When people think of the nine days they tend to panic. After all it’s hard to be creative and come up with meal ideas when chicken and meat are off the menu. I like to look at the nine days as an excuse to bring exotic flavors in my kitchen and experiment a little bit. There are so many wonderful cuisines that lend themselves especially well to vegetarian and dairy options.
I happen to love Latin inspired food and flavors, and of course tacos. It’s a great go to meal when you have kids and any ground meat can work. But Tacos are great without the meat as well. I recently started making tacos with black beans and corn, along with ½ an envelope of taco seasoning and a can of tomato sauce and they are delish. Garnished with some creamy avocado and chives or green onions this a healthy and tasty dinner. Serve it with Gazpacho for an authentic mexican feast.
Corn and Black Bean Tacos
- 1 bag frozen corn
- 1 can black beans
- ½ an envelope taco seasoning (less if you’re sensitive to spice)
- 1 small can tomato sauce (12 ounces)
- 4-6 taco shells
- sliced avocado or guacamole, hot sauce, diced tomatoes, chives, and green onions for garnish.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse beans and put all ingredients into saute pan/skillet, heat through. Toast corn tacos for 2-3 minutes until crisped. Fill tacos with bean and corn mixture, top avocado, chives, tomatoes, green onions or any topping of your choice.
Another easy Mexican inspired recipe is my Rice and Bean Bake. A one pot meal that’s delicious and so easy to make. Everything get’s thrown together, put in the oven, and baked until the cheese on top is bubbling. Serve with a fresh corn, tomato and basil salad.
Rice and Bean Bake
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 jar salsa
- shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 can roasted chili peppers (optional)
Rinse Kidney beans then combine with rice and salsa, spoon into a greased casserole and sprinkle with shredded cheddar and jalapenos if you like spice. Bake for ½ hour till cheese is bubbly, place under broiler for 5 minutes if you like the top browned.
Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad
- 1 can corn kernels or 3 ears fresh corn shucked of kernels.
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- 10-15 basil leaves, chiffonade
- juice of one lemon
- drizzle of olive oil
- salt and pepper
If using fresh corn microwave for about 5 minutes with 1-2 Tbsp of water to soften the corn. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve immediately or keep chilled covered until ready to serve.
Moving beyond the Americas, lets travel to the flavors of Thailand, where coconut and curry feature prominently. Mild flavored flounder soaked in a coconut milk infused with curry and then dredged in panko breadcrumbs accompanied by a sweet and sour rice is a delicious meal that even your kids will like. You can opt to leave out the curry for less heat.
- 4 fresh Flounder Fillets
- 1 can reduced fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp curry powder
- panko bread crumbs
- neutral oil such as canola for frying or cooking spray.
If oven frying preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine coconut milk and curry. immerse fish in milk mixture then dredge in panko then back in coconut milk and dredge again in panko crumbs, repeat with all remaining fillets.
If pan frying let oil get really hot and cook 2-3 minutes on each side till golden brown and cooked through. For the oven fry method. Place fish on a tin foiled cookie sheet and spray both sides liberally with cooking spray. Bake for around 20 minutes until golden turning over halfway through.
See recipe below for Sweet and Sour Pineapple Rice to accompany the Coconut Flounder.
Finally we finish in Italy with a whole wheat pasta tossed in a fresh parsley pesto served with a romaine lettuce salad tossed with a simple vinaigrette. The parsley pesto has a gorgeous bright green hue and a lighter, fresher flavor than a traditional basil pesto. If you want it cheese free you sub 1-2 anchovy fillets for the parmesan cheese.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Parsley Pesto
- 1 box wheat pasta of your choice
- 1 bunch parsley stems chopped off
- 1 bunch chives
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- juice of one lemon
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1-2 tsp sea salt
Cook pasta in salted water according to directions. Combine fresh herbs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and parmesan cheese in a blender and pulse until smooth. Toss with pasta and a little pasta water to help it really coat every strand.
These recipes are easy, healthy and delicious and you’ll find yourself using them even when it’s not the nine days!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse beans and put all ingredients into saute pan/skillet, heat through. Toast corn tacos for 2-3 minutes till crisped. Fill tacos with bean and corn mixture, top avocado, chives, tomatoes, green onions or any topping of your choice.
1-2 cups cooked rice (preferably jasmine or basmati brown)
1 small can crushed pineapple
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cube frozen chopped garlic or 2 tsp fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water to form a slurry.
1 tsp canola oil
Strain the pineapple from the juice set aside.
Heat the canola oil in a skillet on medium heat. Saute garlic until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the strained pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and sesame oil and bring to a gentle boil to reduce slightly.
Add the corn starch slurry and stir until mixture thickens. Add in crushed pineapple and pour over rice, tossing to combine thoroughly.