5 Meatless Meals Anyone Could Whip Up on Monday

by Sarah Henry on June 14, 2010 · 43 comments

in meatless monday,vegetables,whole grains

Here’s part two in my Meatless Mondays series.  This week: Simple, nutritious, and delicious dishes anyone could cook for dinner.

These are courtesy of the Sarah & Gabe kitchen (that’s me and my kid, peeps).

Let me reiterate: I am a very modest home cook. A working single mum, who like many of you out there, crank on the job all day, do the after-school shuffle, and arrive back at the ranch thinking: “What the hell are we going to have for dinner tonight?”

Some simple suggestions for Meatless Monday follow.

5 Meatless Meals Anyone Could Whip Up on Monday

1. Baked goat cheese (with garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes), whole grain bread (for dipping), and a green salad with fruit and nuts.

2. Eggs any style (I’m a scramble gal, he’s a boiled boy) with pan-fried fingerling potatoes. I pile the veg in my scramble, the son’s a raw produce kinda guy. You can make a more grown-up version by going the frittata or quiche route.

3. Homemade tortillas with black beans, guacamole, salsa, and cheese.

4. Baked tofu, roasted veggies, and quinoa with lemon zest, currants, and parsley.

5. Whole wheat or rice pasta with pine nuts, freshly-grated Parmesan, basil, olives, garlic, herbs, and thinly sliced veggies (such as spinach, zucchini, chard).

Bonus: 5 Kitchen Tips for Making Delish Veg Dishes — Any Day of the Week

1. Aromatics: Keep garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives, peppers, and ginger on hand. These lovely-smelling ingredients add some zip to any veggie dish. Lemon juice does too.

2. Herbs: Fresh is best. Parsley, cilantro, basil, chives, sage, rosemary, dill, oregano are just a few I have on hand or grow in the garden. These can elevate something ho-hum to super yum with just a sprinkle. We’re big on a chiffonade of mint to jazz up a salad too.

3. Greens: Think of these as centerpieces to a meal, instead of a side. Add baby spinach in a frittata or quiche, asparagus or bok choy work well in a tofu stir-fry, chard and kale pair nicely with brown rice or couscous.

4. Grains & Starches: Venture beyond pasta, white rice, and potatoes. There’s a whole world of whole grains out there worth checking out. Sweet, short-grain brown rice at my local market is popular in my house. My kid also likes experimenting with his own quinoa pilaf.  I’ve barely scratched the surface of millet, amaranth, barley, and the like.

5. Plating: How the food looks on the plate really matters. Trust me on this. So do give a little time and attention to the aesthetics of dinner.

Okay, you know the drill. Gotta a surefire tip for a successful Meatless Monday? Do tell.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Frugal Kiwi June 14, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I love red lentils. You don’t have to soak them and you don’t have to cook them for an age. Great stuff!

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Sarah Henry June 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Me too. Great addition to this list. I like to cook ‘em up in veggie stock with carrots, celery, and onions with some turmeric and cumin and curry powder and then towards the end add some baby spinach, swiss chard, or dino kale.

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The Writer's [Inner] Journey June 14, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Excellent – I love this kind of thing. This is such a GREAT series. I’m a fan.

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Sarah Henry June 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Thanks, M.

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Christine at Origami Mommy June 14, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Great suggestions! We’ve been doing artisanal cheese and fruit lately, which is similar to your first suggestion. I often do an egg dinner too when it’s just the children and me.

Now that we’re back in Asia I’m finding myself wanting to make a lot of vegetable stir fries, fresh pickles, and root vegetable stews (which are light enough to taste great any time of year when they’re made without meat). One veg dish I like that has both Korean and Japanese roots is a cold noodle salad type dish – lots and lots of salad greens, cucumbers, etc. on top of cold Asian noodles and topped with a soy/vinegar/sesame dressing.

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Sarah Henry June 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Love the idea of a cold noodle salad dish, especially since it’s heating up in the Bay Area. Good to hear another mom does eggs for dinner. My family can’t really handle eggs for brekkie but they’re a perfectly respectable protein source for supper.

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Claudine Jalajas June 14, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I have to agree with you on the fresh spices. I also grow quite a few in my garden. I cannot WAIT to clip some and throw it in. It makes EVERYTHING so much more flavorful! LOVE it.

The only problem is that now my 4 yr old daughter thinks it’s socially acceptable to bring fresh rosemary to her teachers/coaches as gifts. ;) You should see the looks they give her when she plops the spices in their hands…

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Sarah Henry June 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Fresh rosemary IS a lovely gift. I know plenty of folks who are perfectly happy with Meyer lemons from my tree. And I’ve been delighted with the homegrown salad greens — slugs and all — coming my way this summer.

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Ruth Pennebaker June 14, 2010 at 7:41 pm

These ideas look excellent. I especially appreciate the advice to branch out from pasta, etc. I’m going to be trying.

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Sarah Henry June 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Good for you, Ruth. Just pick one new starch or grain to check out to start with and take it from there. Enjoy your adventures in unfamiliar culinary territory.

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Sue Dickman June 15, 2010 at 4:15 am

You’ve covered some of my favorites here, though (alas), my tortillas are usually not homemade. I’d add chickpeas to your list, in that they’re easy to add to salads for more bulk or to use as a base for something. When I remember, I make hummus, which takes all of 10 minutes. My dinner last night was a warm chickpea salad (w/carrots, shallots, red wine vinegar, parsley and olive oil) with some lettuce from the garden and a piece of 8 grain bread from the good bakery. Quick and easy to make, totally satisfying and the leftovers are good warm or cold.

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 6:58 am

Hi Sue, Good addition to the list. It’s the brief time in the year here when we can get fresh chickpeas in the farmers’ market. We podded some last night and added them, raw, to a salad, for some extra protein. I like the sound of the warm chickpea salad.

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Susan June 15, 2010 at 4:41 am

I eat vegetarian seven days a week, but I admit that I tend to eat the same 4-8 meals over and over again (bean and cheese burritos, salads, veggie casseroles, pasta, scrambled eggs, veggie pizza), so thanks for the additional ideas!

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 6:59 am

My pleasure, Susan. And, for the record, I think many of us cycle our dinner menus — like the clothes in our wardrobes — through roughly the same number you suggest.

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MyKidsEatSquid June 15, 2010 at 6:41 am

I do #2 and #3 all the time–especially now that it’s summer and I just don’t have energy at the end of the day to cook anything. I’d add to the list maybe veggie pizza (you can find whole wheat pizza dough at Trader Joe’s) or I make whole wheat pita pizza–I use pesto for the sauce, veggies on the top and then add some Monterrey Jack cheese and then even pop some feta on once it’s out of the oven.

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 7:00 am

Veggie pizza on a whole wheat crust is a perfectly respectable addition here, MKES.

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Jill Silverman Houghj June 15, 2010 at 8:13 am

During the summer, my husband and I have a grilled portobello sandwich about once a week, sometimes with whatever cheese is on hand, sometimes on a burger bun, sometimes on focaccia, sometimes with pesto, sometimes with aioli. Always, it’s good. Just the other day we had our first of the season and I wondered, why don’t we do this the rest of the year? It’d be just as good with the mushroom roasted or broiled.

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 9:02 am

That sounds delish, Jill. It’s good with a tomato relish too.

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Kerry Dexter June 15, 2010 at 8:14 am

black beans are a big favorite here — with rice (and corn and onions), or added to marinara sauce, or with other sorts of beans (we find they play well with green peas, pintos, black eyed peas) and starch of some sort and maybe a tasty spoon of barbeque sauce or hot sauce on top. great in soup too, of course.

haven’t had goat cheese in a while. I tend to think of it as a winter time food. thanks for the reminder.

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 8:18 am

welcome, kerry. and thanks for your bean-based ideas too.

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Shari June 15, 2010 at 9:23 am

We’re meatless all of the time. A summer staple is a salad of shredded carrots, diced cukes, chopped tomatoes, diced cheddar cheese (just a bit) all tossed together with, believe it or not, cottage cheese. Stuff into pita with crisp lettuce and you’re all set.

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Cottage cheese — had forgotten about that stuff — your summer staple sounds like a good addition to the meatless repertoire, Shari. Thanks for sharing.

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Almost Slowfood June 15, 2010 at 10:16 am

I love that you only have one tofu dish on there. So creative and simple and easy to do!! I want that goat cheese. The pic is gorgeous!

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 11:00 am

I know, Almost Slowfood, that goat cheese is calling to me for lunch — right now!

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Alexandra June 15, 2010 at 11:10 am

My husband loves meat, so we have had a few days of meat dishes, and now at last I can get back to my favorite, MEAT-LESS! Thanks for these suggestions.

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm

My pleasure, Alexandra. Best on your meat-less adventures in the kitchen.

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Sheryl June 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Love all of these, especially since I lean toward more vegetarian meals but sometimes come up short. Do you have a special recipe for the tofu dish?

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Sarah Henry June 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Good question, Sheryl. Tho no special recipe we do have a marinade we like: tamari, garlic, ginger, a little citrus juice, sometimes green onions or chives. Does the job nicely. Preference for firm or extra firm tofu. Bake in moderate oven until outside of tofu reaches preferred texture (some like more crunch than others), about 10-15 minutes.

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MarthaAndMe June 16, 2010 at 4:14 am

Thanks for these great tips. Sometimes it is hard to think up a “main course” that is meatless.

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Sarah Henry June 16, 2010 at 6:26 am

With pleasure, MarthaAndMe. Now you have more than a dozen ideas — from readers and the post — to add to your meatless mains list.

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Jennifer Margulis June 16, 2010 at 10:18 am

Thanks for these awesome and easy suggestions. We eat a lot of vegetarian food but I’ve never considered baking goat cheese. Can’t wait to try it!!

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Sarah Henry June 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I suspect you’ll love it, Jennifer, and be delighted at how easy it is!

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Stephanie - Wasabimon June 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I’m all for eggs for dinner. Monica mentioned a snafu where she ran out of eggs, and ended up scrambling canned beans instead, using the same seasonings and techniques as she did with eggs. Super duper good stuff.

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Sarah Henry June 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Cool concept, Stephanie, I’ll have to give this tip a try.

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Lentil Breakdown June 17, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I roast a lot of veggies Sunday night and use them throughout the week. Eggplant, zucchini, carrots, fennel, and the list goes on. I especially like keeping roasted garlic and red pepper around in a jar. They really liven up a lot of dishes. Once you have all those roasted veggies at your disposal, you can add them to any kind of salad or grain and eat them hot or cold. Very versatile and tasty!

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Sarah Henry June 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Big fan of the ol’ roasted veg in this household too, Lentil Breakdown. So simple to prep and cook too and yet such big, robust flavors.

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Lisa June 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for all the great ideas. I’m going to try the baked tofu soon. In the winter, I like to saute all the veggies in my refrigerator, mix with a little tomato sauce then pour over a soft polenta.

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Sarah Henry June 20, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Somehow I seem to forget to cook polenta, even though I love it. Soft, as you say, with a tomato or blue cheese sauce. Or crunchy and cut into wedges. Must remember to bring this back when the cooler weather returns. Thanks for the tip, Lisa.

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Donna Hull June 21, 2010 at 11:52 am

Although I’m a meat eater, several of your meatless Monday ideas appeal to me. I could go for a good egg scramble for dinner.

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Sarah Henry June 22, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Glad you found a few choices here that whet your appetite, Donna.

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