A few people have asked me to write about my systems for feeding an appealing vegetarian menu to a largish family on a budget.
Last night I made (but did not take any photos of) roasated vegetables over couscous. This is a stand-by that appears on our menu in several configuations. It fits all my criteria: vegetarian, healthy, doesn’t involve exotic or expensive ingredients, isn’t labor intensive, adults and kids like it. It also has the added bonus of being flexible and customizable. Here’s how I do it:
When the kids come home from school, get out a big bowl and create a marinade. Just pour some mixture of the following into the bowl:
Throughout the afternoon, while providing intermittent guidance on homework, piano practice, conflict resolution and/or talking with your mom on her way home from work, chop vegetables into rough chunks and toss them into the bowl to marinate. Choose some combination of the following:
red, yellow, and green bell peppers
About a half hour before you’d like to serve dinner, start preparing some grains to accompany the vegetables. This dish will work with any of the following:
brown or white rice
quinoa (great cooking instructions found here)
couscous (I get mine from the bulk aisle instead of those little boxes)
While the grain is steaming/boiling, preheat the oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Fish the veggies out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and spread them over the cookie sheet. Broil for 15 minutes or so, stirring once or twice.
When your grain is done cooking, pour on a little extra marinade for moistness and flavor if you like. Serve the vegetables over the grain, with a bowl of cheese for sprinkling.
grated parmesan (I buy the big bag at Costco and keep the whole thing in the freezer. The cheese is hard and fine enough that you can pour a cup or so into a bowl for a meal and just set it on the table. It’ll have thawed sufficiently by the time the prayer is over.)
Yes, my kids do eat this. They sometimes threaten to turn up their noses when they see the mounds of vegetables, but the marinade and the broiling give the vegetables a really nice flavor, and I encourage the kids to use as much cheese as they'd like.