Somewhere along the way, I started eating A LOT of meatless meals. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it really started when I was in culinary school. To be honest, when I quit my full-time job to attend school, my husband and I didn’t have a lot of extra money. Eating vegetarian meals was one way we saved money during those years, because meat is expensive!
Over time, we got so used to eating these mostly bean-centric meals, that it didn’t really feel like we were giving up anything, or trying to eat cheaply. It just tasted good. We ate a lot of black bean tacos, pizzas topped with only vegetables, and filling pasta dishes that didn’t need meat. Now that we’re on more stable financial ground, we still eat these vegetarian meals a few nights a week. The money we save can be spent on other things, like traveling!
Black beans are my favorite ingredient for meatless meals, because they have so much flavor on their own, and take really well to being jazzed up with herbs and spices, too. Their dark color kind of fools your brain into thinking you might be eating meat, and they’re really sturdy, so they make for good “meatballs” and “burgers” and the like. These have an Italian slant thanks to the oregano and marinara (and would be good served with pasta), but they could also take on a Mexican flavor if you used salsa instead of marinara.