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A black bean lasagna is an easy and delicious way to incorporate meatless meals into your recipe repertoire. 

We are encouraged to eat more plant-based foods, and even if going vegetarian may not be for you, how about trying one day a week to go meatless? When following the vegetarian lifestyle, it is important to include quality sources of protein in your diet. Beans, legumes, lentils, soy products, protein-rich grains, dairy and eggs are all good sources of protein. Try one of the following recipes and you will find you can enjoy going meat-free.

Easy black bean lasagna

Rather than the typical Italian flavored lasagna, try this lasagna featuring beans and Southwest flavors. Using whole-grain noodles adds nutrients and flavor. The recipe calls for black beans, but other varieties of beans can be used if desired.

Serves 8–10


1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 chopped bell pepper

¾ cup salsa

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1½ cup reduced-fat cottage cheese

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

1 egg, slightly beaten

8 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar, Italian blend or mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash the black beans slightly in a large bowl. Stir in the undrained tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, salsa, chili powder and cumin. Combine the cottage cheese, egg and garlic powder in a small bowl and mix well. Spread 1 cup of the tomato mixture in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange one-half of the lasagna noodles over the tomato mixture, overlapping slightly. Spread one-half of the remaining tomato mixture over the noodles. Spread the cottage cheese mixture, carefully over the tomato mixture. Continue layering with one-half of the cheddar or mozzarella cheese, the remaining noodles, the remaining tomato mixture and the remaining cheese. Cover with a sheet of foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until heated through. Uncover and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Source: “Living Well, More Than a Cookbook,” National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences.

Sloppy Joes

Soy products are a good choice for vegetarians. They are an excellent source of high-quality protein, as complete as the protein found in meat. Soy is rich in calcium, iron, zinc, several of the B vitamins and fiber. If you think you won’t like soy foods, try this recipe. It is one of the best introductions to soy foods for people who have never tried them. The reconstituted TSP very much resembles browned hamburger. TSP is easily found in health food stores.

Servings: 6


1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon bottled chili sauce

1 cup dry TSP (textured soy protein)

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped zucchini

½ cup chopped bell pepper

1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce

¼ cup bottled chili sauce

½ teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon cider vinegar


Combine the boiling water and 1 tablespoon chili sauce and pour them over the TSP to rehydrate it. Set aside. Sauté the onion, zucchini and bell pepper in a nonstick pan until tender (add a little water to prevent sticking if necessary). Add the rehydrated TSP and cook, stirring, for another minute. Stir the tomato sauce, ¼ cup chili sauce, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar into the TSP mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns. For a Southwest flavor, substitute tomato sauce or ketchup for the chili sauce and omit the Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Increase the chili powder to 2 teaspoons. Add 1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies or ½ cup salsa, if desired. This can also be used for a taco filling. Source: “Soy-foods, A Healthy Profile,” Soybean Research & Promotion Council.

Cowboy pie

Use stone-ground cornmeal in this recipe which has more flavor and nutrition. The addition of beans and cheese in the pie adds some of the essential amino acids for a complete protein.

Servings: 4

Ingredients for filling:

1 cup cooked kidney beans

¼ cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon oil

¼ cup canned or frozen corn

½ cup fresh tomatoes, chopped

½ cup tomato sauce (1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in puree may be substituted for tomatoes and sauce)

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon cumin

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Ingredients for cornbread:

⅔ cup all-purpose flour

⅓ cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons dry milk powder

1 egg

½ cup skim milk

1 tablespoon melted margarine or oil


For filling, cook onion in oil until onion is clear and tender. Add all other filling ingredients except cheese. Mix well. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the cornbread, in a bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and dry milk. Beat egg and milk together; add margarine. Stir liquids into dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Spoon corn bread batter into the pie plate, building it higher around the edges. Fill the center with bean mixture; top with cheese. Bake 30–35 minutes or until cornbread is golden-brown. Source: “The Bean Cookbook,” Northwest Bean Growers Association.

Tuscan tortellini soup

Using the packaged refrigerated tortellini makes this an easy to prepare soup that is flavorful and nutritious. If desired, use tortellini or ravioli filled with other ingredients like spinach.

Servings: 8


3 (14.5-oz.) cans vegetable broth

1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano

1 bulb fennel trimmed, quartered, cored and sliced

1 cup chopped onion

8 cups chopped kale

1 (9-oz.) package cheese-filled tortellini

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a 6-quart slow cooker stir together broth, tomatoes with juices, fennel and onion. Cover; cook on low 6 hours or on high 3 hours. If cooking on low, turn to high. Stir in kale, tortellini, and oregano. Cover; cook on high 30 minutes or until tortellini are tender. Stir in cream. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Source: Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, January 2018.

Root vegetable and pomegranate quinoa

Fall is the best time to be enjoying root vegetables. Combine the vegetables with quinoa, which is a complete protein and is also high in iron, magnesium and fiber. The addition of orange segments and pomegranate will provide Vitamin C to help the body absorb the iron.

Servings: 4


1½ teaspoons coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 pounds root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, and/or winter squash, peeled and chopped or sliced ½-inch thick

1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1¾ cup vegetable broth

½ cup whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

½ cup pomegranate seeds

Fresh mint or cilantro sprigs (opt.)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl combine 1 teaspoon of the salt, the cumin, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Add root vegetables and onion. Drizzle with oil; toss to coat. Spread in a single layer in two shallow baking pans. Meanwhile, bring vegetable broth to a boil in a saucepan. Add quinoa, bring back to a boil; cover; reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until quinoa is tender and broth is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Serve vegetables with quinoa, topped with almonds, pomegranate seeds, and if desired, mint and orange wedges. Source: Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications, “Fall Recipes, Warm & Cozy”, 2018.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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