By Nancy Sweet, director, culinary programs and operations, Lincoln Land Community College
I’m not a vegetarian, but I find myself eating less and less meat during the week. I do make fish pretty frequently, but it’s rare that I would cook pork or beef for a weeknight meal. Veggies, especially paired with a nice grain such as barley, quinoa or couscous, can be filling and satisfying.
Plus, it’s easy to mix and match veggies. Have some broccoli, onions and mushrooms? Toss them in some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, give them a good roast in the oven, and serve them over couscous with some goat cheese. Not sure what to do with leftover zucchini and bell peppers? Saute them in olive oil, add some chickpeas, and toss with brown rice and spinach.
Below are a few of my go-tos for weeknight, vegetable-centered dinners.
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons cider or red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
4 green onions
1/2 cup craisins
1 apple, diced
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Bring 2 cups of water to boil in saucepot on stove. Add quinoa; cover, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat, set aside, and let cool slightly.
Whisk together vinegar, mustard and honey. Slowly add in olive oil until combined. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, green onions, craisins and pecans. Mix in vinaigrette. Add in mint, parsley and feta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be served cold or at room temperature. Can also be nice served over mixed greens.
Barley Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower and Radish
3 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup white wine
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
3 cups cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup radishes, halved
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss together 2 tablespoons olive with cauliflower and radishes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet. Do not overcrowd (which will make it steam instead of roast). If need be, use two baking sheets. Roast for 15 minutes, stir and roast another 15-20 minutes.
While vegetables are roasted, make barley risotto. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and onions. Cook until onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add barley, stir and cook until toasty, about 2 minutes. Add wine, stir, and let cook until wine is absorbed.
Add heated broth about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly allowing the liquid to absorb between additions. Cook just until barley is almost tender, about 20 minutes total. Add the parsley, lemon and season with salt. Serve, topping with roasted cauliflower and radish. (This is also great with pan seared salmon!)
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup cooked/canned chickpeas
1 cup coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 cups brown rice or cauliflower rice
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the salt and curry powder and cook for another minute. Transfer to a slow cooker pot.
Add the sweet potatoes, stock, tomato puree and chickpeas. Stir and cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice. Serve over the rice and top with cilantro and yogurt.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.