Summer kicked into full gear here this past week and all I want to eat are light meals that fill me up without weighing me down. Go vegetarian for the week and enjoy these three healthy and delicious dinners that will please both you and your meat-loving family members. Serve chana masala or a simple red lentil daal with the baingan bharta and don't forget the naan! Then, cool off with my fresh and summery quinoa main-dish salad; it will leave you scraping seconds off your plate, I can promise you that!
Grocery list:Spinach fettuccine1 lb. peas, shelled2 lemons1 pint creamButterRed pepper flakes1 wedge dry Jack cheese1 large eggplantOlive oilCanola oil1 yellow onion1 jalapeño pepperOne 1-inch piece of fresh gingerOne 15-oz. can diced tomatoesGaram masalaCumin seeds (not ground cumin)Turmeric2 bunches cilantroTwo 15-oz. cans black beans1 red onion2 large grapefruits1 large red bell pepper3 ears fresh corn1 bag quinoa1 large (ripe but firm) avocado3 limesGround cuminSpinach Linguine With Lightened-Up Alfredo SauceA delicious (and healthier!) version of the classic Italian cream sauce
8 oz. fresh or dry spinach fettuccine (I used a vegan whole-grain fresh kind from Whole Foods)2 cups fresh shelled peas2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice1/3 cup cream2 tbsp. butterPinch of salt1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes1 cup grated dry Jack cheese
1. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water. If using fresh pasta, this will take only about 30 seconds—don’t overcook! Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. Set aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, cook shelled peas in another pot filled with boiling water. Simmer peas for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain.
3. In the same pot, melt butter and whisk in lemon juice. Add cream, salt, red pepper flakes, and cheese, and stir over low/medium heat until slightly thickened. Pour over cooked pasta, add peas, and a little reserved pasta water if it seems dry. Finish with a grind of black pepper.Baingan BhartaMy absolute favorite Indian dish, full of spicy, pureed eggplant, onions, and peppers
1 large eggplant1 tbsp. olive oil1 tbsp. canola oil1 yellow onion1 jalapeño pepperOne 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, mincedOne 15-oz. can diced tomatoes3 tsp. garam masala1 tsp. cumin seeds (not ground cumin)1 tsp. salt1 tsp. turmeric1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant lengthwise and sprinkle salt on the fleshy side. Rub both sides with olive oil and roast skin side up for 25 to 30 minutes until tender. When timer goes off, switch oven to broil and roast another 5 minutes until caramelized and golden.
2. While the eggplant is roasting, chop onion, jalapeño, and ginger. Heat canola oil in large skillet and add onion. Sauté for 5 minutes until tender, then add jalapeño and ginger and sauté another 5 minutes. Add spices and stir well.
3. When eggplant halves have cooled, scoop out flesh into a bowl and remove as many seeds as you can (but don’t stress out over it!). Add eggplant and diced tomatoes to onion mixture and stir together. Cook for 5 minutes.
4. Carefully ladle mixture into blender or food processor and process until smooth. Serve with brown rice or naan bread with cilantro scattered on top.Black Bean, Quinoa, and Citrus SaladHands down, my favorite summer dish. Healthy and hearty, this salad will fill you up without weighing you down
Two 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed1/2 red onion, minced2 large grapefruits, divided into segments and chopped1 large red bell pepper, diced3 ears fresh corn, kernels chopped off’1 cup uncooked quinoa1 large (ripe but firm) avocado, diced1 small bunch cilantro, minced
For the dressing:Juice of 3 limes2 tsp. cumin3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil1/4 tsp. sea salt
1. Bring quinoa to a boil with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and quinoa is light and fluffy. Remove from stove and let cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
2. Place black beans, red onion, grapefruit, cilantro, bell pepper, avocado, and shucked corn kernels in a large bowl. Toss to combine.
3. In small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Add quinoa to salad, then pour over dressing. Toss well and serve. Salad will keep in sealed Tupperware containers for up to 5 days in the fridge.