The “little black dress” of easy vegetarian recipes

Fashion gurus tell us that every woman’s closet is supposed to have a little black dress.  Of its many attributes this dress’s most important feature is versatility. My closet has one, I found it in my Grandma’s attic. The vintage fabric is a delicate brocade and gives me a figure I never knew I had. Unfortunately there is not a strand of spandex in the fabric and it may take the removal of multiple ribs to be able to wear it in public. For now, I just keep trying it on from time to time and demanding that Mr. Second Helpings give the zipper a bit more muscle.

While experimenting with the recipe for Southwestern Sweet Potato Bites I wound up with more mixture than I could make into appetizers. I realize it is not particularly elegant but the filling for those bites has become the culinary version of my little black dress. Like my vintage frock, when enjoyed in moderation, these recipes could do great things for my figure.

Mixture of sweet potato, beans, corn, and spices

The Sweet Potato Bites recipe yields enough filling to make over 200 appetizers. As much as I have grown to love them, I have not yet had a reason to make more than 30 at one time. At first we had a great time making a few bites at a time but it didn’t take long to get bored. On day three I peered into the still full bowl of sweet potato mixture and thought, “hmm, I bet there is something more I could make with this concoction…” Time to accessorize!

Pan of baked Enchiladas

To make these enchiladas: Scoop about 1/3 of a cup of sweet potato mixture (and maybe a bit of cheese) into a tortilla then roll it up. Place the roll into a baking pan and repeat until you have a little raft of rolled tortillas. Cover the enchiladas with a 15 oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, or two cans for a large batch. Bake the enchiladas at 350 degrees until the tortillas are toasty and the filling is heated through (about 25 minutes). Add shredded cheese and replace in the oven for about five more minutes.

How to make enchiladas

Sidebar:We try and cut calories by using low fat, low carb tortillas but this often sacrifices flavor and texture. Recently I started serving these little artisan style tortillas. They are made with a variety of grains, have a chewy texture, and way more flavor than the larger plain flour alternatives. Whichever tortillas you grab be sure to flip the package over are read the label. The calories and fat in a single tortilla can be surprisingly high.

Dress up your Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas with avocado and some lime squeezed over the top. For extra bling sprinkle each plate with a few cilantro leaves. The nutritional content will vary according to the specific ingredients used. The enchiladas pictured came in around 150 calories a piece.

Plated Enchilada

But wait! There’s more!

From the same basic sweet potato and black bean “little black dress” mixture comes a game-day meal of sporty pub grub!

Sweet Potato Burger with Cabbage Slaw

These burgers were a home run in our house.  I was delighted to discover how simple it is to make veggie burgers at home. Both Mr. Second Helpings and I were surprised to realize how much more we liked the from-scratch version compared to the ones we buy frozen. I am even willing to bet that the homemade burgers would freeze really well. I would experiment with freezing some but there never seem to be any leftover!

Sweet Potato Burgers

These vegetarian patties can be enjoyed bun-less as a starchy side dish or pair with a whole grain hamburger bun and your favorite fixin’s to make a stick-to-your-ribs good meal. They are excellent plain and stellar with a bit of cheese melted on top.

Yield: 6 burgers

Ingredients

Method

  1. Preheat a non-stick pan or pancake griddle to medium high heat. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Measure approximately 2 cups of into a medium mixing bowl. Add cornmeal (and flour) and egg. Stir until fully incorporated. Mixture will be soft and sticky.
  3. Using a clean hand scoop up a ball of mixture approximately 1/3 of a cup at a time. Plop the squishy ball onto the preheated pan and gently press into a round patty about a little under 1/2 inch thick. Repeat until mixture is gone.
  4. Cook burgers until golden on top and bottom – around 4 minutes per side.
  5. Transfer burgers to a sheet pan to finish in the preheated oven for about 10 more minutes.

Approximate Per Serving: 87 calories, 1.4 g. fat, 15.3 g. carbohydrates, 2.8 g. fiber, 3.9 g. protein, PP = 2

Sweet Potato Burger with Cabbage Slaw

Dress your burger up even more with a bit of Cilantro Pesto. It is a sassy condiment that almost bites back.

Sweet Potato Burger with Pesto

Cilantro Pesto

Use this pesto as a creamy condiment for burgers and tacos. Slather it on fish before baking or grilling. Simply dab a bit behind your ears to ward off vampires. How ever you use it this Cilantro Pesto I guarantee it will bring vibrant flavors to the party.

Yield: approximately 1 1/2 cups of pesto or 12 2TB servings

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of cilantro leaves and stems (7 – 8 ounces)
  • 8 – 10 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • juice of 1 medium lime
  • 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cashews, unsalted
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Method

  1. Into the bowl of a food processor – place as much of the cilantro as will fit comfortably.  Top with the garlic and cashews. Secure lid and pulse to begin to break down the leaves.
  2. Once the leaves have collapsed add the remaining cilantro leaves, half of the salt, and all of the lime juice.
  3. Secure the lid and turn it on. While the blade is running, drizzle the olive oil into the shoot. The pesto will become a thick paste. Blend until the leaves have broken down and it becomes an even texture.
  4. Taste the pesto and add more salt if needed.

Finished pesto can be refrigerated for use with in a week or frozen in individual portions for future use.

Approximate Per Serving: 74 calories, 7.3 g. fat, 2 g. carbohydrates, .2 g. fiber, .6 g. protein, PP = 2

Jar of homemade pesto with cilantro and lime

13 Responses to “The “little black dress” of easy vegetarian recipes”
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