Tag Archives: vegetarian

End of Summer Pizza

Summer is over, or at least it seems to be now that Labor Day has come and gone. However, my garden is just starting to come into it’s own with tomatoes and zucchini. Anyone else?

I saw this trick of shredding zucchini in with cheese on smitten kitchen awhile ago. I loved it in the original grilled cheese sandwich, and I have taken to trying it in other “cheesy” foods like quesadillas. Pizza seemed like a no brainer.

Full disclosure: I thought this was delicious. It tasted fresh and just like late summer/early fall. My kids definitely picked out all the zucchini they could. BUT, I have tried the zucchini/cheese trick with older kids (8 years old) and they liked it; even the kids who said they hated vegetables generally.

End of Summer Pizza (Serves 4)

(Sorry, I was too busy eating to take a picture. Oops!)

½ recipe pizza dough
½ cup marinara sauce
1 zucchini, shredded
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped or torn into large pieces

1. Heat oven to 400. Prepare pizza dough through parbake.
2. Spread sauce over dough.
3. Squeeze zucchini between towels to remove much of the moisture. Toss the zucchini with the cheese. Sprinkle over the pizza. Top with tomatoes.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until desired doneness. Finish with basil before serving.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 147
Protein: 9 gm
Fat: 7 gm
Saturated Fat: 3 gm
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 13 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Sodium: 246 mg

Notes: I’m writing the recipe here for one large pizza. For a quick dinner, we actually ate this on naan breads, which was great. English muffins would also work. Sometimes fun “dough” makes it more interesting to kids, too.

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Hummus Pasta

Today is a quick post about a quick, delicious lunch I discovered last week. I was looking at a fridge full of random leftovers and needed something new to eat. I gave this random idea a try, after some googling to make sure I wasn’t insane, and it was crazy good. And it got tons of veggies in me, which always makes me happy at lunch.

Hummus may sound like an odd “sauce” for pasta, but it works really well. It gives flavor and creaminess with no added work. This is more of an idea recipe than exact instructions. And as the idea was for lunch, I’m giving a single serving. Feel free to scale up each portion for more people.

Please pardon the slightly blurry picture. Apparently I was in a hurry to eat!

Hummus Pasta

Hummus Pasta

1 ½ cups chopped vegetables (broccoli, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, grated carrots, zucchini, etc)
1 cup tortellini pasta
2 tablespoons hummus (I used roasted red pepper, but use whatever flavor you like)
2-3 ounces shredded meat, optional
handful of cherry/grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons feta cheese

1. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes or until basically as tender as you want them.

2. Add in pasta and meat. Cook according to pasta package directions.

3. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Mix hummus into pasta and vegetables. Add cooking water a teaspoon at a time as needed to thin the hummus to coat everything. Top with tomatoes and cheese. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes: Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. A frozen blend would work well here as well. Just make sure it isn’t something that will cook for a long time, like big hunks of carrots. You could also use regular pasta, rather than tortellini. I’d just put the noodles in at the same time as the vegetables then. You want everything to finish cooking at about the same time.

Source: original recipe

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Caprese Pasta

I’m back! Sorry for the two month hiatus. Between computer troubles and life being life, I haven’t been on here in awhile. I’ve got a bunch of great recipes and ideas I’m excited to share with you. And please be patient if things are different. Some recipes may not have nutrition information, since they aren’t exact formulations.

Today, I’m sharing an incredibly easy and delicious pasta dish that is great as a side or vegetarian main. It tastes like the end of summer, which is perfect. I created it when I looked at my garden and saw a bunch of tomatoes and basil that needed using. Whether you have your own produce or are getting it from the store, this is completely seasonal and delicious. Enjoy!

Caprese Pasta (Serves 6 as a side, 3 as a main)

Caprese Pasta<

1 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey
1 pound whole wheat pasta
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
2-4 tablespoons pesto (recipe here or from a jar is fine)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

1. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and honey to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced to ⅓ cup. Set aside to cool.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, leaving out oil or salt. Drain.

3. Into hot pasta, toss mozzarella, tomatoes, pesto, and fresh basil.

4. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of the balsamic sauce over the top. Toss to coat. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Recipe Notes: Sorry for no nutrition information today. The balsamic sauce and pesto are kind of oddball ingredients that will vary based on cooking time of the vinegar, how much you use, what kind of pesto you make/buy. I highly recommend fresh mozzarella for this. If you have to use the regular kind, I’d still cube it up, but very small, so you have more of a chance of it melting.

Source: Balsamic reduction from allrecipes.com; rest is original recipe

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Guest Post – Quick Vegetable Stock

I’m very excited to share a guest post from The Kitchen Professor today. Check out his awesome site here! It’s a great source of recipes, product reviews, and information about cast iron cookware.

There are three main reasons that I like to make my own vegetable stock:

1. I never seem to have vegetable stock when I need it.
2. You can use your vegetable scraps to make homemade stock.
3. You can avoid high sodium broths and stocks.

The great thing about vegetable stock is that you can get complex flavors out in short order – as opposed to chicken, beef, or fish stock where you need to simmer the stock for a while. You can get a lot of flavor in 15 minutes or so.

pot-full-of-veggies-foodforthoughtrd

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 – 2 carrots, no need to peel
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon of paprika (I like the smoked variety.)
¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
1.5 quarts of cool water
Optional: Kosher Salt to flavor
Optional: Other vegetable scraps if you have them.*

*You can save all sorts of other vegetable cuttings to use like: red, green, yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, celery, fennel, fresh herbs of all types especially thyme, parsley, rosemary, and sage. You can save your cuttings in the freezer over the week and make your stock weekly.

You will need the following:

Large cutting board
A Sharp Chef’s knife (see a selection of my favorite chef’s knives here)
Large stock pot (3 to 5 quarts will work)

Here is what you do:

1. Coarsely chopped the onion, carrot, and garlic.

2. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, paprika, and black pepper to a large stock pot.

3. Add 1.5 quarts of cool water to a large stock pot and cover the pot.

4. Turn the heat to high until it reaches a boil.

5. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

6. Allow the veggies to simmer for 15 minutes and up to an hour if you have the time.

7. Strain the stock through a strainer. You can just ladle the liquid through the strainer, while holding the strainer over the pot.

8. Use the stock immediately, if desired.

9. Or, you can allow the pot to cool off the heat, uncovered for about an hour. Cover, then move to the refrigerator until cooled completely.

10. I like to move the stock over to a mason jar or other airtight container. The stock will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

As you can see, making your own stock is super simple and only takes a few minutes. You can get fancy by adding different vegetables, too. Like if you were making a mushroom risotto, then you may want to add a handful of mushrooms to add to the overall complexity of the dish.

Bio
Doug isn’t really a professor, but he geeks out in the kitchen. He can barely follow a recipe and just uses them as guidelines. Doug blogs about everything from knives and sharpeners to cutting boards to cast iron, with some recipes thrown in just for fun. Check out more at The Kitchen Professor!

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Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta

December is such a busy time of year for most of us. Lots of gatherings, shopping, school functions, sporting events, etc. I usually have a pretty open schedule and found myself booked 3 of the 5 work days this week. What?! However, busyness doesn’t mean you have to get take out. You are spending enough money everywhere else this month, you don’t need to eat out a ton too.

Enter your slow cooker. This awesome piece of kitchen equipment is the busy cook’s best friend. Throw some food in early in the day, cook some sort of starch to go with it, and you are good to go.

This ratatouille is perfect for a cold December night. Super hearty and filling, you won’t even miss meat. The goat cheese in the polenta adds the perfect tang. It’s just all around delicious. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta (Serves 6-8)

Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille:
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
3 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil
2 small red or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-­inch pieces
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
¼ cup all-­purpose flour
¼ cup tomato paste
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

Polenta:
6 cups low-­sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1 ½ cups polenta or cornmeal (not instant)
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1. Place the eggplant and zucchini in a large colander and toss well with the salt; let sit for about 45 minutes. Rinse well to remove the salt, then dry well, gently squeezing out excess water with a kitchen towel. Add to the slow cooker that has been lightly greased with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-­high heat. When warm, add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the flour and tomato paste. Cook until the mixture is thickened
and the flour disappears, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes with their juices, thyme, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, crushing the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon, until thickened and smooth, about 6 minutes.

3. Mix with the vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours, until the vegetables are tender. Turn off slow cooker and stir in Parmesan cheese and basil.

4. About 30 minutes before vegetables are done, add the stock, cornmeal, and ½ teaspoon pepper to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-­high heat, whisking frequently to prevent lumps. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until creamy and thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and goat cheese.

5. To serve, ladle polenta into individual bowls, spoon ratatouille on top, and serve immediately. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 330
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 46 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 579 mg

Recipe Notes: The eggplant is less bitter if you peel it and if you let it sit a bit with the salt. If you are pressed for time, it will still work if you don’t do either step. It might be a bit more watery, but not enough to kill it. I don’t love the taste of cooked red onions generally, so I prefer to mix and match here. I’m sure fresh herbs would be delicious here, but I don’t remember to buy them or the store doesn’t have the one I want. If you can’t find or don’t eat goat cheese, I would probably sub in more Parmesan. Or maybe cream cheese. I tried blue cheese once and didn’t love the combination personally, but it is an option as well.

Source: Slightly adapted from Epicurious.com

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Dal Makhani

I mentioned in my Chicken Shawarma post that I hesitate to use traditional names for ethnic dishes. This dish definitely falls into that category. I am not from India. I have honestly never consumed this dish at any Indian restaurants. I have no idea what the “real” dal makhani is like, other than recipes I have found online.

With that disclaimer, this is one of my new favorite Indian dishes to make at home. This comes together fairly quickly and packs a huge flavor punch. And it is the best way I have ever had lentils. Enjoy!

Dal Makhani (Serves 6-8)

Dal Makhani

½ tablespoon canola oil
½ large onion, diced
¾ cup diced carrot
1 small bell pepper, diced
½ jalapeno, diced (seeds and membranes removed per preference)
1 clove garlic
1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated or minced small
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cardamom pods, smashed
2 cups pureed tomatoes (3-4 tomatoes pureed in food processor)
1 cup red lentils
1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans (about 2 cans, rinsed and drained)
1 cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, carrot, bell pepper, and jalapeño until onions are softened and becoming golden. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, curry, garam masala, and cardamom. Saute until fragrant.

2. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, beans, and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low (enough to keep it simmering). Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until lentils are tender. Stir frequently and add more water as needed to keep enough liquid to cook lentils. Just before serving, stir in heavy cream.

3. Serve warm over rice and garnish with cilantro.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 235
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 35 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 104 mg

Recipe Notes: My curry powder is quite strong and hot, so I don’t use a lot. Feel free to adjust the levels of curry powder and garam masala to your preference. I have also used black beans in this. I preferred the flavor of kidney beans, but it worked well enough. I only found red lentils at my grocery store. You can use any variety that you like. However, look at the label to see how long they take to cook. If they take longer than 30 minutes, you may want to partook them a bit first, or you will need more pureed tomatoes and water. Your choice.

Source: adapted from http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/dal-makhani-restaurant-style-recipe/ and steamykitchen.com

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Black Bean Tacos

A couple years ago, our family was at a bit of a crossroads. My husband was having a hard time finding a permanent job. We were beginning to feel the stress of what to do with our lives when a job offer came that totally reset the trajectory of his career. To celebrate, we went out to eat at a fun Mexican restaurant in Chicago. As I was pregnant, I was being extra careful to try and eat “healthy”. So I ordered the vegetarian burrito. I love that restaurant, but that burrito was disgusting.

I often find that the case with Mexican vegetarian dishes when I go out to eat. I’ve actually become very wary of them. They just don’t taste right to me. My guess is because they throw in strong flavored veggies that just don’t blend in well (like tons of broccoli in the burrito mentioned above). If you have found some places with good options, let me know. I’d love to try them.

In response, I have made it my mission to make awesome vegetarian versions of Mexican dishes at home. These black bean tacos were pretty great. I didn’t miss the meat, although I’m sure my husband did. I tried to focus on vegetables that made sense or at least had very mild flavors. Enjoy!

Black Bean Tacos (Serves about 4)

Black Bean Tacos

½ tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, diced small (seeds and membranes removed per preference)
1 zucchini, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tablespoon cumin
½ tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cans low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup frozen corn
4 whole wheat tortillas
½ cup shredded cheese
sour cream (optional)
guacamole (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add zucchini; cook for 3 minutes more.

2. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Saute 1 minute, or until beginning to be fragrant, stirring frequently.

3. Add tomatoes, beans, and corn. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 or so minutes, until everything is heated through and combined well.

4. Serve in tortillas with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or your favorite taco toppings.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 427
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 63 g
Fiber: 20 g
Sodium: 732 mg

Recipe Notes: I recently have been subbing pinto beans in many recipes for black beans with great success. Sometimes, I almost like the pinto version better. While I haven’t tried it with these yet, feel free to mix up the beans. Maybe a mix of black and pinto. Or garbanzo beans would also be tasty here.

Source: original recipe

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