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Vegetarian Dishes With Beans, Lentils and Grains
I grew up eating a mostly vegetarian diet, and learned that this form of protein is just as good as meat and poultry. People also are a bit too obsessed with protein, and the truth is protein can be found in ever food source, including vegetables and fruit. Also, in this economy it is often more economical to buy a bag of dried beans or lentils than a small chicken or steak, so there are other incentives to changing over to vegetarian fare for a few meals a week.
When I was young some people used to stare at me, or make silly comments about "why you do not want to eat a burger?", but after awhile you just smile and eat what tastes good to you. I love lentils and rice, which is a Syrian dish called mujadara that my grandpa ate growing up as a little boy in Indiana. My dad also told fond stories of how his grandma made him mujadara and kibbe, but I prefer a vegetarian version of the latter dish as I do not enjoy eating lamb. Another vegetarian dish I love is black bean burgers, which are a great way to use up some of those cans sitting around in your pantry. Dress up vegetarian cuisine with herbs and spices, and if the most hardy of meat eaters will not notice the lack of meat. Well I am sure if you prefer a hamburger that will remain your preference over making a veggie burger, but some of these recipes might tempt you to try the veggie alternative for a change in menu.
When I am running low of groceries I would rather use the healthful ingredients in my fridge than run to the store to buy new groceries. One day I was playing around in the kitchen and came up with this fried spicy potato recipe that contains salsa and black beans. This was a great left over, and here are the impromptu ingredients I included:
- seven cut up potatoes with the skins on
- a cup of salsa
- a cut up onion
- a cup of canola oil
- 1/4 cup of black beans
First I sauteed the onions in canola oil, and then I added the potatoes. Once the potatoes had begun to fry I added the black beans and the salsa, and let the potatoes finish cooking through. This was a fun dish for lunch that has a Southwestern flair.
Mujadara: Syrian Lentils and Rice
My grandpa always told fond stories about this dish, and the wonderful thing about it is that it is tasty and cheap. Lentils and rice are still a popular dish in the Middle East, but this was a dish my great-grandma used to make and that I heard many stories about. Lentils are rich in protein and fiber that are part of the legume family. Like beans lentils are a good alternative for vegetarian main dishes, or just for those days when people do not want to eat meat. Here is a simple and easy recipe for making tasty lentils and rice:
- two cups of chopped onions
- half a cup of olive oil
- one cup of lentils
- one cup of long grain rice
- six cups of water
- two teaspoons of salt
- half a lemon
Cook the lentils in the water for thirty minutes. As the lentils are simmering, sautee the onions in the olive oil under very low heat until
translucent. After the lentils have cooked for thirty minutes add the rest of the ingredients to the pan to simmer for twenty more minutes. Once the lentils have finished cooking squeeze in a bit of lemon juice to add flavor. These is a hardy dish that you can make in large patches to freeze for use throughout the week or month.
Kibbee is a grain rich dish that my great-grandma used to make, but she liked to put lamb in it. Since I am vegetarian I do not like to eat lamb, so I thought a vegetarian alternative would be a nice thing to try. This is a recipe that I have shaped to meet my own simplistic tastes when it comes to preparing food, and a traditional kibbee dish would be much more elaborate.
- one cup of veggie burger or one cup of chopped and sauteed eggplant (you decide)
- one cup of finely chopped onion
- half a cup of bulgar wheat
- a teaspoon of basil
- a teaspoon of oregano
- a teaspoon of chilli pepper
- a half cup of olive oil
Lightly sauté the onions in a pan and then add the veggie burger or eggplant, depending on which one you want for this dish. Soak the bulgar wheat in a cup of water for fifteen minutes as you are sauteing the veggie burger/eggplant. After the eggplant/veggie burger is cooked through add to a glass bowl and set aside. Drain the water out of the bulgar wheat, and then add it to the bowl with the veggie burger/eggplant. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together thoroughly. Use your hands to shape the mixture into small patties, and then place these on a non-stick cookie sheet. Pre-heat the oven to 350F degrees while you are shaping the kibbee paties, and then place these in the oven to bake for about half an hour, or until the paties are golden brown. Kibbee paties taste great dipped in yogurt of your choice, are inside a pita bread with a little bit of romaine lettuce and tomato.
Black Bean Burgers: Yum, Yum!
Here is the first recipe for black bean burgers, which are flavorful and tasty:
- one fifteen ounce can of drained black beans
- one cup of oatmeal
- half a cup of shredded carrot
- half a cup finely diced celery
- half a teaspoon of garlic salt
- a dash of pepper
- half a teaspoon basil
- half a teaspoon oregano
- two beaten eggs
- a drizzle of hot sauce
Lightly mash the black beans and add all ingredients, and then let to mixture sit for five minutes. Use your finger to form the mixture into patties, which you can fry in a bit of oil for five minutes on each side. If you do not want to use oil, then place the patties on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake in a 300F degree oven for ten minutes on each side. These burgers taste great on a sesame seed bun with Romain lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes.
Pinto Bean Burgers
Pinto beans are the refried beans used in many Mexican dishes. Stock up on cans of refried beans at the supermarket to make this tasty bean burger.
- One fifteen ounce can pinto beans, drained, or a can of refried pinto beans.
- half a cup of finely diced onion
- half a cup of finely chopped celery
- half a cup of shredded carrot
- half a cup of quick cooking old fashioned oatmeal
- two tablespoons cilantro,chopped
- one beaten egg
- half a teaspoon salt
- dash chili pepper
- dash cumin
- dash garlic salt
Gingerly mash the pinto beans and add all other ingredients. If you use a can of refried beans, then there is less mashing to do, and this is much faster. Form patties out of the mixture and let it sit for five minutes. Fry the pinto bean patties in olive oil about 5 minutes each side. Eat these on a bun, or inside a pita bread pocket. If you are having a party make several different types of kibbee and vegetarian bean burgers for your guests to try.