A pesco-vegetarian is someone who eats no meat except fish. That’s what we do when we’re at home and most of the time when we eat in other places. Here is what we made for dinner (and a few lunches) the past three weeks, using many vegetables and mushrooms from our community-supported agriculture share in a farm here in Pennsylvania. I hope it gives you some new ideas for meals based around the local foods of the season!
- Lunch: We had a parish lunch at church. The cooking crew had made pancetta, an Italian bread salad kind of thing with plenty of fresh local vegetables and crumbled cheese. It was delicious except for the celery, which I could pick out. (I detest celery. It astounds me that some people claim it has no flavor; to me it’s strong and repulsive!) There was such an abundance of the stuff that a lot of people took home leftovers in reused yogurt buckets; I got two buckets and had it for lunch at work the next two days.
- Dinner: Spaghetti with my latest batch of marinara sauce, which includes apple, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, basil, and kale from the farm. After dinner, I packed up two jars of sauce for the refrigerator and a plastic quart bucket for the freezer, so all references to spaghetti sauce in this menu refer to this sauce.
- Lunch: Our seven-year-old Nicholas had a day off school for Rosh Hashanah, so I planned a lunch menu for him and his father Daniel to eat while I was at work. They had mac&cheez from a box, cantaloupe, and grapes. I don’t like that powdered cheese stuff anymore, but I remember loving mac&cheez when I was little, so I’d agreed to Nick’s request to buy a multi-pack at Costco. We won’t be doing that again for a while because he hasn’t been interested enough in the stuff to eat it before it reaches its use-by date, which is fast approaching with one more box on the shelf!
- Dinner: Masoor Dal (Indian-style red lentils with carrots), rice, and lettuce. Some of the carrots were from the farm, but we haven’t gotten many carrots from them so far this year, so we have some from the supermarket as well.
- Tuesday: Bean Burritos made with tomato and pepper from the farm, with kidney beans and cheddar cheese from money-saving large packages that we’d opened, used some in a meal, and then frozen the rest in meal-size portions. I had grated all the cheese at once in the food processor. (Grated cheese thaws out to about the same consistency it had before freezing, whereas cheese frozen in a block has a weird texture after thawing.) When I planned this meal, I moved the beans and cheese from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw.
- Wednesday: Potluck dinner at church. We brought Honey Baked Lentils–our first batch this fall!–that I’d assembled the night before and the guys put in the oven when they got home from school.
- Thursday: More spaghetti with marinara sauce. It’s my favorite food!
- Friday: My hastily scrawled note says, “mushroom veg omelets or something.” I knew we had mushrooms and some odds and ends of vegetables; Daniel makes great omelets, and Nicholas is willing to eat veggies in omelets that he won’t eat in most other contexts. What I neglected to notice was that we only had two eggs. So Nicholas got an omelet, Daniel had leftover burrito filling with chips (we were out of tortillas), and I had leftover spaghetti.
- Lunch: We were out doing errands and stopped for lunch at Piper’s Pub on the South Side, where we enjoyed various gigantic sandwiches.
- Dinner: Summer Vegetable Sunflower Blop with crimini mushrooms, blopped on top of toasted pita bread cut into wedges so that we could pick them up to eat. It was messy but delicious!
- Lunch: I cooked some frozen spinach ravioli and heated up some marinara sauce.
- Dinner: I made Tart & Tangy Baked Beans from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen and three loaves of Raisin Bran Bread–big batches of two high-fiber foods that go well together for a satisfying meal in cooler weather! Due to my mistakenly thinking that an extra bag of sugar in the pantry was a bag of flour, we did not have enough flour for three loaves even after I had put in all the white flour as well as whole wheat…so I made up the difference with extra wheat bran and hemp protein powder. The bread was still pretty good, but we prefer the normal recipe; this was a little gritty!
- Monday: Leftovers from yesterday. Since Nicholas often objects to leftovers, I planned to supplement them with some Gardein fake-meat “beef tips” we had bought on sale with a coupon, and some sliced cucumber which is normally one of Nick’s favorite vegetables. However, on this day he began making dramatic threats about what he would do if served any more cucumbers (which puzzles me all the more now that I’m reviewing this menu and seeing no evidence that we’d served him cucumber for the entire past week!) and we realized that the lettuce from the farm that nobody had felt like eating was still good, so we had individual salads of lettuce, carrot, and green pepper. Daniel and I put cucumber bits in ours, too, but weren’t going to give any to Nicholas, but when he saw that we had them he demanded some. It was a good opportunity to practice the parental strategy of reflecting the child’s feelings in a neutral, pleasant voice (“You’re tired of eating cucumbers.” . . . “You want to have some cucumber in your salad, too.”) instead of escalating the situation (“We are not trying to kill you! They’re only cucumbers!! Quit being so dramatic!” . . . “No, you can’t have my cucumbers! You were rude and awful about how you didn’t want any!”). As for the “beef tips”, Daniel and Nicholas liked them; I thought they tasted like beef with gravy, which to me is disgusting.
- Tuesday: I went straight from work to an appointment and didn’t get home until almost 8:00. The guys had Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and apples from the farm. I enjoyed yet another meal of Baked Beans and Raisin Bran Bread when I got home.
- Wednesday: Potluck at church. We made a green bean casserole–the twentieth-century-traditional recipe with cream-of-mushroom soup and canned fried onions–except that I used the fried onions only on top and substituted salted peanuts for the ones mixed into the casserole. This makes it heartier, more like a main dish, which turned out to be a very good thing since this was a week when only one other person showed up for the potluck, and she had brought a dessert! So our meal consisted of green bean casserole followed by pineapple upside-down cake. I had fancied up the casserole a bit by crumbling in some dill, since we had an enormous batch of dill from the farm that I’d hung up to dry. It was really good!
- Thursday: Spaghetti squash from the farm, crimini mushrooms sauteed in butter and garlic, and marinara sauce. The funny thing about this meal–both tonight and when I ate the leftovers for lunch on Monday–is that I felt like I’d eaten heartily, but one hour later I was ravenous! I would do terribly on a low-carb diet.
- Friday: Frozen breaded tilapia filets baked in the toaster oven while we started eating salads of lettuce, tomato, carrot, and cucumber. Nicholas tends to eat more salad if we serve it first.
- Saturday: We spent the whole day at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, which actually is about an hour’s drive away, near New Stanton. We stopped for brunch at Bob Evans on the way there, so we were full for hours. Just as we were starting to think it might be time for a snack, a drunken bride came over and offered us free pieces of wedding cake and all the lemonade and iced tea we wanted! Apparently she’d had her wedding at the Ren Fest and had just wrapped up the reception in the picnic pavilion, where the big jugs of non-alcoholic beverages were still available. Thus refreshed, we wound up not needing to eat again until we got home and had some leftovers.
- Lunch: We met some friends at Cafe Phipps and then enjoyed walking among the plants of Phipps Conservatory all afternoon. We hadn’t eaten in the cafe before. Everything was very fresh and tasty. The server asked if we had brought our own cups before giving us disposable cups–how refreshing! Next time we’ll bring them.
- Dinner: Nicholas wanted to try fried green tomatoes, since we’d gotten two medium-sized unripe tomatoes from the farm, and we had a lot of bread crumbs in the freezer from a time when we realized that the heels of fourteen loaves of bread were rattling around our refrigerator so we toasted them all and ground them up in the blender and froze them for later use. We mixed some of these crumbs with dill, salt, and pepper and dipped a tomato slice. The crumbs did not stick. We dipped the slices in egg, which got the crumbs to stick. We baked them on a well-greased pan in the toaster oven because I am too nervous to fry that sort of thing without making it fall apart. They were edible, but I concluded that I do not have fried green tomato nengkan and should consult a recipe before I attempt it again. In this meal we also had another blop, of kale, carrot, green pepper, and onion (all from the farm) over couscous.
- Monday: My instructions to Daniel said, “Buy sesame oil. Cook eggplant & mushroom; add tofu in teriyaki sauce. Rice.” He got the oil at the Asian store on our block. I had written the instructions carefully because I wanted to make sure he would start the eggplant cooking first so that it could get nice and soft without burning the sauce. The meal came out exactly the way I wanted! Our one remaining mushroom was a big frilly clump of miatake, delicious in Japanese-style food.
- Tuesday: Mexican-style beans, red pepper from the farm cooked separately in olive oil with garlic, colby-jack cheese, and pita chips (since we didn’t have any corn chips). When we were planning this meal, Nicholas was adamant that he didn’t want any red pepper, so Daniel and I enjoyed all of it ourselves.
- Wednesday: Potluck at church. Honey Baked Lentils again. They’re our classic potluck offering.
- Thursday: Honey-Apricot Tofu, Salty String Beans, and rice.
- Friday: Corn on the cob from the farm. I couldn’t think what else would go with this, from what we had on hand, so we had rotini with marinara sauce. It was a starchy meal but good.
- Lunch: We attended a friend’s wedding. The most interesting buffet item was stuffed shells with a cheese-and-potato filling and grilled-onion topping similar to pierogies–tasty!
- Dinner: Nicholas wanted canned baked beans. I wanted another delicious blop, a/k/a skizzled vegetables, with pita bread. So I made both. To make this particular variation on skizzled vegetables, dice 1/4 yellow onion and 2 large radishes, and place in a skillet with plenty of olive oil over low heat. Stir occasionally while you peel and thinly slice 2 carrots. Add them and increase heat to medium. Stir occasionally while you shred about 3 cups of kale. (That may look like a lot, but it’ll be much smaller when cooked.) Mix kale into skillet. Add tarragon, sea salt, and black pepper to taste. Turn up heat and stir frequently until browned. Mix in nutritional yeast flakes and sunflower seeds.
Need even more meal ideas for this time of year? Check out my four-week menu from last fall!