Vegetarian Meals

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

pasta salad in stone colored bowl, on white table with basil and sun-dried tomatoes

 

 

Need a quick side dish for your next dinner party?!  Look no further my friends!  The longest part of making this pasta salad is just waiting for the pasta to cook ( and if you like your pasta al dente, then you don’t even have to wait the full time on that)!

I love this pasta salad, because the dressing and mediterranean veggies give this it a fresh and light flavor.  Although this recipe doesn’t call for cheese, don’t be afraid to add some goat or feta cheese if you really want to take it to the next level!

In order to make the best use of your time, chop veggies and prepare the dressing while pasta is cooking.  Dump all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and then stir in dressing right before serving (to avoid getting everything too soggy).

 

Mediterranean pasta salad in stone colored bowl, topped with grilled artichoke hearts

 

For this recipe, I used Banza Pasta, a gluten free alternative to regular wheat pasta, so I wouldn’t feel all that guilty going back for a second serving!  You could really add any of your favorite mediterranean inspired veggies…my opinion is, the more the merrier!

For me…nothing beats fresh chopped basil (cue romantic background music).  Sun-dried tomatoes add a deep savory flavor, while grilled artichoke hearts give it an awesome salty and smoky flavor.  Add any sort of nut for crunch (a good crunch in any dish is a totally underrated quality) and call it a day!

The dressing is super easy, just a combination of 2 parts extra virgin olive oil, mixed with 1 part balsamic vinegar, along with dried Italian spices.  If you’re feeling really fancy and have lemons on deck…don’t be afraid to throw some of that in too!

I think the best thing about this dish is that it looks super fancy, but really only requires you to have the right ingredients on hand, that can then be dumped in a bowl and mixed together.  Give it a try, you guys will love it!

 

close up picture of large bowl filled with mediterranean pasta salad

 

 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Gluten free pasta filled with basil, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and onion!  Mixed with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette and packed with vitamins, flavor, and healthy oils!
Prep Time13 mins
Cook Time7 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: appetizer, artichoke, basil, mediterranean, pasta salad, sundried tomato
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 bag or individual box, Banza GF Pasta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tbsp red onion chopped
  • 3 halves marinated artichokes pulled from stem and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper each

Instructions

  • Cook pasta on stove top until soft, then rinse under cool water.
  • Transfer pasta to large bowl.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Add goat cheese or feta for added flavor!
Vegetarian Meals

Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna

black skillet with eggplant lasagna on white table, spinach and sweet potato pictures next to skillet

 

Public service announcement: NO NEED TO BE A VEGETARIAN to totally fall in love with this eggplant lasagna!  If my meat-lover husband can devour this lasagna in one sitting and not notice the meat is missing, then that tells me we’re in good shape for the blog!

My idea behind this dish is that I wanted to make it simple and healthy.  So let’s start with simple…

I used raw ingredients, that only required slicing, and baked them all together in a skillet (or casserole dish).  There is no need to pre-cook anything or get out a million pots and pans (which means less dishes…yay!).

For this recipe, I would highly encourage the use of a mandoline to slice your “layers”.  It is one of my favorite kitchen appliances, and can cut you a whole veggie in about 30 seconds flat!  (click the link below for more information on mandolines!)

 

 

cutting board with sliced eggplant, sweet potato, and chopped onion

 

I used a mandoline to thinly slice a sweet potato, and then a sharp knife to cut the eggplant approximately 1/4 in. thick width wise.  Chop an onion, grab some spinach, mix spices, and layer as follows:

  • sweet potato
  • eggplant
  • spices
  • onion
  • spinach
  • sauce
  • cheese

(repeat one more time) 

 

black skillet on white table, with eggplant lasagna
Lasagna before baking

 

Second, I didn’t want to use meat, or pasta, because I love eggplant and strongly believe it should get its time to shine every now and again!  Therefore, I substituted pasta with sweet potatoes, and meat with our star of the show…eggplant!  

The sweet potato acts as a low carb substitute for pasta and gives the lasagna structure, while the eggplant provides high fiber content and is rich with nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants).  Instead of using traditional mozzarella, a cheese derived from cow’s milk that causes inflammation, I used goat cheese crumbles which contains less lactose and is typically easier to digest.

 

eggplant lasagna in a black skillet surrounded by green spinach

 

Once all of your layers are assembled, cover in foil, bake for 50 min, then remove foil and bake for another 25 min.  You can serve as a single dish, or with a side salad!    

 

eggplant lasagna in a skillet on white table with spinach in background

 

 

eggplant lasagna in a black skillet surrounded by green spinach
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan

A one-pan, healthy, vegetarian, eggplant parmesan made with sweet potato, spinach, onion, and spices!  Creamy goat cheese used in place of traditional mozzarella, on top of a basil marinara sauce.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: eggplant, gluten free, parmesan, sweet potato, vegetarian
Servings: 6 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large eggplant skinned
  • 1 large sweet potato skinned
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 36 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 4 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper each

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a large skillet or baking dish.
  • In a small mixing bowl, mix all spices and set aside.
  • Using a mandoline, slice sweet potato into round, thin pieces and set aside. Using a knife, cut the width of the eggplant to approximately 1/4 in. thick, set aside. Chop onion and set aside.
  • Take greased baking dish, and line the bottom with half the amount of sweet potato slices. Then layer half of the eggplant pieces directly on top.
  • Take spice mixture, and evenly sprinkle half the amount over eggplant.
  • Take half of chopped onion, and 1 cup of spinach and sprinkle over eggplant. Spread half of marinara sauce overtop and spread using a spatula.
  • Evenly sprinkle half of goat cheese over top marinara.  Repeat the same process again, starting with a layer of sweet potatoes.
  • Wrap tinfoil over top and bake for 50 min.  remove tinfoil and bake for another 25 min.  Let cool, garnish with extra herbs (if desired), and serve!
Vegetarian Meals

Traditional Greek Salad

two greek salad with oil, balsamic vinegar, and cucumber on the side

 

Rounding out this Mediterranean themed week with my all time favorite greek cuisine…the simple yet flavorful, GREEK SALAD.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, David and I were lucky enough to make a trip to Greece last summer with a few of our friends, and let me tell you, it was a dream come true!

 

friends visiting mykonos town, mykonos greece

(The group in Mykonos Town, Mykonos)

The country is so old, history so rich, and the land is beautiful!  We toured the National Archaeological Museum and Acropolis, met some of the nicest and most accommodating locals, lounged on their sun filled beaches, and indulged in some of the best and freshest food (and drinks)!  

 

having drinks on a rooftop bar overlooking the acropolis is greece

(Enjoying those drinks at a bar overlooking the Acropolis!  Bar: A for Athens Cocktail Bar)

(Walking through the ancient Acropolis of Athens)

If I’m being honest, I always enjoyed Greek Salads here in the U.S., but they weren’t anything I’d obsess over.  So obviously, first day in Greece, I had to try out a traditional Greek Salad from the homeland to see how it compared.  Final verdict?  OH.MAH.GAWD. it was life changing.  And no lie, I ate one every.single.day.

You think one would get tired of eating the same food every day, but that was not the case at all.  It actually had the opposite effect, in that I required a Greek Salad with a side of fresh bread and olive oil, every day in order to survive.  The best way I can explain it is like this…I’m stuck floating out into space, and the Greek Salad is my oxygen filled space suit GIVING ME LIFE.

But I digress…

 

greek salad with block of feta and basil on top

 

Aside from the seriously ripe, home grown tomatoes and cucumbers, the biggest difference in Greek Salads in Greece vs Greek Salads in the U.S. is the FETA CHEESE.  Every place you went to in Greece gave you these big blocks of brine-soaked feta, drizzled with oil and oregano.  This was a GAME CHANGER.

One of my favorite brine-soaked feta blocks is made by Dodoni, an authentic Greek feta imported from the homeland itself!  I get mine at Costco in a big container, so as you can imagine it lasts me a while!  Trader Joe’s also has a good selection of blocked feta, so don’t be afraid to try it out and take the extra step of cutting it up ypurself…its worth it!

 

two greek salad with cucumber on the side and Dodoni blocked feta

 

So as you can imagine, I was determined to recreate this in my own home and I think this recipe is pretty darn close.  The key is to keep it simple.  Use large chunks of veggies, quality EVOO, and a big ol’ block of brine soaked feta for good measure!  Do not underestimate the power of simple, quality ingredients, as evidence by this life giving salad.

 

greek salad with block of feta and dodoni blocked feta container

 

Once you’ve created your masterpiece, sit back, relax…and take a picture to send to you friends telling them you took a last minute trip to Greece!

 

two greek salads with oil and balsamic vinegar on the side

 

Traditional Greek Salad

Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Salad
Keyword: feta, greek, salad, traditional
Servings: 2 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cucumber cut into large chunks
  • 2 tomatoes cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 cup red onion sliced thinly
  • 1 large block of feta
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • fresh basil chopped

Instructions

  • Dice cucumber and tomatoes in large chunks and add to bowl.
  • Thinly slice the raw red onion and sprinkle over top of cucumber and tomato mixture.
  • Drizzle oil and vinegar over salad mixture.
  • Cut a large block of feta and lay overtop individual salads.
  • Drizzle a little extra oil over feta and sprinkle whole salad with dried oregano.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped basil.