There are many reasons to go meatless these days. The benefits of include a reduction on your grocery cost, a lighter load for your digestive system, and an increase in your veggie consumption. Yes, there are several good reasons for choosing to go meatless. For you meatless may be one day a week, several days a week, or maybe meatless is your everyday lifestyle. My reason for delving into meatless meals has nothing to do with my own choice.
For me, meatless meals became an abrupt and completely necessary menu adjustment. One ordinary day almost three years ago, my son decided that he was choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. Up until that day, most of the meals I prepared were full of meat.
I was born and raised in Louisiana, Cajun Country. And I tell you, we cook good food here! Most of my family’s favorite recipes have meat: gumbo, jambalaya, pot roast. Our red beans are cooked with sausage. Our white beans are cooked with pork. And even our green beans have been known to be served with bacon! Rapid and major changes occurred in our Cajun kitchen because of my son’s healthful and wise decision.
To say that his decision altered our kitchen menu would be a total understatement. Not having any idea of how to prepare vegetarian meals, I immediately purchased several vegetarian cookbooks. I passed the cookbooks to my son and told him I would cook whatever recipe he chose. The problem was that the recipes in the cookbooks did not appeal to him. So, we began to make our own recipes. I was learning to cook all over again.
We have discovered many tasty and filling meatless recipes over the course of these years. Today I will share with you my son’s favorite, a concoction that became known as Taco Pie. Now I know what you are thinking. Shouldn’t taco pie have ground beef? Absolutely not! You will never miss the meat in this recipe! In fact, several guests in our home have eaten this pie with us and were surprised to realize (after the pie had been eaten) that it was a vegetarian recipe.
Many times when I have eaten a meatless meal I am left unfulfilled. Left with the feeling that my meal was missing something. That is not the case with the recipes I share with you today. They are both yummy and satisfying.
2 TB olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 chopped green onions (Don’t throw out the roots, Click here to find out how I grow my own green onions from store-bought bulbs! Simple, Simple!)
1 pack taco seasoning (or Amy can tell you how to make your own Taco and Fajita Seasoning!)
sprinkle of Slap Ya Mama (Only use if you like spicy hot, otherwise leave this out!)
3 small zucchini shredded (3 cups for regular pie crust, 4 cups for deep dish)
3 small yellow squash shredded (3 cups for regular pie crust, 4 cups for deep dish)
2 pre-made pie crusts (frozen will do or Jodi’s recipe for a homemade pie crust! )
8 saltine crackers
3/4 cup breadcrumbs, italian or plain
1/2 cups cooked beans (black beans, or pinto beans, or kidney beans)
Optional Taco Toppings: Salsa, taco sauce, sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce, hot sauce
Heat oil in large pan. Add garlic, onions, green onions and saute until soft. Add in taco seasoning, shredded squash and zucchini. Optional: sprinkle Slap Ya Mama. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until shredded veggies begin to soften. Cover and turn off heat.
In pie crust, crumble 4 saltine crackers in each. Add 1/4 cup of bread crumbs in each. (If not Italian bread crumbs, sprinkle in some extra seasoning, Italian herbs) On top of that spread 3/4 cup of beans in each crust. Divide zucchini and squash mix evenly between the crusts. (If you have some filling left, put it aside to make Taco Pasta Salad later in the week. The recipe follows.) Sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs.
Cook at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes for regular crust. 20-25 minutes for deep dish.
Serve plain or with your choice of taco toppings. This is good stuff!
Taco pie is a great food for entertaining because it can be prepared the day before and stored in the fridge until time for baking. Simply do the baking just before your guests arrive. Due to refrigeration temperature you will have to add about 5 minutes to the original baking time.
Now it’s time to talk about what to do with any leftover pie filling. Many times when making this recipe my crusts are filled to almost overflowing, and I have filling left. A little extra is a good thing! One to two cups of leftover pie filling can make a pasta salad pop!
TACO PASTA SALAD
1-2 cups of leftover zucchini/squash taco pie filling
1/4 purple onion chopped
1/2 cucumber diced
1 tomato diced
1 cup of your favorite variety of olives (This time I used black olives.)
3 cups fresh spinach chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or dressing of your choice (Ashley makes a great Vinaigrette! and Brenda tells how to make Honey Mustard, Ranch, and Balsamic Vinegar!
12 oz Rainbow Rotini or Pasta of your choice
Seaside Cheddar OR your choice of cheese
Cook pasta as directed and drain. While pasta is still hot, place all ingredients in a bowl and toss.
Serve with your choice of shredded or crumbled cheese. I like Seaside Cheddar, Applewood Cheddar, or any other interesting varieties I find while perusing the cheese secion at Whole Foods.
This dish is great all on its own or served as a side. Taco pasta salad tastes great hot or cold. This quick and easy recipe is also a favorite at pot luck gatherings.
Those are two of my favorite meatless meal recipes. I would love to hear your thoughts on going meatless!