Accidental Vegetarian

The other day I was looking through my one million food pictures from the week, and it hit me–where was the meat? I realized that I had eaten almost no meat the past week.

This  “vegetarian for a week” thing was purely accidental. I usually plan my dinners by figuring out what type of meat I have and then deciding how I want to cook it. Next, I pick two sides. Usually I just grab a can or bag of vegetables, with little thought except to heat them up and throw them on the plate next to my “main” dish, the meat.

However, a couple things happened this week. One, I have been inspired by some great recipes I’ve seen on fellow bloggers’ posts (some of whom just happen to be vegetarians).

Second, as some of you already know, I’m a little crazy when it comes to grocery shopping. For the things I buy regularly, I know how much they go on sale for, and I refuse to pay any more than that lowest sale price for them. And these past few weeks it has seemed like there has been NO good sales on meat. (Sadly, this is probably due to rising food prices, and in reality I may never see my standard sale prices again!)

Instead, I’ve been going a little crazy with the summer produce sales. And you know what, there are no complaints here. I love all of the fresh produce I’ve been eating, and I did not miss the meat at all (as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t eaten any meat this week until I was looking at my food pictures).

Here are a few of the awesome no-meat meals I ate this week (and a couple recipes for you:).

A light summer lunch of fresh veggies with hummus, yogurt, and leftover Fourth of July pasta salad.

Eggplant Parmesan with whole wheat pasta and some more veggies on the side (recipe below).

Summer quinoa salad with cucumber, corn, black beans, yellow pepper, and mango (recipe below).

A semi-failed attempt to make baingan bharta (an Indian dish with eggplant, yum), from Priyanka’s recipe. I say semi-failed because, although the eggplant didn’t come out quite like the recipe called for, the dish was still delicious.

Although I probably am not going completely vegetarian anytime soon, I am happy to know I can make some really awesome dishes that don’t have to revolve around meat. Sometimes I worry about getting enough veggies, so next time I do, I am going to whip out one of these dishes!

And now, for some recipes:).

Layered Eggplant Parmesan
1 large eggplant
2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2/3 cup ground Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Directions: Peel and thinly slice eggplant. Sweat the eggplant by placing it in a colander in the sink and covering with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse well and pat dry. Combine breadcrumbs and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the two eggs together. Dip eggplant slices in egg and then in breadcrumb mixture, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes (or until golden brown), flipping halfway through.

Then, in a casserole dish, spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce, layer with eggplant, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and a small sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Repeat until you have filled up your casserole dish (I did three layers). Make sure to end with at least a small amount of sauce and cheese on top. Sprinkle the top with the 1/2 tablespoon of dried basil. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Summer Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth (or water, if you don’t have either)
1 cucumber
1 mango
1/2 yellow pepper
1 can sweet corn
1/2 can black beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cilantro (fresh or the kind in a tube)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions: Bring 1 and 1/4 cups of broth (or water) to a boil. Add 1 cup of quinoa, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for five minutes, then fluff with fork. Let cool. Cube vegetables and mango and add to cooled quinoa. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, and cilantro together in a small bowl and add to salad. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.

How do you plan your meals?

What is your favorite vegetarian dish?


About Erin @ untilyoutri

Runner, triathlete, food lover, and happy blogger!
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47 Responses to Accidental Vegetarian

  1. NOw I am adequately hungry!! You certainly made due with no meat!! lots of color!!!

  2. Priyanka says:

    Hey, I wouldn’t call that a semi-fail! It looks really good! I am really glad you tried the recipe 🙂

  3. Karen says:

    Yum, I want to try that eggplant parm soon!

    • You definitely should! It’s a little bit of work, but it’s SO worth it. Plus you can make a giant casserole dish of it so you at least can get a bunch of meals out of it. So. Good.

  4. Peanut Butter Bandit says:

    WOOHOOO!! Mango + quinoa is the BEST combo!

    I totally did the ‘accidental veggie’ thing for a few weeks now. I just wasn’t craving meat- it was reminiscent of my pescetarian days! 🙂


    • This was my first time trying it! That recipe was inspired by a bunch of other quinoa recipes I’d seen around in the blog world. In the end I just kind of threw what I had together, but the mango is nice and really adds some sweetness to the dish.

      Yeah, I’ve always said that if it weren’t for missing the occasional hamburger, I probably would not miss meat that much if I went vegetarian. I really just never crave it. Produce on the other hand…I do. Bad:).

  5. Oh the eggplant and quinoa salad look awesome!! I really like Eggplant Parmesan so this looks like one that would be quite delicious!!

  6. Bari says:

    Oh.em.gee I’m totally making that eggplant parm & I don’t care that no one else will eat it.

    We plan our meals more during the school year. Summer, notsomuch.

  7. I am soooo sooo bad at planning my meals. I usually come home and stare blankly at my food pantry and wonder what to cook. For some reason things always work out I think its because if I don’t have a certain ingredient I’ll just modify it by adding another!

  8. This all looks awesome! I love your summer quinoa and the eggplant parm looks baller! I’ve been craving it for a month now and haven’t picked one up – major bloggy fail on my part! I think its time to get my eggplant on again! my gay bff taught me how to make it and its goooooood! haha

  9. These look delicious! I’m pretty sure I could easily go meatless without even realizing it, but I have to be conscious about making sure there is meat for my husband. Every time I make something without meat he always says the same thing, “this is really good, but it would be amazing with some meat in it…” 😉

  10. Chuck says:

    My food spending is definitely going up as I am trying to eliminate more processed foods making what I do eat not super expensive, but I have to buy it a lot more often…. sigh, lol.

    How were you getting your protein? Remember, you need it in a complete version and need the iron, amino acids, and B vitamins only found in meat!

    Glad to hear you are doing well : )

    • Aw, yeah, it’s always hard with produce…I want to buy a lot of it when it goes on sale but it can sometimes go bad before I get to it, which is frustrating.

      Yeah, I was a little worried about my protein intake when I realized I hadn’t ate much meat lately. I did eat a lot of low fat dairy and nuts and such. But yeah, I am not going to go all vegetarian anytime soon. Had some chicken marsala tonight for dinner:)

      • Chuck says:

        Mmm good!

        Today I got 4 squashes haha- 2 butternut, 1 acorn, and 1 spaghetti. I’m adjusting my diet a bit not and going to see how I feel!

        • Ooo, I love squash. I have cooked with all of those this past winter!:) Let me know the diet adjustment goes and how you’d feel. I’d love to hear. I have been trying to eat less processed foods, and while I am doing better than I was I still have a long way to go. It’s hard these days!

      • Lauren says:

        Not sure if you know this, but quinoa is actually a complete protein! And you can easily get enough protein in a day by combining different vegetarian sources together. As long as you’re conscious about it, it’s not as hard as you might think! 🙂

        • Thanks, Lauren! I definitely know that you can get it, I just don’t know that much about actually how to get it, and it wasn’t something I was really conscious about, so I was slightly worried since I just didn’t know:). And I did know that about quinoa, but wasn’t really thinking about it, so thanks for reminding me! I love getting advice from the veggie experts.

  11. Way to eat veggie 😀 And I love quinoa salads/pilafs–quinoa matches with so many flavors! Love the idea of adding mango and black beans–but mangoes are one of those only-if-on-sale foods for me. And I think my “on sale” price might be impossibly low like you and meat…I refuse to adjust for rising prices 🙂

  12. Heather says:

    love different quinoa salads! Can’t wait to try this one!

  13. Blond Duck says:

    Popped in from Rachel’s to say hi! I’ve always wanted to try Eggplant Parmesean. I plan by the week and try to do two beef meals/ two fun meals/ two veggie meals and a free-for-all–we call them scrounge!

  14. I just “pinned” the eggplant parmesan. It looks so yummy! Sometimes I get tired of meat, so it’s nice to have some vegetarian options. Thanks for posting these!

    • Yay! Thank you:). It was reallllly good. I bought another eggplant this weekend so I can make it again:). I haven’t been back on pinterest in a while because I’ve been so busy and I’m scared I’ll get sucked in for hours and never get anything done, hehe.

  15. Stephanie says:

    I love love eggplant parm!! how did this turn out? I never try to make it because i stink at it. should i try again you think?? i am not a veggie but i hardly ever eat red meat pretty much once a year i need my fix. otherwise, chicken is something i have just gotten back into but not too much. i am a fish lover but lately we have been too busy and tired = just veggie stuff. I am soo like you with the food shopping love it!! Finally, when is your trip? i vote come to boston for the weekend, we are having a bbq, just saying, you could make fruit pizza hahah

    • Oh my gosh, this eggplant parm was SO good. You definitely should make it! This was my first time cooking with it but it turned out great in this recipe. I think it helps to sweat the eggplant, first. Not sure if you did that when you cooked it? My friend told me to do it…I guess it helps remove the excess moisture so it cooks better. And I am the same way, some chicken, but not a lot of red meat. I love fish but it’s been so expensive lately, so we haven’t been eating a lot of it (unless you count canned tuna, lol). We leave this Saturday for our trip. I’m so excited!!:) I wish I could come to the BBQ! At least we get to meet up in Sept:).

  16. I love anything with eggplant. I’m totally jonesin’ for some eggplant parm now.

    • I love it too! I was seeing eggplant on some other people’s blogs and it’s what made me want to make some. I was scared to cook with it for some reason (I guess because someone told me you had to sweat it and I had never done that to something before, either, and for some reason that scared me, haha). Anyway, it wasn’t hard to cook at all and now I’m already jonesin for more eggplant! I bought another one at the grocery store this weekend:).

  17. Chinese eggplant with spicy black bean sauce 🙂 and brown rice

  18. lindsay says:

    i’ve done that too and it kind feels nice to have a meat free day! the quinoa salad is a summer favorite for sure!

    • I have never been a HUGE meat person, but at the same time I am not always great about getting enough veggies, too (uhm…what does that leave…carbs! You wonder why I run…it’s just so I can eat carbs!;). It felt really good getting a lot of awesome veggies in, though!

  19. Lauren says:

    These meals all look really delicious! As a vegetarian, I approve! 😉 haha Eggplant parm is actually my favorite vegetarian meal of all time. Except I’ll admit that I like the eggplant fried first, instead of baked. It’s less healthy, but ohso delicious that way.

    • Thanks, Lauren! I was totally inspired by you and my other veggie bloggers:). This eggplant parm recipes is actually REALLY good, even though it’s not fried (because I agree with you, I love the fried version!). Maybe because it’s got a pretty good amount of cheese in there, too? Not sure, but I loved it!

  20. Sarah says:

    Eeverything looks really good! I wish I actaully cooked.

    • The quinoa salad was super easy if you are looking for something to start with. Just 12 mins of simmering the quinoa, and then tossing it with some chopped veggies and dressing. Wa-la!:)

  21. Emily says:

    That quinoa…YES PLEASE. I’m a semi-vegetarian, mostly by accident. Homemade pizza tops my list of fave veggie meals, but you knew that already 🙂

  22. I had a similar dish yesterday with black beans, corn and quinoa- I can’t believe I never thought to put mango in there!! God, that sounds so good. I think I see a mango purchase in my future 🙂

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