For students who observe Lent, going meat-free on Fridays can get a little boring. Whether you’re running out of ways to make vegetables tasty or your waistline is suffering from your weekly portion of deep-fried fish, there is a slew of other ways to make easy, meatless meals using your microwave. Try some of these easy options during Lent or as part of a vegetarian meal any night of the week.
Commonly believed to be a grain, quinoa is actually a seed that is similar in taste and texture to rice or couscous. Though quinoa is usually boiled, it can easily be microwaved and used as a side dish, as part of a salad or in place of any conventional grains. To cook quinoa in the microwave, mix one cup of quinoa and two cups of water in a one-quart, microwave-safe dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and cook for three minutes. Remove the dish from the microwave, stir the quinoa, then cook it in the microwave for another three minutes. Let the quinoa stand for one minute to absorb any extra moisture, then mix with your desired ingredients.
Lentils are the seeds of a legume-related plant. Lentils are a great meat alternative because of their high protein content and their hearty taste and texture. To cook lentils in the microwave, start by rinsing the lentils in a colander — sometimes dirt, small stones or shriveled lentils can make their way into the bag. Add one cup of rinsed lentils and three cups of water to a one-quart, microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl and microwave the lentils on high power for five minutes, then microwave on medium power for 20 minutes. Try mixing the cooked lentils into soup, salads, pasta or chili, or eat them with some steamed fish.
When you don’t have time to cook, try turning to a pre-made, frozen veggie burger. There are endless options — including black bean burgers, burgers made with vegetables or burgers made with soy protein — so do some experimenting to figure out which brand you like the best. Try eating veggie burgers as you would a regular burger, or try crumbling the patties into chili or on top of a salad.
—Fish en papillote
Don’t let the fancy name fool you; this microwaved fish dish is incredibly easy and is a great alternative to greasy, heavy fish from a fish fry.
“En papillote” means “in parchment” in French. By adding a small amount of liquid into the parchment paper with the fish, the moisture is trapped in the paper and creates steam to cook the fish. You can also add vegetables to steam along with the fish, creating a whole meal in one pouch. Instead of going to your normal fish fry this Friday, try this recipe for microwaved salmon en papilotte.
A Recipe for Salmon en Papillote:
1 4-ounce salmon fillet
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, or other herb
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper
In a microwave-safe bowl, mix the mustard, garlic, dried parsley and butter. Heat for 30 seconds, or until melted.
Place the salmon fillet on a large piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread the melted butter mixture on top of the fillet.
Lift the sides of the parchment so the edges meet right above the salmon, like a tent. Fold over several times, then fold the sides together. Crimp the folds tightly with your fingers, then place the package on a microwave-safe plate.
Heat the salmon in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Open the pouch carefully — watch out for the steam — and enjoy.
Try different seasonings, using a different type of fish or adding vegetables for a complete meal.