Meatless Monday Ideas? Try These!

I know I’ve fallen behind in sharing meatless meals lately, so this week I’ve got a few husband-approved goodies.  I hate to disappoint, so I’ll warn you this week, next week is a report on my first venture into French cooking; it’s a long recipe that’s meat based, but if you make it for your Valentine, it’s bound to be a winner.  After that, I promise I’ll get back into my old format of sharing things that are for everyone’s tastes.

My first offering this week is a Sally original.  As many of my dear readers know, I love soups.  They’re warm, they’re  hearty, and if you do it right, they’re actually really healthy for you.  I’m not sure how this one falls on the healthy scale, but it’s chocked full of veggies.  The last butternut squash soup I tried leaned too far on the sweet side, so I decided to make my own with a heavy emphasis on savory.  Roasting the squash can be done the day before, if you don’t want to spend several hours on a soup; I know not everyone has the kind of time I do.  To an extent, I improvised a lot, as in I opened my spice cabinet, and threw in nearly every herb I had. Feel free to do the same here, using what you have – I know herbs get expensive quickly if you have to buy a bunch of them.  I know that looks like a lot of seasoning, but they’re laying siege against all that squash.

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 big butternut squash

    Everything to love in a soup, creamy, hearty, and tons of flavor!
    Everything to love in a soup, creamy, hearty, and tons of flavor!
  • 1/2 Cup brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp tarragon
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (plus extra if needed)
  • 2 Cups half and half
  • 1/4 C grated parm

Cut a butternut squash in half, remove the seeds and put it on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for an hour/hour and a half, until fork tender.

When there’s 30-45 minutes left on the squash, dice up 1/2 C brown mushrooms, 1 large onion, and 4 cloves of garlic. Melt half a stick of butter in a large soup pot, and when it’s starting to foam, add the diced veggies. Let them simmer 15-20 minutes

When the squash is done, take out the simmering veggies and scoop the flesh of the squash into the pot. with an immersion blender, blend until smooth. If you want the whole soup to be smooth, leave the other veggies in while you blend, but if you want some texture, take them out before adding the squash, and return them to the pot when the squash is smooth. Add 2 C half and half, 1 C chicken/veggie broth, 1/4 C grated parmesan cheese.   Add the herbs, adjusting to your tastes and supply as need be.  If too thick, add another cup of broth. bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for 15 minutes.

My next dish was, if nothing else, an adventure into the meatless world.  My husband called it Italian falafel, I’m not quite sure I’d go that far.  I just wish there were a better thing to call them than “meatless balls.” Yeah, Vegetable “Meatballs” isn’t any better.  But it was pretty good.  This one started with a roasted eggplant, which doesn’t take near as long to make.  I have Food Network Magazine to thank for this one, though I wish just once something I make would turn out looking anything like the picture.  Again, if you’re a busy person who doesn’t have a couple hours to spend on dinner, then by all means, roast the eggplant the day before.

Eggplant Meatballs in Marinara Sauce (from Melissa D’Arabian)

  • 1 small eggplant (about 12 ounces)

    Eggplant Meatballs
    A tasty dish, despite the name
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans, such as cannellini or navy (rinsed, if canned), smashed with a fork
  • 1 large clove garlic, very finely chopped or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup whole-wheat panko-style breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil mister or nonstick pan spray
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the eggplant on top. Use a fork to prick the eggplant 4 times, then place the eggplant in the oven and roast it until it has completely collapsed and a paring knife easily slips into the center, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool the eggplant 20 minutes. Leave the oven on.

Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh (discard the skin). Place the roasted eggplant in a medium bowl and stir in the egg and beans. Add the garlic, basil, parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir to combine, then mix in the breadcrumbs.

Again, line the rimmed baking sheet with a clean sheet of foil and lightly mist it with spray. Shape the eggplant mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball (2 tablespoons per ball; you should get about 16). Place them on the prepared baking sheet and lightly mist the top of the balls with spray. Bake the eggplant balls until they are golden brown and firm, about 20 minutes.

While the meatballs cook, warm the marinara sauce in a small saucepan. Remove the meatballs from the oven, sprinkle with a little extra parmesan and serve with the marinara sauce.

Tip of the week:  To roast a squash in the microwave, cut the squash in half and put face-down in a microwave-safe dish.  Nuke for 10-12 minutes, turn over and cook for about 5 minutes longer, until fork tender.