If you’ve been reading my blog for very long at all, then you know I repeat meals a lot each week. I don’t mind the monotony — it makes my life easier, and if a meal is good once, it’ll be good twice — but I do try to make little tweaks when I can. Here’s an example: on Saturday, I made us both soft tacos with zucchini and portobello mushrooms (see this post). On Sunday, we used the same basic concept but made some changes, which gave us these:
- 1/2 cup lentils
- 2 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
- 2 cherry peppers (or 1/2 a jalapeno), chopped and seeded if you want less heat
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cumin to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 corn tortillas
- Suggested toppings: salsa, green onion, cilantro, nooch or cheese, sour cream, avocado
Bring lentils and one cup of water (or vegetable broth, if you prefer) in a small pot. Simmer until lentils are tender, 15 to 20 minutes typically. Drain, lightly mash, and set aside.
Heat a saute pan misted with spray oil (or us about a teaspoon of olive oil, if you prefer) over medium. Add the mushrooms and peppers and cook for two or three minutes, or until mushrooms soften and release some moisture. Stir in the lentils, cumin, salt and pepper and cook until combined and heated. Pile into corn tortillas with your favorite toppings.
I served the summer squash on the side this time:
They featured leftover black-eyed peas, shredded squash, a little flour, and some spices. While they were tasty, the texture was borderline terrible. I was following a method, and though I thought for sure I should salt and drain the yellow squash, the recipe didn’t say to, so I went against instinct. It was a big mistake, and the resulting patties were way, way too moist. So I redid them
for lunch on Monday:
It looks the same, but it tastes and feels a million times better. I didn’t measure anything, so this isn’t much of a recipe, but I wanted to include the basic method — what Caitlin fittingly called a Formula Meal earlier today — for reference.
Bean and Summer Squash Patties
- 1 medium or large shredded summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan, whatever you have)
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans (or 1 can), lightly mashed
- ~1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
- ~1/4 cup of rolled oats
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Other chopped veggies: carrots, peppers, and/or green onion are all basic additions
- Preferred spices: cumin and oregano for Mexican-inspired, thyme and tarragon for something a little Provencal, sesame seeds and ginger for Chinese, cinnamon and allspice for Caribbean, curry for Indian, etc.
- Fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, and/or parsley are all good choices
- Oil for frying
Salt your squash and place in a bowl or colander to drain for about 30 minutes. When ready to cook, squeeze out additional liquid and pat dry.
In a medium bowl, combine everything but the oil with your hands. If there is too much moisture, add more oats or flour a little at a time. If the mixture is too dry, add more liquid a little at a time. It’s highly unscientific, but that’s the best way to achieve the right texture.
When the consistency is to your liking, form into patties. You can make them bigger for veggie burgers or smaller to fill pitas or eat on their own.
Heat about a tablespoon of oil (per batch) in a pan over medium or medium-low heat (the bigger the patty, the lower the heat should be to ensure the insides cook as well as the crispy outside). Add the patties to the pan and cook, flipping every couple of minutes, until they are browned. Serve however you prefer — on a bun, in a pita, or by themselves with a dipping sauce (ketchup, cashew cream, or tahini sauce all come to mind).
Makes about four servings.
I forgot to take a photo of our lunch, but we served them with lightly sauteed chard from the CSA box.
Do you often do recipe remixing? Have any favorite “formulas” to share?