Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

It's Taco Tuesday! Zucchini, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

It's Taco Tuesday again! Tacos are an easy meal that most people like.  The problem for me was always that the traditional recipe called for browning ground beef and mixing it with that taco seasoning packet.  Green Planet Eating calls for trying to reduce the impact of our food requirements on the environment.  The ground beef that is mass-produced, so easy to pick up at the supermarket and throw into a frying pan with that taco seasoning, contributes to carbon emissions much more than vegetables grown in the soil. If you use vegetables instead of meat, you can visualize a reduction in methane that is a destructive by-product of industrial animal farms.  The methane contributes to global climate change.  

These are some of my favorite tacos: roasted sweet potatoes combined with a spicy vegetable and black bean mixture.  The sweetness and texture of the sweet potatoes contrasts nicely with the flavors and textures of the zucchini, black beans, onions and tomatoes. 
2-3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Olive oil
2-3 TBS Grapeseed oil
1 zucchini, diced
Handful of cherry tomatoes (about 7 or 8), halved
2 cups cooked black beans (or a can of black beans)
1/2 large onion, diced
Taco seasoning
Shredded cheddar cheese
about 8 Taco Shells

Start by peeling and dicing the sweet potatoes, then toss them with olive oil and salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet. I cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup:

Roast potatoes in an oven that has been preheated to 425 degrees F., or 400 degrees with a “convection roast” setting. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice during roasting time, until it looks like this:


Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil (or another cooking oil) in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add diced onion and stir to coat with oil.  Saute for a couple minutes, stirring, until onions begin to become translucent.  Add zucchini and continue to saute, stirring occassionally, for about 10 minutes. Stir in cherry tomatoes, cook for a few minutes, then add black beans and stir everything together in the pan.  Sprinkle taco seasoning to taste over all. I used about 1/4 packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, but the amount you use will depend on the brand you use as well as your personal taste.  Stir and continue to cook.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until zucchini is very tender.

Heat taco shells according to package directions.

To serve, spoon sweet potatoes and black bean mixture into heated taco shells. Add shredded cheese. Serves 2, about 8 tacos.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Vegetarian "Reuben" Sandwiches

My favorite sandwich is a Reuben.  Before I stopped eating meat, I would often order a Reuben if I went out to lunch and it was on the menu.  I always considered it a special treat.  I never tried to make one though.  One of the sacrifices I have made in deciding that it is better for the planet if I don't eat meat, is sometimes choosing not to eat something that I would really like to eat.  One of those things is the corned beef in a traditional Reuben.  

I wanted to try to duplicate the flavors I love in a Reuben, and thought substituting sautéed mushrooms for the corned beef might work as a start.  The other elements of my favorite sandwich do not contain meat, so no need to compromise there! I think that most Reuben sandwiches have Thousand Island Dressing.  I looked up some recipes for Thousand Island Dressing.  Many of them call for horseradish, which I do not happen to like, so I decided to make up my own version, which I just call "Sauce." I am not sure if it is authentic Thousand Island Dressing, but it tastes good in this sandwich! The result was delicious.  My meat-eating husband seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, so feel free to serve this to vegetarians and carnivores alike!



For 3 sandwiches

Olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and pressed
Pinch of Aleppo pepper
2 1/2 cups sliced portobello and/or cremini mushrooms (for portobello mushrooms, cut in half across the top, then slice, so that the slices are not so big)
6 slices rye bread
Softened butter
Approximately .45 lbs. sliced gruyere cheese

3 TBS mayonnaise
1 TBS sweet pickle relish
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp concentrated tomato paste

Cook the mushrooms:
Heat generous amount of olive oil in skillet, then add pressed clove of garlic.  Stir and cook for 30 seconds or so, then add mushrooms. Sprinkle salt to taste over all and stir so that all the mushroom slices are coated with oil.  Continue sautéing until mushrooms are soft.  Sprinkle a pinch of Aleppo pepper over all, stir and turn off stove.  Let sit while you prepare the rest of the sandwiches:

Cook the sandwiches:
Butter both sides of bread slices. For each sandwich, fry one side of each slice of bread on a griddle. When one side is golden brown, flip it, arrange gruyere cheese slices to cover toasted side, then put some sauerkraut on it, then some sauce, then some sliced cooked mushrooms.  Cover the sandwich with the second slice, toasted side down.  Press down with a spatula and cook until the bottom bread is golden brown.  Then flip the sandwich and cook the last side until golden brown, pressing the sandwich with the spatula.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Double Whammy: Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese Sauce AND Cauliflower Tacos

I've had a craving for cheddar cheese.  I love the way it enhances other foods, especially broccoli and cauliflower.  I have a couple ways to combine them here today.  

First, I have a yummy side dish for you: Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese Sauce:
Then, save some of that cheese sauce to use for Taco Tuesday's cauliflower and refried bean tacos, a super-simple quick meal:

You can, of course, switch it up and put the cauliflower in the baked potatoes or the broccoli in the tacos.  However your taste buds steer you!

Baked Potatoes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Scrub potatoes.  Pierce a few times with a fork.  Place potatoes directly on oven rack for about 45 minutes. You can tell if the potato is ready by poking it with a fork.  If it is ready, the fork will go into the center of the potato smoothly.

While the potatoes are baking, make the cheese sauce.  This is the hardest part of the whole thing, but don't worry--it's not very hard!

Cheese Sauce for Vegetables

3 TBS flour
3 TBS butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter over medium heat in saucepan.  Stir in flour, salt and mustard and cook for a few minutes, continuously stirring.  Gradually add milk, stirring continually as it thickens.  Add grated cheddar cheese and stir until melted and smooth.

Next, steam the broccoli:

Steamed Broccoli

Cut up broccoli and place in glass bowl with about a tablespoon of water.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes.

To serve, cut open a potato, stuff some broccoli in there, then drizzle cheese sauce on top.  Yum!

Next, save some of that cheese sauce for some easy-to-make Tacos With Cauliflower and Refried Beans.

Gather up the basics:

1 can refried beans
taco shells

I forgot to put the taco seasoning in the picture, but grab a packet of your favorite taco seasoning. Heat the refried beans in a pan on the stove or else in a glass bowl in the microwave.  Cut up about half a head of cauliflower into small florets and microwave them with some taco seasoning sprinkled on top and about a tablespoon of water, covered, for 3 minutes; then stir and microwave for an additional minute.

In the meantime, heat the taco shells in the oven according to package instructions.

To assemble, spoon some refried beans into a taco shell, top with some cauliflower and cheese sauce, as well as some diced avocado. How easy was THAT??!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Reinventing Leftovers: Lentil and Brown Rice "Muffins"

Green Planet Eating means looking for ways to choose, prepare and consume food in a way that reflects conscientiousness about the effects that our food has on our planet.  A great way to be kind to our planet is to figure out ways to eliminate food waste.  By doing so, we reduce environmental resources used to produce food, and we also help reduce the negative effects of too much garbage in landfills. This evening I created a brand new dish using leftovers from my fridge which would have been thrown away if I had not figured out a way to totally transform them.  I had some lentils that I had cooked with mushrooms many days ago and were sitting in a bowl in the fridge.  I also had cooked brown rice from several days ago in another container. You could duplicate what I did here or use it as an idea to create your own leftover muffins from cooked beans or vegetables and grains that might be sitting in your fridge.  While I haven't tried this with other grains or beans, I imagine you could do something similar with leftover quinoa, bulgar wheat, farro, barley, etc. combined with leftover beans.  I basically just mixed those primary leftover ingredients with eggs and a little flour to help bind it together, and rose harissa to spice it up.  Rose harissa, I have discovered, is a magical ingredient that can transform food from bland to spicy flavorful.  It is worth going to some trouble to find it.  I have only been able to find it online.  It is different than regular harissa that is more commonly available in supermarkets.  

About 1/2 cup of cooked lentils (lentils combined with cooked vegetables is even better)
About 2 cups of cooked brown rice
3 eggs
1 TBS flour
1 TBS rose harissa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all together, then spoon into greased muffin tins, patting down and smoothing tops. Bake for about 25 minutes. Makes about 10-12 "muffins".  We ate one or two each for dinner, along with some other vegetables.  The rest can be easily reheated in the microwave for a snack or another meal tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

It's Taco Tuesday! Tofu and Zucchini Tacos

It's Taco Tuesday! Tacos are such a great meal, in my opinion, because they are easy to make, easy to clean up after, and most people enjoy them.  The tacos I was brought up on, however, have ground beef, which causes a dilemna for vegetarians.  I had heard that you could make tofu simulate ground beef easily by draining it out of the package, wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap then foil and freezing it.  Then after you thaw it, you just crumble it with your hand and use it as if it was ground beef. This creates an easy way to make vegetarian tacos because you are basically doing it the same way the traditional packages tell you to, just substituting tofu for ground beef.  The result tastes very much like ground beef tacos. Very palatable.  I like to add some veggies with it for variety in texture and flavor.  In this case, I used zucchini and onion, as well as some tomatoes. Obviously, you could do this with any brand of taco seasoning, but I like Trader Joe's brand.  It is a little spicier than other supermarket brands I have tried. I enjoy coming up with different vegetarian fillings for tacos, so look for future variations on upcoming Taco Tuesdays!

1/2 lb. tofu, frozen, thawed, liquid squeezed out, and crumbled
1 zucchini, diced
1 small onion, diced
Packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning
Grapeseed oil
1 tomato, chopped or handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup strained tomatoes 

Chopped tomatoes or quartered cherry tomatoes
chopped cilantro
Chopped lettuce
Diced avocado
Shredded cheddar cheese

Taco shells

Saute onion in oil until just beginning to become translucent. Add tofu, stir, sprinkle taco seasoning to taste over all, continue stirring for a few minutes, trying to coat all the tofu with seasoning.  Remove to bowl.  Add more oil, then add zucchini and saute until soft and browned. Add tomatoes and stir. Add strained tomatoes, stir and cook some more.

Serve in warmed taco shells with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, avocado and shredded cheese.  Makes about 9 tacos. Serves about 3 people.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Velvety Asparagus Soup

I bought a couple bunches of asparagus just before Easter weekend, because I come from a family that eats asparagus on Easter Sunday.  Asparagus is a vegetable whose season is early spring. I used one bunch on Saturday night, and reserved the woody ends when I prepped them.  Although I had never used woody ends to make asparagus broth, it seemed like a good thing to do.  Green planet eating is all about using food resources wisely and conservatively, to be as kind as possible to our planet.  Waste less.  This mindset is also economical, an added bonus.  So I decided next to use the woody ends to make soup.  I combined the woody ends from the first bunch of asparagus with the woody ends from a second bunch and some water to make the basic broth that would form the foundation of the soup.  Then I layered flavors:  leeks, which lend a sweetness to make anything taste good; a potato, to add creaminess; more asparagus; salt and pepper.  Simple but good.  Top it all with a little Parmigiano-Regiano and you have a delicious meal.

Bunch of Asparagus
Plus woody ends of another bunch of asparagus
1 leek, chopped
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, diced into 1/2”-1” pieces
8 cups water
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
4 TBS butter
Parmesan rind (optional)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Separate woody ends from asparagus stalks by bending and breaking off each stalk where it breaks naturally.  Place woody ends from 2 bunches of asparagus in pan with 8 cups water.  Cover and bring to boil. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until asparagus is tender.  Blend, then strain soup through a sieve and discard solids, reserving broth.  In another pan, melt 4 TBS butter.  Add sliced leeks and saute, stirring, until soft and translucent. Add diced potatoes and salt, stir and saute for a couple minutes.  Add asparagus broth and pepper. Cut asparagus stalks into 1’ pieces. Scrape about half of them, the lower parts of the stalks, into the soup. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Blend soup until smooth.  Pour back into pan, add asparagus tips and pieces and optional parmesan rind.  Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Remove parmesan rind. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top. Serves 3.