Category Archives: Vegetarian Main Dishes

Memories of Meals Past: Pack-n-Go Lunch Burritos

Totally not posed. I just plated it and snapped a quick photo before eating. I mean, it was lunchtime! A gal's gotta eat!

Totally not posed. I just plated it and snapped a quick photo before eating. I mean, it was lunchtime! A gal’s gotta eat!

So I was planning on writing a post about growing sprouts from lentils. And then…I realized I had eaten all the lentils in the house when I made my last batch of lentil sprinkles to add to my lunchtime salads. Huh. Ok, well, I am nothing if not the Queen of Substitutions, so I just replaced the lentils with peas! I mean, lentils, peas, same dif yo’! Except not.

Because my pea sprouts did not grow. They grew…and then stagnated. Ugh. I have no patience sometimes, so I didn’t bother to figure out where I went wrong. I just wanted sprouts and when I want my sprouts, I want them now. So I dispatched the DH to the local bulk store to pick up some lentils. I asked for 1/4 c. of dried lentils. He came back with 1/2 c. of dried lentils, because the DH is generous like that. Cost him all of 36 cents. Which means…a double batch of lentil sprouts! Have I mentioned that the DH isn’t into sprouts? Ha ha! Too bad, so sad, because it’s lentil sprouts for everyone!

But not in this post. Because my sprouts are still sprouting, so instead let’s talk lunch!

This here’s a picture of one of my super-yummy lunches from last week. It’s a super-healthy burrito, packed the night before, and quickly assembled for lunchtime consumption.

Why was it so easy to assemble? Because it was all prepped previously!

Les ingredients:

  • Spanish rice n’ beans. I used this recipe, except that I added a whole bunch of white beans for protein. Spanish rice is very forgiving, so just make it up as you go along. It’s basically rice and tomatoes, cooked together with some flavourings like onion and oil, and for those who don’t care about authenticity, taco spice. You know I added taco spice, right? 😉
  • lettuce, chopped
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • green salsa Or red salsa or guac or whatever you crave. I had green salsa in the fridge so that’s what I used. But I’ve got some avocados ripening on my kitchen counter — they’re next up on the chopping board, because I’m craving some burritos with guacamole now!
  • sour cream This really added to the delicious mouth feel of these burritos.
  • homemade tortillas What? You’ve never made tortillas? But this must be rectified! Use this recipe, it’s super-easy. And if you don’t have time, don’t bother. But if you have time, definitely do it! They taste ah.maze.ing! So pure and fresh and oh, just make them, seriously!

Package in containers, bento-box style (or Tupperware-style, more like) and pop in the fridge. Bring to work and make all your colleagues jelly that they don’t have the fresh, tasty, healthy lunch that you do! Also, the mouth-gasms? Totally worth the work of making the Spanish rice and the tortillas. (Am drooling as I type this, just remembering. Plus, the rice and tortillas are really easy to make. And cheap, incidentally.)

The official taste tester. Or sniff-tester, rather. Because these burritos are mine, all mine!

The official taste tester. Or sniff-tester, rather. Because these burritos are mine, all mine!

In case you were wondering if the burritos were appetizing, I present Exhibit A. The local office cat, checking out my lunch. (FYI, they passed the cat sniff test, and were rapidly consumed by me before said cat could get her paws on them. I gave her a kibble instead, poor kitty.)

Next Post: Ok, so lentil sprouts, for realz! They’ll have grown by them, and been omnomnom’d by me. After being photographed for you, so stay tuned! Mmm…dreaming of crunchy sprouts now. And chocolate, because when am I ever not?

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Memories of Meals Past: Dumplings Two Ways

Served with a nice crisp green salad!

Served with a nice crisp green salad!

Last year I decided to start a Cookbook Supperclub with some friends, and hold dinner parties where we all cooked a dish from the cookbook-du-jour, ending up with a number of appetizers, mains, sides, and of course dessert. We cooked our way through a number of cookbooks before the group dissolved due to well, life and other schedules.

One of the cookbooks was Martha Stewart’s Appetizers book, and one of the appetizers I made was a soup dumpling (albeit veggi-fied, because that’s how I roll). It turned out slightly differently from how it was supposed to, likely because I used agar-agar for the first time instead of gelatin and made it way too weak to be gelatinous. I tramped around the city looking for dumpling wrappers and agar-agar, and while I found the agar-agar in a crunchy-hippie type store (a very cool store, btw) I couldn’t find the dumpling “skins”, and didn’t want to go to literally across the city to a genuine Chinese store to get some.

So I made some. From scratch. *blows on nails and buffs nails on shirt*

I should have started there, because it was sooooo easy! Would have saved me hours. And it’s only a few ingredients! Here’s the recipe I used, albeit just for the dumpling wrappers.

As for the filling, here’s my own creation:

Quick n’ Easy Dumpling Filling

  • 2/3 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pkg veggie ground round
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2-3/4 c. chopped dried mushrooms, rehydrated with 1/2 c. boiling water

Mix all ingredients together. Use 2 tsps. of filling in each dumpling (the dumpling dough recipe makes 34 dumplings, or at least my batch did).

Feel free to add in additional ingredients to make it extra savoury, although I think using actual meat would make it savoury enough for the meat-eaters.

You can freeze the dumplings in single layers for later use, or you can use them right away. I’ve done both and they’re both delicious!

Plate o' dumplings. Excuse me, I'm off to nom.

Plate o’ dumplings. Excuse me, I’m off to nom.

As for the dumpling dip, I came across a recipe in a Buzzfeed article (also where I got my new favourite smoothie recipe, but that’s a post for another time!) and used that. Basically, it’s 2 parts vinegar to one part soy sauce, with grated ginger added in. It’s salty and sweet with a little kick. Puckerlicious!

Ok, so far we have the dumpling skins, the dumpling filling, and the dumpling dip. But…how to actually cook the dumplings? Well, here are three ways:

  1. steam the dumplings – put a tsp. of oil in a frying pan, dab the bottom of the dumplings in the oil and fry until slightly brownish on the bottom. Add in enough oil to just cover the edges of the dumplings, and put a lid on the pan. Steam until thoroughly cooked (i.e. the top of the dumpling is no longer doughy). This is my version of steaming, though. True steaming is when you place the dumplings on a steamer over boiling water. Meh, to each her own!
  2. boil the dumplings – pretty self-explanatory (I made some like this but didn’t photograph it, so you’re out of luck if you wanted to see them!)
  3. fry the dumplings – also pretty self-explanatory. Fry the dumplings in oil on the stove-top until the bottom and sides are crispy and golden brown. Crunchy and yummy!

The verdict? I’d totally make these dumplings again! I might change up the filling to use up whatever I have in the fridge, but the basic filling I outline above would be my starting point. These dumplings are great to serve fried with a green salad, or steamed/boiled for an appetizer or a side dish. If you make some yourself, let me know what filling you use!

Next Post: Either a fancy-pants strawberry cake, or a post about how to make mini Skor cupcakes! Mmm…I do love dessert!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!  (And again!)

Memories of Meals Past: Healthier Spring Rolls

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Time for another Memories of Meals Past post!

This time it’s a lunch/light dinner food, spring rolls, that I made a few months ago. But made healthier by baking as opposed to deep-frying! I used this recipe as a starting point, and then naturally I made substitutions. I had half a head of purple cabbage in my fridge, so I grated that and added that into the filling, along with some dried mushrooms (albeit not the shiitake kind that the recipe called for).

Pro Tip: Do not use purple cabbage if you want a perfect presentation. Purple cabbage makes everything purple. Your filling, your wrappers, your fingertips. But it is healthy, so if you have it in your fridge, well…waste not, want not!

And these spring rolls were delicious! The DH and I happily crunched on them for dinner and lunches. I do love trying new recipes and…substituting ingredients!

Next Post: I go French with Tarte Tropezienne!

Adventures in Indian Food, Part II: Channa Masala & Making the Best of Things

What not to do: use ALL the garam masala spice at once! Just no.

What not to do: use ALL the garam masala spice at once! Just no.

I wrote in an earlier post about some friendships I made while working in the non-profit sector, and how one of those friends (Miss O!) gave me her recipe for Garam Masala. That same friend also gave me her recipe for Channa Masala, and that’s what today’s post is about! Channa Masala is an East Indian dish made with chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, and spices — even if you’re not really a legume sort of person (*cough*me*cough*), this is a delicious dish.

I’d never made Channa Masala before trying this recipe, and I have to say, it’s surprisingly easy! Want to make some too? It’s great to serve over rice, or as a side dish, or even all by its delicious lonesome! This particular version of the recipe is my take on my friend’s recipe. In other words, I didn’t have enough fresh tomatoes, so I combined fresh baby tomatoes (that I usually eat on my salad for my lunches) with some tomato sauce that I had in the fridge. I don’t call myself the Queen of Substitutions for nothing, you know!

Channa Masala

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. chopped tomato
  • 2 heaping tbsp. tomato sauce
  • pinch of curry powder
  • pinch of garam masala
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • lemon juice to taste
  • chopped cilantro

Fry onion and chopped tomato until onion is golden and translucent, and tomato is all caramelized. Rinse chickpeas and add to pot. Add in tomato sauce. Add in spices, and a little bit of water (it depends how saucy you want the dish to be). Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Just before serving, stir in lemon juice, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro!

Caramelized onions and tomatoes...so delicious!

Caramelized onions and tomatoes…so delicious!

My friend says that if you’re partial to heat in your food, you can add some chopped green chili before you add in the chickpeas. I deliberately left them out because the DH is NOT a fan of heat in his food (he finds black pepper spicy *puzzled face*), so being the sweet, loving wife that I am, I considered his preferences when making this dish. Does that get me wifely brownie points? Yes, right?

Speaking of the DH, I was standing at the stove mixing up this dish, and he came up behind me and *gasp* pinched my butt at the exact moment that I was adding the spice. I was so discombobulated that I ended up tipping my entire container of garam masala into the dish, as opposed to a pinch. Which would have bumped up the heat in the dish by about a 100 units! I do NOT recommend using all your garam masala in this dish, btw. Just saying.

But I didn’t want to toss the whole thing, because I hate wasting food, and also because I hate wasting my time, so I did the next best thing and…rinsed my chickpeas. That’s right, I rinsed off the chickpeas and started again. Although I reserved a bit of the garam masala-coated chickpeas to act as the spice in the second round, as I had no more of the spice. Hey, I like to make the best of things!

Between subbing in tomato paste for part of the fresh chopped tomatoes, and using too much garam masala, this dish didn’t turn out exactly as my friend had written, but it still turned out deliciously, and that’s all that matters to me! If you make this dish, let me know if you make any substitutions or additions — I’m always open to new ideas!

Next Post: Lemon Squares. So pucker-licious!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Four-Layer White Lasagna with Oven-Roasted Vegetables, because YUM!

Cheesy goodness just waiting to be eating!

Cheesy goodness just waiting to be eating!

I heart my veggies, but I also heart pasta. And cheese sauce. And cheese. And since I had zucchinis and eggplant in the fridge, four-layer veggie lasagna was born!

This dish is a cheesy, saucy way to get your vegetables while still managing to eat pasta for dinner. Or lunch. Or both! There’s a bit of olive tapenade in one of the layers, and that gives the dish a hint of piquancy, while still being super-creamy. I ate a piece right after I took it out of the oven, and despite it being 11 pm as I type this, I’m tempted to have another slice because it’s so creamy and just plain yummy!

If you want to eat delicious, creamy, cheesy lasagna, while still knowing that you’re eating lots of veggies too, try this recipe!

Smothering the oven-roasted zucchini with the parmesan white sauce. Don't worry about spreading the sauce to the corners -- with many more saucy layers to come, it'll work itself out!

Smothering the oven-roasted zucchini with the parmesan white sauce. Don’t worry about spreading the sauce to the corners — with many more saucy layers to come, it’ll work itself out!

Four-Layer Vegetable Lasagna

  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1 eggplant
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1 c. grated cheese (mozzarella is ideal)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil

Parmesan White Sauce

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 3 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese (grated is best, shelf-stable is a-ok too)

Olive & Ricotta Filling

  • 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. olive tapenade

Prepare the vegetables first: Slice the eggplant, sprinkle with salt, and place on a plate for half an hour to draw the bitter juices out. When they’re wet with the juices, rinse them off and mix them with half the olive oil. Slice the zucchini and mix with the remaining olive oil. Place on cookie sheets and bake in a 400 degree oven until golden on the bottom. Flip them over and bake until golden on the top.

Prepare the Parmesan White Sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in the flour and let cook over a medium heat. When the flour/butter mixture has bubbled for several minutes, whisk in the cream, followed by the milk. It will seem a bit watery, but keep cooking it, and it will thicken up nicely. When it’s the thickness that you like, stir in the parmesan cheese, and set the sauce aside.

Boil the pasta until ready, and grate the cheese.

Prepare the Olive and Ricotta Filling: Mix together the ricotta with the egg, and stir in the olive tapenade.

Put it all together: Spread out 1/2 c. of the parmesan white sauce in a lasagna pan, and cover with three of the lasagna noodles. Place a layer of the zucchini over the noodles, and follow that with another layer of white sauce. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread the ricotta and olive filling over those noodles, and cover with another layer of noodles. Layer the eggplant overtop, and top with some more white sauce. Place the final layer of noodles on top, spread the remaining white sauce over that, and top with the grated cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven, until the cheese is golden brown on top and the sauce is bubbling, about half an hour. Cool slightly, plate, and devour!

Plated and perfect for a midnight snack! Or lunch. Whichever comes first!

Plated and perfect for a midnight snack! Or lunch. Whichever comes first!

I think the tastiness of this dish is due to a couple of things. One is the addition of the cream to the parmesan white sauce; it really makes the dish much more creamy, even though not a large amount of cream is used. As well, the olive tapenade ups the savoury factor. You can leave it out if you don’t like olives, but you don’t really taste olives — it just adds a bit of flavour. And, oven-roasting the vegetables just makes the dish more flavourful overall. Oh, I can’t explain it, it’s just a super-yummy dish. You’ll have to make it yourself — you’ll see!

Next Post: Blogging for Books…about food. And books about what goes into the food that you put in your mouth!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Southern Bite!