Meatless Monday: Five Great Veggie Dinners


YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ THIS...unless you want a delicious way to introduce more vegetables into your life. Meatless Monday began as a way for carnivores to give a nod to animal rights and saving the planet by eating vegetarian for one day a week. It actually happens to be a great way to "audition" a vegetarian/vegan lifetsyle and see what those who share your table think about meatless creations. When I was a happy member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in California, Meatless Monday was a great way to highlight the star of the box for that week. Now, however, with restaurants like Vedge in Philly Steak sandwich country and even Oxheart in Meat-happy Texas, serving menus that give vegetables center stage, it's clear that Meatless Monday may become meatless everyday for more people when they realize just how delicious vegetables can be.

For the record, these are purely my top five and they are not my recipes since I cook almost everything on the fly with no recipes. This makes me remember that I should keep a notebook and camera handy every night since this is how I cook on a regular basis and I want to be able to give you my original recipes as often as possible. But for now, these are the ones that most closely resemble what I make.

  1. Chipotle "Rice" Bowls Starring Cauliflower Rice - Rather than boring white rice, finely grated cauliflower gets the cilantro lime treatment and the is layered with beans, salsa, cheese, and sour cream. You can add chopped kale, spinach or lettuce to up the veggie content. Muy Delicioso!
  2. Rainbow Vegetable Spring Rolls - The first time I made these I knew I might be taking a risk, but my kids devoured them. Really they are a vehicle to eat the peanut sauce that I make to serve with them. Regardless anytime you can get a kid to eat nothing but raw vegetables for dinner, it's a win! (This recipe for peanut sauce gives measurements to what I typically make on the fly.)
  3. Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili - Chili is a great weekday dish anyway since it can either be cooked ahead or made in a crockpot while going about your daily tasks. This chili comes out so meaty with the smoky black beans and the chunks of sweet potatoes that even staunch meat eaters have loved it when I make it.
  4. Lemony Lentil and Quinoa Salad - My kids always complain about this, but it is actually good and they do eat it. (It helps to have a sweet treat like these or these at the ready for a bribe.) Quinoa is a perfect protein on it's on and when you add the lentils, you have a super high protein entree with no meat in sight. It is gluten free naturally and is lower carb than most grains. If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, buy the green lentils that are by the rices. They cook up perfectly tender and without being mushy. Plus they have a bit of a peppery flavor. I have two more pieces of advice regarding quinoa; 1) At almost $6 a pound most places, it's worth it to buy the big bag at Costco, and 2) DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT ever follow package directions. It will always come out mushy and weird. The water ratio on most packages as well as 90% of the recipes I have seen on the web say to use a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa, the Costco quinoa does not have to be soaked or rinsed so you would use a 1 1/2:1 ratio instead. If you buy your quinoa elsewhere it will need to be soaked (See this article for lots of good quinoa info including why soaking may be necessary.) so then you will only use a 1:1 ratio.
  5.  Wilted Kale and Roasted Potato Salad - Yes, it's another salad, but with the kale being slightly wilted and the potatoes roasted it could simply be a hearty entree instead if your family balks at the idea of salads for dinner. Feel free to add some parmesan, blue or a really sharp cheddar cheese to this salad to bulk it up a little.

Oh, all of these keep well so if you have a family of big eaters, double these to give yourself an easy out for take along lunches for the week. I would love to hear what your favorite veg-centric recipes are and how your families receive these. Shout out below in the comments section or "like" my facebook page and let me know on there.