Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Easy Whole Food Plant Based Dinner that Looks Gourmet

Greens and Beans Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
over Herbed Barley with a Creamy Vegetable Sauce

I have been ridiculously lazy in the kitchen this past month. Which is totally unacceptable for someone like me (I'm kidding).

For real, it's been a great break.

But my two older kids are returning home from sleep away camp in a few days and I need to start gearing up for my old kitchen duties. I've even asked my husband for a television in the kitchen. Anything to make it more exciting to start cooking again. I figure if I can knock out pre-recorded episodes of reality television while I cook up delicious plant based meals, it just might get my butt off the couch.

Request denied.

He doesn't want more noise in the house.

I do understand that, I really do! But I don't know how else to re-motivate myself, so I just might have to veto his veto. What happens then?

Well, after last night, at least I know that I can whip up something uncomplicated (yet delicious), very quickly, using mostly pantry and fridge ingredients that I have on hand--and NO RECIPE REQUIRED. And that is so freeing for me.

So here's how I pulled together Greens and Beans Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms over Herbed Barley with a Creamy Vegetable Sauce . . .

The meal components:

  1. Start by cooking any unprocessed Real Whole Grain, in a rice cooker, pressure cooker or on the stove. Season the cooked grain with some salt free seasoning. I used barley, but farro, quinoa, any of the varieties of brown rice that are out there these days (have you been to the Whole Foods bulk aisle lately?), millet, etc. will be great. I used Benson's "Zesty" to season my cooked barley. If you like lemony things, this is a great salt free seasoning to have on hand for everything!
  2. Portobello mushrooms caps-one or two per person (plus more if you want leftovers), cleaned. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the caps, gill side down, on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip so that the hollow side is up, and reserve until your filling is done.
  3. The Filling-in your largest saute pan, make a greens and bean saute using the following items. You can use any leftover vegetables that you have on hand. I added some chopped tomatoes. It's optional, but you can mash the beans into the whole filling using a potato masher if you'd like. Start with your onions, and then add the rest of the ingredients from hardest to softest:                                                 a. start on a medium-high flame and coat the base of the saute pan with low sodium vegetable broth or water. When the liquid is bubbling, add the
    b. chopped onion, scallions, leeks, garlic--whatever you have on hand and in any combination. Let them cook until they are really soft.
    c. add a generous amount of salt free seasoning blend-for this part of my dish, I used CostCo's blend.
    d. add chopped, shredded or cut vegetables and cook for a bit
    e. add greens-kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, etc.
    f. add beans-whatever type you have on hand, washed and rinsed
  4. Sauce or dressing. This could be any leftover salad dressing that you have on hand. I made a super easy dip (thank you Rivky for this rockin' recipe inspiration!) with 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 cup white beans, 1 large tomato (or two Romas), 1 pepper (any color, stemmed and seeded), 1 scallion, 1 Tbsp Benson's Table Tasty (or other salt free seasoning blend). Put everything in a high speed blender or food processor. Makes a great dip for veggies as well!!!!!

Just stuff your partially cooked mushroom caps with the filling and bake for 25 more minutes. Serve on top of a bed of your seasoned whole grains and top with some sauce or dressing. 

I hope you enjoyed this un-recipe. I'm loving "ideas for meals" right now with no exact measurements. I can't say I won't make a special recipe once in a while, on a weekend, but I think I'm done coming home after work and digging in to anything complicated.

Time and time again I have read about people who prepare one big batch of beans and one big batch of grains once a week and who incorporate them into a variety of different meals. I think I might have to catch that wave once and for all!

Do you go through cooking and uncooking phases of life? How long do they last? How do you get yourself cooking when you just don't feel like it?

Below are the salt-free seasonings that I can't live without now. I got the Benson's "Zesty" as a mistake (I thought I was ordering the "Table Tasty") and now I love the Zesty just as much. I was upset with myself, but figured that this had to have happened for a reason, right? Turns out that I needed this in my pantry. It's totally different than the Table Tasty, and is really great on any steamed vegetables in the morning. If you love the taste of lemon, you will love Benson's "Zesty!" I buy both Benson's seasonings in large bulk bags because I do use a lot of salt-free seasonings. I transfer the blends from the large bags that they come in to nice sized jars in my pantry with wide mouthed lids that go on and off easily.

I have also found the Kirkland (CostCo) and Trader Joe's salt-free seasoning blends to be amazingly useful in my salt-free food prep (I can hardly call it cooking anymore--LOL!). The Trader Joe's Twenty One Seasoning Salute is also amazing on steamed vegetables in the morning. For all of you out there who want to eat greens in the morning but are struggling, these salt-free seasoning blends make all the difference for me. The Kirkland version is great in any soup, stew or saute that I want to give more flavor to, but not overwhelm with any one strong seasoning flavor.

Ordering through my Amazon shop (anything at all, not just the products that I feature on HGK) helps to support Healthy Girl's Kitchen because a very small percentage of those sales comes back to me. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your support in this way over the years!
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