Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No time for a new post!

I would like to post more recipes (just made a good CL recipe with zucchini and goat cheese), but I don't have time. I realized that every recipe I've posted qualifies for this month's challenge, so I'll refer you back to July 2007 "Better Late than Never" for a Mediterranean meal. Hope I can participate in next month's challenge!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Spicy Portabello Burgers with Spicy Edamame

2-4 portabello mushrooms (big ones) washed
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 lime
olive oil
salt and pepper
2-4 delicious bun
frozen edamame
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 c lite mayo
pinch of garlic salt, cayenne pepper, ground pepper and cumin
Preheat oven to 425. On cookie sheet with an edge, place mushrooms gill side up. Season with oil, lime, chili powder, salt and pepper. Broil for 12-15 min. Toast buttered buns as well. Place mushroom on bottom half and spread mayo mixed with pinches on the top. Half and serve.
Heat edamame according to directions, drain and stir in cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper.
My husband even enjoyed this meal...I think it was the spicy mayo though.

Breakfast - Banana Waffle

I'm sure I'm not the only one that eats vegetarian each morning for breakfast, but it occured to me today that I have a unique favorite: It's affectionately known as "Banana Waffle".

Take 2 frozen waffles (you can pick your nutrient favorite). Toast.
Afterwards, coat with hefty layer of cream cheese (reduced fat, fat free, whatever you want).
Then lay banana slices all across the top (about 1 banana for 2 waffles is good).
Drizzle honey across the top.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.


It's one of my absolute favorites, and even hubby loves it too. It's almost as good as my veggie cream cheese.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Black bean soup and drop biscuits

As promised, I made lbmartinez's Black Bean Soup that was posted early this month. I really liked it. It was a hearty soup with quite a kick. I actually doubled the recipe, except for the chipotles and did not add the crushed red pepper. The heat level was medium to hot, which was good for me and James, but Mark kept having to add sour cream. Sigh. I guess when we have the leftovers I will be adding a can of tomatoes to cool it down.

I served it with a recent discovery from Cooks Illistrated, Best Drop Biscuits. They come together quickly and are great along side soups and stews, very handy if we happen to have a soups and stews challenge in the near future (hint, hint) so I thought I would share.

Best Drop Biscuits

If buttermilk isn't available, powdered buttermilk added according to package instructions or clabbered milk can be used instead. To make clabbered milk, mix 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let stand 10 minutes. A 1/4-cup (#16) portion scoop can be used to portion the batter. To refresh day-old biscuits, heat them in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Makes 12 Biscuits
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk (cold)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing biscuits

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps (see photo below).

2. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.

3. Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

From my sis

That is KAJ if any of you don't know. For some reason, she can't log onto blogger, or even get it to come up so she wanted me to post this for her.

FYI! This month has been amazing for me...I have lost 5 lbs and I hope to keep it up. Thank you so much you your vegetarian recipes. I have tried Robin's gnocchis and Kerri's Red pepper lasanga...broiled my own red peppers and everything:) With our trip to Hawaii and school starting this semester, I have been super busy, but LOVE all the recipes and can't wait to try them! I went to a get-together on Fri and took the infamous Tex Mex black bean easy and delic, my husband had to point out it was vegetarian...

Sautee 1 diced onion and 1 garlic minced garlic clove
Add some cumin and chili pepper to taste with salt and pepper
add one can of diced tomato and 1/3+ C salsa with a can of rinse/drained black beans to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Mash beans with potatoe masher and remove from heat. Add juice from 1 lime, 1 cup cheese, and 1/4 C chopped cilantro

This bean dip is requested whenever I come to a party! It rules and is in Kerri's greatest hits...more or less!

As for me, I am planning on making lbmartinez's black bean soup tonight...I'll post later to say how it went.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pasta alla Norma

This is a Sicilian dish I have seen several recipes for but have never tried. This particular recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's book, Jamie's Italy. It was a good pasta dish ... nothing special or complex but it took no time at all to put together and the eggplant strips were really fabulous.

Pasta alla Norma (serves 4)
2 large firm eggplants
extra virgin olive oil
1 T. dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
a large bunch of fresh basil, stalks finely chopped, leaves reserved
1 t. white wine vinegar
2 tins of good-quality plum tomatoes or 1 pint passata di pomodoro
1 lb. dried spaghetti
parmesan , pecorino, or ricotta salata for serving

Cut the eggplants into quarters lengthways. If they have seedy fluffy centers, remove them and throw away. Cut the eggplants across the length, into finger-sized pieces. heat a non-stick saute pan and add a little oil. Fry the eggplant in two batches, adding extra oil if you need to (but you don't want to make it too greasy). Give the eggplants a good toss so the oil coats every single piece and sprinkle on some dried oregano. Using a pair of tongs, turn the pieces until golden on all sides. Once you have cooked the first batch, remove to a plate and do the same thing with the second batch. Don't worry if they are golden but still a little firm to the bite ... they will cook more in the sauce.

When the eggplants are all cooked, add the first batch back to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and add a little oil, the garlic, and basil stalks. Stir so everything gets evenly cooked, then add a swig of vinegar and the tomatoes. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then taste and correct the seasoning with salt/pepper. Tear up half the basil leaves, add to sauce and toss around.

Get your pasta into a pan of salted boiling water and cook according to manufacturer's instructions. Drain and reserve a couple of ladles of pasta cooking water. Put the pasta back in the pot, add the sauce and a little of the reserved water and toss together. Serve with the remaining basil leaves and grated cheese.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Vegetable Frittata

A frittata is the Italian version of an omelet. It's a wonderful dish, especially when you are not in the mood to cook. Our friend, Kay, happens to be the best frittata chef I've ever met. She actually took a cooking class in Italy where she learned to turn out a mean vegetable frittata. Here is her recipe (as I remember it) and some pictures of the last time I made a frittata with Kay.

1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 med (or 2 small) potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced thin (1/4" thick)
1/2 med zuchini, quartered and sliced thin
1 small red pepper, cored and thinly sliced
handful of mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
6 large eggs
couple of large handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese
50 g./2 oz. unsalted butter

Saute the shallot and potato in a saute pan with olive oil on medium heat until the potatoes are tender but not too brown, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside on a plate. Heat another splash of olive oil over medium heat in the saute pan and saute the zuchini, red pepper, and mushrooms until lightly browned and softened (roughly 10 minutes). Set aside on a plate.

Beat eggs with a whisk until just mixed. Season eggs with salt, pepper, and a handful of parmesan cheese. Add the sauteed vegetables to the egg mixture. Melt the butter in a large non-stick saute pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs. Turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting and let the eggs cook gently for 15 minutes, undisturbed. Heat the broiler in your oven.

After 15 minutes, the top of your eggs may need a few minutes under the broiler to set (but do not brown). Gently free the frittata from the pan using a palette knife or large spatula. Place a large plate over the frittata and flip it out of the pan onto the plate. Top the frittata with another handful of parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spinach Calzone - I second that!

A while back, I bookmarked this recipe in the Kerri's Greatest Hits book, but hadn't actually made it yet. I hit the blog tonight to get some inspiration and there it was. I went to the store, came home and made dinner. Wow! This tastes exactly as great as I hoped it would. Very fast, very easy, and very yummy.

And wirrek, I made it exactly as it states - no lowfat shortcuts!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Spinach Calzone


This is an oldie but goodie that many of you will find in your Kerri's Greatest Hits Cookbook. Ahhhh, one of my first forays into vegetarian cooking...I had just discovered the joys of RRP (roasted red peppers) at the time and found they were great paired with spinach. This meal is one I like to have the Monday after traveling. After a fun weekend of eating out and having fun, it helps me to get back on track. Plus, all the ingredients are easy to have around. It is a very filling meal with a salad, but I usually can't be bothered. I slice an apple and call it good. Even James seems to like this one...but not as much as the apple!

A few notes, be sure to drain the spinach very well, or you will have watery filling. I would not recommend reducing the fat anymore than the recipe states (mel!) for the same reason.

Kerri's Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna revisited

I couldn't stop thinking about Kerri's Red Pepper Lasagna so I made it this evening. I was so surprised at how much the roasted red pepper taste comes out in the tomato sauce. After reading her comments about it not being very filling I wanted to tweak it a bit and see if I could make it a little more substantial. I kept the original recipe but added a cottage cheese filling and, I think, it helped add a little more substance to the dish. We both liked the dish a lot but I certainly wouldn't replace regular lasagna with this one (as one person said in the comments section of the recipe website). I would say if you have some peppers to use up this would make a great dish to use them on. Here is my cottage cheese filling:

400 g. (12 oz) cottage cheese
1 egg
1 c. parmesan (as the recipe states)
parsley (as the recipe states)

Mix above together and add in the layering process before the bechamel. Also I used no-boil noodles and made my sauces slightly runnier. Bake covered with aluminum foil. The one other change I did was to puree my sauce so that it had a more even red pepper taste throughout.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Truffled Vegetable Pot Pie

Ok, I'm going to make a bold statement. You haven't lived until you have experienced the taste of truffles. I'm not talking chocolately dessert truffles ... I'm talking the most incredible mushroom/fungus in the world truffles. Once you taste it you will either hate it and never want to taste it again or you will be addicted to it and want it in everything. It has a truly distinct taste. The first time I tasted truffle was in Northern Italy on a plate of polenta with a slice of melted cheese and finely grated black truffle. Truffles are very difficult to find and if you do they are very expensive to buy. One of my discoveries has been truffle flavored olive oil which can be used on pasta, risotto, soups, etc. I found this small 2 oz. bottle for 7 euros ($10) at my local market and it will last quite a while ... a little bit goes a long way.

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, Sept. 2005 issue and was a recipe submitted by Cafe Boulud in Manhattan. I'll post the recipe as written but I halved it and had to do some substituting based on what is sold at my market but I think I kept with the overall theme of the recipe. You can make one big pot pie in a souffle dish (like I did) or several individual serving pot pies if you have 2 cup ramekin dishes. My husband and I both agreed this would be best as individual pot pies. The sauce surrounding the veggies is really creamy and delicious and deserves to be surrounded by a great pastry crust!

Truffled Vegetable Pot Pie(s)
2/3 c. unsalted butter
2/3 c. all purpose flour
8 c. vegetable broth
2/3 c. half and half
2 t. truffle oil

24 pearl onions
3 T. butter
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
2 medium parnsips, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
2 medium fennel bulbs, halved and thinly sliced
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, peeled and halved
1 med. celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
1 large gala apple, peeled and cored and cut into 3/4" pieces
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
1 large leek (white and paled green parts only), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3/4 lb. assorted mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (about 7 cups)

1 (17.3 oz) pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed

2 large eggs
1 T. water
3 T. chopped toasted hazelnuts
fine sea salt

For the sauce: Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat; whisk in half and half and truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper.

For the filling: Cook onions in saucepan of boiling salted water 2 minutes; drain. Transfer to a bowl of ice water; cool. Peel. Melt butter in heavy large pot over med-hi heat. Add onions, carrots, and next 9 ingredients. Cook until cabbage wilts and veggies begin to soften, about 12 minutes. Stir in sauce. Bring filling to a boil; reduce heat to med-lo and simmer until veggies are just tender, stirring often about 5 minutes. (Can be made 8 hrs. ahead. Cool slightly, Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over med. heat before using.)

Preheat oven to 375F. Unroll pastry dough and cut to fit your dish(es). Whisk eggs and 1 T. water in bowl for glaze. Divide hot filling among 10 (2 cup) ramekins or a large souffle dish. Brush rims with glaze, top with pastry, pressing along the rim to adhere. Brush pastry with glaze; sprinkle with hazelnuts and sea salt. Bake until golden 15-20 minutes.

Things I had to cut out or sub: I completely left out the pearl onions, apple and cabbage and subbed a turnip for the rutabaga.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chipotle Black Bean Soup

In contrast to my previous post, this takes about 10 minutes to throw together and requires very few ingredients--you probably have most of them in your pantry right now! The chipotles freeze well for the next time you need them.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium red or white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tsp cumin
3 cans black beans, only 1 rinsed and drained
2 chipotles in adobo sauce (depending on how hot you want it)
1 cup salsa, Chipotle flavor if you really want to bump up the sweet/smoky flavor

Top with cheese, sour cream or cilantro
Serve with tortilla chips

1. Heat oil in a large pot. Saute the onions, garlic, red pepper, and cumin until the onions are soft.
2. Meanwhile, puree two of the cans of beans (with liquid) and chipotles in a blender until smooth. Rinse and drain the other can of beans and set aside.
3. When the onions are soft, add the pureed beans, whole beans, salsa, and some of the adobo sauce (to taste). If it is too thick, add a little broth or water.
4. Bring to a simmer and serve.

Homespun Pot Pie

I should really be all over this theme. Everything I cook qualifies, but this is one of Manny's favorite meals ever--especially in the winter. By the way, our low was -7 degrees F last night with wind chills from 10 to 20 below 0!

This is from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics (thanks wirrek!). It takes a lot of ingredients and a little time, but it's worth it!

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
4-5 cups sliced or halved mushrooms
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes (1/2 in cubes)
2 cups chopped potatoes
2 cups peeled and chopped parsnips (optional-I leave them out)
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups water or stock
3 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt

Biscuit topping
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 tsp fresh or dried dill

Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Lightly oil a 9x13 in casserole dish.

Warm oil in a large pot. Add onions and garlic, cover and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, thyme, marjoram, mushrooms, and mustard. Cook until the mushrooms start to release their juices (about 5 min).

Add sweet potatoes, white potatoes, parsnips (if using), black pepper, and water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are just tender. Stir the dissolved cornmeal mixture into the simmering vegetables, stirring constantly. When the liquid starts to thicken, mix in the peas, corn, soy sauce and salt. Pour the vegetables into the casserole dish and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter and buttermilk or yogurt. Combine the wet with the dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible (dough will be very soft and wet). Drop the biscuit batter over the vegetables in the casserole dish. Sprinkle the dill over the biscuits.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Red-Lentil Chickpea Burgers


I found this one on a top recipe list for 2007. It was pretty good. It has a middle eastern taste to it...almost like falafel, but the peanut sauce is all curry. Again, this recipe has several little steps. They aren't hard, but take some planning and time. I couldn't get my burgers to stick together, so I added an egg. Oops, maybe they were suppose to be vegan! I am not sure if I would make them again...I did like them, but Mark and James were another story. Yes, that's right, even my "I'll try anything once baby" wouldn't touch them. It could be that I served them with sweet potato fries and that is really all he wanted. That boy loves sweet potatoes! I think if I called them something else, I could sell them better...maybe red lentil falafel? Burgers just brings a certain picture to mind and this ain't it!

Red Lentil-Chickpea Burgers
The Healthy Hedonist
Serves 6

3/4 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 3/4 cups water
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for sautéing
1/2 cup minced shallots
3/4 pound carrots, cut into small dice (1 cup)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
6 whole wheat pita breads
Shredded romaine lettuce
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)

Combine the lentils and the water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. The lentils should lose their individual shape and cook into one mass. Cook them as dry as possible as they can go without sticking. Stir the cooked lentils with a spoon to break them up, and pour them into a medium bowl. Stir in the chickpeas.

Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, carrots, and 1/4 tsp salt, and cook until the carrots are tender, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, and peas, and cook until the peas are tender, 2 minutes. Stir the vegetables into the lentils along with the parsley, lemon juice, and cayenne. Stir in the bread crumbs. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, or until it is cool enought to handle.

Using your hands, form the lentils into 6 tight patties and place them on a plate. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until very firm, at least 30 minutes.

Sauté the burgers: Warm a Tbsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers (these burgers are a bit delicate so do not crowd the pan). Sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn the burgers over and sauté on the other side until golden, 2 minutes. Serve each burger in a pital with Spicy Peanut Sauce, topped with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes 3/4 cup

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions or chives

Combine everything except the scallions in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the scallions. Store covered and refrigerated

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna


I printed out this recipe for red pepper lasagna like a year ago, and only got around to making it for this challenge. Basically, I love anything with roasted red pepper! This recipe has a lot of little steps, but none of them take a long time. I even roasted my own peppers and haven't done that in years (um, did you know you can buy them in jars?). The red peppers go into a tomato sauce that I was worried would be too heavy on the tomatoes, but the red pepper flavor really came through. I loved the how the bechamel sauce made this dish taste really rich. I might have to make one for all my lasagnas/zitis. A downfall is that it is a pretty light meal...light meaning, not very filling. Really, there really isn't a whole lot going on here, no heavy cheese filling or meat sauce that you find in a lot of baked pastas. I am still hungry, but it might be just my current phase of pregnancy. However, this dish was good enough that all I am thining of is having another piece! If I make this again, I would probably add some spinach for extra nutritional value.

Mushroom-Veggie Sloppy Sandwiches

Pseudo sloppy joes I guess. They were really tasty, but for some reason I keep getting drawn to all the vegetarian meals with beans, veggies, cumin and chili powder. They all taste basically the a good bean dip. This recipe rules because of the MUSHROOMS!! So delic, I think I will just make a sandwich with the portobellos next time:)

Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats Pg 280

4 portobello mushrooms
2 limes
4 tbsp vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp chili powder(I used WAY less)
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1 large red bell pepper chopped
1 large jalapeno chopped
1 small zucchini or squash chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp hot pepper sauce
1 c beer
1 can tomatoes crushed
1 can dark red kidney beans rinsed
1 cup spicy vegetarian refried beans
1/4 c cilantro shopped
4 english muffins
1 avocado sliced
spicy shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 450. Place PBmushrooms on a rimmed cookie sheet and season with oil, salt, pepper, juice of 1 lime, some garlic and chili powder. Roast 12 min gill side up.
In a large soup pan saute onions, peppers, jalapenos, zucchini and remaining garlic. Add cumin, remaining chili powder, pepper sauce, and salt until soft and browned. De glaze pan with beer and add tomatoes and beans. Thicken by adding refried beans. Simmer 10+ minutes and finish with cilantro. Toast english muffins. Slice avocado and squeeze remaining lime on slices.

Place 1 roasted mushroom on the bottom half of muffin. Place a large helping of chili on top of mushroom, followed by cheese and avocado. Finish with muffin top. Don't try and eat with your hands:)


I kind of forgot about this dish as a vegetarian dish. It's one of my standard side dishes when I want something easy and tasty. All the veggies can be roughly chopped into chunky pieces. A great vitamin C packed side dish.

1 onion, roughly chopped (or I often use 1 leek white part only halved and finely sliced)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 eggplant, quartered and chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped (or use canned)
1 clove garlic, smashed
4 T. olive oil (roughly)
handful of fresh basil leaves

In a saucepan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil on med heat. Saute leeks until fragrant and soft, don't brown. Add remaining oil, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. Cover and cook slowly for 20-30 min. The tomatoes should break down and peppers and eggplant should be soft. Season with salt and pepper. Near the end of the cooking time add your basil leaves.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Ok, can anyone guess by the title what I'm featuring in this post?

Don't cheat by looking at the pictures.

Have you guessed yet?

No? Ok, I'll help you out.

Yes, it's Italian Gnocchi and the title is the correct phonetic pronunciation. So, impress the waiter at your favorite Italian place next time and pronounce it like a pro!

When I saw that the challenge was vegetarian this month, I immediately thought I would challenge myself to make homemade potato gnocchi, which I have never done. I immediately consulted my man, JO (Jamie Oliver), for a recipe. Please, don't tell the Italians in my life that I consulted an Englishman for a Gnocchi recipe! I'm telling you ... his recipes are infallible! So here it is, JO's recipe for the lightest potato gnocchi ever!

6 medium potatoes (baking type potatoes that are floury, not new potatoes)
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg yolk
1-2 handfuls plain flour (or if you can find it Italian flour, tipo 00)
semolina flour (or potato flour)

Preheat oven to 220C/425F. Rub your potatoes with olive oil and prick them all over with a fork and lay them in a roasting tray. Put in the preheated oven and bake for an hour until the potatoes are fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then, while they are still warm cut them in half and carefully scoop out the potato flesh. Put the potato flesh through a potato ricer/mill or we pressed them through a sieve (although it took a long time). When you have a really smooth mashed potato mixture, place them in a bowl and add salt (about 1-1.5 t.) and pepper (a good pinch) to taste, the egg yolk, and enough of the flour to bind your mixture - you probably won't need all of it. Mix together and knead with your hands until you have a dry doughy consistency. Add a little water if it is too dry or a little more flour if it is too wet.

Once you have your dough, divide it into 3 pieces and roll each piece out on a floured surface into long tubes the thickness of a sausage. Cut each tube into 1" pieces. Place them on a bed of semolina flour (or we used potato flour) on a tray and put in the fridge for 10-20 min. to set.

We tossed our gnocchi with a wild mushroom sauce:
150g/5.5 oz mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and torn into rough pieces (we used oyster mushrooms)
1/2 of a fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small knob of butter
a ladle of vegetable stock or water
parmesan, for grating

Heat a splash of olive oil in a saute pan. Add your mushrooms and toss for 2-3 min., then add the chopped chili, garlic, salt and pepper, and butter. When the garlic is slightly golden, add your stock or water and continue to cook on a med. heat for 5 min.

Meanwhile, cook your gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes or until they begin to float. Once cooked they are very delicate, I fish them out of the water with a slotted spoon. Add them to the mushroom mixture, toss gently, and serve with plenty of grated parmesan.

As requested, a couple of other vegetarian ideas for serving gnocchi:

Potato Gnocchi with a Gorgonzola dolce sauce:
Heat a saute pan on low heat. Add 2 T. gorgonzola dolce, 3 T. butter and 6 T. heavy cream with a pinch of black pepper. Mix together using the back of a wooden spoon until you have a smooth melted cheese sauce. Cook your gnocchi and toss them in the gorgonzola sauce. Serve with plenty of parmesan and a sprinkle of marjoram leaves. I am not sure what the difference is between gorgonzola and gorgonzola dolce other than the latter must be a bit sweeter but I'm sure either would work fine. I don't like gorgonzola but the picture in the cookbook makes me wish I did.

Herby Gnocchi with Butter Sauce:
Finely chop a small bunch of arugula leaves. Make your basic gnocchi dough, adding the finely chopped arugula to the doughy mixture before you start kneading. This will give your gnocchi a greenish tint. Cook them as normal and toss in melted butter with a sprinkle of salt/pepper and, of course, serve with parmesan.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

OK I'm cheating

I posted this on my own blog because I'm doing vegetarian.

This is so good I just had leftovers for breakfast. And I'm having it for lunch. It's also simple. The only pain in the butt part is peeling the squash.

This would make an excellent side dish for the holidays. I loved the way the tangy cranberries offset the sweetness of the squash.

Bittman offers a richer variation where you replace the stockwith 1 cup of warmed cream with 1/2 cup of vegetable stock.



Autumn Millet Bake
How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish
3/4 cup millet
1 medium butternut or other winter squash or 1 small pumpkin, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed*
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes (don't overdo it). Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Scatter the squash or pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed stock over all. Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 45 minutes.

Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. (This is key! The millet should be close to being cooked through at this point, if not you need to add liquid and keep it moist and cooking). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, and return the dish to the oven. Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned ( and the millet is cooked through), another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Winter Squash and Apples

It seems as though I've been making a lot of veggie dishes lately, but veggies are yummy, right? Well, not always, hence the theme this month for all of us to get some good ideas. This is also one I debuted at Christmas which was a huge hit as well. I can't wait to make this again, except peeling a butternut squash isn't exactly enjoyable.

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and sliced
2 apples, cored and cut into slices (apple slicer works great - no need to peel the apples)
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced

Combine salt and pepper into small bowl. Set aside. Cut squash into 2 inch pieces and place in slow cooker. Add apples and onion. Sprinkle with salt mixture. Stir well. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours.

Here's a tip. I actually made this twice at Christmas. The first time I mixed it while it was cooking. It looked a little unpleasasnt, but tasted awesome. The second, I resisted all urges and never once opened the lid or touched it until we served it up. It looked BEAUTIFUL. I can assure you that this one is a definite keeper. Give it a try before all the winter squash disappears.

Sweet-Spiced Sweet Potatoes

There is just something about a warm sweet potato that just tastes like winter. I was challenged to make a healthy sweet potato recipe for Christmas, and this is what I made. It was a HUGE hit!

2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 c packed dark brown sugar (I think I used light....not sure)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingedients except vanilla in slow cooker. Mix well. Cover, cook on low 7 hours or high 4 hours. Add vanilla and stir to blend.

Of note, you could probably add butter if you want, but only at the end. I added none (big shocker) and nobody could tell.

New Potato Salad

It's been a while since I made this, but it's really quite tasty. I think I made it 3-4 times in a row, and then had to retire it for a few months.

1 1/2 lbs small red potatoes
1/2 c chopped red pepper
1/3 c chopped celery
5 Tb low-fat mayo
1/4 c minced shallots
1/4 c chopped green onions
2 Tb white wine vinegar
1 Tb dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Boil potatoes for 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cool, then cut into quarters. Cooling really helps here. Combine potatoes and rest of ingredients in large bowl and toss to coat. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 3, 2008


This minestrone comes from Jamie Oliver's book, Jamie's Italy. We've had great success with many of the recipes in this book. I served it with whole grain crusty rolls and a selection of cheeses. It was wonderful ... perfect after a blustery cold January day.

Minestrone d'inizio Autunno Serves 4-6
200g/7oz dried cannellini or borlotti beans, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
1 tomato, squashed
1 small potato, peeled
olive oil
4 slices smoked pancetta or bacon, chopped (optional ... I left it out)
2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped (I used 1 leek, thinly sliced)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
1/2 bulb of fennel, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
small bunch of fresh basil, leaves and stalks seperated
2 x 400g cans of good-quality plum tomatoes (I think they are 15 oz cans in the US)
2 small zuchinis, quartered and sliced
glass of red wine (I used a good Chianti)
200 g/7 oz. swiss chard or spinach, washed and roughly sliced (I used frozen because I had it on hand)
550 ml/1 pint vegetable stock
55 g/ 2 oz dried pasta
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Add your soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, squashed tomato and potato - this will help to flavor the beans and soften their skins. Cook until tender, about 45-60 min. Drain, reserving about half a glass of cooking liquid, and discard bay leaf, tomato and potato. Season beans with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil.

While the beans are cooking, make your soffrito. Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and finely sliced basil stalks ... (and bacon if you are using). Sweat very slowly on a low heat, with the lid just ajar, for about 15-20min ... until soft but not brown. Add tomatoes, zucchini, and red wine and simmer gently for 15 min.

Now add chard or spinach, stock and beans (along with the cooking liquid you saved). Put the dried past into a plastic bag, squeeze the air out and bash gently with a rolling pin to break the pasta into pieces. Add the pasta to the soup. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with torn basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Polenta and Black Bean Casserole

This recipe isn't so much a casserole, as a Mexican polenta lasagna.


Meant to take a better picture, but forgot and started eating. Oops! Anyways, I tried this once a long time ago and wasn't impressed, but rediscovered it after I had my son. This is a fresh tasting dish that really calls for opening a bunch of cans and dumping them in. Plus, clean up is a snap. I leave out the cream the original recipe calls really doesn't make a difference in the final product. I served it with sliced avocado with lime juice and salt and pepper, my current favorite super easy vegetable side.
Natalie's Super Duper Lentil Chili

This recipe is courtesy of my sister-in-law (Natalie). This dish is a winner all around: the ingredients are inexpensive, it makes a TON, it freezes well, it's practically fat-free, low-carb yet super-filling, and it tastes just like chili should. This has been tested on my family and they didn't even complain! In fact, some went back for seconds.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1-pound bag dried green lentils, soaked
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
1 16 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 16 oz can Rotel
1 package Wick Fowler's Chili Kit*

*You can use another kit or add all your own spices (the kit includes dehydrated onions and garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne pepper). I've tried other brands and they didn't turn out the same.

Soak lentils for 30 minutes or more. Drain and rinse and add to a large pot. Cover with an inch or 2 of water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. While the lentils are cooking, saute onion, garlic, cumin, and red pepper (if using) in olive oil. Cook until onions are tender and starting to brown. Once lentils are done, add the onion/garlic mixture to the pot along with the Rotel, tomato sauce, pinto beans, and chili kit spices and let simmer. Depending on how much water you cook the lentils in, you may have to add a little more. If you want a thicker chili, you can add the masa included in many kits, but it will be pretty thick without it. You might want to wait until the end to judge. Taste to see what needs to be added. The Wick Fowler kit comes with about two teaspoons of salt which (just about right) but add the salt according to your taste. If you make the chili too spicy, adding a dollop of sour cream in your bowl will cool the burn. Serve with any of the traditional chili fixin's. I love a little fresh minced white onion on mine--and cheese of course!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Vegetarian January

For January, I am hoping to stockpile some delicious vegetarian recipes. I recently had a meatless eater enter the family and need some dishes that I know she will like!! I hope everyone will share a few of their recipes they know are winners, but also accept the challenge to branch out and try at least 2 new vegetarian meals. Best of luck to everyone this month :) Seafood is out also.