Here in Los Angeles, with our access to plentiful produce and a pervasive interest in healthy eating, we have a long history of plant-based cuisine. In 1885, a newspaper called The Daily Alta California reported on a popular vegetarian brunch item, “Quartered alligator pears with the pulp spread on slices of grilled bread and seasoned with salt and pepper.” Today we know this delicacy as avocado toast!
When Upton Sinclair published The Jungle in 1906, it highlighted the exploitation of workers and unsanitary conditions in the meat packing industry in Chicago. The novel inspired a minor craze for vegetarian restaurants throughout the country, including one next door to the Angel’s Flight light rail line in downtown LA, described as “a center for liberal and progressive thinkers.” Clearly, there is an historic connection between vegetarianism and progressive thought centered in Los Angeles.
Today, across the country food lovers are embracing plant-based meals for some, if not all, of their meals. One doesn’t have to be a committed vegetarian to enjoy vegetarian meals. Maybe you’d like to incorporate “meatless Mondays” into your meal rotation. It’s not only better for the planet, a healthy goal for our diets, but also plant-based meals are delicious and economical!
Here are some delicious, filling, plant-based recipes to try:
This dish is LOADED with high-quality FoodTrients! Beans are an excellent meat substitute. They are high in fiber, folate, and antioxidants. Beans contain amino acids, which are protein building blocks that the body uses to heal and make new tissues, such as bone, muscle, hair, skin, and blood. Eating beans can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Bell and chili peppers are high in vitamin C, which supports immunity and healing, as well as B vitamins, which play an important role in metabolism. Spinach is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, folate, and potassium.
This ‘Moroccan Chili’ recipe gets its exotic flavor profile from harissa, a north African condiment made with hot chiles, cumin, coriander, caraway, and olive oil.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 red or orange bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 (10-ounce) container cherry or grape tomatoes (1 pint)
1-2 Tbs. harissa, depending on heat preference
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. zaatar (a Mid-eastern herb blend- to sub use oregano)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or great Northern, drained and rinsed
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 packed cups baby spinach
2 limes, 1 halved, 1 cut into wedges for serving
Full-fat yogurt or labne (kefir cheese, similar to sour cream) for serving
1 avocado, sliced or cubed
¼ cup packed cilantro or parsley leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped or torn
½ cup crumbled feta for serving
1. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper and diced jalapeño; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions just start to soften in color and texture, about 4 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, season lightly with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the tomatoes have burst, 6 to 7 minutes; lower the heat if the onions threaten to burn. Stir in the harissa, cumin, zaatar and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the soy sauce, scraping up anything on the bottom of the pot, until combined, about 1 minute.
3. Add the white beans and broth and raise the heat to bring it to a gentle boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, then cook until the broth thickens and the beans become soft and creamy, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, about 12 to 15 minutes. Smash any remaining whole tomatoes against the side of the pot. Stir in the spinach in batches until wilted. Squeeze in the lime halves, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Divide among bowls and top each with a spoonful of yogurt or labne, followed by the avocado, cilantro, and feta. Serve with the lime wedges.
This is a substantial side dish to accompany Salmon with Ginger Apricot Sauce or it can take center stage along with a hearty soup and crusty whole grain bread. Red cabbage is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and is an excellent source of dietary fiber. It’s also high in antioxidants, especially anthocyanins. These nutrients in red cabbage may help reduce the risk of health conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Tahini paste is made from sesame seeds, which are high in thiamine, vitamin B6, and are suggested to have antibacterial properties.
1 head of purple cabbage
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. sea salt
Sesame seeds, to top
Red pepper flakes, to top
Maple Tahini Sauce
1/3 cup tahini paste
2 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
3 Tbs. pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. of water, if needed to thin
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Prep the maple tahini sauce by whisking together the sauce ingredients except for the water in a bowl. If it’s too thick, add water by the Tbs. Refrigerate the sauce to allow it to thicken while you prep the cabbage.
3. Rinse your cabbage and slice it across, creating ‘slabs’. Leave the pieces attached to the stem.
4. Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, and spices in a bowl. Brush it over each cabbage piece, and then drizzle the rest on top.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, pour some of the maple tahini sauce over and broil for 2-3 minutes.
6. Top with sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.
7. Leftover sauce will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week.
This ‘fritada’ is similar to the ‘frittatas’ made in Italy, but different from the ones made in France or Spain that contain bacon and ham. This version comes from the Sephardic (middle eastern) Jewish tradition and usually features just one vegetable, but you can get creative, if you like. There’s plenty of high-quality protein from the eggs.
6 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
6 small zucchini cut into thin rounds
½ medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh Italian flat parsley, chopped
6 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup whole milk
1. Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat. Sautee the onions until they just start to turn brown. Add the chopped garlic for 30 seconds-1 minute (don’t let it burn!). Remove to a separate bowl.
2. Sauté the zucchini, turning until both sides start to brown. Remove the zucchini with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Add the remaining oil to the skillet.
3. Beat the eggs and milk together.
4. Mix the salt, pepper, parsley, onion, garlic, and zucchini into the beaten egg/milk mixture. Pour the mixture into the skillet. Reduce heat to its lowest setting, cover and cook for 15 minutes, shaking from time-to-time to prevent the fritada from sticking.
5. When the bottom has set, use an oversized spatula to flip the fritada to its other side. Another way to do this is to cover the sauté pan with a plate, flip it upside down and slide the fritada back into the sauté pan. Cook another 3-4 minutes.
6. Slide the cooked fritada onto a large plate and cut into quarters. Serve with crumbled feta cheese or labne, sliced tomatoes and sliced Persian cucumbers.
White cauliflower is packed with nutrition, but the beautiful colors of orange and purple cauliflower come from the presence of beta carotene (orange) and anthocyanin (purple), which makes them even more nutrient rich. The beta carotene content of the orange cauliflower means 25 percent more vitamin A. The cheese in the casserole provides protein and calcium, while the mushrooms reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and improve bone health, among other benefits.
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 lb. (2 containers) cremini mushrooms, sliced
salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 orange or purple cauliflower cut into 1” pieces
2 cups cooked quinoa, wheat bulger or brown rice
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
paprika for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan generously with butter.
2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium high.
3. Add onions, mushrooms, salt & pepper. Stir until onions are soft.
4. Add cauliflower and garlic to the pan and continue cooking for about 7 minutes, until cauliflower starts to become tender
5. Add lemon juice, parsley, quinoa (or other grain) and cheese; stir to combine everything.
6. Transfer to the prepared pan evenly.
7. Dust with paprika.
8. Bake 30 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.