Meatless Monday! Easy Summertime Meals that are Healthy and Light for Busy Families!

Summertime around here has meant a huge flurry of activity.

The hot and steamy weather hasn’t slowed us down much but appetites tend more toward light and flavorful rather than rich and filling.

And the schedules are all over the place! From sport activities to musical gigs, weekend getaways and family gatherings I find that preparing and serving nutritious meals is more challanging than ever.

Especially when I am not there to supervise everything!

Well, I’ve learned to “let go” and create easy, ready to prepare and assemble food for my family; even the picky ones.

I have been in the habit of keeping a big container of cooked brown rice in the fridge.

I also will sautee corn with cilantro and onions and keep that around.

In addition, I’ll chop green onion and fresh cilantro and keep that in the fridge, also.

There are always cans of organic vegetarian beans or refried beans in the panty.

I also make sure to keep stocked up on ripe avocados and limes.

By having these ingredients handy eating on the fly is healthy and quick.

Even the little ones can do it; even the chronically lazy!

We also like to garnish with fresh salsa and a tangy homemade yogurt or sour cream.

This meal and it’s many variations has become a summertime staple that everyone can enjoy and customize to their own preference.

Burrito style for those who are always running late and eating on the way or pizza stlye with a little Manchego cheese for weekend movie night.

So, don’t get frustrated get creative!

These budget friendly meals are flexible. Use what you have around and get fancy when the budget allows.

They are built in to be nutritious so you just can’t go wrong!

With only healthy options even the least culinary inclined among you can’t help but choose something delicious and nutritious while you enjoy a little fun in the sun!

Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise on Olive Oil Grilled Whole Wheat!

I remember growing up in my European immigrant family with great food.

Some from Italy and some from Eastern Europe but all of it driven by the freshest ingredients and much of it, meatless.

My grandmas and aunts always had their own gardens and were “putting up” or canning something at any given time.

For me summertime always means tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches.

These were not gourmet growing up.

They were just any bread with mayo, fresh tomato and “crunchy” salt on top.

I spruced these up a little by grilling artisan whole grain bread with olive oil to give crunch and texture to the bread and I’ve also added big fleshy leaves of basil for that peppery edge that basil can give.

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise is my favorite with this sandwich.

Even a few slices of avocado would be delish!

Get creative and keep it meatless. The possibilities are endless for a tasty, light and nutritious meal that says, “Summertime” in every bight!

Spinach Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Basil Pesto!

015spinach fettucine with mushrooms and parmesan cheese

Spinach fettuccine with sauteed baby portobello mushrooms, pesto and shaved parmesan makes a great meatless, filling and nutritious meal.

012salad

Along with this beautiful salad of fresh yellow peppers and avocados our vegetarian meal satisfies everyone.

Annie’s Green Goddess dressing makes this salad heaven!

007green goddess dressing

Boil spinach fettuccine, al dente.

008spinach fettucine

Sautee the mushrooms with olive oil and garlic slices.

002mushrooms

And mix in your favorites. I love basil pesto which I make myself.

I make it vegan and fresh!

026spinach and mushroom fettucine

Shaved parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil make this fantastic!

Meatless Monday! Whole Wheat Linguini with Peas, Scallions and a Spicy Peanut Basil Sauce!

020Meatless Monday whole wheat pasta with basil peanut sauce

It was just me for Meatless Monday! today.

I was hungry for pasta, which I rarely eat, and I wanted to keep it simple and fast.

I also didn’t want to shop for any ingredients. So, Meatless Monday! was a really low carbon footprint meal.

Let me also add that the peanut butter which I use is a no sugar added, natural brand made from roasted Valencia peanuts; that’s it!

I scavanged the pantry and the freezer for what was available.

I just happen to have a basil plant on my patio.

005Meatless Monday Veggies Peanut basil pasta

I am sure that there is a better peanut sauce recipe but I improvised with what I had.

009Meatless Monday Peanut sauce

Ingredients:

Whole wheat pasta

1 cup frozen peas

5 scallions

1/2 cup broccoli florets

Sauce:

1 Tbspn peanut butter

1 Tbsp Bragg’s Aminos

1/2 lime, juiced

1 Tbspn crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup fresh basil chopped

011Meatless Monday peanut basil pasta

Method:

Boil the pasta.

Chop the veggies.

Mix together the peanut butter, Bragg’s Aminos, lime juice and crushed red pepper.

Place veggies in the colander and pour linguini and water over veggies and allow to drain.

Mix the sauce and chopped basil into the pasta, mix and enjoy!

014Meatless Monday whole wheat pasta with peanut basil sauce

I like the idea of gently “scalding” veggies with the pasta water. It brings out the flavors of the veggies and warms everything nicely.

Meatless Monay Pasta

Just me, dining al fresco!

023Meatless Monday whole wheat pasta with basil, peanut sauce

A cool cucumber salad with red onion complimented this meal and tamed the heat a bit.
016meatless Monday cucumber salad

Meatless Monday! Picnic Style! Potato Salad, Eggplant Burgers and Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter

057potato salad

This amazing potato salad recipe has endured a handful of incarnations.

Originally, it included bacon so I, a vegetarian, have been on a quest to replace that bacon flavor with a handful of substitutions.

I have tried avocado in the dressing, toasted pine nuts, immitation bacon; spices. You name it.

Nothing really captured not only the flavor of the bacon but the crispy texture or greasy mouthfeel, either.

Fried leeks were my next attempt to capture all of these elements that have always seemed to be missing from the veggie version of this very popular dish.

009potato salad

Recipe:

Chop and boil 4 lbs. of red skin potatoes

Chop 1 red bell pepper, 1 orange bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper

Chop 7-8 green onions

Chop 1 red onion

Fry 2 leeks until crispy

Add ingredients together when cooled

Mix togehter about 2 cups of Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise with about 2 Tbsn of yellow mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

015potato salad leeks

Learning about leeks was the next step.

My very knowledgable girlfriend gave me some useful tips when dealing with leeks:

Clean them very well as they have dirt in between the leaves and use only the white to bright green portion when frying or using for salads.

The dark green leaves can be used for soups and stews.

017potato salad leeks

027leeks potato salad

047potato salad leeks added

045potato salad

049potato salad cooked leeks and chopped veggies added

051potato salad dressing

050corn on the grill with garlic butter

This corn on the cob cooks on the grill. What could be easier!?

Open the husks and remove the silk

Mix together butter and crushed garlic and rub all over the corn

Close the husk and place on the grill. Delicious! and Easy!

060eggplant burgers

I used 1 medium eggplant and sliced into thick planks.

Then dredged them in flour, egg wash and Italian style bread crumbs and fried until golden.

Then I place them on a baking sheet and kept them at about 325 degrees until we were ready to make our burgers.

I toasted the buns with a bit of olive oil and made a mayo/spicy barbeque sauce to serve on the side.

102eggplant burger

054potato salad dressing added and mixed

My very handsome date, Wolf!

022wolf and shelly cookout

Meatless Monday! Spinach and Feta Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burger

004 spinach and feta stuffed portobello burger PD

Meatless Monday! is gaining momentum! And for good reason. Protein is everywhere! We can afford to give the planet a break at least one day a week.

Portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach and feta were amazing!

Nutritious mushrooms are yummy and good for you.

Delicious olive oil drizzled on everything created a rich and filling burgeresque sandwich.

007portobella burger PD

I dug out the stem and brushed the tops with olive oil and broiled for about 10 minutes.

Cooking makes them meatier and tastier so don’t hesitate to brown them well for maximum flavor!

010spinach and feta stuffed portobella PD

I blanched spinach for about 5 minutes and added feta cheese and mixed well, then stuffed the mushrooms, drizzeled olive oil on top and broiled them until them until things started to bubble and smell good.

020portabello mushroom burger PD

I also broiled the whole wheat buns with a little bit of olive oil until toasty!

014portobella mushroom burger PD

Tomato and red onion added the final touch.

016portobello mushroom burger

Yogurt sauce would have aslo made a nice condiment compliment but we were ravenous!

We couldn’t wait to dig in!

portabello burger PD

Meatless Monday! Broccolini Soup and Quinoa, Black Bean Salad

044meatless monday PD

Meatless Monday! Broccolini soup and quinoa salad were the perect combo.

Quinoa is a complete protein and black beans, tomato and basil create a filling nutritious but light meal.

Olive oil and lemon dress the salad with salt to taste.

Quinoa is fast and easy to prepare; 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water, boil for about 15 minutes and you’re ready to go.

Just chop the rest of the ingredients and fold into warm quinoa. I used canned black beans so I rinsed them well to decrease the sodium content. I used about 1/2 can.

012broccoli soup

I made a quick “broth” for the soup by boiling the stems of the broccolini in water with garlic slices.

I boiled until tender then pureed in the food processor.

015broccoli soup

I then sauteed 1/2 onion and more garlic in olive oil and created a roux with 2 Tbspn of flour and 2 tbspn of butter.

021broccoli soup

Then 1 cup of half and half and 2 cups milk.

My girls wanted cheddar so I added about 3/4 of a cup.

029broccoli soup

I then combined everything in one pot to cook then added the tops of the broccolini to cook in the soup.

035quinoa salad

Warm and creamy with light and bright.

037meatless monday

These tomatoes were the best. The juicy brightness set off the quinoa just right.
041meatless monday

Meatless Monday! Goat Cheese Purses in Pesto with Asparagus and Roasted Red Peppers and Arugula Salad

017meatless monday goat cheese purses

Lots of pesto and olive oil!

I sliced french bread and brushed it with olive oil and broiled for a few minutes to get crunchy, crusty goodness!

I also toasted some pine nuts and served them on the side to garnish everything!

006asparagus with crushed garlic

008meatless monday arugula salad

Arugula dressed with fresh squeezed lemon and olive oil is simple, clean and delicious!
005meatless monday goat cheese purses

009meatless monday

015meatless monday asparagus with roasted red pepper and garlic

016meatless monday goat cheese purses

018meatless Monday

meatless Monday

A great bottle of red wine and Brownies a la mode definitely make this a Meatless Monday to remember!

No one feels deprived. Not even the most serious of meat eaters.

025meatless monday

Meatless Monday! Madness!

MARIO-BATALI-MEATLESS-MONDAYS

No stranger to boar sausage, or to a finely braised veal shank, Mario Batali however isn’t the first name that pops to mind when you think about vegetables. And that’s what’s so interesting about his decision to embrace Meatless Monday in all of his 14 restaurants across the country.

“The fact is, most people in the U.S. eat way more meat than is good for them or the planet,” maintains Batali. “Asking everyone to go vegetarian or vegan isn’t a realistic or attainable goal. But we can focus on a more plant-based diet, and support the farmers who raise their animals humanely and sustainably. That’s why I’m such a big believer in the Meatless Monday movement.”

Read Chris Elam’s article in Huffington Post for more on the enthusiasm and momentum that Meatless Monday! is gathering throughout the country.

When the likes of Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich go meatless you know it’s time to get on the bandwagon!

Meatless Monday! Spinach Fettuccine with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic with Eggplant and Fresh Mozzarella

053eggplant and fettucine

Meatless Monday! Fried Eggplant and spinach fettuccine is easy and fresh!

Fresh mozzarella puts the finishing touch on thinly sliced eggplant lightly coated in Italian breadcrumbs.

Roasted garlic and roasted cherry tomatoes add rich flavor to spinach fettuccine.

With all this flavor, who misses the meat?

Top with shredded parmesan and enjoy!

022roasted tomatoes pd

Toss tomatoes in olive oil and roast on 400 degrees until they pop open! and smell delicious!

027eggplant pd

042eggplant and mozzerella

029beaujolais pd

Beautiful beaujolais makes dinner…beautiful!

034eggplant

Egg and water then bread crumbs go into frying pan with hot oil for a quick, light frying.

Mash up roasted garlic with a fork and mix in about 1/4 cup olive oil to create a “sauce”.

Add salt to taste.
038spinach fettucine ansd spinach PD

Just throw in fresh baby spinach to the last few minutes to boiling pasta to add flavor and nutrition.

045fettucine and eggplant PD

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