Meat Free Mondays

So my college-aged daughter announced last week that she was becoming a vegetarian.

Cool, I replied. Just make sure you eat enough proteins. Since she won’t be getting any from meat, she will need to replace them with lots of beans and lentils, and leafy green vegetables.

Although I’m definitely a carnivore, I’ve been thinking for awhile about participating in Meat Free Mondays, a movement started by Paul McCartney (btw: This past summer, we attended his concert at Wrigley Field in Chicago: Awesome!). The plan is to give up meat one day per week in order to save money, reduce the impact on the environment, and live a healthier life.

My wife and I eat mostly poultry and fish, some pork, and hardly any beef, veal or other red meats, mostly for economic and health rather than ethical reasons. So doing without meat one day a week shouldn’t be any big deal, right?

For many years, I’ve cooked vegetarian in restaurants. Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen a noticeable spike in the number of diners looking for vegetarian and vegan options.

(An aside: When I was restaurant director at a big Chicago area hotel, we hosted a week-long confernece for a vegetarian group. Our biggest sellers? Meat-flavored vegetarian burgers and hot dogs. How does that work, exactly?)

My wife’s favorite meal in the whole world is the vegan burger at Leona’s, a great Chicago area Italian restaurant chain. So I made a Chickpea and Mushroom Burger that I adapted from one on the excellent frugalfeeding blog. I also made a wonderful Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup that I adapted from one I found on the Mom Makes blog. They were both amazingly delicious!

Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

So here’s to saving the planet! And my money!

Chickpea and Mushroom Burger

15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained

8 oz button mushrooms (or any kind), chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chili flake

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup fresh cilantro


1. Heat a saute pan until hot. Add EVOO, when smoking, add garlic and spices and saute quickly, less than a minute. Add mushrooms and cook down completely, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Lettuce, Tomato and Onion

Lettuce, Tomato and Onion

2. Combine chickpeas, bread crumbs and coriander in food processor and pulse just until coarse. Combine in mixing bowl with cooled mushroom mixture and season with S&P to taste. Form into 3 or 4 hockey puck sized patties. These can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until read for service.

3. Heat cast iron skillet until hot. Add EVOO. When smoking, carefully place patties into pan and cook about five minutes per side. Serve on bun with Boston Bibb lettuce, and tomato and red onion slices.

Chickpea and Mushroom Burger

Chickpea and Mushroom Burger

Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

1-1/2 lb carrots, peeled

1 medium onion, sliced thin

TBS whole butter

1 cup dried red lentils

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried thyme

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

Juice of 1/2 orange

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup water

2 scallions, cut on the bias, for garnish

1. Carmelize onions by combining in lidded pot with 1 TBS melted whole butter and 1 cup water. Cook until brown and sweet, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375F. Lay peeled carrots end-to-end on baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with S&P, turning to cover entire carrot. Bake for 20 minutes, turn and bake another 20 minutes.

3. Combine carrots, onions and one cup of the vegetable stock in food processor and puree. Pour into soup pan, add remaining vegetable stock, cumin, thyme, cayenne and paprika and bring to boil. Add lentils, return to boil, the reduce to simmer and cook until lentils are soft, about 25 minutes. If too thick, thin with additional vegetable stock or water.

4. Just before service, stir in orange juice and cilantro. Garnish with scallions and serve with crusty bread.

Do you have any favorite recipes for Meat Free Mondays? Why not share them in the comments section below? Thanks for reading my blog!


19 thoughts on “Meat Free Mondays

    • This really was delicious. Just the right balance between the sweetness of the roasted carrots and carmelized onions and the bit of the red lentils. It was outstanding. Thanks for looking at my blog!

    • I’ve used lentils, black beans, mashed potatoes and now chickpeas to bind my veggie burgers. You know, ten years ago I probably would have scoffed at the whole concept, but you are right, they are delicious and worth checking out. Thanks for looking at my blog! I can’t wait to check out yours!

  1. We used to make homemade veggie burgers (before they were so widely available) from a recipe from a book we used a lot called *The New Vegetarian* (from the 80s). the recipe involved lentils and an egg. Maybe an onion??? I can look it up when I get home. It was good.

    • Yes, I was surprised by how amazing these were. I had to go out and buy turmeric and coriander, but there is so little in the whole recipe that in hind sight I would just make them without. Thanks again for checking out my blog! Yours rocks!

    • Yes at first I was a little worried because I didn’t know what the protocol was. But this soup was just so delicious, I had to write about it after I made it. Thanks for posting it originally! And thanks for looking at my blog! I admire yours a lot.

  2. Mate love the recipes and love the concept. great work on supporting your daughter and giving your lifestyle an overhaul

  3. Bought some lentils yesterday to try my hand at Dal. Yeah for vegetarian daughters in college! That was the healthiest decision my youngest ever made on her own. I am so proud of her!

  4. I could easily live on a mostly vegetarian diet, but I love the eggs from my hens and occasional fresh seafood (but if I lived nearer the source I would eat it often). Actually, I do eat more meat than I first thought, but if I had a large garden it would certainly add to my vegetable balance and I can’t imagine how anyone’s diet would be worse for that!

  5. Kudos to you! The “burgers” look wonderful. We’ve been trying meatless Mondays too, as well as Wednesdays. My husband complains a lot, but the grocery bills are down and I expect our arteries have to be a bit clearer. Keep up the good work!

  6. Pingback: Meat Free Mondays – Curried Rutabaga and Lentil Soup | Budget Cooking Blog

  7. Pingback: Meat Free Mondays – Butternut Squash Enchiladas | Budget Cooking Blog

  8. Pingback: Fabulous Blogger Recipe 1: Chickpea Burgers | pursuitofhappieness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s