Four Weeks of Pesco-Vegetarian Dinners (early spring)
April 16, 2013 8 Comments
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’s what we ate for dinner (plus weekend lunches) for four weeks in March and April, including Easter, trying to make the most of seasonal produce sales (mushrooms, sweet potatoes, string beans, kale) and leftovers from my church’s Easter receptions and Daniel’s family Passover seder. I plan our menu up to a week in advance and do the weekend cooking and some ingredient preparation during the week; Daniel cooks our weeknight dinners.
- Lunch: Leftover Mexican Pizza.
- Dinner: I made this Thai soup using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, tofu instead of shrimp, kale instead of spinach, and regular orange sweet potatoes. It was pretty good. I liked it better than the guys did, so I had the leftovers for lunch Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday! When I bring soup as my lunch for work, I put it in a reused salsa jar, which seals well and can be microwaved–I just need to use my napkin as a potholder when I pick it up because the jar gets hot.
- Monday: Whole-wheat spaghetti, sauce from a jar (Classico makes many varieties that have no added sugar, soy, or corn) with extra tomatoes (left over from a bag of frozen diced tomatoes that I’d thawed to make the Mexican Pizza), and sauteed mushrooms.
- Tuesday: Tangy Honey-Apricot Tofu, Salty String Beans, and rice. It’s unusual for us to have tofu twice in one week, but this time we did. This is one of our favorite meals. Daniel cooked extra rice to use the next day.
- Wednesday: Fried Rice with carrots, mushrooms, and cashews.
- Thursday: Spinach sauteed with garlic and olive oil and chopped pecans, over baked potatoes. The spinach was frozen; I put it in the refrigerator to thaw the night before.
- Friday: Bean Burritos.
- Lunch: We attended the memorial service for a friend who had been an enthusiastic participant in our church’s many food-serving events, so of course the service was followed by a reception with sandwiches, fruit, orzo salad, and other goodies!
- Dinner: I had the idea of trying to make a different flavor of baked lentils, using a lentil recipe as a guide for the ratio of liquid to lentils and using a tetrazzini recipe as a guide to flavoring. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out so well. The lentils absorbed all the water and didn’t burn, but they also didn’t cook completely, and they sank to the bottom while all the tasty stuff went to the top, so we had crunchy bland lentils with a yummy topping–and the guys liked it all right, but I was very upset! I think that eating undercooked lentils may have a physiological effect that makes me anxious and depressed, because I have reacted like this before to lentil experiments that went wrong. 😦
- Lunch: Leftover lentils for those willing to eat them, and a leftover burrito for me.
- Dinner: We went to Daniel’s grandfather’s house for a Passover seder (one night early!) with delicious dinner cooked by Daniel’s mother, who sent us home with plenty of leftovers! We made an exception to our pesco-vegetarian diet for matzoh-ball soup (made with chicken broth and chicken fat), and Daniel and Nicholas also ate some of the beef brisket. We also had both apple and date haroses, matzoh, horseradish (I still have a chunk of leftover horseradish root–any suggestions on what to make with it?), hardboiled eggs, asparagus (not so much a traditional Passover food, but a great springtime food!), potato kugel, macaroons, and strawberries.
- Monday: A full meal of Passover leftovers!
- Tuesday: Garlic Kale Sweet Potato Soup. I love this soup!! Some mornings as I was packing my lunch, I felt like I’d been eating orange soup for too many lunches (what with the Thai soup the previous week), but every day I enjoyed eating it!
- Wednesday: Spaghetti with marinara sauce.
- Thursday: Maundy Thursday supper at church: bread, cheese, and fruit eaten with our hands from shared plates (like Jesus and the disciples probably did at the Last Supper, which we were commemorating) and wine. I can’t drink much wine anymore–in my late twenties I developed an apparent allergy to alcohol–and of course I don’t let my eight-year-old Nicholas have very much, but on Maundy Thursday we each have about an ounce of wine and then fill our glasses with water. Later in the evening, I deboned a canned salmon for the next night’s dinner so that the bones and can could go out on trash/recycling day!
- Friday: Fancied-up canned salmon with roasted potatoes and asparagus. I had written frozen broccoli on the menu, forgetting that we still had asparagus, so I’m glad Daniel noticed the asparagus and roasted it. Not only did this prevent the asparagus from going to waste, it also got Nicholas to eat a large amount of asparagus (whereas he’d had just one spear at the seder) and exclaim over how much he liked it!
- Lunch: Leftovers.
- Dinner: Pasta Salad using my original recipe but with homemade ranch dressing. We continued buying Hidden Valley Ranch for a couple years after realizing that it’s made with genetically modified soybean oil and some nasty preservatives, just because we couldn’t find another ranch dressing that we liked as well…but I found that HVR gradually stopped tasting right to me, and then we had a bottle that actually managed to spoil and tasted bad to everyone. We tried several brands of more natural ranch dressing, which provoked responses ranging from, “Meh, it’s okay,” to, “Eeuw! Let’s stick a PLEASE USE sign on it and leave it in the fridge at church!!” Meanwhile I kept seeing recipes for homemade ranch that use buttermilk and/or mayonnaise, neither of which we ever have in the house. Anyway, on this night I chucked some whole-milk plain yogurt, regular milk, granulated garlic, dried dill, dried parsley, black pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, and white vinegar into a jar and shook it–and it was very tasty! It even got Nicholas to eat broccoli and carrots in almost equal proportion to his pasta, instead of just a token piece of each! I foresee more homemade salad dressings in our future.
- Lunch: We got plenty to eat at the church’s Easter reception and snacked during the afternoon on leftover fruit and cookies we’d brought home.
- Dinner: For a special Easter feast, I cooked the rest of the shrimp we’d bought for Nick’s birthday in December (they were frozen; I got them out to thaw on Saturday afternoon) in butter, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. We also had rice and steamed frozen peas.
- Monday: Cheesy Vegetable Bread Pudding with a side of cucumber slices. The bread and cheese in the pudding, and the cucumbers, were left over from the Easter reception. My menu instructed Daniel to use broccoli, carrots, and red pepper from the reception veggie tray in the pudding as well, but he felt like using frozen peas instead, so I moved those other vegetables to the next day’s plan. He did use the bag of frozen sliced onion I had thawed.
- Tuesday: Broccoli, carrots, and red pepper sauteed with garlic and cannellini beans in olive oil, over whole-wheat couscous. Side dish of grapes from Easter reception.
- Wednesday: Bean Burritos using the rest of the thawed onion and the rest of the red pepper.
- Thursday: Daniel cooked the leftover rice from Sunday in water, sugar, and rice wine vinegar to make sticky rice, and made Speedy Sushi using carrot and cucumber that were extra from the Easter reception–they hadn’t been cut up, so they were still fresh. The sushi fell apart–I think he didn’t use enough vinegar and/or didn’t cook the rice long enough–but it tasted good!
- Friday: Spaghetti with marinara sauce and broccoli.
- Lunch: Nicholas and I had just come home from Costco, where we’d bought frozen pizzas, so he wanted one of those. I mentioned that we needed to use up the remaining carrot and cucumber that Daniel had cut up but not used in the sushi. Nicholas asked for a cucumber salad like we’ve had at several potlucks. I looked in all our cookbooks, and the only similar recipe I could find was in The Frugal Gourmet, but it didn’t sound quite right, so we experimented, shaking various ingredients into the dressing until we came up with something really good! We will refine this recipe and report back soon. Anyway, the cucumber salad was a side dish to the pizza, for which I made a garlicky sauteed kale topping.
- Dinner: I baked frozen breaded cod fillets (also from Costco) and a green bean casserole that I made by adapting a vegan recipe which mysteriously did not include mushrooms–you’ve got to have mushrooms in green bean casserole, in my opinion! The sauce, using broth instead of milk, worked out fine; the casserole was really good.
- Lunch: I got out some veggie burgers from the recipe at My Sister’s Pantry (I think they should be called Nutshroom Burgers) that I’d made and frozen several weeks earlier. I tried cooking them in a greased skillet, which would have worked better if I’d thawed them first–they got a little burned on the outside by the time they were hot all the way through–but they were still delicious! Side dish of sliced apples.
- Dinner: Whole-wheat rotini (for a change) with marinara sauce and sauteed mushrooms.
- Monday: Honey Baked Lentils and baked sweet potatoes.
- Tuesday: Mushroom, spinach, and rice stuff requested by our kid who now likes mushrooms.
- Wednesday: We went out to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant.
- Thursday: Beans and guacamole and chips. Later in the evening, I used the food processor to grate half of a two-pound block of cheddar cheese from Costco and the last remaining chunks of assorted hard cheeses from Maundy Thursday. I set aside in labeled jars the cheddar for Friday’s burgers and some mixed cheese for Saturday’s macaroni. Then I packed two more 3/4-cup bags of mixed cheese for future macaroni and two 2-cup bags of cheddar for other meals, and froze them.
- Friday: Cheesy Walnut Burgers–made with pecans because that’s what we had–using bread crumbs Daniel made from more Maundy Thursday leftovers and froze. We had fresh tomato slices for the first time in months! Of course, tomatoes won’t be in season in Pennsylvania for several months more, but I’d found a reasonable price on greenhouse-grown tomatoes from Ontario, and they were pretty good.