Make Simple Food You Can Be Proud Of!
I went vegetarian the summer before my sophomore year of college. That was when most of my time was spent babysitting, taking an online summer course, or hanging out with friends. I had a LOT more time then than I do right now. I made so many new meals that summer. Almost every night I was trying something different. I really wish I had that kind of time now. I always credit Pinterest for my success in becoming a vegetarian. While I already knew most of the basics of cooking, the recipes I found that summer helped me branch out and learn different things. If you’re planning on becoming a vegetarian or having any dietary change, I definitely suggest you have both a collection of varying recipes on hand and time to try them out.
Obviously, my life has changed quite a bit since the summer of 2015. I go from one activity to the next and barely feel like I have time to breath. While I love having a busy lifestyle, I’m sad I don’t have as much time to try out new recipes. I still try to make my own food instead of buying it as much as I can. My recipes have just become more simplified and quicker to make. But, they’re still extremely delicious.
Here are a few quick, easy meals every vegetarian should know how to make:
Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables (broccoli is the other). So, I put them in almost everything. I usually grill eggplant slices at the beginning of the week that will last me through. I’ll through slices into pasta dishes, on top of salads, and pretty much any other recipe I can think of. Out of all eggplant meals, eggplant parm is my favorite. It’s my go-to meal at every Italian restaurant. Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to make.
There are a number of different recipes for eggplant parm, but here’s how I make mine:
- 1 large eggplant
- Olive Oil
- Italian spices of your choosing (garlic, basil, etc.)
- Tomato sauce
- Mozzarella cheese
How to Make It:
Preheat the oven to 375º (you can make this dish even quicker by using a toaster oven set at the same temperature)
Prep the eggplant by slicing it into thick disks. You can cook it by either grilling it or baking it. For both, coat the slices of eggplant with olive oil and Italian spices. To grill, place on top of a prepared grill. Flip the eggplant after about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the side starts getting grill marks. To bake, coat a cookie sheet with olive oil and place the slices on. Bake at 375º for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Remove from heat when the slices start to brown.
Coat a baking dish with a layer of tomato sauce. Place a layer of eggplant slices on top, followed by a layer of sauce, and a layer of mozzarella cheese. Repeat this until all of the eggplant is in the dish.
Bake in either a conventional oven or a toaster oven until the top layer of mozzarella cheese begins to brown (about 15 to 20 minutes). Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve with a side of pasta.
Confession: Last Friday was the first time I ever successfully made tofu. I only tried making it once before in my life, and it came out terribly. I’ve been afraid to touch unprepared tofu ever since. Okay, okay, so maybe Adam helped me a little (or, a lot) in making the tofu this time, but I at least had somewhat of a hand in making it. Even though I haven’t always been a tofu-making person, I’ve always been a stir-fry making person. Stir-fries are so easy to make. It’s basically just throwing a bunch of vegetables into one pan and pairing with rice or noodles and some sort of protein. A good vegetable stir-fry hack is to use frozen veggies instead of fresh. It will save you a LOT of time on cooking and clean up.
The stir-fries I usually make are basically just a bunch of veggies in olive oil with some sort of fake meat and farro. Last Friday, Adam taught me how to make the real deal. And, it came out SO GOOD!
Here’s what we did:
- Extra firm tofu, baked (here’s a recipe for baked tofu, since I’m still a novice)
- Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Spaghetti
- Shitake mushrooms
- Trader Joe’s Asian Vegetables with Beijing Style Soy Sauce (frozen)
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- Sesame seeds
How to Make It:
Cook the brown rice spaghetti according to the package’s directions.
Coat a pan with olive oil and bring it to medium heat on the stove. Add shitake mushrooms and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the frozen vegetables. Stir in the soy sauce and 1 tbsp of peanut butter for flavor. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Add the baked tofu and cooked brown rice spaghetti to the pan. Stir until all ingredients are blended. Serve in a dish or bowl and top with sesame seeds.
I love beans so much. I don’t think there’s any type of bean that I don’t like. I could eat them alone or in basically any dish ( kinda like my love for eggplant – I actually do a lot of bean and eggplant dishes). My favorite out of all bean dishes is chili. Chili is the ultimate comfort food. I’m feeling sick? Chili. It’s raining out? Chili. I had a bad day? Chili. I had a great day? You guessed it – chili. I love a good three-bean chili (chickpeas, red kidney beans, and black beans) with some cheddar cheese on top and a side of fresh cornbread. Add a glass of merlot, and that sounds like the perfect night to me. Sometimes I’ll get creative with my chili and add in zoodles or sauteed mushrooms. I’ll also add a few handfuls of Gardein: Ultimate Beefless Grounds into my chili if I want something a little heartier. My favorite part about making chili that it’s a no-fuss dinner. You use one pot for everything. Delicious food and quick clean up!
These are my top three go-to meals when I want something quick, easy, and delicious. All of these dishes can also easily be made on a larger scale if you need to contribute to a dinner party. Simply, just add more of every ingredient. If you haven’t tried making one or any amount of these foods, you have to try now! They won’t take up too much of your time, but they’ll taste like they’re worth a wait.
Happy Cooking, my Dolls!
Eating delicious food is definitely part of living my best life. Read more ways in “How to Live Your Best Life.”