Meatless Meals

Something that Cam and I have been trying to incorporate into our weekly meal rotation is having one vegetarian dinner a week. Especially in the summer (and the heat of South Carolina), the last thing you feel like you feel like for dinner is something super heavy, so incorporating a vegetarian meal is the perfect way to lighten things up. However, just because you’re forgoing meat, doesn’t mean your meal needs to be lacking in flavor or protein. Generally in the summer when I’m making a vegetarian meal, it’s going to be a salad of some sort. So typically, I like to make it in the early part of the week, that way we can have it as a main dish for dinner, then we have leftovers for lunches/side dishes the rest of the week. Last night for dinner, I made that traditional bean salad that my dad always makes for summer BBQs, except I made a few healthy swaps so it would better serve as a main dish as opposed to a side. Here’s the recipe I used:

Summer Bean Salad


6 oz flax rice pasta (I used spirals from Eden Organic, they have tons of healthy pastas, many of which would be perfect in this salad, plus they started in Ann Arbor, so you can’t beat that!)
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of green beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black pitted olives
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped red onion
1 tbs of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

1/3 cup good olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp oregano
1 tbs chopped garlic

4 oz shredded parmigiano reggiano

What I love about this salad is that it’s super easy! Start off by adding your pasta to boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. You’d rather the pasta be a little bit more on the al dente side then over cooked, otherwise it’s going to get mushy. Just a little note about why I chose to use flax pasta–since we weren’t having meat in this meal, I wanted to make sure to pick a nutritionally sound pasta that would give the salad some extra protein. The flax rice pasta is both a good source of protein and fiber, as well as providing a good serving of essential fatty acids which are important since I’m trying to make our diet more heart healthy. I also like the fact that the pasta is a little bit darker because it gives some nice color to the salad. You could use any kind of small pasta shape in this salad, as well as trying other types like quinoa or kamut pasta. Once the pasta is done, drain and let cool. Once pasta is cool, combine it in a large bowl with the next nine ingredients. What’s great about a salad like this is that you can just use whatever you like (or have on hand at the time!), so feel free to experiment with different types of veggies and beans. I personally really like using the red pepper and the red onion because they add great color and flavor to the salad, and then I threw the olives in there because Cam loves them. Next, wisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, oregano, and garlic. Again, feel free to experiment with the dressing by substituting different oils, vinegars, and herbs. Pour over the salad, along with 2 oz of shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese, and combine until everything in the salad is well-coated. Top salad with the remaining cheese, and refrigerate. The more time that you refrigerate the salad, the more time the flavors are going to have to combine and it’s only going to get better, so it’s definitely something you could make a day ahead of time if you were having company. One other note is that I didn’t include any salt or pepper in this recipe; Cam is really trying to watch his sodium intake, whereas I tend to like things super salty. I’ve been trying to just leave the salt out of recipes, that way we can salt/pepper our meals to taste individually. This salad is great as the main course or a side dish, and it’s packed with fiber and protein from the beans and pasta, as well as looking colorful and summery 🙂

(The photo at the top was from before I served the salad, while it was all still covered with cheese 🙂 Also, next to the salad are my Barefoot Contessa blueberry muffins, they came out great!!)