Friday, April 4, 2014

7 quick meatless meals

Because I've decided to make non-take takes a Thing.

Fridays can be an issue for us.  I like to serve plain pan-cooked whiting because it is cheap and easy, but no one actually likes it except Michael.  The grownups eat it because it's not bad, and Marko gets bribed to eat a certain number of bites and then fills up on mashed potatoes.  So I'm really trying to move away from that.

However, without gluten to fall back on, we have to be creative.  Here are a few we like.  Warning: I don't do fancy.  None of these are Impressive.  All of them can be done in half an hour or less, though, so that's a perk.


Oyster Chowder

Aldi sells canned oysters quite cheap, but this would work fine with clams too.

Saute half an onion, or so, in butter.  Add flour and make roux out of the remaining butter.  (I've been using corn flour, which makes a roux just like wheat flour does -- but you can omit this step if you don't have a flour you can use.  You'll probably want less liquid.) 

Then chop up 3-4 potatoes and put those in.  I peel them for this soup, because I think the peels make it look dingy.  Also 1-2 carrots if you have them.  Add water, milk, and/or liquid from the can of oysters -- I usually do some of each, enough to barely cover the vegetables.  Simmer until everything is soft.  Add in the oysters and get them warm, and perhaps some frozen corn if you have and like it.  Throw in some chopped garlic or garlic powder.

Then you have a choice.  If you like it chunky and brothy, you can leave it the way it is.  Or you can mash with a potato masher to make it more chowdery, or take a wand blender to get it really smooth.  I go the potato masher route usually -- it breaks it up without making it homogeneous.

Then you season however you like.  I do salt, pepper, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary.  It's good garnished with sour cream.  This amount always gives us a little leftovers after feeding the four of us, but I don't care for the leftovers of it, so keep that in mind when scaling the recipe.



Mussels are the cheapest kind of shellfish, almost every time.  Aldi sells them frozen for quite a decent price.  You can just put them, fresh or frozen, in a pan with a little water and steam them till their shells open.  They're good with tomato sauce or garlic butter, served over rice or pasta.  The kids like pulling them out of the shells.  I have been intimidated by shellfish my whole life, but I actually like mussels.  Lobster is still a big No, but this rarely comes up in my life.


Tuna Noodle

This is what we call it.  I serve it for Friday lunches or when John's not there, but it can be made gluten-free with gf pasta and an alternate flour.

This is just mac 'n' cheese with tuna in it, but I'll tell you how I make it.

Cook the pasta.  While it's cooking you make the sauce.  Start with 3 T of butter and about 2 T of flour.  (Again, corn flour works well.)  Once it's all melted and mixed together, you pour in about a cup of milk.  Add the spices: garlic, salt, pepper, and mustard powder.  Don't skip the mustard powder -- a couple of good shakes.  Sometimes I like curry powder or chili powder in there too.

Bring the white sauce to a simmer while you grate the cheese.  I do cheddar, the sharper the better, about a quarter of a pound.  More is better, but this is true of cheese in almost every instance.  Throw it in as the white sauce starts to bubble, and stir it really well to make sure there are no floury lumps in there.  I also throw in 1/4 cup or so of pumpkin puree if I have it.  It makes the sauce nice and orange, and the kids never notice it.  Once the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth, I add two cans of tuna and a handful of frozen peas.  Then mix in the noodles and serve.  Some people like bread crumbs or more grated cheese on top.

For a totally different recipe, you can omit the cheese and tuna and increase the pumpkin to a cup or more.  Then season with sage and thyme instead of mustard powder.  I was surprised with how the kids wolfed it down.


Mock lasagna

Lasagna is a lot of work, right?  All those layers, and you end up chewing and swallowing it all.  So I like to make it all mixed together: tomato sauce, spinach, ricotta, and herbs for the sauce, then serve it over noodles, rice, eggplant, and/or mushrooms.  Each bowl gets a grating of mozzarella.  We love this.


Fried fish

Take a fish fillet of some kind you like -- cod, whiting, flounder, tilapia, whatever.  Make sure it's defrosted and heat maybe 1/8 inch of good oil in your pan.  You can saute okay in butter or olive oil, but for high heat it's better to use something with a higher smoke point, like peanut or coconut oil.  The USCCB says frying in meat fat is okay for Fridays, did you know that?  (They say stock is fine too.)  So I use what I have.

Dip each fillet in beaten egg and then roll it in cornmeal.  It's good to season the cornmeal with salt, pepper, paprika, even cayenne if that's how you roll.  Once the oil is good and hot, throw your fish in.  When the first side is brown, flip it over and do the other side.  It turns out tasty and crunchy.  Serve with oven fries and coleslaw, maybe?  You can easily make a decent tartar sauce, if you like it, by mixing mayo and sweet relish.  I can make both of those from scratch, but since I don't usually have both on hand, I just serve with ketchup.  Malt vinegar is traditional too.



Make enchilada sauce.  That's pretty much tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder, onions, garlic, all to taste.  A veggie puree would probably go totally unnoticed here.

Layer the sauce with corn tortillas and shredded cheddar cheese in a casserole dish, making sure no corn tortillas stick out over the sauce.  Cover the whole thing in cheddar cheese and bake for 20 minutes or so.


Salmon casserole

Brown some rice in butter in a pan, like you were going to make risotto.  When it starts to smell toasted, add the right amount of liquid (twice as much as the rice).  You can use water or milk, or vegetable stock if you happen to have it.  Let it simmer till the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed.  Then add a bit more liquid and stir while you start throwing more ingredients in: a can of salmon, with the bones removed or mashed up with a fork if it has them; sauteed onion; frozen vegetables of some kind (broccoli is good for this); garlic.  Stir until the rice is really soft and gooey and the liquid is absorbed again.  At this point you can mix in some sour cream if you have it to make it even creamier.  Then throw in some cheddar cheese and stir it in till it melts, and serve.

More quick takes at Conversion Diary.

1 comment:

Lindsay @ Lindsay Loves said...

Your mock lasagna sounds awesome! My problem is that I only have myself to cook for, but I can't eat a whole lasagna. I make pasta-based dishes all the time, but I've never thought about making it to be eaten in individual portions like that. Thank you for the idea!

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