“Is there not any meat in here?” or “You could have added some chicken.” Those are just a couple of the statements made to me when I attempt to make a meal WITHOUT meat. You see, I have the type of spouse and children who think they HAVE to have meat with every meal I serve them.
And that is okay. Perfectly fine with me. If I do not want meat with a meal, as I do not have to have it with every meal, then I’ll just eat the veggies or make myself a larger salad if that is one of our dishes with dinner. I can go without meat for a few meals, but I also know that I am a meat lover, so I can’t give it up completely.
One of the main reasons that I cannot give up meat altogether is that I would be in carb overload. And while I love carbs, too many carbs are not good for you. Our family tries to eat a balanced diet of proteins, carbs, and vegetables. We hit the vegetables hard in the summer since we grow so many of our own.
The only meatless meal my family doesn’t mind having is a true southern, country meal: beans, fried taters, okra, macaroni and tomatoes and cornbread. For some reason, this is deemed an ‘acceptable’ meatless meal. Maybe because my beans are made with a ham bone or a piece of fatback — in other words, parts of meat somewhere.
On occasion, however, I will sneak a meatless meal into our week. Sometimes it’s a meatless Mexican dish or homemade fettuccine Alfredo with smashed sweet potatoes. Other times, I will make my husband’s favorite spaghetti, and add some vegetables that are either fresh or frozen from our garden. Sometimes, I may even make my tomato sauce from scratch as I do my Alfredo sauce.
So, for this rendition of Meatless Monday, I am going to use my husband’s favorite of Vegetable Spaghetti.
Three of my favorite vegetables to use in this dish are squash, zucchini, and onion. If you have a mandolin, you can slice them as thick or thin as you want. I just used a knife and sliced them by hand before I vacuum sealed and froze them. You can add as much or as little as you want. Another thing I like to add to the mix are fresh tomatoes when I have them. The tomatoes in addition to the other vegetables make the sauce heartier and healthier! You can add eggplant or carrots or any other vegetable that you wish, but these are three or four of our favorites and what we try to grow each year.
Once you have the vegetables sliced, add them to a pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and some Italian seasonings. Reduce down until they are soft but not mushy.
While the vegetables are cooking down, get the salted water boiling for your pasta so when the vegetables are ready, you can add the pasta of your choice (whole wheat, gluten free, or just plain old noodles). Or if you prefer not to have any pasta, you could serve this over your favorite quinoa rice or blend. My favorite is quinoa and brown rice with garlic.
Once the vegetables are reduced, add your favorite store-bought or homemade sauce to the vegetables and stir and simmer on low. If you did not add fresh tomatoes to your mixture above, then you can add a can of diced or stewed tomatoes to the sauce and vegetable mixture. I do this almost every time I use jarred spaghetti sauce. The ‘meatier’ the sauce, the less my men notice that there isn’t any meat in it. Then, just salt and pepper and add Italian seasoning, if you like.
Once your noodles (or rice/quinoa) are done, place them onto your favorite dish. Then spoon out your sauce on top of the base. I like to top my spaghetti with fresh mozzarella or Parmesan cheese and serve with side of bread and or a salad.