Here are the top ten Meatless Monday recipes from 2018. Enjoy and have a healthy and happy 2019! ~Becky
Cooking vegetarian usually requires exploration of various legumes, like beans, peas, nuts and lentils. One of my absolute favorites is the fava bean, which goes by various names, including broad bean. Research says that these may be found fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and in various colors.
Favas are packed with protein, fiber and iron. The texture is somewhat creamy or buttery, and the flavor is earthy and nutty, making them a great choice for eating in both warm and cold dishes!
At this point, I’ve only used the brown ones and in the dried form. Sometimes they’re challenging to find, depending on the shopping options. On occasion, I order then online, and those that have already been blanched and peeled (such as Bob’s Red Mill) save a great deal of time. I don’t cook them for nearly as long as the package suggests. If you want to peel your own, check out this video of French chef, Jacques Pepin, showing you an easy method.
Favas pair nicely with asparagus and tomatoes, and I’ve come up with a ‘recipe’ of sorts with various options. This can be eaten warm or cold, but I think the flavors tend to intensify a bit after it has been refrigerated.
Fave Fava Salad
INGREDIENTS and METHODS:
Fava beans, blanched and peeled (optional additions: cooked or canned garbanzos/frozen green peas, simply rinsed in cool water)
Asparagus, blanched or steamed and cut into bite-sized lengths (although longer spears add visual appeal)
Tomatoes, sliced or diced; halved if using cherry tomatoes
Scallions/green onions, thinly sliced (white and green portions), chives (snipped),or garlic (minced); garlic may be cooked with the beans, if you wish
Seasonings: choose from mint, tarragon, dill, salt, pepper
Option: place the above mixture over a bed of spring mix lettuce, arugula, spinach or baby kale
Heartier version: add cooked and cooled orzo pasta or couscous
Cheese additions, such as Parmesan, Feta, Pecorino, or your favorite vegan cheese
Dressing choices: olive oil whisked with lemon juice or a balsamic vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar, oil, and a touch of sweetener
NOTES: When preparing the beans and asparagus, be careful to avoid overcooking and letting them become too soft, especially if you plan to eat this chilled. Ingredient amounts are totally up to you, depending on the end quantity, flavors, and the look desired.
If you haven’t sampled them before, I hope you’ll give favas a try. Let me know what you think! ~Becky
This recipe from Marcy Gaston (MS, RD, LN) at Food and Nutrition Magazine looks so yummy…you may want to give it a try! She blogs at cookingsustainably.com ~Becky
Looking for another way to eat tomatoes since they’re in season and ready to be served? Of course, you can always opt for the classic BLT. Heck, I like bacon as much as the next person, but sometimes you need to give tomatoes a holiday from bacon (or vice versa). This is also a perfect recipe for a brunch or light dinner. It isn’t heavy and if served with a nice salad, it will make a complete meal.
The catch? You have to use fresh, ripe tomatoes. You know those heirloom varieties sold at the farmer’s market? Yeah, those. Buy some and use them for this recipe. It will make a huge difference in the end product.
Now, if you look at the title, you’ll see I mention an olive oil crust. Yes, instead of butter, I made the tart pastry with olive oil and yogurt. Why? Well, I like butter. Trust me. Butter is my friend and I’m always happy to use it. But sometimes I like to see if anything else can replace butter. Nothing is a great substitute for butter, let’s be honest. The tart pastry is not flaky; it’s mealy. BUT it tastes great and works really well in this recipe. I do not suggest using this tart pastry for pies. It just won’t taste right and you’ll be frustrated. But this is a savory tart and it works.
Tomato Onion Tart with Olive Oil Crust
Olive Oil Tart Pastry:
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1⁄3 cup water
- 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 sweet yellow onion, sliced thin
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives (or your favorite olive), pitted and roughly chopped
- ½ pound fontina cheese, sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 to 4 medium to large tomatoes, sliced
- Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (olive oil, water, and yogurt). Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until combined. If mixture is too dry, add a little water. If it’s too wet, add a little flour. It should come together like a regular pastry dough (slightly soft but not sticky or crumbly).
- Flour the counter and roll the dough into a circle bigger than your tart pan. My tart pan is 11 inches, so I rolled the dough into a 12-inch circle. The tart pastry should be about 1⁄8–1⁄4-inch thick. You don’t want it too thick. The pastry might break apart, and that’s perfectly OK. It’s a tart pastry, the most unruly and forgiving of all pastries.
- Transfer the pastry to the tart pan and tuck the dough into the pan. If it breaks apart, just fill in the holes with the extra dough. Press any of the overhang against the top of the pan. Make sure the sides are enforced well with dough.
- Slide the tart pan onto a baking sheet. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes. Basically, you are giving the crust a head start in baking.
- Remove the tart from the oven and fill it with the tart ingredients. First, layer the onion and olives on the bottom of the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the sliced cheese on top of the onions. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with sliced tomatoes. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.
- Return to the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature.
As a kid, I loved the commercials that appeared on television around the holidays featuring people who demonstrated those “slicer and dicer” kitchen tools. Slice-O-Matic, Chop-O-Matic, Veg-O-Matic…you get the idea. Their hands moved more quickly than a magician’s, and I expected a severed finger to surely end up in with the wavy potato slices or the tomato wedges! I remember wondering why my mother didn’t have one of those contraptions, but she always just stuck with her trusty, favorite paring knife.
I’m not really one for kitchen gadgets, myself, and was surprised to find a food spiralizer under the tree this past Christmas morning. Even if you haven’t made any of these spirals, yourself, you’ve probably seen some “ready-made” in the grocery stores, with squash seeming to be one of the most popular. The end results when using this bladed tool are basically vegetables or fruits cut to look like strands of pasta.
The spiralizers evidently come in multiple formats, from various types of rotary incarnations that help the users build arm muscles, to deluxe electric models, with mine being the rotary sort. I’ve experienced mixed outcomes, but still have many fruits and vegetables to try. Eggplant turned out to be too squishy, and the broccoli stems were a challenge, but do-able. My best results, so far, have been with zucchini and summer squash. I won’t resort to calling them “zoodles” or “squoodles,” but they really do resemble noodles and taste great!
The internet is awash with related recipe ideas, but I came up with one based on ingredients that I happened to find in my refrigerator and cupboards, so I’ve included it, below. Feel free to share your favorite spiralizer recipe in comments. In fact, one lucky commenter will be chosen at the end of February to receive a $5 Amazon e-card! Hmmm. Now I’m thinking about a cold spiralized beet salad for Valentines Day…
2 firm zucchini
2 firm summer squashes
Cooked fish, shrimp, or other seafood of choice (any amount you wish; canned works well, too)
Scallions/green onions (the leafy part, which is easiest to cut with kitchen scissors)
Garlic paste (optional)
Shredded cheese of your favorite type (optional)
Pimento slices, mostly for color
Spiralize your vegetables with the peel left on and spread out in an oblong casserole that has a bit of olive oil in the bottom. Add your seafood, onions, and garlic paste, if desired. Drizzle about two more tablespoons of olive oil into the mixture. Mix with a fork. Sprinkle cheese, if wanted, and bread crumbs over the top. Bake at 350-360 for 30-45 minutes until heated through.
With a few small changes to the previous year’s soup recipe, this is a repost from the end of last December…
I grew up in Michigan, with German heritage on each side of the family. Both of my grandmothers were good cooks and seemed to enjoy the process. I remember the wonderful aromas of “bread-baking day” at the home of my maternal grandma. My paternal grandmother occasionally offered foods that might not appeal to some children. Oyster stew, beef tongue and pickled herring come to mind. I liked two of those dishes, with the chewy beef tongue (no pun intended) being a definite “no.”
Although I enjoyed the stew with curly-edged oysters, I looked forward to herring the most. I remember a heavy crock so large that it barely fit into the refrigerator, where Grandma pickled her magic on those small, silvery fish. If memory serves me right, the end result was a light, creamy sauce, filled with thin rings of sliced onions and luscious, thick chunks of herring. Although I still have a few of her recipe cards tucked away in their hinged, wooden box, unfortunately, I don’t have that one. We ate it cold, on crackers, small rounds of pumpernickel bread, or on full-sized sandwiches.
My grandmother passed away just before Christmas when I was about ten. Every year after, my parents would buy a container of pickled herring at the market and we’d share it on New Year’s Eve. For years, I thought we just did that in memory of Grandma. Eventually, I learned that many people in Germany, along with other countries, often eat this delicacy at midnight as the year turns over, to help ensure a year of good luck and prosperity.
Another food for the holiday, black-eyed peas are displayed prominently on grocery store shelves these days. Although I’ve lived in North Carolina and now Texas, I had never tried this Southern staple that some people believe brings good fortune when eaten as the first meal of the New Year. The peas can be used in many different dishes, research showed, and I devised a recipe that works for me. The Texan variety is often seasoned with chili powder and hot sauce, but I came up with the following milder version in the form of a hearty soup:
Luck in a Soup Pot
Onion, shallot, scallion, leek, garlic, and celery (in any combination), sliced and sautéed in a deep pan.
Meat eaters, add bacon or ham (brown, or use pre-cooked).
Add approximately 4 cups of water and a bouillon cube (veggie or meat-flavored) to the pan. Adjust water for the amount of vegetables eventually used.
While that heats, chop a selection of greens: collard, mustard or turnip greens are traditionally Southern. I used what I had, which this year included cabbage.
Throw in the greens and any other soup vegetables you like. For color, I thinly sliced in a few carrots, and I also added several diced turnips. I seasoned with ground cumin and fenugreek, for my milder version. Bring it all back to a boil, then turn down to simmer until the veggies are tender.
I cooked my dried black-eyed peas ahead of time and added them into the soup pot near the very end to heat through. These “peas” are actually beans, a legume, and double as a protein and a vegetable, nutritionally. They’re also available fresh, canned and frozen.
If you like eggs, you might want to try a trick I learned a few years back with a clear-brothed spinach soup. Near the end of cooking, turn the heat back up and slide one egg at a time from a cup into the boiling mixture, spacing them out, a bit. They cook in place, much like a poached egg. Lift one out with a slotted spoon to check if they’re done.
Salt to taste. Serve with your favorite bread. Although cornbread may be most typical in the South, I plan to try it with pita, this year!
Wishing all of you a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2018!
In case you are not familiar with miso, this is a fermented paste, traditionally made from soybeans and various grains, which is used as a seasoning in many Japanese dishes. More recently, miso also may contain chickpeas, quinoa, or other ingredients as the base. The color and taste of your miso will depend on the type you choose. Resulting flavors range from salty to sweet and savory to fruity, all the while retaining a wonderful, earthy taste. It is said to contain protein and vitamins, and versions with reduced salt content may be found in select markets.
Miso first came to my attention years ago when it was called for in a recipe from a Japanese cookbook. I had forgotten about it until last week, when coming across an instant version of tofu miso soup at the grocery store. It wasn’t too bad and reminded me how much I like miso. In that format, however, the servings were very small, fairly expensive, and the dehydrated tofu squares were miniscule. Why not make the real thing?
After searching in several stores, I found a tub of miso in the refrigerated produce section. It was a light-colored version and had a somewhat sweet, but earthy flavor. I started my cooking experiment with several cups of water in a pan and began to spoon miso, while heating and stirring until it was dissolved and had the taste I wanted. I then added quartered mushrooms, along with slices of the white part of a green onion and continued to simmer.
Meanwhile, I cut a quarter tub of tofu and arranged the cubes in the bottom of a soup bowl. When the vegetables in the soup were soft, I poured it over the tofu and added soy sauce, to taste, with a few snips of the onion greens for color.
Leave out the mushrooms, onion, tofu and/or soy sauce.
Add any of the following:
Chopped bok choy or spinach
Dried sea vegetables
Bonito (fish) flakes
Fish or other seafood
My Own “Instant” Version
*Heat water in a pan.
*Place small cubes of tofu in the bottom of a large mug.
*Slice mushrooms (or use canned) on top of the tofu.
*Add a spoonful of miso, along with any other desired flavorings.
*Pour boiling water over the contents in the cup.
*Stir, until the miso is dissolved.
*Cover the cup for several minutes to blend flavors.
How have you cooked with miso? I’d love to read about your ideas in comments!
I spent years trying to please others through the act of cooking. As a young newlywed, I collected recipes that I wanted to try out on my husband and promptly struck out. If it didn’t look like something that his mother or grandmother often made, then he wouldn’t even taste it. For example, only “fried chicken” was acceptable, he said, and my attempt at that dish was met with disdain. Come to find out, his mother’s secret for “fried chicken” was really “Shake-n-Bake”! I gave up before I even got started. Over the years, I found quick and inexpensive foods that my daughters would eat. End of story (and marriage).
My second husband was a self-taught gourmet cook. No, I’m not just saying this in case he still reads my blog. He really is that accomplished and taught me a lot about cooking methods and ingredients. We took turns cooking, and I have to admit, that as my skills grew, I began to feel a bit competitive. My dishes started to turn out wonderfully and earned well-deserved praise. When my efforts didn’t work out, there were no polite or pretend compliments from him, either.
Cooking never came naturally to me, however, and I almost always relied on cook books and carefully measured ingredients. If a recipe was successful, I made a note of it on the inside of the book for future reference. Sometimes the pressure of producing acceptable meals was a negative force. Things went downhill when I started having digestive problems and had to give up many of our favorite foods and most wine. I won’t pretend these restrictions caused the end of our marriage, but they certainly did alter the daily dynamic of an already strained relationship.
I currently find myself “cooking for one,” a phrase that I’ve never really liked. I don’t even much care for recipes that say, “Cooking for Two,” as if someone is missing and this is all you have left. I occasionally prepare a meal for others, but more often than not, there’s one plate on my faux-Victorian dining table.
I made the early decision NOT to fall into the trap of watching television while eating. Sometimes I listen to my music, or enjoy tunes that emanate from a local activity in the Square, like the one going on as I write this piece. Other times, I read from a novel or non-fiction of recent interest, such as Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr. Weak indirect lighting over my table was an issue for reading. To fix that problem, I recently splurged on an attractive, industrial-style table lamp with a high-powered bulb, in an old-fashioned tone of light green.
Another big change is WHAT I make for dinner. First of all, I’ve cut way back on meat and more often turn to other forms of protein…eggs, tofu, beans, and occasional seafood. Sometimes just a large salad appeals to me, and I jazz it up with some of my favorites, like olives, capers, and fresh veggies lightly cooked. My go-to cheeses are feta and goat, since they seem easier for me to digest. Olive oil ALWAYS for cooking and salads! I rarely buy according to a recipe, now, but purchase ingredients that look good to me and then just decide what to do with them, later.
I’m starting to have fun with this and don’t think I’ll go back to eating by candlelight any time soon. Following is one of my recent culinary creations:
Egg-cellent Baked Mushrooms
One or two extra-large portabella/portobello mushrooms, stems removed, cap side up in baking pan
One egg for each, cracked open into the mushroom cap
Your choice of fresh or dried herbs to taste
Light sprinkling of cheese, if desired
Bake at 350˚-400˚ until egg is set to your liking and mushroom is sufficiently tender (about 20 minutes minimum).