Meatless Monday: Spring Salad with Strawberries and Fresh Vegetables

I am a foodie very much driven by cravings.  I shutter to think what my poor husband to be will have to deal with if I am ever pregnant because I am sure this trait will only intensify.  On nights like tonight where my cravings are varied and many, I take the opportunity to experiment with flavor combinations I have not tried before. 

While the backdrop for tonight’s experiment is certainly not original (a salad), the flavor combinations were diverse and new to me.  I decided to go with strawberries, avocado, caramelized onions, and steamed vegetables. I added some firm goat cheese, California Crottin, to be precise, but without it, the salad would still be rich and flavorful.

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Spring Salad with Strawberries and Fresh Vegetables

Salad:

  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 large handful of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 handful of strawberries, stemmed and cut in half
  • 1 avocado
  • Mixed greens
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • goat cheese for crumbling (optional)

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 shallot finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Heat a medium saute pan with some olive oil on medium-low heat. Once the olive oil is hot, add the onion, and continue to saute until soft and golden brown.  While onions are slow cooking, steam the asparagus pieces and green beans, until they are just under done.  Rinse under cold water and put to the side. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients at the bottom of a large salad bowl.  Remove the caramelized onions from heat and add them to the vinaigrette mixture. Add steamed vegetables, strawberries, avocado, mixed greens and toss. Add goat cheese, and ample amounts of salt and pepper.

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Shay and I were both amazed how well the different flavors came together. The white balsamic, with the sweet strawberries, rich caramelized onions, and tart goat cheese complemented each other beautifully. Shay had seconds and then I practically licked the bowl. Embarrassing, I know, but try it, you will too. Hope you enjoy this hodgepodge of ingredients as much as we did.  Until next time, Happy Meatless Monday!

Meatless Monday: Stuffed Shells with Fresh Herbs

This was one of those meals that did not go according to plan and turned out better for it. The concept was simple enough, to create really flavorful stuffed shells.  Maddie and Brendan were coming over for dinner last night and I wanted to come up with a recipe that we could all assemble together.  Well, despite forgetting the eggs at the store, realizing that we had nothing to cover the baking dish with the moment it was supposed to go into the oven and making twice the amount of pasta that we needed, it turned out to be a delicious dinner.

My problem with most stuffed shell recipes is that they are almost flavorless, mostly consisting of ricotta, and very little spice.  In this recipe, I added ample amounts of my favorite herbs, and two flavorful cheeses to the traditional mixture to great success.

You could use your favorite pasta sauce, whether a homemade tomato or pesto, but I personally chose my favorite red pepper sauce from Pasta Shop in Rockridge.  I would recommend a light sauce like a tomato or red pepper to balance the rich shell filling.

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Stuffed Shells with Fresh Herbs
Filling

  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • ½ cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 ½ cup Ricotta
  • ½ cup finely grated Gruyere
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan
  • ½ tsp salt

Shells

  • 16 oz pasta shells

Preferred Pasta Sauce, preferably tomato or red pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees and bring a salted pot of water to a boil.  Combine the chopped herbs, garlic, and cheese in a large bowl and set aside.  Add shells to boiling water and cook until just al dente.  Run cold water over the shells in a colander before stuffing.  Spread a third of your sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish. Fill each shell with a small spoonful of the cheese and herb mixture. Place the filled shells in the baking dish and ladle remaining sauce on top, the shells should just be covered.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes on 300 then raise the temperature to 350 and cook for an additional 20 minutes, checking periodically. Shells are done when they are lightly golden brown on the edges and the sauce surrounding is bubbling.

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From Maddie giving me ideas for creating the best flavor combination, not to mention cooking with me in the kitchen the whole time, to Brendan and Shay stuffing the shells, this was entirely a team creation.

Despite forgetting the eggs and not having something to cover the shells with in the oven, they turned out fabulous. Because I made too much pasta and had extra sauce, Shay and I are enjoying some pasta with red pepper sauce for dinner tonight.  Here’s hoping all future culinary miscues produce such delicious results.  Until next week, Happy Meatless Monday!

Meatless Monday Will Return Next Monday

With the lovely but busy holiday weekend, I will be taking a very brief pause from posting, but Meatless Monday will be back next week with new recipes.  However, I will still be observing Meatless Monday tonight with a lovely salad and soup to go, completely vegetarian.   Thank you so much for continuing to follow us and we’ll look forward to sharing new recipes next week.

Meatless Monday: Quinoa Patties with Sautéed Leeks and Gruyere Cheese

This recipe was adapted from the amazing Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Every Day, but I happened upon it on epicurious.  She also has a great baked version of the recipe on her blog

These patties are fairly easy to put together but are full of interpretative options.  I filled mine with the leftover combination of cheeses I used in a recent mac n’cheese (Irish cheddar, aged gouda, gruyere, and parmesan), sauted leeks, and fresh herbs.  You could easily do an Indian inspired version with garam masala, and cardamom or a greek one with mint, olives, and a tzatziki  dipping sauce, yum! The possibilities are endless.

I was inspired by Maddie’s recent “Quick Tip” for more flavorful pasta when cooking my quinoa. I cooked the quinoa in half water, half vegetable broth, with several sprigs of the fresh herbs I chopped into the patties.

Quinoa patties would make a great appetizer at your next party, or many meals to keep enjoying throughout the week.  I will admit that I’ve been so addicted, I have been eating them for almost every meal…for three days.

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Quinoa Patties with Sautéed Leeks and Gruyere Cheese 

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 tbs lemon thyme
  • 1 tbs fresh oregano
  • 2 tbs fresh basil
  • 1 sauted leek
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 1/2 cup your favorite hard cheese, grated (suggest a combination of gruyere, parmesan, and cheddar)
  • 1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup/3.5 oz /100 g whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed water, if needed
  • Cooking oil for pan frying

Combine cooked quinoa with eggs, and salt.  After eggs are well distributed throughout quinoa, add the fresh herbs, leeks, onion, cheese, and garlic.  Lastly mix the bread crumbs thoroughly and let the mixture sit for a few minutes so that bread crumbs fully absorb the moisture.  The final mixture should be able to be formed into patties but it needs to be as moist as possible without falling apart. If you need more moisture, add more beaten egg.  Alternatively, if the mixture is too moist, add more bread crumbs.

Pan fry in a little cooking oil until golden brown on each side, approximately 7-10 minutes per side, depending on the size of your patties. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

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I served the quinoa patties with my favorite mayonaise, Lemonaise, with ample amounts of lemon juice added (being the citrus addict that I am).

Whether you serve them at your next party, or get addicted like me and live off of them for days, I hope you enjoy these delicious patties.  Until next week, Happy Meatless Monday!