you could also really easily transform it into a traditional lasagna, or the filling for a real ravioli, if you have the equipment to make those from scratch, and make it a pretty fancy, company-worthy meal.

Eating Less Meat — Kiddie Style

2 May

The other day via Twitter, my friend Lindsey mentioned that her family is trying to eat less meat overall, but having a tough time coming up with recipes that translate well into toddler food. With a growing-like-a-weed nearly-16-month old on their hands, this is a major issue. Gavin needs his protein! So I’ve come  up with a couple of ideas to get them — and anybody else out there with kiddos trying to go meatless every now and then.

Some of these are ideas for how to construct a meal for both adults and toddlers (as a former nanny, I have some experience with this, because I am lazy and don’t like to cook twice at each meal), and others are more veg-centric (which, since I was a vegetarian nanny, I also have some experience with).

1. Eat with Your Hands

This is “think like a toddler” advice. If you can eat it with your hands, chances are good a toddler can eat it. Obviously, anything really tough or crunchy may not work, depending on where your toddler’s teeth development is, but for the most part, anything you can pick up is toddler-edible.

When brainstorming finger foods, really think like a toddler. What do you eat with a utensil that doesn’t really need one? We sometimes forget that all the pieces of a salad, for example, when not drenched in dressing, are finger foods. And how cute would it be to get your toddler obsessed with eating raw spinach leaves, or dried cranberries?

2. Sandwiches & Fritters

Some ideas for great vegetarian recipes that are less flatware centric include sandwiches and fritters (as long as they are served cool enough to handle!). Sandwiches can get pretty gussied up for dinner, going way beyond grilled cheese (though that is also delicious): Cucumber and cream cheese, roasted red pepper and goat cheese, eggs and bacon and gruyere!

I’ve also lately come across lots of yummy veggie fritter recipes that would work similarly. Try these summer corn cakes, mashed potato cakes (a great one for leftovers), or zucchini fritters. You could easily mix in summer squash, carrots, or cabbages into similar recipes, too. Great pick-it-up food that is primarily vegetable, rather than fried grain.

3. Split Your Meals into their Littlest Selves

Toddlers need to eat a lot — but they tend to prefer to do it in more frequent, smaller meals, than we do. So when thinking about what you want to make for dinner, ask yourself what smaller portions you could dole out over the course of cooking, and then eating, to your toddler.

If you have a meat-based dinner, for example, with two or three sides, the little one can snack on tomatoes and avocado cubes while you’re prepping, and then some shredded chicken and tortillas while Mommy and Daddy enjoy their grown-up Chicken & Guacamole Tostadas (probably with a Dos Equis or two…). Pineapple Chicken Satay for you can become pineapple and sugar snap peas for him, with chicken and dipping sauce at dinner.

This allows the grown-ups to get grown-up meals without having to cook something different for Junior — and has the added perk of keeping him occupied while you are cooking!

4. Substitute

You can also take a lot of the meat-based toddler-friendly recipes you may already have in your repetoire and transform them into veggie options with some simply substitutions. Once allergy concerns have passed, tofu is very kid-friendly, as are lentils, seitan, etc. If you’re not big on meat-substitute products, you can also find grain and veggie substitutes, like eggplant in place of meat in Italian recipes like lasagna, or quinoa in place of ground chicken in nuggets.

My very favorite thing about kids — whenever I’m around them — is that they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. Feeding your young is serious business, but it can also unlock a totally different spirit to our cooking. Enjoy little bites! Eat with your hands! Get messy!

Nothing better than eating with a smile…

What toddler eating advice do you have? Anyone out there raising fully meatless kiddos have some tips I didn’t think of? Leave a comment and share your ideas!

Marissa’s Vegan Cranberry Carrot Ginger Muffins

20 Feb

A few weeks ago, I woke up with a strange craving. I wanted cranberry muffins. But I also wanted morning glory muffins. I had carrots in the house and for some reason, the idea of eating some of them for breakfast would not get out of my head.

To the internet I went!

I didn’t actually know what was in morning glory muffins, despite how much I enjoy them. And while all the recipes I found sounded delicious, I didn’t have any pineapple, coconut or raisins, and I wanted something with a bit more spice. So I searched for carrot ginger muffins, and found this delicious-looking recipe.

And so began my very first “invented” recipe.

My modifications from the original recipe were pretty simple, actually. I used a “flax seed egg” as detailed in the original post, and vanilla almond milk instead of dairy milk, making the recipe fully vegan. But where I got really crazy was that instead of using a 1/2 up of raisins, I used a 1/2 cup of my homemade cranberry sauce.

This was a little risky, because the cranberry sauce is basically a liquid ingredient, so to balance the additional moisture, I slightly increased the amount of flour in the recipe to 2 1/4 cups. The muffins did take 18 minutes, the upper end of the cook time of the original recipe, to set fully in the center. They needed a few minutes on a wire rack to firm, and the texture of the muffin overall stayed moist, for the entire week or so it took me to eat my way through the batch.

But… it worked! And they were really delicious! I was so excited with my kitchen innovation that I texted my pastry chef little sister, who was very proud of me for both my ingenuity and my vegan baking skillz.

Ok, so I used another recipe as a base, and I’ve certainly modified recipes before. But with the exception of substituting applesauce for eggs, I usually don’t modify baked goods, knowing there’s a good deal of chemistry involved.

And I have certainly never done something so adventurous as add a completely different flavor and liquid ingredient before. So when these muffins turned out deliciously, I cannot express just how proud I was.

As I’ve told you all before, I spent most of my life thinking of myself as a total failure in the kitchen. Learning I could learn to cook was a huge victory for me — cooking well is all bonus, as far as I’m concerned. Never did I think I could come this far. Never did I think I would have the knowledge — or the guts — to try something outside the box when it came to baking.

Having it turn out well is the ultimate prize for an awkward clumsy nerd turned-food advocate, because it means what I say is true. Anyone can do this. Trust me. When you settle in to enjoy two warm, soft muffins that are your idea and your recipe with a cup of coffee on a winter Saturday morning, the burned cakes and smoke-alarm fries and leek tarts will all have been worth it.

Potato Leek Soup

15 Feb

A few weeks ago, I wrote about celebrating winter with winter flavors. Since then, we’ve seen a recipe for kale pesto, and today, a hearty, creamy soup chock full of root vegetables.

Leeks are my vegetable nemesis. I like leeks, enjoy their rich, onion flavor. I also think they look quite lovely. But some of my biggest flops in the kitchen have involved leeks. Their flavor is so strong, and turns so quickly and easily. I once tried to adapt a sweet potato and leek tart with, I think, potatoes, cheese, orange peppers and leeks. Maybe the grossest thing I’ve ever tried to eat. I think we ordered pizza that night.

So this time, I went with a tried-and-true combo instead of re-inventing the wheel. I’d never made potato leek soup before, but I’ve eaten and enjoyed it many times. I found this recipe from Bon Appetit, and stuck by it to the letter.

The verdict? Delicious, if time-consuming. While you do have to put in the prep time to chop lots of veggies, the simmer time to tenderize them, and then the rotating puree into a blender, this creamy soup also has the additional step of returning to the pot for added cheesiness. Once again, I found myself longing for an immersion blender. Maybe my next kitchen investment.

All that said, if you have the time, this soup is a great way to warm the kitchen on a cool winter Sunday night. Serve with crusty bread, mix in a few gnocchi for texture, or swirl in some of that pesto, and warm your insides, too.

What are your favorite winter recipes, or vegetables to feature in the colder months? Leave a comment and share your favorite roots with all of us!

Adventures with an Ingredient: Barley

5 Dec

Today’s showcase ingredient is barley, at work here in an Arugula & Barley Salad with Tomatoes & Corn

Well, hello ingredients list. Is it summer again?

No, sadly, it is still December and will be winter for quite some time. But when I discovered organic arugula at the grocery store this week, I couldn’t resist whipping up a simple, weeknight dinner with a light, lemon flavor.

Arugula is one of my favorite leafy greens. Much lighter and less bitter than others, I’m happy to eat these little guys leaves and all. It holds up well to citrus acid and black pepper, some of my favorite seasoning, and it’s very versatile. When I found a recipe that used it with barley, an under-used grain on my part, and some of my favorite vegetables, I was eager to try it.

The recipe I used is an oldy from the New York Time, fast and easy, and without almost any strange ingredients (unless you don’t usually keep these veggies on hand). While the original calls for pearl barley and suggests soaking, I had quick-cook hulled barley, so my version took only about 20 minutes total.

You can buy barley in several different forms, which are differentiated based on how much of the hull or shell of the barley has been removed. Hulled barley is the whole grain form, and is most nutritious, but takes the longest (an hour or more) to cook . Pearl barley is what people refer to if they just say “barley,” and has had the outer husk and bran layers removed. This form takes about 40 minutes to cook (though less if, as the recipe above suggests, you soak it). I’ve got Quaker quick-cook barley, because that’s what they sell at my grocery store, this form as been par-cooked and retains the least nutritional value, but is still about equal in nutrients to a whole wheat pasta, so I’ll take it.

At any rate, all this recipe requires cooking is the barley. The rest is as simple as washing arugula, chopping tomatoes and whisking a simply dressing. The result is a delicious and filling entree salad that will allow you to master barley as an ingredient without having to juggle other cooking tasks at the same time, all while bringing a hint of summer into our December kitchens.

Brinner Grows Up

31 Oct

We all remember those magical evenings when we were kids when our parents let us have “backwards” days, where we got the special treat of  breakfast for dinner, or “brinner”.

For you Scrubs fans out there, you know I didn’t exactly invent the term brinner. Turk feels me.

And yes, we here at We*Meat*Again definitely believe you that bacon ice cream is the way to go.

There are so many brinner possibilities. You can go for the full-out inverted day, and eat waffles or pancakes with maple syrup. You can have a nice omelette or breakfast burrito and take the more savory route. Or you can really mix it up and use breakfast as the inspiration for a totally dinner-worthy meal.

In one of their early autumn issues, my favorite food magazine Cooking Light did just this, and had a feature spread of sweet/savory re-invented brinner delicacies. And one in particular struck me as the perfect grown-up autumn treat: Ciabatta French Toast with Warm Apple Maple Syrup.

I actually think I picked this recipe to try first because I already had all the ingredients needed for it — since I always keep a bag of apples and apple cider around during autumn — and because I’ve recently been won over to french toast.

I’m not a big egg fan, and I usually prefer savory breakfasts, so I’ve always ranked french toast near the bottom of my breakfast charts. But then this summer, my friend Rachael and I got together for dinner and cooked Ashley & Stephen’s basil pesto french toast. It was the perfect mix of sweet and savory and convinced me to give french toast another shot.

This recipe was surprisingly easy to cook up. First, prep the french toast by stuffing the Gruyere into the crusty bread. I actually did this step, dunked the bread and then cooked the french toast, keeping it warm while I made the sauce, rather than vice versa as the recipe suggests. This meant I had a nice warm maple syrup topping.

What really makes this recipe is the combination of shallots and Gruyere cheese. Without enough of those savory elements, I think this would be a delicious but very sweet fall-flavored breakfast french toast. But the melted Gruyere cheese and the tangy crunch of the shallots balanced this out perfectly. I ate two piece for dinner and the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Brinner is for me, one of those things that reminds me I’m really a grownup and I can do whatever I want. I could eat breakfast for dinner every night if I wanted to! I don’t, usually, but this recipe convinced me to indulge the kid in me just a little more often. And for the record, this brinner would be killer with a side of bacon.

An Ode to Swiss Chard

3 Jun

The recent string of bad luck I mentioned a few posts back included the unfortunate side effect of kicking me out of my apartment for a few days, which means I spent Memorial Day weekend in a hotel room, eating crappy room service and takeout. So I was very glad to swing by the co-op on my way back home this week, and even more glad when I saw fresh, bright red bunches of one of my favorite vegetable “discoveries”: Swiss chard!

I say “discovery” because I’m a recent convert to the joys of Swiss chard. Here is my dirty little vegetarian secret, readers: while I spent seven years as a vegetarian, I never really liked many vegetables. We’ll get into what that did to my health (not to mention weight) in some future post, but it stemmed from my being a truly picky eater, growing up and well into my twenties. So when I decided to start eating meat again, I knew I needed to recommit to vegetables, too, or risk being a meat-and-potatoes eater, which would not be good for either my waistline or my heart.

So I got adventurous, or at least, as adventurous as I was willing to, and started buying at least one new vegetable at a time—whenever I made a trip to the co-op or placed an order with my a la carte CSA. And one fateful week, that meant I ended up with a big, flashy bunch of rainbow-stemmed Swiss chard.

I had no idea what to do with it. And most people don’t—it’s a leafy green, but doesn’t look like something you can shred up into a salad, or just eat raw. It’s gigantic. And colorful! A quick visit to the internet later, though, I had some information and a few very promising recipes.

Chard (pronounced with a hard “ch” sound like charge) comes in many varieties, all with enormous, extravagant leaves and brightly-colored stems in many colors. You can eat both the leaves and the stems, though the two have different tastes and purposes. The leaves tastes a lot like a thicker, crunchier spinach (chard’s cousin) with a hint of sweetness, while the stems are more pungent, like a flavorful celery/leek combo. Chard is actually a member of the beet family, which I think helps explain its  bitter/sweet flavor.

Swiss chard is also incredibly good for you—based on nutritional density and variety, it is the second richest vegetable in the world (after spinach)! So it’s worth a shot.

My first go at Swiss chard, several years ago, was this yummy pasta concoction from Vegetarian Times. This dish was delicious, but a bit overwrought. I’m not a big fan of recipes that I need to buy many specific ingredients for that I can’t easily reuse over and over, and until I find a few other recipes with golden raisins and heavy cream, this one stays a specialty, rather than a staple.

This past autumn, then, when I took another run at chard, I was thrilled to stumble upon and try this simple, creamy pasta sauce steeped with chard, tomato and red onion.

Unbelievably flavorful, it even won over Scott to chard on his first taste of the vegetable! (Those are big, momentous successes for a picky eater like myself—whenever I convince someone else to try something new, I feel I’m balancing out all of the times I’ve turned down a food I never even bothered to taste.) Plus, this recipe takes only about 20 minutes start to finish, including the easy veggie prep time, and is constructed completely of things I always have in the house, when chard is seasonally available.

Fast, easy, delicious. What more could you ask for in a recipe?

Scott recently lamented to me the difficulty of encountering leafy greens at the grocery store. There are so many varieties, he said, even subsets within types, that just the sight of them at the grocery store can be overwhelming. What’s the difference between lacinato kale and black kale? Between dandelion greens and mustard greens? And to complicate matters, I said, there is a difference. The flavors are so distinctive from one type to the next, and a misuse of the particular strengths of one green will so often lead to a bitter, burnt taste in a dish, that the threat of failure puts him right off, pushes potential shoppers along to the safe bell peppers and tomatoes.

My advice to him then, and to you all now, is take it one step at a time. Grab one type of produce with which you are unfamiliar next time you’re at the store, and then find a recipe uniquely suited to that vegetable. That recipe will be tailored specifically to the flavor profile of the vegetable, and will help you develop an understanding of how that vegetable should be used.

You all don’t know me well enough yet to fully understand when I say this, but if I can do it, so can you. I’m a huge klutz. (Really, a huge klutz. I once hit myself on the head taking a can of PAM out of the cabinet. My own hand, hitting my own head.) And I’ve never been a good cook. But it really is as easy as

  1. Buy something
  2. Find a recipe.
  3. Try it!

And trust me, if you’re going to try and expand your vegetable horizons, swiss chard is a much easier place to begin than, say, a hubbard squash.

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