Meatless Monday – Spicy Vegetarian Picadillo

I had the pleasure of attending my cousin’s wedding this last weekend. I haven’t seen him in close to 20 years, so it was such a delight to get to reconnect with him and meet his new wife. I love going to weddings because here is so much to see and do…. the buffet, the music, and the CAKE (yum). Most wedding buffets are the same food (chicken, rice, green beans, right?!) but this wedding had some awesome food. They had a pasta station with handmade breadsticks, lots of olives and cheese, and fresh, made to order pasta. The other station was a Mexican station and it was calling my name! There were fajitas, a cold grilled vegetable platter, and roasted fingerling potatoes. One of the other things that I picked up was a plump green pepper stuffed to the gills with a beef mixture. Upon closer investigation, I found that it was picadillo.

Picadillo is a traditional Latin American meat dish and there are as many versions as there are fish in the sea. Some have potatoes, some have raisins, and some have bay leaves (yuck!), while others have capers.  Our cooking club made a version of it a few years back and we stuffed it into empanadas. They were, hands down, one of my favorite things we’ve made of all times.

So here we are, back at Meatless Monday, and I couldn’t get that picadillo out of my brain. My girlfriend, Paige, has been coaxing me to try meatless crumbles and I finally crumbled (sorry, but I couldn’t resist). I bought Morningstar Farms to create this recipe. I was more than pleasantly surprised with the flavor, texture, and ease that these provided. My husband asked “is this the beef we just got from the farmer?”. My response: “Good, isn’t it?” *insert winning smile here* I encourage you to give this meal a try, even if the crumbles might be a little bit outside your comfort zone.

Spicy Vegetarian Picadillo

If you prefer a meaty version, you can use 1 lb of lean ground beef. This dish has a medium heat level (my 2 year old ate it without protest!), but if the spice is not your thing, go for 1 jalapeno instead of the two suggested.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings (1 to 1.5 cups each)

1 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup diced onion
1 green pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces frozen (meatless) soy crumbles – such as Morningstar farms
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup green olives, quartered
1 Tbsp liquid from olive jar
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)

1) Heat water in microwave safe dish until boiling (2-3 minutes). Remove dish from microwave and place raisins in boiled water. Allow to soften in water for 15-20 minutes. Drain, reserving plumped raisins.

2) Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and jalapenos. Saute until soft and slightly browned (about 5 minutes). Add minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3) Add frozen soy crumbles, stirring frequently until thawed and well combined (about 2 minutes).

4) Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, green olives, olive liquid, drained raisins, cumin, brown sugar, and salt. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through and the flavors have had a chance to meld. Serve over rice or as a filling in stuffed pepper, casserole, or empanadas.

(61) Chipotle Tamale Pie

This recipe got mixed reviews on Cooking Light’s website and after tasting it, I was surprised. We had a guest for dinner and he and my husband both had seconds, so if that tells you what we thought of it…

I made it almost exactly as written. I had a pound of meat and used a touch more onion/pepper, only because I hated to waste it. I will say that I think the chipotle hot sauce (I used Tabasco brand) makes the dish! Also, I couldn’t find the exact beans mentioned, so I bought a can of store brand “Spicy Chili Beans”. They were perfect! The boys topped theirs off with a few more dashes of hot sauce and some sour cream. The baby and I ate ours just as it was (yes, she loved it, little weirdo!).  A nice green salad from the farm box and we had a great meal! Two thumbs up!

PS: I made the filling the night before and just did the topping right before baking it. Worked great that way!!

Chipotle Tamale Pie

This spicy pie needs only a salad to make the meal complete. Use a disposable aluminum pan wrapped in foil for easy delivery and cleanup.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
Source: Cooking Light, January 2001

1 3/4 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 pound ground round
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1 to 2 tablespoons bottled chipotle sauce (such as La Preferidia) or hot sauce
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pinto beans in zesty sauce (such as S&W), undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and beef; cook 5 minutes or until meat is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in the salsa, chipotle sauce, beans, and tomatoes; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro. Spoon beef mixture into a 3-quart casserole.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup cilantro, milk, butter, and egg; stir until well-blended. Spoon the batter over beef mixture; spread evenly. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until golden.

CALORIES 329 (30% from fat); FAT 11g (sat 4.7g,mono 4.2g,poly 0.8g); IRON 4.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 64mg; CALCIUM 157mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.7g; SODIUM 655mg; PROTEIN 16g; FIBER 5.8g

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(51) Barbecued Pork Chops

I am officially in love with pork chops on the bone! They end up much more tender than boneless ones, and for me, the tradeoff of a few more calories is worth it!! This recipe was so simple to put together. I wasn’t quite sure how the flavors would work – especially that much sesame oil. But it was amazing how much flavor the chops had after just 30 minutes of marinating. They were spicy and sweet and a little smokey all at the same time. Very intriguing!

I will say that I failed to properly do the glaze. OOPS. I was washing dishes while the chops cooked and the sauce simmered. It was so little in the pan and 2 seconds too long = sauce glued to the pan. I was able to save a little bit, though! These are pork chops that I will definitely make again!!

Barbecued Pork Chops

A simple 8-ingredient marinade, made with mostly pantry staples, brings out the vibrant flavor of these chops. Pair with kimchi-style slaw for a flavorful duo and a quick cooking dinner solution, ready in about 40 minutes (including a 25-minute marinade).

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop)
Source: Cooking Light, JUNE 2009

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon pineapple juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons sake (rice wine)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (4-ounce) bone-in pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag; add pork to bag. Seal; marinate at room temperature 25 minutes.

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove pork from bag; reserve marinade. Sprinkle pork with salt. Cook pork 3 minutes on each side or until done. Pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until thickened. Brush pork with reduced marinade; sprinkle with sesame seeds.

CALORIES 195 ; FAT 9.4g (sat 2.5g,mono 3.9g,poly 2.4g); CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 31mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.9g; SODIUM 433mg; PROTEIN 17.7g; FIBER 0.3g; IRON 1mg

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(38) Pasta e Fagioli

I know I say that a lot of the recipes I cook are quick and easy, but this one should be put at the top of the list! There was nothing difficult about this. I minced my own garlic, which took 2 seconds as did opening the cans. Soooo, easy!!

I used regular spicy Italian sausage (not turkey – the plain was on sale!) and used 2 links. It was plenty spicy – certainly didn’t need any extra red pepper! If you don’t like spice, go for the sweet Italian sausage and add red pepper flakes until the heat is right for you! I wasn’t sure if this was going to be filling enough, but it definitely was! We give this two thumbs up for sure!

Pasta e Fagioli

Source: Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2000
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
1 1/2 tablespoons bottled minced garlic
1 cup water
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup uncooked small seashell pasta (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
Minced fresh parsley (optional)
Crushed red pepper (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until browned, stir-ring to crumble. Add water, broth, and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta, 1/4 cup cheese, oregano, salt, pepper, and beans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes or until pasta is done. Let stand 5 minutes; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Garnish each serving with parsley and red pepper, if desired.

CALORIES 353 (26% from fat); FAT 10.2g (sat 3.1g,mono 4.1g,poly 2.3g); IRON 4.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 177mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.6g; SODIUM 742mg; PROTEIN 20.5g; FIBER 4.5g

(37) Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Another excellent quickie for a weeknight dinner! I have to take this moment to tell you that I DESPISE garlic in the jar! Use the real stuff (ginger, too!) – it’s so worth it! I used 4 cloves of garlic to get 1 Tbsp of minced. The sauce was not runny, but just sticky enough (like you get at the local Chinese place!) and very flavorful! If you don’t like spicy things, cut the red pepper flakes down to 1/8th of a tsp.

I served this over rice and with some mini-eggrolls.  In the time it took the rice to cook, this dish was ready! This is a repeater for sure!

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Source: Cooking Light, JANUARY 2008
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Stir-fry a zesty shrimp dish for a quick weeknight dinner. Spoon over basmati or jasmine rice. Try the recipe with chicken or steak, too.

1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups small broccoli florets
1 cup vertically sliced onion

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic to pan; stir-fry 30 seconds. Sprinkle shrimp with salt. Add shrimp to pan, and stir-fry 3 minutes or until done. Remove shrimp mixture from the pan.

Add remaining 1 teaspoon canola oil to pan. Add broccoli and onion to pan; stir-fry 4 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Add shrimp mixture and broth mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly.

CALORIES 220 (27% from fat); FAT 6.7g (sat 0.8g,mono 2.4g,poly 1.9g); IRON 3.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 172mg; CALCIUM 105mg; CARBOHYDRATE 11.8g; SODIUM 577mg; PROTEIN 26.2g; FIBER 2.8g

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