Monday, September 26, 2011

Going Meatless (Temporarily)

A lot has been in the news etc. about the benefits of going meatless once a week.  Many people do Meatless Mondays and my family is no exception.  I have a friend who is vegan so she often helps me out with ideas.  She was the one who got me to sign up for a month's worth of emails from Vegetarian Times.  This first recipe came from there and I was surprised at how much my family liked it.  It's great recipe for the summer months.

1 cup French green lentils, rinsed and drained 
1/4 small onion 
2 bay leaves 
1 large shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup) 
2 Tbs. lemon juice 
1 small cucumber, diced (1 cup) 
2 medium tomatoes, diced (1 cup) 
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint 
1 Tbs. olive oil 
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Place lentils, onion, bay leaves, and 6 cups water in large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Drain, remove onion and bay leaves, and cool.

2. Stir together shallot and lemon juice in large bowl. Add lentils, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, and oil; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Chill 1 hour, or overnight. Serve topped with feta.  Serves 4

Frittatas are another thing that I often make for Meatless Monday.  I use this basic recipe and add whatever veggies, cheeses, etc. that I have in the fridge. 

Basic Frittata 

4 eggs 
1/4 cup liquid such as milk, tomato juice, broth 
1/4 tsp.dried thyme leaves or herb of your choice. 
Salt and pepper 
1 cup filling (see below) 
2 tsp. butter or vegetable oil 

Beat eggs, liquid, herb and salt and pepper in medium bowl until blended. Add filling; mix well.

Heat butter in 6 to 8-inch nonstick omelet pan or skillet over medium heat until melted. Pour in egg mixture; cook over low to medium heat until eggs are almost set, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until eggs are completely set and no visible liquid egg remains, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into wedges. 


Season your frittata with chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil or cilantro. Choose seasonings that complement your filling.

Frittatas taste good cold and travel well - perfect for picnic fare or a take-along lunch.

Make fillings from your favorite foods or from leftovers. Use a combination of meat, seafood or poultry, cheese, vegetables and cooked pasta or grains.

For fewer or more servings: Adjust the filling, liquid, seasonings and pan size proportionally to the number of eggs used. For 2 eggs, use a 6-inch pan; for 6 eggs, an 8-inch pan; for 8 eggs, an 8 to 10-inch pan.

Filling ingredients should be cooked, not raw. Pieces should be cut fairly small and drained well.

Three ways to serve a frittata: Serve wedges right from pan, slide uncut frittata topside-up onto platter, or invert frittata onto platter to show its nicely-browned bottom.

Broiler Method:  Prepare frittata in a pan with an ovenproof handle. (To make handle ovenproof, wrap it completely in aluminum foil.) Cook on stovetop until eggs are almost set. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, bread crumbs or crushed chips. Broil about 6 inches from heat until eggs are completely set and no visible liquid egg remains and cheese is melted or topping is lightly browned.

I don't use the broiler.  I do start it on the stove but then I put it into 350 oven and finish it that way.   I also don't put the cheese on top...I mix it in.

This last recipe isn't actually a main dish but hummus is a vegetarian staple.  Lots of people use it in place of mayo on sandwiches and my kids love to dip veggies in it.  Alton Brown has never steered me wrong and this recipe is no exception. I did cook the chickpeas in the Crockpot but I am sure you can use the same amount of canned beans.  But I do have to say, after cooking them myself, I doubt I'll go back to canned!  

Hummus For Real  

1 pound Slow Cooker Chickpeas, cooled, recipe follows 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1/4 cup water 
1/3 cup tahini, stirred well 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving 
Powdered sumac, optional

Place the chickpeas, garlic, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Add the lemon juice and water. Process for 20 seconds. Add the tahini. Process for 20 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.

To serve, transfer the hummus to a bowl and drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with sumac, to taste, if desired.  

Slow Cooker Chickpeas

7 cups water 
1 pound dry chickpeas, sorted and rinsed 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
Special equipment: a 2 1/2-quart slow cooker

Place the water, chickpeas, and baking soda in a 2 1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for 4 hours, or on low heat for 8 to 9 hours, or until tender. Drain and serve immediately, or use in desired dish.

I am constantly looking for new recipes for Meatless Mondays so keep your eye out for more!