Meatless Mains

I don’t know about you, but I think the price of beef at the grocery store is getting out of hand.  It makes it hard to buy meat for the meals we love, like tacos.  If the horror stories from the meat processing plants hasn’t turned you off meat already, the world is at least definitely learning a lesson about allowing consolidation of companies and monopolies of industries.  So many plants are shut down partially or completely and it is creating a serious backlog.  The meat is there and the demand is there, but there is no one to process it to get it to the consumers.  I am not going to go into all of that, but it is an issue.  

Thankfully there are many things we can eat that don’t include meat that are nutritious, delicious and filling.  Peruse the vegetable aisle and you will find many things you can use as a main dish for dinner. I love a good baked potato for dinner even without meat.  Spaghetti squash is a great substitute and is healthy!  Mushrooms make a decent vegetarian taco. Eggplant is loaded with nutrients and can be used for things other than eggplant parmesan.  I just did chayote last week.  It takes on the flavors around it and is so easy to make as dinner.  Zucchini is versatile and can be noodled, sliced or diced to make dinner something different.

Whether you shop online and do grocery pickup or you go visit the store yourself, look through the vegetables a little more seriously.  Look for larger vegetables you can make boats out of or will produce a lot of ‘meat’ because it is large.  Add some fresh herbs to your shopping cart as well.  This week, skip the meat aisle and save yourself some money.  Join me in the kitchen for easy recipes that feature vegetables as the star!  

Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash

2 tsps. avocado oil

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

1 tsp lemon zest

cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, drizzle with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast squash on middle rack of oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove squash from oven and let it cool long enough you can handle it.  Using fork, scrape flesh out and transfer to medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir everything together. Take a bite and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from reciperunner.com

 

Stuffed Eggplant Boats

1 large eggplant

2 tsps. avocado oil

1 large zucchini, diced

½ onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

5oz mushrooms, finely chopped

¼ cup cherry tomatoes

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

¾ cup freshly grated Italian blend cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 9x13 inch oven safe casserole dish.  Slice eggplant in half, lengthwise, and scoop out insides, being careful to leave ¼ inch border around side and not to pierce to eggplant skin. Finely chop meaty flesh of eggplant and set it aside. Place eggplant halves to the side. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add zucchini, onion and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and eggplant flesh to the skillet. Continue to sauté until vegetables have softened about 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomato, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Toss to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Remove skillet from heat and evenly divide the filling between eggplant halves. Evenly sprinkle mozzarella on top of eggplant halves and gently place into prepared casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Let eggplants sit for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil and extra tomatoes if desired.

Recipe adapted from ambitiouskitchen.com.

 

White Mushroom Pizza

2 Tbsps. avocado oil

2 Tbsps. unsalted sweet cream butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

16oz. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

½ tsp dried thyme

½ tsp dried oregano

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

¼ cup yellow cornmeal

1 13.8oz can refrigerated pizza crust

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly coat a baking sheet or pizza pan with oil.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms, thyme and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and browned, about 5-6 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Working on surface sprinkled with cornmeal, roll out pizza crust into a 12-inch-diameter round. Transfer to prepared baking sheet or pizza pan.  Top with mozzarella, dollops of ricotta and mushrooms.  Place into oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheeses have melted.  Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from damndelicious.net.

 

Zucchini Noodle Salad

The great thing about this recipe is you can add or take away any ingredient to your taste and it is so easy to make!  Feel free to toss in roasted chickpeas, shredded cheddar or grated parmesan. Pine nuts, almonds or walnuts are great add-ons.  Try it with radishes and cucumbers.  Roasted corn is good too!  So many possibilities!

4 cups zucchini noodles

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 large avocados, diced

1 small chayote peeled and diced

3 Tbsps. sliced olives, optional

2 Tbsps. crumbled feta cheese

3 Tbsps. Italian dressing, more or less to taste

 

Place all ingredients into a large bowl and toss to mix well and coat all pieces with dressing.  Taste and adjust as desired.  Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to allow flavors to meld.  It is good immediately too, I always enjoy it more the next day though.