We all have favorite meals, but for some reason, even though I grew up in a Midwestern meat and potatoes kind of environment, vegetarian meals are among my go-to's when I want something that satisfies my appetite. I love the texture and crunch of vegetables and like them cooked or raw. Of course, as a native Wisconsinite, I also like cheese and dairy products. Thus, I can be pretty happy with vegan and vegetarian foods. For today's post, I thought I would share with you some of my all time favorite Meatless Monday foods that I like to make at home.
1. Greek Salad. I love all kinds of salads, but the kind of Greek salad with just tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, red onions, oregano, Kalamata olives, and feta is my all time favorite. It is so easy to make and serve with a red wine vinegar dressing. You get plenty of protein from the feta, but you could leave it out and add some garbanzos to go totally vegan.
2. Vegan tamales. Tamales are super easy to make and most recipes produce tons of them that you can freeze or use for the week. Tamales consist of two parts: a masa outside soft shell dough and filling. You can use any vegetable as a filling. For example, you could use black beans, sautéed vegetables, or any other stewed or soft vegetable. Traditionally, the masa is made with corn flour, salt, baking powder, water (or broth), and lard. All you have to do to make the tamales vegan is to replace a small can of pumpkin puree for the lard in any recipe you find. To add flavor, you can make a spicy sauce to go with the tamales. Yummy!
3. Pea pakora. Pakora are a bit similar to tamales or Chinese dumplings in concept. They are essentially small pies made with a simple thin dough filled with vegetables of your choosing. The fillings in theese Indian delicacies are often spiced with a delicious mix of garam masala, cinnamon, cumin, and other spices. The dough is usually made by mixing flour, vegetable oil, water, and salt together. Small pieces are rolled thin and filled and then baked. For the filling I usually use green peas or broccoli. Unlike dumplings or tamales, they are baked, not steamed. I like them with a cucumber yogurt sauce.
4. Vegetable stir fry. Veggie stir fries are easy and highly versatile depending upon the vegetables you have on hand. I typically use garlic, ginger, onions, green and red peppers, mushrooms, celery, Napa cabbage, and some canned vegetables like baby corn or bamboo shoots. I sometimes will add in some baked or raw tofu. I like to whip up a big batch so I have it for lunches for the week.
5. Grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches. While the examples above all can be easily vegan, the star in in my grilled cheese is Wisconsin cheddar. I like a couple of nice slices of sharp cheddar and a nice thin slice of a fresh beefsteak tomato between Vienna bread or a nice hearty farm bread. You can add a couple of basil leaves to kick it up a notch. Toast it on both sides in some butter in a cast-iron skillet and you just made a Meatless Monday flavor bomb.
I could go on and on about my love for this kind of food and I could eat salads for almost every meal. But this list gives you some idea about how I approach Meatless Monday main dishes at home. I would love to hear from you in the comments about your Meatless Monday favorites.
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