Simple Dinner Ideas to Get the Most Out of Your Veggies

Written by Janet's Munch Meals

Lentil Bolognese and Veggie Noodle Stir Fry are the perfect simple meals to kickstart your week! Plus, they’re made with celery and carrots that you can incorporate into both recipes, to avoid wasting those carrot tops and celery leaves. These recipes will show you how to do it!

When it comes to meal planning for the week, it can often be helpful to cook up meals that have some ingredients in common. This makes it more likely that you’ll avoid wasting ingredients and having half-used elements that get lost in the fridge. You can take this strategy and carry it over to many ingredients, not just the ones here. 

For example, if you buy a head of cauliflower or broccoli, you may not need the whole head for a single recipe, but you can use the rest for a totally different type of recipe. You can split it between a veggie fried rice and pasta, or a nourish bowl and soup. 

Using this approach for our two featured recipes, we’ll use one bunch of carrots and celery in two ways. The first is a savory and satisfying lentil bolognese with carrots, onion, and celery. The second is a noodle stir fry with carrots and bell peppers, and we use some greens from the carrot tops and celery for the stir fry.

If your celery bunch is a large one, feel free to slice up the celery that you don’t use for the lentil bolognese and use it in the stir fry. Any remaining celery sticks can be used as snacks (great for dipping into hummus, peanut butter, or plant-based cream cheese. Or, you can use them in juices!

I’ll be sharing my favorite ingredient-saving and healthy tips in subsequent posts, as there’s so many helpful and yummy ways to stretch your veggies and other nourishing ingredients!

1. Lentil Bolognese

Serves: 5-6
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time 35 min
Total time: 45 min

This Lentil Bolognese is super flavorful and hearty too. With a mix of onions, carrots, and celery, the base of the sauce is veggie-packed. Simple pantry seasonings and olive oil, along with some vegan white wine, add extra layers of flavor. Save your green carrot tops and celery leaves, for using in the Veggie Noodle Stir Fry!

INGREDIENTS
  • ¾ lb. spaghetti

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 4 small to medium carrots, finely chopped (reserve carrot leaves)

  • 3 medium celery ribs, finely chopped (reserve celery leaves)

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 to 1 ½ tsp kosher salt

  • ¼ tsp black pepper

  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

  • 1/3 cup oat milk

  • 1 cup cooked brown, green or black lentils

METHOD
  1. Cook spaghetti in salted water according to package directions until al dente, then drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking water prior to draining. Meanwhile, preheat a large pan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, olive oil, kosher salt (starting with 1 tsp), and black pepper to the pan. Stir and cook on medium-low for 10 min, stirring occasionally.

  2. Add wine and allow to simmer until liquid is mostly evaporated. Add cherry/grape tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Stir, cook for 5 to 7 min. Add crushed tomatoes and oat milk, stir, and gently simmer, partially covered, for 10 min.

  3. Add lentils, stir, and cook for 3 min. Add drained pasta, stir, and add a couple tablespoons of pasta cooking water. Stir, taste for seasoning and add remaining salt if desired. Stir in some remaining pasta cooking water to thin sauce if desired.

NOTES
  • You can substitute vegetable broth for the vegan white wine in this recipe.

  • For the lentils, you can either use canned lentils or cook them from dry. Cook them until al dente, and not too soft. I like to cook them in vegetable broth to add additional flavor, but you can also use water.

2. Veggie Noodle Stir Fry

Serves: 3

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time 10 min

Total time: 20 min

This Veggie Noodle Stir Fry is so simple to make and is ready quickly as well! It’s filled with carrots and bell peppers, and uses carrot tops and celery leaves to reduce waste.

INGREDIENTS
  • NOODLES

    • 3 servings ramen noodles

    • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

    • 2 tsp avocado oil

    • 3 small to medium carrots, thinly sliced

    • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced

    • a pinch of salt and pepper

    • 2 to 3 tbsp chopped celery and carrot leaves, to taste

  • SAUCE

    • 1 large garlic clove, minced

    • ¼ tsp ground ginger

    • 3 tbsp soy sauce

    • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

    • 1 ½ tbsp maple syrup

    • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce

    • 2 tsp cornstarch

    • ¼ cup water

    • ½ cup vegetable broth

    • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil

METHOD
  1. Cook ramen noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse, then toss in toasted sesame oil. Meanwhile, preheat a large pan on medium heat. Add avocado oil and carrots, cook 3 to 4 min. Add bell pepper and pinches of salt and pepper, stir, and cook another 5 to 6 min or until carrots and bell pepper are crisp-tender.

  2. While vegetables are cooking, whisk together all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Add cooked noodles to pan and push the noodles and vegetables to the side, then add sauce to pan. Let sauce thicken for 30 to 60 seconds, then stir everything together, stirring in the celery and carrot leaves.

NOTES
  • You can use your choice of noodles for this recipe. In addition to ramen noodles, other great choices would be rice noodles or soba noodles.

  • Soy sauce or tamari will work in this recipe. You can also swap the maple syrup for agave nectar, if that’s what you have on hand.

 

@janetsmunchmeals | www.munchmealsbyjanet.com

Janet is a long-time foodie and working mom, who is obsessed with creating simple, flavor-packed plant-based dishes that both vegans and non-vegans will love. Starting in 2017, Janet decided to turn her love of food and cooking into something she could share with the world through her blog and social pages.

 


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