Chickpea Puttanesca

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I think eggplant parmesan is the default vegetarian option for most American-style Italian meals. More often than not, that’s what you’ll find alongside trays of baked ziti and chicken parmesan at parties. So, when I start seeking out new meatless meals for the Lenten dinner series, I tend to avoid Italian-inspired searches. It’s not that I don’t love eggplant parmesan, I do, it’s just that it sort of feels overdone.

I was searching for something else entirely when I came across this recipe – and it made me realize how wrong I was to discount Italian options for this series. This was so, so good. Comfort food at it’s finest! And easy enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed making it after a busy week.

ChickpeaPuttenesca1

Chickpea Puttanesca
(slightly adapted from Mountain Momma Cooks)
Serves 4

1/2 cup polenta
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. butter
2-3 Tbsp. half & half
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered
2 Tbsp. drained capers
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried crushed basil
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans
Fresh basil, for serving

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and stir in polenta and salt. Return a boil then turn to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes. If it gets to thick, stir in an additional 1-2 Tbsp. water. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, butter and half & half.  Keep warm until serving time.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add in onions and cook about five minutes, until soft. Add the olives and capers and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, basil, red pepper flakes and salt and stir to combine thoroughly. Let simmer until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans and let heat through.

Serve sauce over polenta, topped with fresh basil.


Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce

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You know how you have crutch dinners you make in a pinch? Like, oh no! I forgot to defrost the chicken! What am I going to do?! nights. This is one of our new crutch dinners. It uses things we usually have in the house and comes together in less than 15 minutes.

They are, undoubtedly, not the prettiest tacos ever but what they lack in looks they make up for in flavor and ease. And since you can make them in about the time it takes to get a pizza delivered, they’re a perfect option for busy Lenten Fridays.

BlackBeanTacos

Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce
(from The Garden Grazer)
Serves 4

1 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 tsp. cumin
Tortillas, for serving
Corn and Pico de Gallo, for serving, optional

1/2 ripe avocado
3/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
Juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. salt

In a skillet, combine the black beans, salsa and cumin over medium heat. Warm, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Mash about half the beans and stir to combine.

While the beans are warming up. combine the avocado, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, honey and salt in a food processor. Process until well-blended and mostly smooth.

Serve black beans on tortillas, topped with avocado cilantro-lime sauce and corn and Pico de Gallo, if desired.


Kung Pao Chickpeas

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Part of Lenten obligation is to abstain from meat on Fridays – so for the Fridays during Lent, I’ll be sharing some delicious meatless meals. Whether you’re abstaining from meat for Lent or just looking to add some new meatless meal ideas, I hope these posts give you some inspiration. I’m so excited to kick off this year’s Lenten dinner series with this recipe because it’s a real winner!

Chinese takeout is one of my favorite Friday night meals – but unlike pizza, it’s harder to do during Lent. Chickpeas aren’t on the menu at our local place but it turns out they make a pretty fantastic substitute for chicken. This meal was one of those times you don’t miss the meat – it was flavorful and filling. Even the often-skeptical husband was a fan!

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Kung Pao Chickpeas
(adapted slightly from She Knows)
Serves 2-3

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 14oz. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup kung pao sauce
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Steamed rice and steamed broccoli, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients. Stir in chickpeas, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let marinate.

When ready to cook, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. coconut oil in a large pan. Drain and discard the marinade and add the chickpeas to the pan, along with the kung pao sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Saute for 6-8 minutes, until the chickpeas begin to brown slightly. Serve with rice and broccoli.


9 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent

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Sharing meatless meals on Fridays during Lent has become my favorite blog series over the years. I love finding new things to try and love hearing that the ideas help others break out of the stereotypical pizza or pasta with tomato sauce rut. And the annual Ash Wednesday post rounding up some of my favorite meatless meals from the previous year has been some of the most popular posts on my blog.

Today is Ash Wednesday so, of course, I’m sharing the annual round-up. And Friday will kick off the Lenten dinner series for this year.

If you’re looking for additional dinner ideas, check out my previous posts: 16 Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent and 16 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent.

9MoreMeatlessDinners

Bang Bang Cauliflower

Caprese Quiche

Thai Veggie Burgers

Vegetable Minestrone

Crisp Black Bean and Rice Burritos

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Jar Salads

Grilled Pizza

Eggplant Parm Burgers

Black Bean Fajitas


Vegetable Minestrone

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You’d think after the soup swap I’d be pretty much soup-ed out, but nope. The weather here is just too perfect for soup and I’ve been craving it like crazy.

This is a copycat of the Olive Garden minestrone – and it’s a good one. Serve along with a loaf of crusty bread and it’s the perfect snow-day lunch.

VegetableMinestrone

Vegetable Minestrone
(adapted from Cooking Classy)
Serves 6

4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tsp. parsley
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/3 cups diced zucchini
1 1/3 cups small shell pasta
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can green beans
2 cups spinach

In a large pot, stir together the vegetable stock, water, tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for two hours.

Add zucchini, pasta, garlic, kidney beans and cannellini beans to the pot and stir to combine. Cook until pasta is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the green beans and spinach and cook a few minutes, until heated through. Serve warm.


Southwest Bean Soup

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This soup was my contribution to the Soup Swap Party. It’s one my Mom has been making for years – it’s really easy and really good.

I generally expect soup recipes to take a while, but this one is super quick. The bulk of this soup is canned beans and canned tomatoes so the faster you open cans, the faster this makes it to the table. It took me about twenty minutes total, because I’m generally a terrible can-opener and was juggling the baby. I’m fairly certain you would be faster.

I eat mine without toppings (cornbread on the side is my go-to!) but it would be good with tortilla strips, cheddar or sour cream.

SouthwesternBeanSoup

Southwest Bean Soup
(from Taste of Home)
Makes 3 quarts

1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp. canola oil
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
2 cans vegetable broth
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. hot sauce

In a large pot, heat the oil to shimmering and cook onion until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.


Thai Veggie Burgers

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For some reason, Thursdays are my power day. I always feel the most together and most ambitious on Thursdays. It’s also the day I make my meal plans for the next week – which is both a good and a bad thing. Bad because I’m often more ambitious with the plans than I feel like being when I actually get around to cooking dinner. Good because when I power through the plans, I often get some pleasant surprises.

When I started making these, I had a what-were-you-thinking?! moment. We don’t generally eat a lot of Thai food. Mark isn’t crazy about peanut sauce. Veggie burgers are pretty hit-or-miss around here. Why did I think these would be a good thing to try mid-week?

Luckily, they were a huge hit. I served leftovers for lunch the next day – bun-less, on a bed of slaw – and they were even better. And we froze a few to break out for lunches during Lent. I already can’t wait.

Thai Veggie Burgers
(slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Makes 6

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tsp. olive oil, divided, plus additional for cooking
1 cup vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 egg
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cups cole slaw mix
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. water
Chopped peanuts
Burger buns

Rinse and drain the quinoa. Heat 1 tsp. of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast. Stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5. Remove the lid, fluff and set aside to cool.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, oats, cornmeal, salt, paprika, garlic and sesame oil until well blended. Pulse in the egg. Add the mixture to a large bowl and stir in quinoa, red pepper, onion and remaining 1 tsp. olive oil. Stir together until evenly mixed, divide into 6 equal balls and roll into patties.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, lime juice and water until smooth. Set aside.

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add the patties and cook until both sides are browned and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve the patties on buns topped with slaw, peanut sauce and chopped peanuts.

 


Crispy Black Bean and Rice Burritos

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We recently did something we’ve been talking about since we moved into the house – we bought a chest freezer! I’m really more excited about it than I should be. The day it got delivered I plunked the few things I could in there and I’ve slowly been trying to fill it up.

I cooked up these burritos for dinner one night and froze the rest for nights I need something quick. I wrapped them in foil and then stuck them in a freezer bag. To reheat, I baked them, still in the foil, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Crispy Black Bean and Rice Burritos
(from Brunch Time Baker)
Makes 6-8

 1 can of black beans
1/2 can of canned corn
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
Juice of half a lime
6-8 medium flour tortillas

In a large skillet, melt the butter then add the onion, bell pepper, black beans, corn, salt, pepper, cumin and lime juice. Cook until onion and pepper are soft.

Spoon 1/4 cup of the black bean mixture into each tortilla. Top with 2 Tbsp. of rice and 2 Tbsp. of cheese and wrap tightly. Brush an electric grill or grill pan with oil and grill the burritos until crisp. Serve with sour cream and salsa.


Queso Blanco

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Every once in a while, I have a meal I’m really excited about that ends up un-bloggable. This queso was part of one I made recently. It was one element of the burritos I was making. I made this ahead and really liked it – so much so that I was worrying all my chip-dipping wasn’t going to leave enough for the meal. I figured I’d photograph it quickly just in case.

And wouldn’t you know, the burritos kind of sucked. But they were drenched in this queso, so decent, but not worth blogging. Or making again. The queso, though? Totally something I’ll make again.

Queso Blanco
(from Center Cut Cook)
Makes about 3 cups

1 lb. white american cheese, shredded or finely chopped
1/2 cup half and half
1/2-1 tablespoon oil
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1/4 of a small red onion, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
Black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering and then add the jalapeno and onion and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the cheese and stir until almost completely melted. Stir in half and half until desired consistency is reached (you may use more or less than 1/2 cup, depending on your preference). Season to taste with pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with diced tomato.


Banana Bread

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There are a few reasons I love doing recipe swaps. One is that it encourages me to post (hello, unplanned blog break). Another is that I often find things I didn’t know I had in common with other bloggers. Like, the perpetual search for the perfect banana bread.

I currently have three banana bread or muffin recipes on the blog. I like them all for different reasons, but I always end up trying new ones – just to see what my other options are. Right after we got our assignments for this swap, I had a bunch of over-ripe bananas sitting on the counter. Hmm, does Carrie’s Sweet Life have any banana bread recipes to try out? I wondered.

The answer is yes, yes she does. At least a dozen, actually. She is, apparently, a chronic banana bread recipe trier, like me. Banana bread jackpot, as far as I was concerned.

I picked a simple recipe for this go around because I already had everything in the house (always a bonus!), but I’m drooling over some of her other versions, too. I’d like to say this one will stop my banana bread quest but, let’s be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever give up the hunt.

Banana Bread
(from Carrie’s Sweet Life)
Makes 1 Loaf

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Preaheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the mashed bananas and melted butter until thouroughly combined. Add in sugar, egg and vanilla and stir to combine. Add in baking soda and salt and stir to combine. Add in flour and stir until just incorporated.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.