It’s the perfect time to commit to simple meals at home.
In our hurried lives, the drive thrus can be tempting, but with a little planning, you can slow down and enjoy the goodness of your garden or local farmer’s market.
Gone are the days of meat and potatoes. Today, think light, fresh, nutritious and flavorful.
With a few favorite meal ideas, you will always have somewhere to start and can stop cringing when you hear the lovely question, “What’s for Dinner?”
The following four recipes can be modified to your heart’s delight. Add fresh herbs, spicy spreads and other flavors to keep things interesting.
4 Simple Vegan Recipes
- 2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
- 2 yellow bell peppers, halved and seeded
- 1 lb. ripe plum tomatoes (about 4 medium)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with coarse kosher salt or sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons capers (I leave these out)
- 1/3 cup black olives, pitted (I leave these out)
- 1 small or 1/2 large loaf day-old ciabatta, cut coarsely into cubes
- a bunch of fresh basil leaves, torn
Put the peppers cut-side down on a baking sheet and broil until blistered and charred. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool (the steam will loosen the skin, making it easier to peel). Scrape off the skin, then cut the peppers into strips, reserving any juice.
Halve the tomatoes and scoop out the cores and seeds over a bowl to catch the juice. Puree the cores and seeds in a blender, then press the extra juice through a strainer into the bowl. Discard the pulp and seeds. Cut the tomato halves into strips.
Put the tomato juice, vinegar, garlic, and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Gradually add the 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, whisking until blended.
Mix the strips of peppers and tomatoes in a bowl, add the capers, olives, ciabatta, and basil and mix. Add the dressing, toss well to coat, then set aside for 1 hour to develop the flavors. Drizzle with extra olive oil and serve.
my favorite modifications: add chopped cucumber or roasted eggplant. Try balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.
2. Pancakes with fresh fruit
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons canola oil + oil for the pan
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups plain rice or soy milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Oil a large skillet and preheat over medium-high heat about 2 minutes.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Adding wet ingredients to dry, mix until just combined. Do not overmix or the pancakes will be tough; a couple of lumps are ok.
Cook pancakes until browned on the bottom and bubbles form on top, about 4 minutes. Turn the pancakes over and cook until the bottoms are browned and the pancakes are barely firm to touch.
3. Veggie Sandwiches
- bell peppers
- green onions
- micro sprouts or pea shoots
- rustic Italian bread
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
brush sliced bread with olive oil and toast or grill. Add all veggies except for sprouts and grill or broil. When the vegetables start to heat up, drizzle balsamic vinegar, add crunchy sprouts and serve open faced.
my favorite modifications: spread bread with pesto, or serve in a wrap.
4. Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon (rounded) sea salt
- 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
- 3 tablespoons tamari
In a saucepan on low heat, combine syrup, vinegar, Earth Balance spread, garlic, and salt, and heat for several minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine arrowroot and tamari, stirring through until well incorporated.
Add tamari mixture to saucepan, whisk to combine, and increase heat to bring mixture to a boil, stirring continually. Let boil gently for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let cool slightly (the mixture will thicken more as it cools down).
Drizzle over your favorite grilled vegetables.
If you want a sweet treat to finish your meal, try one of the 75 cupcake recipes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule. My favorites are Sexy, Low-fat, Vanilla Cupcakes with Fresh Berries, and Mucho Margarita Cupcakes.
As you put together your simple meals, think about colors not calories. Think about the beauty of simplicity, instead of fancy table settings. Focus on the flavor of each bite, instead of what you have to get done after your meal.
Keep in mind that how you eat is just as important as what you eat. You don’t need a four course dinner to linger.
More reading for mealtime inspiration.
What’s your favorite simple meal?