Meatless Mondays

Over the past 9+ years, I’ve found ways to improve the way we eat in the Coke House.  I’ve replaced ground beef with ground turkey,white pasta with whole wheat pasta, white bread with whole grain, and white potatoes with sweet potatoes.  I add vegetables to things like my turkey meat loaf, to sneak in extra servings of those wonderful vitamins and minerals.  We don’t buy potato chips, candy or cookies; we don’t drink soda or caffeine (save for my daily cup of joe), and I no longer sweeten our iced tea.  Instead of ice cream, it’s frozen yogurt…and instead of regular, fruit on the bottom yogurt, it’s Greek.
Right now, you’re probably thinking there’s no possible way I could make this any more fun than it already is.  Well, guess what you’ve forgotten about?
That’s right…nearly every Monday, dinner is meat-free.  And, because it’s been such a success (seriously), I thought I’d share two of my all-time fave Meatless Monday recipes with you.  Both are delicious, easy to prepare, and will leave you with enough leftovers for a second meal.  Perfect, right?
Before I share these coveted recipes, let me preface with this statement: we are not vegan, vegetarian, or ovo-lacto-whateverarians.  This is one meal a week with no meat.  Trust me; if Publix puts New York strips on sale, I’m going to by an 18oz. package and we’re going to spend Saturday night eating delicious, grilled cow flesh, which I’ll most likely pair with a giant baked potato loaded with butter, Colby Jack cheese, sour cream and bacon bits.  Oh, and a salad.  You see, it’s okay to splurge…if it’s just that, an occasional treat.  Besides, Meatless Monday makes it totally okay for me to have a steak, or make a pizza, or eat an Oreo Brownie Explosion Sundae from Dairy Queen over the weekend.
The Cokes could never, ever, ever give up meat entirely.  As my wise cousin Wally once said, “If God didn’t want us to eat cows, why would He make them so delicious?!”  And so, with that in mind, here are my top two meatless meals…enjoy!
Roasted Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
One 3lb.+ spaghetti squash
2+ cups tomato sauce
Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
*Yes, I realize there are missing “measurements” in my ingredients.  I don’t conform to The Man’s request of tablespoons and cups all the time.

Directions: Roast your spaghetti squash.  Oh, how do you do that, you ask?  Cut the squash in half lengthwise (tip: it’ll be really hilarious and challenging the first time you try it) brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then roast it face up at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.  Once your squash is roasted, let it cool a few minutes, then remove the flesh with a fork.  You’ll find the flesh pulls apart in spaghetti-like strings; hence the name.
In an 8×8 baking dish, place your first layer of spaghetti squash.  Pour some tomato sauce over it, sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese, dollop some ricotta, and repeat the process one more time.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and voila – dinner is served!  
Mozzarella: I buy Sargento whole milk mozzarella in the block, because it’s gooey and delicious.  But you can use pre-shredded out of a bag, too.  I normally shred half the block (16oz.) and end up shredding more, to completely cover the top of the lasagna.  I also top the lasagna with some chopped, fresh parsley.
Sauce: If I haven’t had time to make my own sauce (see earlier post on sauces), I buy Barilla Arrabiatta.  It’s a spicy marinara, and it’s awesome in this dish.  It lends well to the sweetness of the spaghetti squash.  If I’m using jarred sauce, I’ll use the entire jar.
Polenta and Bean Casserole
This is a modified Weight Watchers recipe.
One can black beans, rinsed and drained
One can Ro-Tel tomatoes
16 oz. frozen corn kernals
16 oz. frozen lima beans
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 zucchini squash, chopped
1 cup salsa
Chili Powder
Ground Cumin
16 oz. tube polenta, sliced (available in produce section)
Shredded cheese (we prefer Colby Jack)
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all ingredients except the polenta and cheese in a large Dutch oven, bringing to a low boil.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer while covered 10 minutes.  Transfer to a large baking dish (9×13 pan) then arrange polenta slices on top.  Bake 25 minutes; remove, sprinkle with cheese, bake an additional 3 minutes.  Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.
We add sour cream and chopped green onion to ours.  It’s like a Tex-Mex Bean Fiesta in a bowl!  Really yummy, easy to put together, and perfect for a busy weeknight. 

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