Meatless Monday Recipes for Starters!

IMG_20140916_203133One of my favorites: Spinach, Feta & Potato Gratin with Carrot Salad (#4 below)

 

I started doing Meatless Mondays after watching the documentary Food, Inc. and continued research into America’s farm industry. If you haven’t seen the documentary on Netflix, here are the highlights. My mother grew up on a farm; her family raised their own cattle, pigs and chickens, which were slaughtered by a local butcher. She would tell me how the cows were like dogs, with big brown eyes and wagging tails. Betsy lived a good life before her slaughter. Those days seem to be long gone, and Americans are eating more meat than ever. To keep up with this demand, the family farm has transformed into the industrial farm.

What really bothers me most about industrial farming is the conditions animals are kept in, and the fact that they are not respected as animals, but are considered food from day one. They stand in their own manure, live in cramped areas, eat food unnatural to them, and are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. We are becoming too far removed from what we eat. There are also many other reason’s (more facts & sources) for going meatless: the environment, your health, and the welfare of farmers.

As much as Food, Inc. and other documentaries (Forks over Knives, Vegucated, Fresh) have convinced me that there are a multitude of issues surrounding meat production, I still love meat. Especially bacon. I’m an omnivore, and I don’t think I can change that. So, instead of beating myself up about not being a vegetarian, I decided that Meatless Monday was my answer. It has now progressed into about 2-3 days per week where our dinner contains no meat.

Most of the recipes here were successful for me and my meat-loving significant other for one BIG reason: we did not substitute the meat. No soy crumbles, garden burgers, or tofu. We just embraced the dishes we loved without meat. And boy were we surprised!!! Here are our favorites so far…

*most all of these are on my Pinterest boards

  1.  French Onion Soup with Gruyere-Sourdough Bites and a side salad
  2. Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole and Pioneer Woman’s Fresh Green Beans
  3. Nachos with cheese, black beans, refried beans, Mexican rice, avocado, pico de gallo, and sour cream
  4. Spinach, Feta & Potato Gratin and Carrot Salad
  5. Southern Dinner (one of my faves!): Pintos, cornbread or hoe cakes, yellow squash & onions, and greens. I do not have recipes posted for these, but if you want them, just comment below or search on Pinterest or the internet.
  6. Quesadillas with goat cheese, spinach, & caramelized onions and a side of black bean or corn salsa and sliced avocado
  7. Paula Deen’s Corn Casserole and a vegetarian chili
  8. Eggplant Parmesan with spaghetti and a side salad
  9. Homemade pizza (the vegetable & cheese topping combinations are endless!)
  10. Mediterranean “Tacos”: pita, hummus, artichokes, red onion, black olives, feta cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce & Greek dressing
  11. Caprese Summer Salad with Cannellini Beans and baguette
  12. Pad See Ew or Pad Thai without the meat
  13. Cheese Ravioli with Lemon Basil Butter Sauce and a side salad
  14. Vegetarian curry with noodles, rice or Naan bread (there are a bazillion recipes for these! My favorites are Thai and Indian)
  15. Cuban Black Beans & Rice and Spicy Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash
  16. Vegetable Kabobs with baked beans and macaroni & cheese
  17. Thai Coconut Soup  (without the chicken) and vegetable spring rolls or dumplings

That is all for now! I will be updating this page as I develop new favorites! For me, the key to getting on board with meatless was to embrace the dishes you already love instead of trying to substitute with fake meat. Think of it as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without the ham or turkey. We all love those sides and veggies, and I often wish during Thanksgiving that I could just load up on green bean casserole, cheesy squash, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce without even touching the turkey. Maybe give it a try once a week and see how it goes?

Please feel free to share your favorite meatless meals in the comments below!

 

Steakhouse Dinner Salad aka “Man Salad”

mansalad

I have fallen in love with making dinner salads. I used to believe that a salad could not be dinner. Alas, I was wrong. My first indication of this was with the Thai Larb Salad. I love coming up with new salads that are man-friendly and filling enough to get away with eating a ton of veggies for dinner 😉 When developing a man-friendly salad, the key is in the meat and the dressing. Are you craving a steak dinner with baked potato and salad? Enter: the Steakhouse Dinner Salad.

mansaladsteps

Ingredients:

For the Steak
-1 large ribeye
-steak seasoning

For the salad
-salad greens (butter lettuces are great for this one)
-cucumber
-tomatoes
-red onion
-1 large potato, peeled & cubed

For the dressing
-Ranch dressing
-A1 &/or Heinz 57 steak sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cubed potatoes with a little olive oil and season (I love Jane’s Krazy Salt or Cavender’s Greek Season; you could always just use salt & pepper). Spread the potatoes onto a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 20-25minutes or until golden brown.
  2. While the potatoes are roasting, season the steak and let sit at room temperature. Prepare your grill or broiler.
  3. Assemble the salad with greens, cucumber, tomatoes and red onion.
  4. Mix together dressing. I used about 3 parts ranch to 1 part steak sauce. Just test it and change to your tastes.
  5. Grill/broil/however you like to cook your steak and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain into strips.
  6. Place steak & potatoes onto salad. Serve with dressing.

Serves 2

Thai “Larb” Salad

larb

Yay! My first post in Foodblog Land! I have decided to commemorate this introductory post with the sharing of one of my favorite recipes: Larb.

Larb might not be the most beautifully named dish I’ve ever eaten, but it is by far my favorite salad. Everyone I’ve made it for has fallen in love with it, including veggie-hating individuals which will remain unnamed.

This salad epitomizes the Thai ideals of balancing sweet, hot, sour & bitter in their dishes. From the seasoned pork to salad laced with mint leaves and the sweet lime-sesame dressing, this salad is an explosion of flavor. Traditionally, larb is not served on top of a salad and dressed this way, but I have taken liberties and constructed a salad that even picky eaters will request again! 🙂

makelarb
 
Ingredients:
For the seasoned meat
-1lb ground pork (or turkey)
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-2 inch knob ginger, minced
-3-4 Thai chilies, chopped
-1/2 lime, juiced
-2 tbsp sesame oil
-2 tbsp fish sauce
-2 tbsp brown sugar
For the salad
-salad greens
-cucumber
-carrot
-red bell pepper
-mint
-red onion or shallot
For the dressing
-2 tbsp brown sugar
-1 1/2 limes, juiced
-1 tbsp Sriracha
-1 tbsp fish sauce
-1 tbsp sesame oil
Directions:
  1. Brown ground pork on medium heat with sesame oil. Once browned, add garlic, chilies & ginger. Stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add brown sugar and stir until it starts to stick. Add fish sauce & lime juice, continuing to cook on medium-low for 3-4 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Mix ingredients for dressing and set aside.
  4. Assemble salad; pour dressing over salad, reserving a few spoonfuls. Top with seasoned pork. Add remaining dressing over pork & serve. Try not to freak out when you realize how good this salad is.