Friday, February 27, 2015

Vegetarian/ Flexitarian Small Group Meal Ideas

Friends, I am finding that it's important to have a few small group meal ideas that work for both vegetarians and meat eaters.  Here are a few tried and true recipes that make your meal together hospitable to both.  Also, some small groups are trying intentionally eat vegetarian once a month or so to be more mindful of the call to simplicity.  

Cilantro Corn Chowder ~ SERVES 8  (Feel free to double or triple)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups red onion, chopped
1 cup diced carrot
1 1/2 cups diced yellow bell pepper
1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper
4 Cups potatoes, peeled and cubed (or
leave peels on, but scrub well!)
2 Tablespoons vegetable soup concentrate 
3 Cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
salt & pepper to taste

Put olive oil in a large soup pot. Add onion, carrot and bell peppers and sauté until the veggies soften, 4-6 minutes. Add potatoes and mix well into the veggie mixture. Saute’ an additional 7 to 8 minutes. Add 7 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Remove 1/2 cup of broth and dissolve soup concentrate into it. Add this to soup and mix well. Cook soup and additional 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove 1/3 of the soup with lots of veggies in it and set aside. Blend remaining 2/3 of the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in reserved soup, corn, cilantro, and chives. (If you want to thicken the soup up a bit more, blend a few more of the whole vegetables from soup with 1 cup of corn). Bring soup to a low boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for 10 minutes on low heat, continuing to stir so that soup doesn't stick to bottom. Season and salt to taste.  You may add some crumbled bacon for small group members who must have meat.

Slow Cooker Lentil Chili

Yield: Serves 8-10
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4-6 hours
This Slow Cooker Lentil Chili is vegan and gluten-free, but meat lovers will enjoy it too! Top with your favorite chili toppings!


1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, diced, seeds removed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) bag brown lentils, rinsed
2 (15 oz) cans small red beans, rinsed and drained
2-3 tablespoons chili powder (we used 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon cumin
Salt and black pepper, to taste


1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Stir well to combine.
2. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Serve warm.
Note-we use a 6 quart slow cooker. This chili freezes well. Top with your favorite chili toppings, if desired.

Vegan Pesto 

Recipe posted February 2008 by Karina Allrich.
This vegan pesto is big on taste, zero on dairy.  The nuts you choose influence the taste.  Feel free to make shredded parmesan available for cheese lovers.  You could also add a bowl of shredded rotisserie chicken as well.  


2 cups, washed, loosely packed stemmed fresh herbs- basil, cilantro, parsley, mint  (I also add some spinach)
1/2 cup shelled pecans or walnuts or pine nuts
1-2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup good tasting extra virgin olive oil, as needed
a few squirts of fresh lemon (optional)
Sea salt, to taste


Combine the fresh herbs, nuts, and garlic in a food processor and process the mixture until it turns into a coarse meal.

Slowly add extra virgin olive oil in a steady drizzle as you pulse the processor on and off. Process until it becomes a smooth, light paste. Add enough olive oil to keep it moist and spreadable.

Season with sea salt, to taste.

Cover and store chilled for at least an hour to saturate the flavors. I like to pour a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil over the top to help keep it bright green.

Makes roughly a rounded cup.

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