As most of us are constantly stuck inside to avoid spreading COVID-19, one way to pass the time is by experimenting with different homemade meals.
Whether you want to help the environment or simply cannot find any meat left in the store, these three easy to make, meat-free meals are worth trying.
Crunchy Mushroom Tacos
Taco night is a favorite in many households including mine. But, if you’re like me and try not to eat meat, it can feel like your taco is missing out. Luckily with the right seasonings and types of veggies, you can make tacos that almost taste like the real thing.
I’ve found mushrooms work best for this recipe, but you could also try using cauliflower rice or eggplant.
First, you’ll want to finely chop portabella, or whatever mushrooms you have into pieces slightly larger than taco meat. Next, in a cast iron pan, heat olive oil and minced garlic on medium heat. When the garlic is slightly browned add the chopped mushrooms. Season with garlic salt, onion powder and taco seasoning.
While I like my tacos filled with lettuce, cheese, tomato, sour cream and salsa, you can add almost anything to your hard or soft taco. You can easily customize your tacos to make them just the way you like using whatever ingredients you have available to you.
Martha’s Meatless Meatball Casserole
These eggplant and red pepper meatballs are a little complicated to make, but are worth the extra effort. Inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe, these meatballs are lighter in texture than traditional meatballs, but are packed with flavor.
If you are using raw eggplant, you will first want to cut the eggplant into four three-fourth inch planks and salt the planks using coarse salt. Let the eggplants sit for 30 minutes, then rinse, drain and squeeze the eggplant, pressing out any moisture until it is dry.
You may skip this step if using already processed eggplant, which I found works just as good and is much easier.
While you are processing the eggplants, it's time to work on your breadcrumbs. You can easily skip this step if you have bought ready-made breadcrumbs. Spread 1 and ⅓ cup of breadcrumbs in a single layer onto a baking sheet and bake until slightly golden.
Next, cook your eggplants in a pan over medium heat in about a tablespoon of oil. It should take about five minutes to cook both the eggplants and red pepper. You want the veggies to be soft and slightly charred.
Transfer the eggplant and red pepper to a food processor, along with the breadcrumbs, parmesan and minced garlic. Pulse the mixture until it becomes a chunky paste. Then transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in one eggwhite then chill the mixture for about thirty minutes until cold.
After that, you’ll want to form this mixture into 12 or 13 balls, coating the outsides with the remaining breadcrumbs. This helps the “meat” balls retain their shape as they chill in the fridge for at least one hour. The longer they chill the better the texture will be, so if you have the time it's best to let them sit in the fridge overnight.
Now it's time to get those meatballs cooking. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, then cook them in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until browned all over. Next add your favorite tomato sauce to the skillet along with olive oil, sliced garlic and red pepper flakes.
Bake the meatballs in the sauce until it has slightly thickened then remove the dish from the oven and top each of the meatballs with mozzarella cheese. Broil the dish until the cheese is bubbly and golden, then let cool and enjoy!
You could switch up this recipe by using almost any combination of vegetables for the meatballs.
Veggie and Lentil Chili
This recipe is inspired by a recipe for Vegetarian Lentil Tortilla Soup on peasandcrayons.com.
Like any chili recipe, this veggie inspired meal is easily customizable and quick to prepare. You can use a slow cooker, pressure cooker or cook over the stovetop.
First, you’ll want to chop all your veggies and measure all the ingredients. This will make it easy to toss everything together. Some staple veggies you might want to add are onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and lentils. You can, however, add a variety of other beans and veggies including mushroom, corn and zucchini.
Cook your veggies seasoned with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper on low temperature over the stove until veggies are tender. If you are using a slow cooker, cook for 4-6 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low-medium.
My favorite part about this recipe is that you can add almost anything to top it off. From cheddar cheese and sour cream to guacamole and tortilla chips, this veggie chili is easily customizable and delicious.
Amanda Britt is the photo editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AmandaBritt__