Easy

Baked Zucchini Macaroni

sdfThis past weekend I went with my friend Kelly to the DC State Fair where she won first prize for the heaviest watermelon. Later that night, I somehow ended up with the fourth place heaviest vegetable. The details of that story are for another blog altogether, but for now, check out this very large zucchini-like squash vegetable. I’m not really sure what it is. Does anyone know?

 

I used less than half of it to make a baked zucchini (er, squash) macaroni dish. The original recipe is from Vegetarian Times, but I’ve modified it somewhat, so here is my version.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz pasta like macaroni, penne or ziti
  • 1/2 lb zucchini, chopped (about 2-3 zucchini… doesn’t have to be perfect!)
  • 2 cups black beans cooked (or just use one can, although that’s only 1.5 cups)
  • 1 15 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes (fire roasted are my favorite)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic, or more
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives
  • 3 handfuls greens such as arugula or spinach
  • a few leaves fresh basil, if you have it on hand
  • nutritional yeast, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to directions. Coat an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Heat about 1/4 cup water in a medium to large saucepan on medium-high heat and add the zucchini. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, olives, greens and basil. Turn down heat to medium low, stir together and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. When the pasta has finished cooking, add it to the pot with the zucchini mixture and mix together.
  5. Add the nutritional yeast — I used several shakes, maybe 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup. Mix together.
  6. Pour the entire mixture into the baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs
  7. Bake at 350. Then serve!

Before baking:

After baking: 

 

Categories: Dinner, Easy, Potluck, Potlucks Tailgates and Road Trips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Simple Steamed Greens

There are several vegan advocates who also advocate for a low-fat, largely oil-free diet, such as Happy Herbivore, the folks at Forks Over Knives, and Engine2 Diet. While I have not tried to cut out oil completely, I have played around with eliminating it from some dishes and realized it is surprisingly easy. Matt complains that sauteing onions in water instead of oil smells bad, but he hasn’t said that it affects the taste at all. And I haven’t been able to tell the difference in either smell or taste.

My primary way of making greens used to be sauteed. Here is a way to saute the greens in water — which is basically like steaming them but with less dishes. Don’t expect to enjoy these greens by themselves; they will be too bland. Serve them under a high flavor dish such as roasted delicata squash, roasted vegetables, chili or other stew, a curried dish, etc.

Ingredients

  • 1/2-1 lbs mixed greens such as kale, chard, spinach and arugula (or, just one type of green — although arugula by itself may be too strong), torn/chopped and rinsed clean
  • 1-2 teaspoons chopped or minced garlic (approximate – a few cloves would work fine)
  • 2-3 teaspoons capers (optional – it adds a nice salty flavor)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water
  • pinch of chili powder (optional)
  • salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Using a medium to large saucepan or saute pan that has a lid, heat the water at medium-high heat (A little higher heat than you heat olive oil or other saute oil)
  2. Add the garlic and capers, stir and cook for a couple minutes
  3. Add the greens, stir around (using tongs, ideally), then cover with the lid. Let sit for 3-5 minutes. This is important for getting rid of the bitterness in greens like kale.
  4. Uncover and season with salt, pepper and chili powder if using. Cook for about 3-5 minutes more, or longer, until only a little water is left in the pan.
  5. Serve by mixing with a high flavor dish such as roasted delicata squash, roasted vegetables, chili or other stew, a curried dish, etc.

 

Categories: Easy | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Roasted Delicata Squash with Greens

Apologies for the long break in posting. I took a two week work trip to northern Iraq and got off track. Now I’m back home and eager to enjoy the last of summer’s tomatoes and the new fall vegetables.

Here is one of our favorite squash varieties: Delicata Squash.

How to prepare:

Delicata squash does not need to be peeled or steamed. Just scrub the outside of the fruit, then chop it into rounds. Using a paring knife or your fingers, scrape out the middle part with the seeds, so that you have donut-like rounds. After that, you can saute, grill, bake or roast it.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Shallots

The three vegetables in this dish all have rich, sweet flavors once roasted. You do not need much oil for this dish at all. As they cook, the tomatoes will break open and when the juices mix together that is when the taste becomes amazing. It is perfect to serve on top of simple steamed greens, because the strong flavors mask the blandness of the greens.

Ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, cleaned, sliced into rounds and de-seeded
  • 1 large container of orange cherry tomatoes, cleaned
  • 2-4 shallots, peeled and chopped in quarters
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • several sprigs fresh rosemary and thyme (or you can use dried if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon (approx) crushed garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425
  2. Spray a long baking dish with cooking spray. Add the vegetables, olive oil, herbs, garlic and salt and mix together
  3. Cook on the middle tray for about 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
  4. Serve mixed with steamed or sauteed greens, like kale, arugula and chard

Before roasting:

After roasting:

Served with steamed greens (kale, arugula, and chard):

Categories: Dinner, Easy, Sides | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Grilled Vegetables: Shallots, Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

I love grilling fresh summer vegetables. One of my recent favorites is grilled shallots. Grilling brings out the sweetness in these normally mild, onion-like root vegetable. Grilled tomatoes and grilled corn are also two of my favorites vegetables on the barbie. Here, I tossed them all together.

Grilling tomatoes and shallots: First, peel the shallots and chop them in halves. Toss shallots and cherry tomatoes in olive oil and either dried herbs or sprigs of fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme or rosemary. To grill them, we have a grill wok that is great for small vegetables. But if you don’t have one of those, you can use tin foil. Grill for a few minutes, until browning and juicy.

Grilled corn: Pull back the leaves (without cutting them off), tears out the strings, then soaks them for an hour in water. Then grill them straight on the grill. Grill them for about 15 minutes, turning it every few minutes.

For more information on grilling vegetables, check out this article on grilling techniques and for recipes, check out 20 ways to grill fruits and vegetables, both from Vegetarian Times.

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White Bean and Artichoke Penne Pasta

Here’s another quick, easy recipe I through together while we were at the beach last weekend. As my dad was eating it, I overhead him telling my mom: “We need to eat more food like this.”

Yield: 4 heaping servings

Time: Less than 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 package of whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion, sliced then cut in half
  • 1 large jar of marinara pasta sauce
  • 1 can or jar of artichoke hearts
  • 2 cans great white northern beans or cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 handfulls spinach
  • Dried Italian herbs such as oregano and basil, salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Cook the pasta according to directions
  • Saute the onion on medium heat in water or oil for about 7 minutes until soft. Add sprinkles of Italian herbs, to taste
  • Add the pasta sauce, artichoke hearts and beans and heat through
  • Add the spinach and heat until slightly wilted. Add salt and pepper, to taste
  • Serve the pasta with the sauce on top

Here it is served next to heirloom tomato and nectarine summer salad:

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Tempeh Taco Salad

We took a last minute trip to the beach with my parents this weekend. None of us had planned ahead about dinners. I thought up this one in a hurry. Delicious, filling and super easy.

Tempeh Taco Salad

Ingredients

  • 2-3 packs tempeh
  • 1 bottle mexican-themed marinade. We used a chipotle lime marinade
  • 5-8 oz baby spinach, pre-washed
  • 1.5 large avocados (or 2 medium sized avocados)
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons mild vinegar such as white wine or apple cider
  • 1.5 cups black beans (or 1 can, rinsed and rained)
  • 3/4-1 cup salsa (freshly chopped salsa that isn’t liquid-like is best for this. I got it from the produce section in Harris Teeter)
  • 1-2 cups baby corn, frozen then heated in the microwave until no longer frozen
  • Tortilla chips
  • 1/2 jar olives, chopped

Directions

  • Marinade the tempeh ahead of time, for at least 30 minutes and ideally longer
  • Grill the marinade on a grill for about 5 minute, flipping on both sides. Or, bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until browned.
  • Combine the baby spinach, 1 avocado, olive oil and vinegar in a large salad bowl. Using your (clean) hands or strong salad spoons, mix them together, squishing the avocado until only a few chunks of it are left and it has fully coated the spinach. The spinach should look wet and slightly wilt.
  • Mix in the beans, salsa, corn and olives
  • Take a couple handfuls of tortilla chips and break them into the salad
  • Slice the remaining avocado and add to the bowl
  • When the tempeh is finished grilling, slice it in half length-wise. Then slice it into strips horizontally so that you have 1-2 inch strips. Add to the bowl
  • Serve topped with extra tortilla chips, salsa, corn, olives, and/or non-dairy sour cream, to taste

Yield: 4+

Sorry, I don’t have a picture!

Categories: Dinner, Easy, Salad | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Food for the Road: Bean Salad and Sun-dried Tomato Quinoa/CousCous

If you’ve ever been on a road trip with me, you know that I travel with food. Here are two dishes you can prepare in a hurry to take with you on a road trip. Bring reusable forks, spoons and bowls, then pull over at a rest stop to eat this healthy food instead of getting fast food. It makes plenty so that you can eat it for lunches or snacks throughout your weekend getaway. These dishes are also perfect for a cook-out, tailgate, or potluck because they yield plenty to share.

(Please forgive the low quality, iphone photo!)

Image

Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cooked beans, or 4 cans of beans rinsed and drained. Use a mix of beans such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, or white cannelloni beans
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 jar roasted red peppers, diced …
  • and/or 1/2-1 jar artichoke hearts (either marinated or non-marinated is fine), chopped in halves or quarters
  • 1 jar pitted olives, chopped (either kalamata, black or green are fine, it depends on your preference)
  • olive oil (start with 1 teaspoon and add more to suit your preference)
  • vinegar (try white wine, red wine, apple cider, and/or balsamic, starting with 2 teaspoons and adding more to suit your preference)
  • lemon juice (start with 1 teaspoon and add more to suit your preference)
  • dried herbs such as oregano and basil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Mix everything together. Shake/stir until well coated. Eat immediately or let marinate for added flavor. This will stay good for at least 5 days, but you probably won’t let it last that long!

Sun-dried Tomato Quinoa Cous Cous

Ingredients

  • 2-4 carrots, shopped into rounds or half moons
  • 1 cup cous cous (preferably whole wheat)
  • 1 cup mix of red and white quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (I prefer the jar from Trader Joe’s) Note: the oil is important here because it flavors the rest of the dish. If you don’t have oil-packed jar, then you’ll need to add in oil (such as olive oil).
  • 1-2 TBS pine nuts (or more!)

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, add about 1-2 teaspoons of oil or 1-2 tablespoons water and heat over medium heat. Add carrots and shake them around while they cook a couple times a minute, for about 3 minutes or until carrots are soft and beginning to brown
  • Add 3 3/4 cups water to the saucepan with the carrots and bring to a boil
  • Add the quinoa and cous cous, return to the boil, stir, then reduce the heat to a low medium (just at a simmer) and cover. Cook for about 10-15 minutes
  • Meanwhile, drain about 1/3 of the oil out of the jar of sun-dried tomatoes. If you want this to be especially tasty and are not as concerned about the fat content, leave in more oil. If you are more concerned about fat content, use less oil.
  • Once the quinoa and cous cous are done cooking, pour them into a large travel dish container (I use a glass 8 inch by 8 inch pyrex). Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and remaining oil from the jar. Add the pine nuts and mix.

For both of these dishes, be flexible and creative when you making them. Taste as you go. Serve together, or eat separately.

Categories: Dinner, Easy, Lunches, Potlucks Tailgates and Road Trips, Sides | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Sauteed Kale with Yellow Pepper, Avocado and Rice

I made up tonight’s kale dish using leftovers in our fridge and served it next to marinaded, grilled tempeh.

I made it up as I went along, so these ingredient measurements are approximates.

Ingredients

  • oil or water for sauteing
  • a few shakes of cumin, garam masala, and turmeric
  • 1 small or medium red onion, sliced in half moons
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves, slices
  • 1/2 large yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 bag chopped kale, rinsed (approx 1 bunch, de-stemmed and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
  • about 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • balsamic vinegar (a few shakes)
  • lemon juice (a few drops, maybe 1 tsp)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1/2 avocado

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add spices and stir into oil for about 30 seconds. Add onion and garlic and saute for 5-7 minutes, until tender
  2. Add yellow pepper and saute a few more minutes
  3. Add kale and water, stir and cover. Steam for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover, add the rice, and cook for a few more minutes until most of the water is gone, stirring occasionally.
  5. Turn off heat, add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
  6. Stir in the 1/2 avocado and serve

Yield: Side dish of 2-4 servings

Categories: Dinner, Easy, Sides | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Red Beans and Rice

This recipe is from the first vegetarian cookbook I ever got. It was a gift from my Aunt Julie when I was about 14 years old. It’s called Quick Vegetarian Pleasures.

Beans and rice is an easy, filling and inexpensive meal. The method for cooking brown rice in this recipe is my favorite way to cook it:

  • 1.5 cups brown rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Put in a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes.

The ingredients for making the beans is only 5 ingredients: 3 cups red beans (aka 2 cans), 2 onions, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 cup salsa and water.

There are not many vegetables in this dish, so I like to serve it with sauteed kale or some other hearty vegetable. Season with salt and pepper if necessary, top with avocado and eat!

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Red Lentil Enchiladas

I know I already have an enchilada post on this blog, but it is one of my favorite meals, and this time I made it differently using red lentils instead of beans. I got the idea from the Peas and Thank You cookbook, and for the most part followed her recipe, using red lentils as the main stuffing. I made my own enchilada sauce from vegetable bullion, warm water, cornstarch and salsa verde. Also, instead of using the non-dairy cheese I used steamed and smashed sweet potatoes. Both techniques are described in my earlier blog post about sweet potato and black bean enchiladas.

Here’s a pic, topped with salsa and black olives.

 

 

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