Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

Anyone out there who might think that a “meatless” meal wouldn’t satisfy them, hasn’t had giant white beans for dinner. This meal is full of fiber, protein, and delicious sweetness from the roasted tomatoes.

Straight to the recipe, please!

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

Gigante beans, lima beans, large white beans, whatever you want to call them, these beans make a meal in a way that other legumes don’t always cut it for me.

I’ve only ever seen these beans in dry form, so while I’m averse to most extra work in the kitchen, I don’t see a way around cooking them yourself if you want to use these big guys.

Which leads us to the age old question: Do you really need to soak dried beans? Some will insist that you do. I say, LAZY COOKS UNITE! I have a preschooler and don’t always have that much foresight.

But here’s one caveat: Sans soaking, the simmering times vary WILDLY for these beans. One batch I made from Brand A were ready after about 90 minutes.. Brand B took almost twice as long. And while everyone advises “look for fresh beans,” if you could seriously show me a bag of beans with an expiration date on it, I would give you a million dollars.

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

So, here are some handy tutorials that you can peruse and decide if you’re team soak or team no soak:

If I was the meal prepping type I’d suggest making a whole bag of these beans one weekend and freezing them for easy weeknight meals. Because once you cook the beans, this meal could not be easier or faster.

Roasting makes the tomatoes syrupy sweet, the cheese just a little soft and gooey, and the bean skins crispy in a way that is completely satisfying.

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

A few notes:

  • I salt the bean cooking water and then don’t add any more salt until serving the beans. They soak up the sodium during cooking, so it’s very easy to over salt this dish. Also, feta is a salt bomb, so we’ve found that the end product needs no extra seasoning.

  • I’ve billed this as a meatless meal, but it could also serve as a side or appetizer just as easily.

  • Do NOT skip the lemon zest in the end. The citrus brightens up the beans and adds a layer of flavor without which, the beans could taste a bit flat.

  • I prefer to use a combo of both dried and fresh oregano, but use what you have on hand.

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

Baked feta with gigante beans and tomatoes


Active time: about 20 minutes, on and off
Total time: 90-150 for the beans, 25-30 for the main dish
Yield: 4 dinner servings,

For the beans:
1½ cups dried giant white beans, rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
1-2 cups water (as needed)
½ tsp sea salt
1-2 bay leaves
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled, but left whole

Yield: 3 heaping cups of cooked beans

Combine the beans, stock, salt, bay leaf, and garlic cloves in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce flame to low and simmer, covered, for anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours (90-150 minutes), stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy and soft, but not falling apart and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Check the beans after 60 minutes and then every 15-30 minutes after that (depending on how your beans are progressing) until the beans are tender throughout. Add more liquid if the water boils off before the beans are fully cooked.

 Drain any remaining liquid from the beans and remove the bay leaves.

For the main dish:
1/2 cup olive oil, divided  
½ tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 Tbsp fresh oregano (or a combination of both dried for cooking and fresh for topping)
½ tsp smoked paprika
2-3 cups cherry tomatoes, whole (about 8-12 oz)
Small block Feta cheese (8 oz)
½ tsp lemon zest (zest of one small lemon)

Preheat oven to 400.

In a bowl or the pot you used to simmer the beans, add 1/4 cup of olive oil, Aleppo pepper, oregano, paprika, and tomatoes to the beans and mix well.

In a 9x13 baking pan (or whatever size you have), spread out the bean and tomato mixture. Clear a hole in the middle and add the feta.

Cook for 20-23 minutes, until the feta is soft and the tomatoes have released their juices AND those juices have become a little syrupy.  

Remove from the heat and top with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, lemon zest, fresh oregano (if using), and sprinkling of flaky sea salt (if needed).

Spinach and kale tots

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

One reliable way I could get some greens into M was to present things as a “tot.” He really loved the Spinach and Kale Bites from Trader Joe’s, but our store has been out of them for weeks. So here is my copycat version.

Take me to the tots (recipe)!

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

Note my use of the past tense up there.

M is still in his picky phase that I’ve mentioned before. He’s off of hummus, but full steam ahead with smoothies. One day he loves yogurt and the next he won’t touch it. Some days, carrots are a safe food and other days broccoli is his only vegetable. One day he’ll ask for a bowl of peas (straight up with nothing on them) and another day he’s picking them out of his mac and cheese. It’s maddening.

However, food refusal is a normal part of eating for kids. It’s hard to learn how to eat! Their taste buds are changing, their caloric needs swing wildly from day to day, and part of a preschooler’s job is to push against boundaries, so if there are rules around food in your house, they’ll try to break them. It’s how kids operate.

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

One of my big things is making the same food for the whole family, so the good news here is that I really like these tots and they’re packed with veggies, so they make a good snack for the grownups as well.

Make these tots! One day my kid will eat them, I’m sure. And until then, I’ll eat them.

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

Spinach and kale tots

1 bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 bag frozen kale, thawed and squeezed dry
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup shredded mozzarella
Heaping ½ tsp sea salt
Heaping ½ tsp onion powder
Heaping ½ tsp garlic powder
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350.

Thaw and squeeze dry a bag of spinach and a bag of kale. To achieve a smoother texture in your tots, pulse the dried greens in a food processor 10-15 times. You may need to squeeze with another towel if more liquid is released.

Place the squeezed dry greens in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to combine.

Take about 1½-2 Tbsp of the mixture and press into a nugget shape with your palms.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until the nuggets feel solid when you push on them lightly.  

Yield: about 24-26 tots 

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

Mediterranean caprese salad

IMG_8086.jpg

I don't know if we can go back to regular oil-and-vinegar caprese after this. I love a good caprese salad, but I accidentally keep typing "craprese" and that's sort of a fitting description for a lot of them. If the mozzarella is rubbery or cold, if the tomatoes are mealy or our of season, and if the dressing isn't lively and tangy, then they're just...nothing. I mean, they're bad, but more than that they're just absent any flavor or texture or redeeming qualities.

IMG_8069.jpg
IMG_8076.jpg

However, tomato season is upon us, so it's much more likely that your tomatoes will be delicious. And if you have any access to a backyard, side yard, fire escape, community garden, etc, I implore you to plant some basil and mint. Both of these plants are hardy in the summer and will save you so much money at the grocery store. AND, you'll have no excuse not to make the pesto that accompanies this caprese salad (and that you'll want to pour on everything).

IMG_8074.jpg

So, we have good tomatoes and a tangy interesting pesto, but what else does this salad need? Well, I also implore you not to serve cold mozzarella. Room temperature is SO MUCH BETTER. If you can get even a decent mozzarella, I think it's improved exponentially by sitting out for a short time (or, if you're also in the middle of our current heatwave, a few seconds?). And, I like to guild the lily by sprinkling a generous amount of crumbled, salty, briny feta on top. Is it necessary? No. Is it delicious? Yes. Should you do it? Without hesitation.

Buy a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes and you have a showstopper for a dinner party that requires basically no effort (I even opted for a pre-cut cheese because I'm that lazy) and better yet, NO COOKING. Did I mention the heatwave?

IMG_8082.jpg

We ate it yesterday as Sunday lunch on our back porch with some prosciutto and salami, some Bantam Bread, and white peaches. A glass of cold rose or Sancerre would have made it heaven, but I'm old now and can't day drink without needing a nap and an Advil, so we forwent the wine. Boo.

IMG_8064.jpg
IMG_8067.jpg

Mediterranean caprese salad

4 large heirloom tomatoes
1 large or 2 medium balls of mozzarella
½ cup crumbled feta
¼- ½ cup mint and basil pesto (recipe below)

Mint and basil pesto
1½ cups basil leaves, loosely packed
½ cup mint leaves, well packed
1 large garlic clove (or 2 smaller ones)
1 medium shallot, quartered
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of 1 large lemon)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

To make the pesto:
Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a large food processor or blender. While the machine is running, pour in the oil and blend until you've reached your desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

To assemble the salad:
Alternate the mozzarella and tomatoes in whatever color combination you like. Top with the mint and basil pesto and sprinkle with the feta.

Serves: 3-4 as a main course, 5-6 as a side

IMG_8085.jpg
IMG_8084.jpg

Veggie waffles

IMG_6848.jpg

Who resolved to eat more vegetables a few weeks ago? Who's still doing it? I'm going to be optimistic and say, "Good for you!"

I, for one, didn't make any resolutions this year, so I haven't broken any. However, I did make a list of cooking goals. For someone who cooks a lot, there are still many things I want to learn and master. Like bread. I've never made bread! How that possible?

Until then, these savory waffles are delicious for breakfast, but even better for lunch as a swap for sandwich bread. The veggies are held together with gluten-free garbanzo flour, eggs, and a few tablespoons of potato starch. The waffles are sort of latka-adjacent and as such, the potato starch makes them a bit crispier when they're first cooked. (In case you didn't know, potato starch is the secret to crispy latkes) However, once they cool, they get softer and more bread-like, so the starch isn't strictly necessary.

IMG_6824.jpg

After giving all of the veggies a rough chop, you want to pulverize them in the food processor. This keeps the final product from being too chunky. Also, releasing some of the veggie liquid makes the batter more batter-y, so don't worry if the blended vegetables look too wet.

IMG_6833.jpg

Veggie waffles

¾ lb potatoes (about 1 large or 3 small potatoes)
½ medium onion
½ cup cauliflower (heaping)
½ cup broccoli (heaping)
1 medium carrot
1 large garlic clove
¾ cup garbanzo flour
2 Tbsp potato starch (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 eggs
1 Tbsp olive oil

Heat your waffle iron.

Roughly chop all of the vegetables and place in a food processor. Process until all large chunks have been emulsified. Dump out into a large mixing bowl.

Add the garbanzo flour, potato starch (if using), salt, pepper, eggs, and olive oil and stir well to combine.

Grease your waffle iron with olive oil or avocado oil (spray is the easiest) and spoon about ¼ cup of batter into each opening of your waffle maker (ours makes two medium-sized waffles at a time). Cook until done according to your machine.

Top with fried eggs, cheese, ham, turkey, avocado, etc.

Yield: 9 waffles

IMG_6838.jpg

Leftover turkey nuggets

IMG_6544.jpg

Oh, Thanksgiving. Time of gratitude, feasting, and lots of leftover turkey. Much to my food-blogger chagrin, my kid loves a nugget above most other foods. I've spent a lot of time reading labels on the hippie brands at Whole Foods and some are pretty good at leaving out the scary ingredients, but make up for it with a loooooong list of "organic" and "natural" things like paprika extract and corn starch and stuff that we don't necessarily need in our nuggets.

IMG_6542.jpg

Also, I always want to do something creative with Thanksgiving leftovers, but often lack the brain power after a huge meal and no sleep.

Have I mentioned that M refuses to sleep in houses other than ours? It happened gradually: At about 18 months he started waking up crazy early (like, 4:30 am, early) when we slept away from home and refused to go back to sleep. Then, he started refusing to sleep at all. The last time we stayed at my parents' house, he fought sleep until 4 am. And when we last slept at my in-laws', he slept from 9:30 pm to 1 am and that. was. it.

Maybe the turkey's tryptophan will knock him out? Fingers crossed.

Anyway, these nuggets solve a lot of our problems: They use up the leftover turkey, don't require a lot of thought, and are something my kid likes anyway, but without a lot of the additives.

IMG_6536.jpg

I used a leftover rotisserie chicken for some of the recipe developing because for us, and I'd imagine for many of you, a leftover chicken is more common than leftover turkey, so this recipe can be used year-round. Also, I prefer to use bread over breadcrumbs in the actual meat mixture (save the panko or breadcrumbs for the nuggets' outside) because I think the slice soaks up the milk more efficiently and acts as a better binder and liquid adder. But use homemade, bakery-made, or ezekiel bread if you can: Don't even get me started on the crap in most commercially available breads. And while grating the onion might seem like an unnecessary step, I think it helps the nuggets hold together better than minced onions do, but if you want to chop, make sure they're done finely.

Leftover turkey nuggets

10 oz leftover turkey or chicken (combination of light and dark meat)
1 piece of stale(ish) bread
¼ cup whole milk
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 small or ½ large onion, grated
½ tsp sage
2 oz cheddar or gruyere, cut into small cubes
1 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup panko or whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup parmesan
½ tsp salt

Soak the bread in milk while prepping the rest of your ingredients.

Combine the soaked bread with the leftover turkey and pulse in a food processor until the mixture is in coarse crumbs.

Turn the mixture out into a large bowl and add the Dijon mustard, grated onion, sage, and cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and mix a few more times.

In two separate bowls, lightly beat the egg with a fork. In the second bowl, combine the panko, parmesan cheese, and salt and mix with your fingers or another fork.

Using a large spoon, scoop about 2 Tbsp of the turkey mixture into your palms and roll them into balls. Flatten them into nuggets and dredge them first in the egg, then in the panko/cheese/salt mixture.

Heat olive oil over a medium-low flame. Cook the nuggets until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese inside of the nugget begins to ooze. Flip and repeat on the other side.

Yield: About 12-14 large nuggets

IMG_6549.jpg