I had a marathon of a food prep day last Sunday. I try to be as efficient as possible in the kitchen (operative word being try). Taking a few moments to consider what I want to have for my meals for the week and reading through the chosen recipes before I start cooking really helps focus the prep and get a lot done in a short amount of time. I started on Sunday afternoon with my lunches for the week, Quinoa Veggie “Fried Rice”, a Pinterest find. This was fairly simple to throw together with the majority of time spent on prepping the veggies rather than actually cooking them. I made a few substitutions – I left out the zucchini (zucchini in fried rice just didn’t make sense to me) and the peas but added water chesnuts and edemame. I also left out the olive oil and simply cooked the veggies with water to keep them from sticking to the pan, though I did add a tiny bit of sesame oil in the end for flavor
This was a great dish and I ate it all week long without boring of it. It wasn’t exactly what I would call a fried rice as I’m accustomed to given the different texture of the quinoa but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I would say it definitely needed that hint of sesame oil and I liked the suggestion of sriracha to serve (everything is better with sriracha!); I think it would have been a bit bland without.
After I had the lunches packed up and ready for the week, I moved to dinner. With the grocery store full of fall squash displays I decided this week would be a spaghetti squash week. Perusing pinterest for some cooking options I settled on Susan Voison’s (aka Fat Free Vegan) Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Chickpeas. I made no adjustments to the recipe itself but did adjust the cooking process simply for my own efficiencies (and to cut down on pans to wash!). I thought beetballs would pair well with the squash dish, since they pair well with just about everything and my grocery finally had my preferred golden beets.
The beetballs cook at 350 while the squash needed to roast at 400 and rest til cool enough to handle. I roasted the squash at 400 and prepped the beetballs while it was cooking. Once the squash was finished I lowered the temperature and put the beetballs in. I also put the brussel sprouts in the oven at this time, using a 9×11 dish instead of a baking sheet. After 15 minutes I added the onion and garlic to the brussel sprouts directly and put them back in the oven another 15 minutes. Rather than finish the dish off stovetop, after 30 minutes of roasting I added the chickpeas, herbs and lemon juice to the roasting pan with the brussel sprouts and returned it to the oven while I cut the squash. Finally, I added the spaghetti squash to the pan and tossed with the sprout mixture before serving with a couple of beetballs.
The dish was lovely. It was very light with subtle lemon and garlic coming through. I think adding the beetballs turned more into a full meal than it stood on its own. While I enjoyed this I did get bored of it after a day or two of leftovers. I think next time I roast a squash I will try to serve it two ways to keep it interesting while maintaining my efficiencies.
When I made the beetballs I decided to experiment a bit with an idea I have brewing for some time but have not gotten around to trying it as of yet. I have thought the beetball mixture would make an excellent lasagna filling so when I made the beetball mixture last week I decided I’d finally give it a go. I used half the mix to make 10 beetballs as usual and took the other half of the beet mixture and made it into crumbles on the pan. I baked as usual (30 minutes at 350 no turning or stirring). I waited until completely cool and stored in a tupperware in the refrigerator until ready to assemble my lasagna. Since this was really just a test kitchen attempt I decided to make a roll-up rather than a full pan of lasagna and see how it went. It was perfect! The beet mixture has a similar look and texture to the ground beef and the sage, fennel, garlic yumminess still come through in the lasagna. Not the prettiest but not bad for a first attempt.
After this success, and with a golden beet leftover, I thought I’d try to make a Mexican version. To do this I left out the fennel, sage and oregano and added 1 Tablespoon of taco seasoning instead. Out of the oven I took some of the beat meat and added a few spoonfuls of salsa and some more taco seasoning to get it a little saucier. I made mine into burritos since I had no taco shells on hand (and let’s be honest, you can stuff more into a burrito). While this is the most authentic looking and texturally appealing whole food meat alternative I’ve made it was quite time consuming for a meal I typically consider my go-to when in a rush dinner. That said I’ve got the leftover (out of the oven no sauce) in the freezer to see how it would be reheated.
I should add that I really don’t like beets. I’ve tried them various ways and think they taste like dirt no matter how hard I try to like them. Susan’s beetballs are one of my top five favorite recipes I’ve made since giving up meat and I make them very often. It is also proving to be quite a versatile recipe (I also used some of the standard recipe crumbles on a pizza for lunch yesterday to finish out that batch). Definitely, give it a try if you are looking for a good meatball replacement.
New Recipes Made This Week: 2 (not counting my test kitchen experiments)
New Recipe Tally 2013: 107