Meatless Monday: Potato “Deviled Eggs”

I’m not a football fan. Sure, I love a good community gathering now and then, and I can appreciate a nice pass, great catch, swift run, straight kick. I totally get team spirit, and of course athleticism at its peak can be invigorating to watch.

But when my kid suffered a severe concussion on his second day of high school, and when three months later a specialist said he had symptoms of someone ten days post-injury, that spoiled it for me. I can’t derive pleasure from watching boys and men risk their brains.

Still, it’s a food occasion and I’m down for fun food, even when it’s just our little family. We’ve had a full week and none of us felt up to a party. We recorded the game, did our own things, and then came together in the evening to eat and watch (or not watch–I read a book during the plays and watched the commercials and half-time shows; Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan, if you must know, and it’s so good) the game.

Guy bought bean dip for chips; mine is so much better, though his purchase gave me time to make something else: a veggie-version of deviled eggs.

I took the inspiration from Forks Over KnivesSmoky Little Devils, potato bites filled with home-made hummus. But then you’ve got potato middles looking for something else to do… Why not just use the potatoes themselves as filling?

If I were making this for a crowd, I’d double (or triple) the recipe.

Potato “Deviled Eggs”
Makes 24 bites

12 small round potatoes (I used “Baby Creamers” purchased at Costco)
2 Tbsp plant-based mayonnaise
1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp mild curry powder (or to taste)
Paprika, for serving

Boil potatoes for 15 minutes until fork tender; drain and cool. When cool, slice potatoes in half and remove the middle of each side using the small end of a melon baller. Put potatoes hole-side-up on a serving tray. Add potato middles to a food processor and pulse with mayo, mustard, garlic and curry powder, pausing to scrape the bowl as needed. Transfer the mixture to a zip-top bag and cut off one corner. Pipe the filling into the potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

I went super-basic with this recipe, but as there are a bazillion variations on deviled eggs, go crazy and do your own thing: cajun seasoning or chili powder instead of curry? You bet. Top with celery, capers, shallots, green onion? Why not?

Meatless Monday – Veggie “Meat” Balls

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday and this post says “Meatless Monday.” That’s how things go sometimes, especially in a busy holiday season. No judgment, lots of grace!

Because their parents turned veggie before they were born, our kids have been vegetarian their whole lives. They’ve never had a beef burger. They’ve only had meat by accident.

At a Christmas party a year ago, Tween saw a platter of meat balls and commented aloud, “Oh, I can’t have those.” The gracious host replied, “Oh, yes, you can! They’re vegetarian.” He had one, and then another, and eventually we moved his sweet body away from the table so others could enjoy them as well.

Not long after, Friend scheduled time to teach Tween to make meatballs. Unlike his older brother, whose love for eating good food motivates him to cook good food, Tween hasn’t been overly motivated to learn to cook. But he had so much fun cooking with Friend, and I had fun watching her invest love and knowledge into her relationship with my son.meatballs in oven
meatball on spoon

As she prepared to host this year’s Christmas party, Friend invited Tween over to make another (double) batch of meatballs. For three hours they measured, chopped, sauteed, blended, stirred, and waited in expectation for that delicious first bite (Okay, it doesn’t really take three hours, but we talked and took breaks, Tween played with the dogs and the adults drank good wine – in other words, we enjoyed the process and the company).

Come party time, Tween proudly stood by the meatballs and invited guests to try them. Carnivores couldn’t believe vegetables could taste so savory-amazing. Don’t let prior experience with cardboard-tasteless, processed meat-less balls steer you away from this recipe. Try it for yourself!

Veggie “Meat” Balls

2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 c Saltine crackers, finely chopped
2 c walnuts, finely chopped
1 c ground vegetable protein (such as 
Morningstar Grillers Crumbles)
4 eggs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 c Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Use a food processor on pulse to chop Saltines, then walnuts, then onions (because dry before wet makes things easier), setting aside each ingredient as it’s done. Saute onions. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend. Use a small ice cream scoop to form walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

BBQ Sauce

1/2 c margarine
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c ketchup
2 1/2 c prepared BBQ sauce (we like 
this one)
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
2 shakes liquid smoke

Saute onions. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour sauce over meatballs in a casserole dish and bake at 350 until warmed through, or place in a crock pot to warm and serve.

Meatless Monday – Moroccan Eggplant

eggplantWhen Tween was little we made up a song about eggplant:

Eggplant, eggplant
You’re kinda weird
Eggplant, eggplant
You’ll make me grow a beard!

Tween is a picky eater, and another song had helped to convince him that he, in fact, likes beans:

Beans, beans
The magical fruit
The more you eat
The more you toot!

(False, actually, because if you eat beans regularly your body develops the enzymes necessary to digest them without musical accompaniment).

And so we hoped a funny little ditty might help Tween to eat eggplant. The song made him laugh, but I’m not sure it had great effect on his willingness to consume eggplant. He’ll eat it, but not much.

Which is okay with me because, as I’ve said before, I’m a firm believer in the idea that seventeen bites over time can change your palate. Without realizing it, I think I experienced that truth with this recipe.

My mom made Moroccan Eggplant from time-to-time during my growing up years. It always smelled good – did I even know it contained eggplant? I’m not sure – but I wouldn’t take more than a bite. Especially because she usually served it along side veggies for dipping, and I prefer pita bread.

Yet with each bite, over time, I grew to like this recipe and eggplant in general. Now, if I see a beautiful eggplant in the grocery store, I might find myself craving it. Sure, I like eggplant grilled, roasted, on a loaded veggie sandwich, but this recipe is probably my favorite way to prepare eggplant. It’s a great appetizer for a party (farm to table, anyone?), and makes a delicious lunch sandwich stuffed in a pita pocket.

chopped eggplant and pepper + crushed garlic hop in the pot

chopped eggplant and pepper + crushed garlic hop in the pot

I'm always convinced that this time it's not going to melt down

I’m always convinced that this time it’s not going to cook down…

...and yet it does!

…and yet it does!

The hardest part is the patience to let flavors meld while it chills

The hardest part is the patience to let flavors meld while it chills

And now we enjoy!

And now we enjoy!

Moroccan Eggplant Dip
Makes 3 cups dip

1 large eggplant (about 1 ½ lb.)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 16-oz. can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
2 tsp each sugar and salt
¼ c red wine vinegar
¼ c chopped fresh cilantro or 2 Tbsp dried cilantro leaves

Dice eggplant, discarding ends. In a large frying pan or pot, heat oil over medium-high heat; add eggplant, half the tomato sauce, garlic, green pepper, cumin, cayenne, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes; add tomato sauce as necessary if pan seems too dry. Uncover and boil mixture over high heat, stirring, until reduced to about 3 cups. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or until next day. Before serving, stir in cilantro.  Serve with pita or French bread or with raw veggies, such as zucchini, cucumber, or carrots.