For the past few weeks, I have been on a strictly vegetarian diet to mark the period of Lent that we Catholics observe right before Easter. This can be quite a challenge when you are a full-time meat-a-tarian. So, getting creative with veggies (and don’t get me wrong, I love my veggies!) is an absolute necessity. At the outset let me state that I have come to form a very intimate bond with Pesto sauce – it knows me and I know it pretty well! 😉 In all seriousness, I can rely on Pesto sauce for its diversity of flavour that can be paired with just about any carbohydrate!
Below are a few veggie meals that I came up with on a creative budget. Please adjust the quantity of ingredients according to the number of people you wish to serve. As well, modify where necessary; these recipes are not carved in stone and what works for my taste-buds may not work for yours! =)
1. PESTO PACKERS
- Whole wheat tortillas (1 packet with 10 tortillas)
- 1 jar of pesto sauce
- 2 zucchinis
- Mozzarella cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Spread some Pesto sauce onto a tortilla.
Cut zucchini into thin slices, put in a bowl, add olive oil, salt and pepper and toss well.
Place enough zucchini slices to cover up half the tortilla.
Grate a slab of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle over the same half of the tortilla.
Fold the tortilla over and cut in half.
Repeat the same process for as many Pesto Packers as you would like to make.
Put on a baking tray (with parchment paper) and place in the oven at 350 degree Celsius for 20 minutes.
When done, pull out of oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Serve as a side dish or pile on as the main dish.
2. PESTO-PASTA CASSEROLE
- Spaghetti and/or Linguine pasta
- 1 jar of Pesto sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil
- 12-14 stalks of asparagus
- 1 packet frozen spinach (or fresh spinach)
- 4-5 red onions (or white/yellow)
- 5-8 garlic cloves (depending on your comfort level with garlic)
- Grated cheese of your choice (I used a mozza-cheddar blend here)
Boil the pasta (I used a bunch of different kinds of Spaghetti, Spaghettini, Linguine Fini etc. that I had laying around in half-opened boxes – it doesn’t matter since this will be the base and can comprise any kind of dense pasta). Add a tablespoon of salt as the pasta cooks until Al dente. Drain the pasta and immediately add an entire jar of Pesto sauce (if you let the pasta lay there after draining, it gets sticky, so adding the Pesto sauce immediately is key here) and mix well. Put the mix into a glass baking dish and spread evenly.
Peel, wash and finely chop up the onions and garlic and add to a hot skillet with some vegetable oil. Wash and chop up the asparagus into pieces measuring about an inch and add to the sauteing onions and garlic. Add in the packet of frozen spinach and wait until spinach disintegrates into the rest of the veggies before you add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 20 minutes and take off heat.
Add this veggie mix over the pasta-pesto mix and spread evenly into the dish.
Add grated cheese over top and pop in the oven at 350 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.
When done, pull out of oven and leave to stand for about 5 minutes. Serve with garlic bread if desired.
3. OMELET CUPCAKES:
- 12 eggs
- 3 handfuls of fresh spinach
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cheddar and/or mozzarella cheese slab (or grated)
- 6 – 7 green onions
- 6 -8 Cremini mushrooms
- 1 cup of 1% milk
Break all 12 eggs into a mixing bowl. Wash and finely chop the green onions, fresh spinach and Cremini mushrooms. Add these to the bowl and mix well. Add in as much grated cheese as desired and salt and pepper to taste. Add in the cup of milk and mix until you get a good consistency. It should not be too watery, if it is, add more eggs. If it is too thick, add more milk. Mix really well. Using a ladle, scoop a ladle-ful of omelet mixture into the cups of cupcake baking tray. Leave about a quarter-inch of room to the top of each cup so your omelet mixture does not spill over when you are moving your baking tray. Pop into the oven at 350 degree Celsius for 20 – 30 minutes. Check at the 20 minute mark using the knife test: place knife into centre of a couple of the cupcakes and if it comes out smooth, you are ready to turn off the oven. Once the oven is turned off, pull out and let stand for about 5 minutes. Using a knife, gently separate the cupcakes from the baking dish one by one, scoop out and serve. Et voila!
If you do try any of these recipes, please share in the comment section and let me know how they turned out. Happy Veggie-Eating!
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