Meatless Meals for Earth Day

I have a few post ideas rolling around in my head, but decided that I'd go ahead and write up a few of my favorite meatless meal ideas in honor of Earth Day today. I mainly have become mostly meatless due to the fact that meat is expensive, but eating less meat is also a good way to help out the environment.

Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils (Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook)

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tbls. olive oil
1 cup brown rice (has to be brown)
1 tbls. tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup lentils
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted

In a large saucepan, sautee the onion in the oil until it is soft (medium heat). Add the rice and cook and stir for a few minutes until it is toasted. Add the water, tomato paste, cinnamon, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir the salt, raisins, and nuts into the rice. It should still be a little watery, add 1/4 cup water if it's dry. Place in a greased 9x13 pan, cover with foil, and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Trust me, this is a very tasty recipe. I've served it for several different friends and they have all raved. It's kind of sweet, chewy, and crunchy all at the same time. It goes really well with a hearty salad. I like to serve it with this one:

Greek Salad (Lion House International Recipes)

1/2 head romaine or green leaf lettuce
2-3 tomatoes, quartered
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 red onion thinly sliced
6 oz. feta cheese, broken in chunks
Black Kalamata olives (the recipe specifies 16, but I just buy a bunch and throw them in because I like them. You want the really strong olives here)

2 tbls. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Tear the lettuce into bite size pieces and mix together with everything else (you don't have to be super exact, and I personally like to use more lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, because it makes a lot of dressing and I don't like my salad to be too "slimy"). Whisk together the vinegar, garlic, and seasonings, then slowly pour the olive oil in while whisking to combine. Immediately add the dressing to the salad and mix well.

Curried Garbanzos (Originally from Meatless Monday, but I've altered it a little)

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbls. oil
1-2 tsp. curry powder
2 15 oz cans garbanzos (chickpeas), one drained and one not
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbls. tomato paste
2 tbls. peanut butter

Saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until soft. Add the curry powder and cook for a minute or two until it gets nice and fragrant. Add the garbanzos (including liquid from one can), lemon, and tomato paste. Cook for about 5 minutes. Take out about half the mixture from the pan and puree it in a blender (or if you have a hand blender, stick it in the pan and blend up part of it--you want some garbanzos left whole, but some puree to make the sauce thick). Keep cooking for another five minutes or so, then add the peanut butter and cook just a few more minutes. Serve with rice. This tastes really good with a carrot salad or a nice cucumber/yogurt salad.

Light and Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed & drained
1 c. dairy sour cream
1 c. small-curd cottage cheese
1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease square baking dish, 8 x 8 x 2 inches. Spread broccoli in dish. Beat sour cream, cottage cheese, baking mix, butter and eggs with hand beater 1 minute. Pour over broccoli. Arrange tomato slices on top; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden brown and knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.

This one uses dairy products, so it's not as environmentally friendly as other recipes. But it's still pretty dang good (I usually use the light sour cream and light cottage cheese. Don't bake with fat free, though). I also usually just buy fresh broccoli, cut it up, and steam it. But that's just because I'm weird and don't buy frozen veggies. You can also do it without the tomato slices on top and it's still tasty. I generally like to serve this with baked sweet potatoes and either a green salad or a fruit one. My mom made this meal all the time when I was a kid and I love it.

Veggie Quesadillas (from 30 Minutes or Less)

1 tbls. butter
3-4 green onions, chopped
1 cup fresh corn kernels (I often use canned)
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 tbls. lemon juice
2 tbls. chopped cilantro
8 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded mozzarella, jack, or cheddar (whatever melts and tastes good; I probably usually use more than just a cup)

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat; add onion, corn, zucchini and garlic, saute for 30 seconds. Add tomato and cook for 4 minutes; stir in lemon juice and cilantro (I usually add a little salt too) and cook about 2-3 minutes more. Turn heat down to low to keep mixture warm while making quesadillas. In a larger skillet, warm one tortilla and top with cheese. Add about 1/2 cup of the veggie mixture and then top with another tortilla (I usually sprinkle more cheese on top of the veggies). Cook 3 minutes on the first side, flip and cook another minute or two. Cut them into quarters to serve and top with salsa, sour cream, and/or avocado.

These are really good and great in the summer when all the veggies are in season (although it really doesn't take much of each veggie to make them). I like to eat them with black beans and rice:

Easy Black Beans and Rice

1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbls. oil
1 cup long grain rice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (approximate, or add some hot sauce if you have it)
2 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained

Saute the onion and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes in the oil until soft. Add the rice and stir around for a minute or two so it gets nice and toasted (it will turn white). Add the broth, cayenne, and black beans to the pan. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover, and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the rice is cooked and fluffy.


Silly Marie said…
I appreciate these recipes. I get bored with food easily, so I love to try new recipes. I like the commentary as well. That's how a cook book should be written.
You are so good to remember Earth Day. I forgot. I am going to go hang my head in shame... and see if I have the ingredients for the broccoli casserole for dinner tomorrow. Yum!
TK said…
Thanks! I've been waiting to get some of your recipes! (Not sure if they'll turn out as good with me cooking them, though!)
Earth Sign Mama said…
That one recipe sounds suspiciously like Garbanzo Bean Casserole...Does this mean I'm forgiven?
Weed said…
I can attest to the fact that the first two are really, really good. Especially when made by Foxyj herself ;-).
Marci said…
Thanks...I copied and pasted them.

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