Skip to main content

A Meatless Monday Meal Without Planning

Another Meatless Monday has come and gone and the best laid plans of Al and Cyn....well, you know the rest. Over the weekend, like we usually do, we talked about a couple of possible dishes. First, there was going to be a lentil and pasta dish that sounded very yummy. It was from a recipe I found on Lidia Bastianich's website. For those of you who may not know who Lidia is, you need to check her out here. If you ever have the opportunity to go to one of her restaurants, do. One of the five best meals I've ever had was at her flagship restaurant in NYC, Felidia.

At some point, I think it was Sunday afternoon, the plan had morphed into a vegetable lasagna that Cynthia has been dying to make. By the time we went to bed that night, we hadn't reached consensus and I gave Cyn the green light to surprise me. Fast forward to Monday and that's when everything changed.

It was a beautiful 65 degree day in Northern Virginia and while I was at work, Cyn couldn't resist getting out into the garden. Spring, it seems, has sprung, or at least had on Monday. You see, we garden a lot, flowers, vegetables, herbs and, did I mention we are building a koi pond starting next week? We are, but more about that in a future post. Needless to sat there is a lot of winter clean up to do before the real spring gets here. So, when I got stuck at work a little later than usual, and Cyn lost track of time and worked in the garden all day and the next thing we knew it was 6:00 PM and neither one of us had considered what was for dinner. Time to scramble.

Fortunately, we tend to keep a pretty well stocked refrigerator and Cyn is particularly adept at improvising. Remember the French green lentils from the Sheperds Pie post a week ago? Well, we had some left over in the fridge and they became the base of our first course. Add some yellow and orange bell peppers, a few beautiful sweet peppadews, cucumber, onion, barrel aged feta cheese and calamata olives. Thin slice some eggplant and zucchini on a mandolin, and cook them very briefly on both sides (use a grill pan with ridges to make it pretty if you have one). Combine, drizzle with your favorite dressing (we mixed our homemade balsamic vinaigrette with a Greek dressing  from a restaurant called Lefteris in Mount Kisco, NY that had been given to us by a good fried (thanks Judy!). The finished salad was rich, very flavorful and could easily have been a main course.

As they say on the late night commercials, but wait, there's more....

Not knowing how filling the salad would be, we planned to have a second course of a angel hair pasta with the garlic roasted tomato sauce we had canned last summer. It's a very basic marinara sauce that we love to keep on hand as much as we can. Honestly, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a summery fresh tasting tomato sauce eaten in the winter made from the tomatoes you grew yourself.

Can't get that taste from those cardboard tomato imposters you find at the supermarket in February. Like I said, I'm not sure we needed the pasta course, but it sure was tasty.


Popular posts from this blog

Oven Roasting Fresh Tomatoes for Pasta Sauce

A while back I wrote a post about using the preserved tomato sauce from 2008 that we still had in our pantry. It was the last jar of what was the best tomato crop we have grown -- to date. This weekend we picked and roasted the first batch from this year's garden with high hopes that we could match the richness of flavor from that magical year.

I wanted to share the process, especially since it's so simple, at least up to the canning, which I won't cover here. Those of you that can know it's not really hard, just a little time consuming.

The first step is pretty obvious, get yourself some tomatoes. We like to grow our own, but you can also buy them from a farm or farm market. Here's a little tip if you decide to buy -- offer to buy the "seconds", you know, the less than perfect tomatoes that everyone else has passed on. They can have blemishes, partial spoilage and even the occasionally bug hole. Don't worry, you're going to cut away any bad par…

2008 was a very good year....

...for tomatoes in Newburgh, NY. That's where we lived then and where we grew, roasted and canned tomato sauce. We actually did that every year but there was something magical about the quart mason jars full of that 2008 vintage. Last night, as part of Meatless Monday dinner, we opened the last one.  Nearly 4 year old tomato sauce you say? Isn't that, um, dangerous? Not at all if the jars are initially prepared correctly, the canning process is carried out properly and the seal remains intact. It was both exciting and a little sad to crack open that seal, but the finished meal made it all worth it. Cynthia's original recipe was a perfect use for that special vintage.

Herbed Crepes with Ricotta, Spinach and Chard Filling
Ingredients (crepes) 1 cup AP flour1 cup + 2-4 tbsp liquid of your choice, could be stock, milk, beer, water or any combination thereof - I used 1 cup Better than Bouillon No Chicken and 3 tablespoons of Duck Rabbit Milk Stout beer3 large eggs2 tbsp unsalted q…

Authentic Unbeatable Swedish Meatballs!

Think Ikea, But 100 Times Better
A Guest Post by Anneli from Delicieux
I am delighted to be back here on A Reluctant Foodie doing another guest post for Al. Our last challenge (Stuffed Peppers) was such fun that we decided to do it again and this time I suggested 'Balls"!

'Balls' was a fun choice as it gives such a large scope for experimenting - meatballs, fish balls, rice balls, chocolate balls, ice cream balls...the possibilities are endless. Not to mention the childishness of repeatedly writing 'balls'!! (and yes, I'm 36, not 3!)

In fact, I had no trouble at all deciding which 'balls' I was going to make, it was inevitable. I am half Swedish and I was brought up in a house where certain Swedish foods were regulars at our table. I was aware of Ikea and their meatballs before the rest of the world began their love affair with them.

My Mormor (Grandma) used to make them fresh and serve them with dollops of sweet lingon berry sauce, boiled potatoes …