Vegetarian for the summer or forever?

Easy and delicious vegetarian dishes to make this summer

Vegetarian for the summer or forever?

Have you decided going vegan is too hard and you want to start off vegetarian? Have you realized that being vegetarian is a more eco-friendly diet? Did you used to be vegetarian and miss the environmentally friendly versions of food? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, or if you’re just looking for a new vegetarian recipe, these recommendations are for you.

These can all be made in under 45 minutes, are low on expensive ingredients and good for the summer.

Penne with herb butter and peas

One easy starter recipe is penne with herb butter and peas. To start, make your herb butter: mash together one stick of butter with a variety of herbs, such as chives, basil and mint. Roll the butter into a cylinder shape inside plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm.

Then, cook ¾ cup of peas in boiling water until they’re bright green. Run them under cold water. Boil a pot of pasta next according to the box instructions. Shape doesn’t matter, but penne or ziti work well in this dish. Once boiled, drain the pasta. Finally, melt a few tablespoons of the herb butter in the pan, add the pasta and the peas, and your dish is ready. You can also add all kinds of vegetables, like sautéed onions and sliced zucchini, for a more flavorful dish.

Though boiling the vegetables will take some patience, the simple flavor of the herb butter makes this dish a delicious staple.

Paneer tikka roll

A more rich and flavorful recipe is the paneer tikka roll. This one is a remix of a simple dish from food stalls on the streets of India and Pakistan. The key to this dish is the spices. Combine ⅚ tablespoons of plain yogurt with the myriad of spices listed in the recipe: cumin, coriander powder, turmeric, chaat masala, garam (hot) masala, fenugreek leaves, amchur (mango) powder, kashmiri mirch/red chili powder and salt. Once combined, add around 8 ounces of paneer, cut into cubes. Coat the cubes in the yogurt mixture and pan-fry them on medium-high heat until browned. 

Personally, the chutney is my favorite part, which you can easily buy from any Indian or Pakistani grocery store. You can also make it in a small blender at home: blend 3 tablespoons cilantro, 1 tablespoon mint, 4 tablespoons yogurt, cumin powder, chaat masala, amchur (mango) powder, garlic powder, salt, 2 green chillies and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. 

Finally, the pickled onions add a bit more flavor and crunch to this dish. Saute ¼ of a sliced red onion in an oiled pan while adding the juice of one lime. Once softened, add ¾ chaat masala and ¾ kashmiri mirch. Cook until the lime juice has been absorbed.

To make the wrap, fry your tortilla in a pan with a bit of butter and hot sauce. Once fried, build the roll as you would a taco. Coat the tortilla with a thin layer of chutney, and put ¾ paneer cubes down the center, with a helping of pickled onions. Roll and enjoy! 

This recipe creates 2-3 rolls that my family and I devoured in a few minutes. This recipe left me wanting for more, and I definitely plan to make it again! 

Chickpea salad

A good salad can’t be beat, especially one packed with protein like this simple chickpea salad, tossed with a hand-squeezed lemon. To start, cube an avocado and squeeze ½ a lemon over it, gently mixing after. Add the rest of your ingredients: 1 drained can of chickpeas, ¼ cup of sliced onions, 2 cups of sliced grape/cherry tomatoes, 2 cups of diced cucumber, ¾ diced green bell pepper and ½ cup of fresh parsley. 

After combining these, add your easy dressing. Simply, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine — or balsamic — vinegar, ½ teaspoon cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Once all ingredients are stirred together, this easy salad is ready to enjoy! Not only is this easy to make, it’s healthy and beyond delicious. 

Cheesy spinach pesto flatbread

Let’s take a moment because this is, quite possibly, the simplest, most delicious recipe on the list. This pesto flatbread requires four ingredients: store bought naan or pizza crust, ½ cup of pesto, 6 ounces shredded mozzarella and ⅓ cup of spinach. 

Spread the pesto evenly across the naan, sprinkle with mozzarella, and finish with the spinach. An optional final step is to add crushed red pepper flakes.

Bake in the oven at 425 F for about 10-13 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and slightly golden. Remove from the oven, slice and get eating!

Eggless banana bread

To finish, here’s a dessert that’s good for the summer and eggless too. I have made this banana bread dozens of times and it’s a staple in my household. 

Start with three super ripe bananas. To speed up the ripening process, I stick my bananas in the oven for a few minutes and let them blacken. Mash your bananas in a large mixing bowl until slightly chunky. Add ½ cup of melted butter, mix and follow with ½ cup of buttermilk (a good substitute is ½ cup milk, and ½ tablespoon of lemon juice combined), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and one cup brown sugar. Mix until well combined. 

Next, add the dry ingredients: 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda and some chopped walnuts if you like them. For added texture, roast the chopped walnuts for a few minutes in the oven before adding them to the batter. 

Once mixed, pour the batter into greased bread pans. Bake at 350 F for around 1 hour , or until a pick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before adding the glaze. The glaze is simply 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and chopped walnuts, mixed. Depending on how sweet you prefer the bread, pour glaze sparingly. 

A nice touch is adding a few chocolate chips and, for those over 21, a rum glaze is a terrific idea as well. 

Eating vegetarian isn’t as hard as it sounds, and hopefully, with some of these recipes, you can fit a vegetarian meal into your weekly repertoire. Making each recipe your own is even more enjoyable, and so is the personal satisfaction of making a meal that is as healthy for you as it is for the Earth. 

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