Breaking the Boredom and Spicing Up Your Plate
Traditionally, fall time means a lot of squash and a lot of pumpkin for vegetarians. There’s nothing wrong with these old standbys, especially if you have them fairly infrequently and know how to spice them up when you do. Chili sans meat is also a consistent crowd-pleaser, as meat-eaters won’t notice anything missing. In many parts of the world, meat is the centerpiece of any meal and all other items are sides that fall in place behind it. With a little careful planning, you can serve delicious meals where no one will notice the difference.
Chili is an amazingly simple meal to put together, requiring cheap ingredients and very little time. If you’re not going for five-alarm award-winning chili, most recipes are open to interpretation and experimentation.
Ridiculously Easy Thick 4-Bean Chili
3 cans chili beans
2 cans black beans
2 cans pinto beans
3 cans kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes
3 packages chili mix of your choice, typically found in grocery stores next to gravy mixes
Pour cans into a large pot without draining the liquid from them. Add chili mix. Let simmer on low until mixture is heated through. Add Fritos to garnish. If chili is too spicy, add ketchup (yes, ketchup) until spice level is desirable.
Another quick, easy, and cheap crowd-pleasing meal is pasta. This recipe, however, includes a twist using the old fall food tradition – squash sauce.
Pasta with Squash Sauce
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 small onion, diced
3 teaspoons minced sage
2 tablespoons parsley
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup vegetable stock
2 pounds squash
Pasta of your choice (1 pound for this recipe, adjust rest of recipe accordingly for amount you are feeding)
In one large pot of water, bring sufficient water for the amount of pasta you are using to boil, adding pasta and 1 1/2 tablespoon salt. Let cook until noodles are tender.
While pasta cooks, melt two tablespoons butter over medium heat (on high, sauce cooks too quickly to work with), add onion and a bit of salt. Sauté about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.
Peel, seed, and dice the squash (size can vary, but ½-1 inch pieces are recommended). Add onion along with sage and stir. Working quickly, add vegetable stock, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for approximately five minutes. The goal is for the squash to be soft. Add the heavy cream and pepper and let simmer for another two minutes, until the mixture is just starting to thicken.
Drain your pasta, eyeballing about ½ cup of liquid to remain. Combine your pasta with squash sauce and remaining ingredients (like parsley or parmesan on the side). Serve.
Both of these recipes are open for added or substituted ingredients to suit your personal taste preferences.