Meatless Monday: Great Recipes To Bring Into The New Year

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 12/30/2013 | 11:30 AM EST

Looking for some new meatless meals to incorporate into your new diet? We got you covered.

Like most people, you’ve probably vowed to change your diet for the new year to ensure healthier living. If going meatless is your goal, we’ve compiled a few tasty recipes you can incorporate in the kitchen without feeling like going "healthy" is the end of the world.

Going meatless can have wondrous effects on your health including reducing the risks for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. While it’s certainly a diet that takes getting used to, going meatless can be life changing, and it doesn’t have to be such a drag. Take a look at these three recipes that you can bring into the new year.

Eggplant and Shitake “Meatballs”

1 small eggplant
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and diced
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 large egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chopped basil
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
Vegetable oil, for frying
Marinara sauce, to serve

Directions: Using a fork, prick holes all over eggplant. Place eggplant on baking sheet and roast in oven for an hour, until the eggplant collapses/shrivels. While eggplant roasts, cook the quinoa and mushrooms. In a small saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water and quinoa to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover with lid, and let cook. After 15 minutes, uncover and fluff with fork. In small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat for a minute or so. Add mushrooms to pan and sauté for 7-10 minutes until golden. Once eggplant is cool, slice in half length-wise. Use spoon to scoop out flesh of the eggplant. Give it a chop and discard the eggplant skin. Add the eggplant, quinoa, and mushrooms to medium mixing bowl. Mix in the egg, egg white, parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, basil, and parsley. Mix well. Line baking sheet with parchment/wax paper. Form shitake/eggplant mixture into large balls. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet. Place sheet with all the “meatballs” on it in the refrigerator for twenty minutes while you heat oil. Fill large, heavy-bottomed skillet about ¼ of the way up with vegetable oil. Heat oil over medium/high heat for ten minutes. Remove “meatballs” from the fridge, add four “meatballs” to the hot oil at a time. Fry balls, turning occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until golden on all sides. Serve the “meatballs” with marinara sauce and your favorite pasta.

***

Romanesco Broccoli Rotini

2 heads Romanesco broccoli, cut into florets
2 cups whole wheat rotini
A little extra-virgin olive oil, for preparing the pan
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons capers
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup asiago or parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated

Directions: Bring large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Prepare ice bath by filling a separate large bowl with ice water. Add broccoli or cauliflower to pot and cook for 5 minutes, or until florets are tender. Remove florets with slotted spoon and immediately place in bowl of ice water to stop cooking process. Keep broccoli cooking water boiling on the stove. After 1 minute in ice water, place cooked florets on a bed of paper towels to drain.

Add whole wheat rotini to boiling water used to cook broccoli and cook according to package instructions, or until pasta is cooked al dente. While pasta is cooking, place a little olive oil in frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and capers and cook for 1 minute, or until garlic begins to become fragrant. Add blanched florets and sun dried tomatoes to pan and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until broccoli has warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove pan from heat. When pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta’s cooking water. Return cooked pasta to pot and stir in broccoli tomato mixture. Add lemon juice, mint, parsley and cheese. Stir to coat rotini thoroughly, adding the pasta’s cooking water as needed until sauce reaches desired consistency. Divide into 4 portions, top with a little more cheese, if desired.

***

Penne With Herbs, Tomatoes, and Peas

8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)

Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add peas during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 4 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high. Add tomatoes to pan; cook 1 minute. Add pasta mixture, salt, and pepper to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Stir in basil and parsley. Sprinkle with cheese.

 (Photo: Moncherie/GettyImages)

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