Vegetarian for Busy Eaters

Given how little I’ve posted this week, its evident that its been a crazy week in our household.  It was nothing specific really, just a whole bunch of late afternoon early evening activities that made making dinner challenging.  I suppose that’s good news for the blog though, because someone had just asked for most posts on quick cooking on busy days.

The answer?  Grilled cheese.

Not really, but kind of.  I was intent on not cooking pasta just because I was busy.  Not only does it seem like that is low hanging fruit, but I’m pretty sure its a good way to be fat.  I am trying not to be fat.  In the past on busy days, I could count on a backup of sandwiches and soup/salad.  So at least once this week, I succumbed to that temptation and made a stellar grilled cheese with a nice little side salad.

Well, that gets you through one meal.  What if you have to make it through two, three, or even four meals in a row like this?  For a committed cook like myself, that’s annoying because I enjoy eating well.  However, for a busy parents like myself sometimes I need to just get by.  So what to do…(DAMN YOU PASTA…I WILL NOT EAT YOU AT EVERY MEAL!)

One night I decided to cook some burritos.  Those were quick, easy, and delicious.  We had a fruit salad to accompany it, as well as another salad.  Salad has been a bit hit this week.  The nice thing about these is that you can usually put them together with just about anything that is on hand.  For example, we had no black beans but the red kidney beans we did have worked just fine.  As long as you have some onions and peppers — and if you’re me, you avoid putting anything to hot in them because TPE will start the mouth-waving dance — you can pretty much pull these off.  For this reason, I will forever be keeping burrito wrappers on my “must have” list along with plain yogurt, vegetable stock, and lentils.

Another night I made lentil croquettes.  These are quickly becoming my go-to recipe.  You cook some French lentils with celery, carrots, and salt until they’re done.  You then put them through a food processor (you could mash them as well).  Combine the mashed lentils with egg, bread crumbs, roll them, and fry them.   They’re tasty, generally healthy and a nice vehicle for lots of other things.  I’ve been following Deborah Madison’s suggestion of caramelized onions.  Oh yeah, I also made macaroni and cheese. (OK pasta, you got me this time.  Until we meet again!) What was I going to do, She-Who-Hums was insistent.  TPE did graciously suggest that I clean up and bathe the kid after I worked on this meal for like an hour.  (Maybe I’ll put red pepper flakes in her ice cream as retribution.)  The nice thing about this meal is that you can freeze your croquettes and use them at another meal.

Tonight we did a bean salad and a mixed green salad.  I also made a version of grilled cheese for myself with thinly sliced onion, tomato, and zucchini.  It was so yummy that I’m inspired to start planning on making more vegetarian sandwiches (e.g., pan bagnat), so that I have more of these go-to recipes in the future.  Mark Bittman has some nice, inspirational suggestions in his book How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.

The other meal this week was stir fry with tofu.  That deserves a post of its own.

All in all, I think that this was a challenging week.  TPE had one meal that caused her to literally gag and the rest of the week was busy, busy, busy.  But I learned some things that will help going forward, like the value of the burrito and the need to figure out how to replace sandwich meat without just making grilled cheese.

But if you have to, I recommend the grilled cheese.  Just try to use good cheese.

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  • ellenbeachteach  On July 4, 2010 at 2:06 am

    Great ideas! A couple of suggestions for vegetarian sandwiches:

    1. Roasted or grilled vegetables with some sort of flavored spread, depending on the heat you want and the seasonings you used.

    2. Avocado and cheese with assorted veggies. Swiss is especially nice with avocado. Since I stopped eating cheese, it’s now just avocado and usually some tomato and onion.

  • sdmcclurg  On July 4, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Those are good suggestions. The one problem is TPE won’t go anywhere near avocado. It will work for me though.

  • Lhatcher  On July 4, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    A suggestion for a busy night: put a bottle of roasted red peppers on your list of things to have in your pantry/fridge, especially for quick meals at night… Chop half a bottle of them up, mash them in with a can of white beans (drained), add some oregano, parsley, salt and pepper, and goat cheese (or whatever) and throw them in a wrap with some fresh spinach. Side salad, and a cold drink… Easy, peasy, and not hot in the summer… 😉 Add some roasted chicken (run past Schnuck’s, grap a chicken breast in their ready-made section), and you have a meal that everyone can eat.. .. Second suggestion: throw some pita in your freezer… Makes an easy “pizza crust”… All it takes is a little tomato sauce, some cheese, and whatever toppings you want — thaw them in the microwave, put your toppings on, and toss them into the oven till the cheese is melted… Great side salad? There was an orange-spinach number that Angela posted awhile back on her FB page…. Goes great with quick and easy “pizza”….

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