As you can see, I decided to go with the name “Vegetarian-Lite” for this series on vegetarian recipes that appeal to omnivores. I have already had a couple of people refer to it by that name, so I guess it is the catchiest title!
I know that it can be hard to transition a whole family into eating vegetarian meals because kids are often so used to having dinners that center around meat. To ease into things, I decided to start off with a cheesy, crunchy vegetarian meal that is very family-friendly. Probably our family’s favorite vegetarian meal (and one of the fastest to prepare) is my version of mexican pizzas. I got the idea for making mexican pizzas at home from some magazine several years ago but I can’t for the life of me remember which one! Anyway, I’ve changed the recipe so much to suit our family that it probably doesn’t resemble the original one at all anymore. There are several things that make this the perfect family vegetarian meal: 1. Each person can customize their own pizza by choosing the toppings, so that these appeal to even the pickiest eaters. My daughter often tops hers with only cheese and olives while my husband and I load ours with spicy salsa and jalapenos. 2. The ingredients are easy to keep on hand. You can even keep pita bread in the freezer and just take out as many as you need. 3. They are fast to prepare, only about 30 minutes from start to finish. 4. This is a great recipe for involving kids in the preparation. My daughter loves to help slice olives (with a dull knife), snip green onions and help put the toppings on her pizza. 5. They are healthy and also very tasty! I usually serve these with fresh fruit, a salad, or celery and carrot sticks for a healthy, well-rounded meal. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Vegetarian Mexican PizzasMakes 4 pizzas Ingredients: 4 8-inch whole-wheat pita pockets (leave them unsplit) 1 16-ounce can fat-free refried beans 1/2 cup salsa 2 cups shredded cheese (I use either cheddar or monterey jack) Any other desired toppings: sliced black olives, chopped bell pepper, chopped green onions, sliced red onions, jalapeno slices or anything else you can think of! 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two sheet pans with foil and lay 2 pita pockets on each pan. Put the pans in the preheated oven and heat for about 10 minutes or until just beginning to get crispy and light brown. Remove from the oven. 2. Spread about 1/4 cup refried beans on each of the heated pita pockets, then spread 2 Tablespoons of salsa on top of the beans. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded cheese on each pita and add any other toppings you desire. 3. Return the topped pitas to the oven and continue to bake for another 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then cut each pita into 4 small pieces.