Alternate titles: Accidentally Meatless, or Food You Want to Make Out With.
Yup, the following three recipes are meatless. I didn’t intend for this to happen. But as much as I love a good steak, it’s not something I’m cooking for myself every week. The same goes for pork. And chicken…eh, I could probably do plenty of good things with chicken, but man, is anyone else bored with chicken? I certainly am.
So this week, we’ve got a little fish, and a little egg. All three recipes are a cinch and came together in less than half an hour. I promise.
First up: el pescado (fish).
I picked up frozen (surprise surprise) tilapia fillets last week. These fillets thawed pretty quickly, which means that I didn’t need to plan out this dinner too far in advance.
Pat them dry with a paper towel. Season with a little bit of salt, pepper, and your choice of seasoning- I went with paprika and Mrs. Dash lemon pepper, as per usual.
Spray up that sticky pan with lots of nonstick spray or a few tablespoons of olive oil. Even if your pan is nonstick, get some olive oil up in there. Heat it up. Stick the fish in there and cook for about two minutes. Flip over and cook for another two minutes. You should be pretty much done. Cook until opaque. (See this recipe if you’re the kind of person who prefers actual steps and measurements.)
Ta-da! Tilapia is not a crazy fancy fish, but it’s mild and delicate. You can probably up this with a little melted butter and lemon juice. Yeahhh.
Next up: fried rice.
My grandma has an excellent fried rice recipe that is one of our family’s ultimate comfort foods. This is not the same recipe, but dang if I didn’t try to mimic hers.
Gramma’s fried rice is pretty much just white rice and an egg fried up in Crisco, if I remember correctly. She also adds a little garlic powder- or onion powder?- and parsley, and that’s basically it.
I cooked up a bunch of brown rice ahead of time. I think it’s better with “old” rice than with rice straight out of the pot, since it’s a little drier and will probably fry up better.
Oh, if you like eggs- and you should with fried rice. Trust me.- scrambled them up ahead of time. Or toss a fried egg on top when you’re done. You’ll want that creamy little hit of protein.
If you remember, add some minced garlic and sauté that for a few minutes until golden. If you don’t, toss it in with the rice. It all works out the same.
Add a couple of cups of rice to the pan and sauté until just a little toasted. This only takes a couple of minutes. Then, add veggies. If they’re frozen, cook until thawed and hot. Be careful not to burn the rice. If they’re already cooked, awesome. Just heat through.
Add the eggs. Stir it all together, and there you are!
You can follow the recipe here.
The eggs are essential. There’s a reason everyone is all #putaneggonit right now. It’s a cheap protein, they take forever to expire (two weeks after the expiration date if refrigerated properly), and they add a whole bunch of creaminess and weight without loading up on cheese and butter. Although you can do that too. I do that all the time.
The next dish is my FAVORITE of the week. I saw the recipe in the same BuzzFeed list where I found the other two recipes for this week, and I thought, “that looks fancy. I wonder if I can do it cheaply and with stuff I already have.”
Do you have vegetables? Do you have pasta? Do you have an egg? You can make this dish.
Heat up some olive oil and butter in a pan. Yes, more olive oil and butter. Listen, there’s a reason the Mediterraneans live for such a long time, and it’s not I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
While the magic fats heat up, beat an egg or two with a little bit of salt.
Toss some minced garlic in there. Sauté until golden. Be careful- burnt garlic is not the same as roasted garlic and it’s not pleasant to eat.
If you’re following the actual recipe, you’ll see that at this point you add vegetables to the pan, in order of how long they take to cook, from longest to shortest cook time. I was using mostly leftover and precooked vegetables, so the only veggies I threw in at this point were some greens. Just plain old salad greens.
They wilt and get all soft and garlicky and then you realize that that’s one more way you can eat greens without covering them in cheese and and calling it a salad.
Now you add the pasta. Toss it around and make sure it’s not sticking.
Okay. Now for the magic. Remember how we beat that egg a couple minutes ago? Dump that in there and stir the pasta around. Take it off the heat. Cover the pan for a minute.
The pan should still be hot enough at this point that the egg is indeed cooking, and hopefully without scrambling like crazy. Take the lid off the pan, and it should look like there’s this magical little sauce on it. If you’ve ever had spaghetti carbonara, this is the same thing. Carbonara and a bunch of other Italian dishes involve putting pasta in a pan and adding a beaten egg. It cooks up like the brilliant ingredient it is, and there you go!
Toss in your other vegetables and heat through. Onto the plate. Add some avocado and cheese if that’s your thing (that’s totally my thing).
Face plant. It’s creamy and warm and there are actually quite a lot of vegetables and there’s not even any meat or heavy cream!
It doesn’t matter if you’re living on a budget or you can buy out Whole Foods every week. It doesn’t matter if you can spend two hours cooking every night or if you have thirty minutes or less to get a meal on the table and in your belly. You should eat things that make you want to make out with your plate a little bit. Things that make you go, “This is so good. SO. GOOD.” in texts to your friends. Things that you enjoy so much, you have to remind yourself to slow down so you don’t inhale all of it at once.
Chow down, friends.