Meatless Monday – Balsamic Grilled Portobello Sandwiches with Goat Cheese and Roasted Peppers

Another Meatless Monday is here with another lure to the grill. It’s just so stinking hot here in FL, that grilling is a much welcome end to a busy day. It certainly beats standing over the hot stove!! I loved the last grilled portobellos that we made, so I was in search of another variation to try. This sandwich combines all of my favorite things in the world – balsamic vinegar, roasted peppers, goat cheese, and mushrooms! It’s SUPER easy to put together and you can customize it to your tastes. On a diet? Cut the cheese in half. Don’t like red peppers? Go for tomatoes instead. The variations are endless!

A quick note on the goat cheese
– for this recipe, use a log of goat cheese, not the precrumbled stuff. I find that goat cheese dries out considerably when it’s precrumbled. That’s fine for a salad or a casserole where it will be mixed with other things, but for this recipe, you need the creamy texture of a good goat cheese.

Balsamic Grilled Portobello Sandwiches
with Goat Cheese and Roasted Peppers

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large portobello mushroom caps – washed and stems removed
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
4 tsp dijon mustard
4 large slices roasted red peppers (freshly made or from a jar)
4 ounces goat cheese
2 ounces arugula

1) Combine first 7 ingredients (garlic through olive oil) in a bowl, stirring well to combine. Place the mushrooms in a large container with a lid or a plastic zip-top bag and pour the marinade over top. When the container is sealed tight, give it a few turns to make sure that the mushrooms are well covered with the marinade. Keep at room temperature for about an hour (more is fine) and turn once or twice.

2) Preheat grill to medium heat. Place mushroom caps on the grill and cook approximately 4 minutes per side, until they are soft. Use the remaining marinade to baste the mushrooms as they cook.

3) Toast the buns and then on each of the bottom halves place 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1/2 ounce arugula, 1 large slice of roasted red pepper. On each of the top buns place 1 ounce of goat cheese. Add the mushrooms and close the bun to make the juiciest, tangiest dinner feast! Enjoy!

Makes 4 sandwiches

Meatless Monday – Grilled Portobello Burgers

This summer is quickly on it’s way to becoming “The summer of the grill”. I can’t get enough of the charbroiled goodness! When thinking about Meatless Monday, I knew that our love for the grill would eventually have to join our meatless crusade (ok, not really a crusade, but it sounds fun, doesn’t it?!) and that one week would have to be portobello mushrooms on the grill. Portobello mushrooms are a surprisingly rugged stand in for hamburgers and can be doctored up a thousand ways! I roasted my own peppers, but you could easily use pre-roasted peppers from a jar, add pickles, banana peppers, anything your heart desires, really.

I realize that Worcestershire sauce is not normally a meatless item (it contains anchovies?! Surprising, huh?!). You can, however, buy a Vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce! Learn something new every day, don’t you!!? 🙂

Grilled Portobello Burgers

3 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
4 large portobello mushroom caps
1 medium onion, sliced into thick slices
4 pieces of roasted red pepper (or roast your own – pepper cut into quarters)
4 (1-ounce each) slices sharp cheddar cheese
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
lettuce, tomato, ketchup

1. Prepare grill.

2. If roasting your own pepper – quarter a large red pepper and remove the stem and seeds. Place the pepper on a baking sheet covered in foil, skin side up underneath the broiler for 10 minutes or until slightly charred. Place in a paper bag for 10 minutes. Peel off the skin. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, stir together honey and mustard.

4. Stir together 1 Tbsp of the honey mustard mixture, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Brush both sides of the portobello caps with the sauce mixture.

5. Place the mushroom caps and onion rings on the grill and cook 4 minutes on each side or until the mushrooms are tender and the onions are soft and starting to blacken. Top the mushrooms with cheese and continue to cook until the cheese is melted.

6. Time to build your sandwiches! On the 4 buns, share the remaining honey mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, roasted pepper, and a top each with one grilled portobello. Have napkins ready, these babies are juicy and delicious!

Meatless Monday – Crustless Squash and Spinach Pie

I recently checked out a few cookbooks at the library. I don’t own any vegetarian cookbooks and I wanted to pick up a few ideas for Meatless Mondays. I couldn’t see us having soup or grilled cheese or beans/rice ever Monday night (nothing wrong with that, mind you, but just not every week!). I have returned most of the books, but I had to renew Vegetarian Classics: 300 Essential Recipes for Every Course and Every Meal because I started marking things to make and my list was a mile long!

This pie was a recipe that immediately caught my eye. I know it’s not right and some (like my husband!) would like to disown me for it – but I could live my life without crust. At Thanksgiving, I will eat the filling to my pumpkin pie and give my husband the crust. He thinks I’m weird but doesn’t argue because he gets to be the clean up crew! Anyway, this pie is so full of great summer veggies and lots of flavor. You hardly miss the crust, and I certainly don’t miss the calories. You can eat this as a breakfast meal along with some home fries and fresh fruit or make it more dinner-y by adding a salad. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this colorful feast!

Crustless Squash and Spinach Pie

Serves 6
Adapted from: Vegetarian Classics: 300 Essential Recipes for Every Course and Every Meal

1 Tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced into 1/2″ pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium summer squashes (yellow, zucchini, or a combination of the two), quartered lengthwise and then thinly sliced
10 ounces fresh spinach, leaves torn and stems discarded
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups grated Swiss cheese.

1) Use the butter to grease a 9″ pie plate, reserving any butter left over. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the bottom and sides of the plate, swirling the dish to get them to stick. (there will be extra just hanging out in the plate, and that’s ok!)

2) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper and saute for 5 to7 minutes, until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

3) Mix in the squash and saute, stirring often, until the squash is tender; about 10 minutes.

4) Add the spinach and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally. Allow the liquid to evaporate. If you have any butter left over from step #1, now’s the time to throw it in. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the vegetables to cool.

5) Preheat the oven to 375 degreese. Beat together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cooled vegetable mixture.

6) Spoon half of the egg/vegetable mixture into the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Spoon remaining mixture in dish and top with remaining 1 cup of cheese.

7) Bake at 375 for 30 minutes (a knife inserted in the center should come out clean). Allow the pie to cool for 15 minutes before slicing into 6 servings.

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.

(72) Fettucine with Zucchini and Goat Cheese

Our first Meatless Monday and it was a rousing success!! This pasta dish is pretty much as close to heaven as it gets for me. I had 5 lbs of zucchini and squash to use from my CSA box. It just so happens that one of my favorite summer dishes is a simple saute of squash and onions. It also happens that I love goat cheese with all my heart. Pasta makes me happy. (see where I’m going here??)

This is super easy to put together and we all loved it! I am the happiest foodie on the planet – my (almost) 2 year old gobbled the heck out of this. She HATES zucchini, but covered in goat cheese, well, I guess that’s a different story!

Fettucine with Zucchini and Goat Cheese

Yield: 6 servings

1 pound uncooked Fettuccine
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion (half a large white onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds of zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces herbed goat cheese, divided (use the log kind, not the pre-crumbled!!)

1) Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain the pasta, but reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and slightly browned (about 5 minutes). Add the minced garlic and saute 30 seconds.

3) Add the zucchini, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper to the onions. Saute until the zucchini is tender and slightly browned (6 to 8 minutes).

4) Reduce heat to medium. Stir in 6 ounces of goat cheese, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 3/4 tsp kosher salt (yes, really!) and 1 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and nice and ‘saucy’! If you need more water, add it as you see fit. I only needed the 1.5 cups, but you might like it saucier!!

5) Serve the pasta onto individual plates. Top with zucchini and sauce. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese on the top. Enjoy!!

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