Meatless Thursdays is a Thing
Growing up, Thursday night dinner was always macaroni and cheese. It was a staple that could be counted on to please everyone and I looked forward to it as a favorite meal. I’m not talking about Wacky Mac, and I’m not talking about melting a slice of cheese over some noodles. I didn’t know it at the time, but a béchamel sauce was made and then cheese melted in to produce a creamy, cheesy white sauce to combine with overcooked macaroni. Sometimes there was even a sautéed onion in there. So fancy, and yet the noodles knew not of al dente. They just cooked until we were ready for dinner. I guess this is the reason I find it so hard to make a meat meal for dinner Thursday nights (and the reason I time my pasta cooking.) Meat just doesn’t feel right. For some, Thursday night is pizza night, I assume, because it’s quick and easy so Shabbat preparations can proceed with little interference. Or it’s just what the kids really want to eat anyway, so why fight it. Of course I know there are die-hard meat eaters who would never let a dairy dinner pass their lips. That’s okay too. Just not okay for me. At this point my kids don’t care, it could be dairy, meat, whatever, they just want food!
As my kids got older, the Thursday night dinner of Mac and cheese wasn’t cutting it. While everyone liked it, it just wasn’t filling enough, and truthfully, it wasn’t too nutritionally sound. I started going back to serving a meat meal, however sacrilegious that felt. I was consoled a bit after a friend said to me “why wouldn’t you make meat, you are already cooking meat for Shabbat!” That made sense too.
Of course, there is no end to the availability of meatless, dairy or vegetarian, filling mains that can be made, and I happened to come across a recipe for a vegetarian “enchilada bake”. It sounded similar to my vegetarian chili, and there wasn’t too much prep involved. I decided to try it and it was a hit and it made a nice big panful to boot! So thankfully, I now have another dairy, healthier dish to add to my Thursday night dinner rotation. The mixture can also be stuffed into a taco or burrito too, for another serving option. I actually ate the leftovers for three lunches and it was still great. Try it for yourselves!
Vegetarian Enchilada Bake (adapted from twopeasandtheirpod.com)
1 C. uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 C. water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used frozen cubes)
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, diced
1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 orange pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 C. frozen corn kernels
Juice of 1 small lime
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/3 C. chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 C. red enchilada sauce (I couldn’t find a kosher one, so I substituted crushed tomatoes and added an additional tablespoon of chili powder and ¼ teaspoon cumin)
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
Optional Toppings: Sliced green onions, avocado slices, sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Add rinsed quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Cover quinoa and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the peppers and corn. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add the lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the cooked quinoa and black beans to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Pour in the enchilada sauce and stir. Add in 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and edges are bubbling. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with toppings, if desired. Serve warm.