It's been a year since I wrote my Meal Monday post about swigging gazpacho and it's still hot in the D.C. metro area. Sickeningly hot. We've already had seven 100+ degree days, and it's not even August! Just like last year, it's too hot to cook or even think about eating hot food.
Unlike last year, though, both of my kids are now vegetarians. Ovo-lacto ones. At first I thought that they were just trying to get out of eating Thanksgiving turkey, but now we've passed the fad phase. The proof of their commitment? They've sworn off smores. Why? Because marshmallows are made with gelatin. And gelatin is made from, well, I'll spare you. (The kosher ones contain fish gelatin, which is also repugnant.)
We've come a long way since the declaration of vegetarianism last fall. The kids have accepted that they can't eat macaroni and cheese every night, and have started to eat (well, at least on some nights) a broader range of vegetables, grains, and beans. (They even like tofu!) But between the heat and my herbivores (yes, I know that human vegetarians are not herbivores but I like the alliteration), I'm tempted to get the heck out of the kitchen and stay out 'til September.
Still, we do have to eat. And I - the lone flesh-eater in our family - actually prefer eating vegetarian-style when summer produce is fresh and plentiful. So, here's a pasta-less meal for a sweltering summer night that works for vegetarians of all ages - and non-vegetarians, too. (And just so you don't forget about my Work Wednesday posts, both of these dishes are quick and can be made in advance of the work day.)
For starters, there's a tasty white bean, mozarella and tomato salad adapted from Didi Emmons' classic, Vegetarian Planet (1997). I think it appeals to my kids (even my supposedly non-tomato-eating son) because of the contrast between the smooth texture and saltiness of the fresh mozarella and the sweetness of summer tomatoes.
Then, there's an amazingly-healthy,fast and yummy mostly-crustless vegetarian quiche that I've modified from a recipe I found on the Baking Bites blog. (My daughter really loves this dish.) You'll have to bake it early in the morning with the air-conditioner kicked up but once you've done so, it keeps for days and even freezes well.
You can end the meal with some fruit-based frozen pops made in a fancy instant frozen pop maker or just old-fashioned freezer molds or just go all out with ice cream! After all, it's too hot to eat hot food!
White Bean, Fresh Mozarella and Tomato Salad (adapted from Didi Emmons' Vegetarian Planet)
Make this in the summer when tomatoes are sweet and taste like tomatoes! This comes together very easily especially if you use canned cannellini beans, as I do, instead of making your own white beans as Didi does. Try to find a low-sodium version. I also leave out the oregano from the original recipe to make the flavors simpler and cut the olive oil in half to reduce the fat. (You won't miss it.) If your kids will eat green things, sprinkle with chopped basil before serving.
1 15 oz. can canellini beans (rinsed)
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes or small fresh mozzarella balls like boconccini
1-2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon high quality extra-virgin olice oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more, to taste
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped basil (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the beans, chopped oregano, mozzarella, tomato, and red onion. In a smaller bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil. Pour this dressing over the salad and stir gently but well. Add the salt and pepper and chill.
Mostly-crustless Vegetarian Quiche (modified from a recipe on the Baking Bites blog)
This mostly-crustless quiche actually has a very thin crust that magically forms from the 1/2 cup of flour stirred in with the eggs and other ingredients. It only uses only two eggs, and two additional egg whites, plus low-fat or no-fat milk, making it much lighter than other quiches or egg-based dishes. I like to bake it in a fluted deep dish pie pan. You can use the onion, spinach and feta combination from the original recipe or replace them with other types of vegetable and cheese combinations, e.g., shallots, red pepper and goat cheese.
1 medium onion, diced
6-oz. fresh baby spinach
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch dry mustard
1 and 1/3 cups milk (low-fat or no-fat is fine)
1/2 cup feta cheese(or goat cheese crumbles, shredded parmesan, etc.)
Preheat oven to 400F early in the morning or with your air conditioner running on high.
Lightly grease a 10-inch quiche/tart pan (or a pie plate)
In a medium frying pan, cook diced onion with a bit of cooking spray over medium-high heat until translucent and tender. Add in fresh spinach (or other vegetable) and cook until just wilted. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, flour, baking powder, cayenne, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in milk, then stir in spinach-onion (or other vegetable) mixture.
Pour quiche base into prepared pan. Top with feta (or other) cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until center is set and the outside edge is golden brown.
Let it cool, and serve at room temperature.
Serves 4 - 6.