Gourmet Veggie Mama

Category Archives: Weeknight Meals

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta with Fresh Ricotta

Not long ago, I made a meal (this fantastic baked ziti) for a friend who just had a baby. Several people did this for me when Amelia was born, and I like to pay it forward. Having a newborn is a hard gig! However, I am still a little sleep deprived myself, so while I was making the ricotta cheese for two batches of baked ziti, I had a math fail. Long story short, I ended up with twice as much ricotta as I actually needed.

But, hey, that’s definitely not a bad problem to have. I pondered what to do with the extra, and landed on a quick and easy meal of spinach and artichoke pasta. Since we have plenty of spinach growing in our garden these days, it was easy to pop outside and pick some, sauté it, combine it with some chopped marinated artichoke hearts, the ricotta and a little cream, and toss it with pasta. Voila! Dinner is served.

spinach ricotta pasta

I do like my pasta pretty saucy, and this is no exception — so if you like yours with more pasta than other stuff, well, just make more pasta.

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta with Fresh Ricotta
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz spaghetti or angel hair pasta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped roughly
  • 1 12-oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese, preferably homemade (recipe follows)
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted.
  3. Lower the heat and add the artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese (breaking into smaller chunks with spoon) and cream. Stir over low heat until warm, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Stir in the pasta. Serve warm topped with parmesan cheese, if desired.
Homemade Ricotta
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups whole milk (preferably organic, pastured milk)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Fold a length of cheesecloth so that it’s four sheets thick, and set it in a colander in the sink.
  2. Bring the milk, buttermilk and cream to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Keep watch over the mixture, stirring occasionally, until you see the curds start to separate. When this happens, turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to scoop the curds into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Keep scooping under all you’ve got left is a light-yellowish liquid (whey).
  3. Sprinkle the cheese with a little kosher salt and let it drain for about 5 minutes. Use immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container.

 

Risi e Bisi

Ladies and gentlemen, the Naptime Chef is back. I thought, after a couple of years of being limited to meal prep during naptime, that I was past all that. With a child in preschool and plenty of time around the house by myself, I thought I could start to prepare meals like a normal person. Then along came Amelia.

Babies certainly have their own ideas about meal prep — namely that it’s not their favorite thing, and that there are a number of other endeavors on which their waking hours should be spent. So, I am, once again, limited to prepping dinner during naptime, however sporadic and undependable that may be.

And here I am, the Naptime Chef again. I guess that’s how it’s going to be for a while, at least. But, that’s okay, because I do have a few of my old tricks memorized, and I’m sure to discover some new ones along the way.

The difference is, this time, we’re starting out with a young palate to please as well — and yes, Nora has turned out to be quite the picky 3-year-old, despite my best efforts.* But, one thing she does like is rice. The kid will shovel handful after handful of the stuff into her mouth. And peas are one of her favorite veggies, too.

* I guess it happens to most kids eventually, at least to some degree. I just try not to cater to it too much, and hope it’ll pass sooner rather than later!

So, imagine my delight when I ran across this Slate article about the best thing to make with arborio rice that isn’t risotto, complete with a recipe for Risi e Bisi — an Italian rice and pea dish.

risi e bisi

Of course, I wouldn’t be touting it if it weren’t also pleasing to adult palates as well. It has many of the same ingredients as risotto — arborio rice, broth, butter, parmesan — but it’s far less time consuming. Even better, it’s something I can easily make ahead (during naptime, naturally) and finish quickly at dinnertime. Now that’s something I can get behind — particularly as our freezer stash is running low and I have to start cooking real food again on a regular basis.

Risi e Bisi
Author: 
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 14-oz bag frozen peas
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus additional for serving
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until light golden brown and beginning to caramelize.
  2. Add 4 cups of the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in the rice and peas.
  3. Add a generous pinch of salt, cover and cook at a low boil until the rice is just tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.** Thin with additional stock if needed. The consistency should be thick, but not quite as thick as risotto.
  4. Stir in the parmesan and taste and adjust seasoning. Serve topped with additional parmesan cheese.
Notes
** If you are making the rice ahead, simply stop a couple of minutes before the rice is done to your liking and refrigerate; reheat later, adding some of the reserved broth and finishing with the parmesan.

 

Easy Margherita Pizza + No-Knead Dough

I’ve been experimenting a lot with pizza lately. Although there is a special place in my heart for grilled pizzas, with the weather turning cooler (at least in theory), and with my pregnancy-fueled love of all things carb-y, I am turning more toward a thicker crust and an oven preparation. I’ve tried several recipes recently — Chicago-style deep dish pizza (recipe to come, once I’ve perfected it), a flatbread recipe that’s to die for (more on that soon) — but this one just may be my favorite.

Easy Margherita Pizza (with No-Knead Dough)

I was so excited when I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for “lazy pizza dough” — it’s a no-knead dough that you basically mix and forget about until it’s time to stretch, top and bake. She gives options for an overnight, all-day or part-day rise, but I’m going to give you the part-day rise here, since it’s the only one I’ve tried (and it worked beautifully). We also seem to have lost our pizza stone and peel somewhere in the cross-country move (18 months or so ago… which goes to show you how often it got used), so, with some trepidation, I baked this pizza on a well-oiled baking sheet. Guess what? It still tuned out crispy and delicious. So, no special equipment required!

nora pizza

Plus, it’s Nora-approved.

Easy Margherita Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
For the dough:
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp (slightly heaped) active dry yeast
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1¼ cups warm water
For the pizza:
  • olive oil for greasing pan
  • 1 14.5-oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz mozzarella (aged, not fresh), grated
  • 2 oz parmesan, grated
  • several fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Instructions
For the dough:
  1. In a large non-reactive bowl, mix the flour, yeast, salt and water. The dough will be craggy, but should come together pretty well. If necessary, you can add another tablespoon or so of water.
  2. Once all ingredients are incorporated, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 6 hours, until more than doubled in size. (See the original recipe for overnight and all-day rise options, if that timing works better for you.)
For the pizza:
  1. When the dough is almost ready, make the sauce and prepare your toppings. Preheat the oven to 500°. Oil a rimmed baking sheet generously with olive oil.
  2. Combine the crushed tomatoes, garlic cloves, salt and crushed red pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and shape it into a ball.
  4. Flour the top of the dough ball and, using well-floured hands, grab one side of the dough and let it stretch down, repeating several times.
  5. Place the stretched dough onto the prepared baking sheet and stretch and spread it with your hands until it is roughly 9 x 13 inches in size (stretching almost to the edges of the pan).
  6. Top with approximately ½ cup of the sauce, spreading evenly (reserve the rest for another use). Sprinkle the mozzarella over the sauce, and top with the parmesan.
  7. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is puffed and the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, turning once to ensure even cooking.
  8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the basil leaves. Cool slightly, then slide onto a cutting board and cut into pieces. Serve warm with a salad, and enjoy!

 

Simple (but Delicious!) Roasted Broccoli

Looking for a way to spice up your veggie repertoire without going totally overboard? Is steaming your broccoli just not doing it for you anymore? Well, I’ve got an idea for you — and it’s one that our family has been loving for the last couple of weeks. Yes, including Nora — broccoli is one of the relatively few foods she will eat (raw or cooked) with gusto these days.*

* Although, preschoolers being what they are, I’m sure that will change soon enough.

Roasting broccoli takes a little longer than steaming it, but not by much, and it’s worth it. It imparts a great, almost caramelized flavor, and you can just toss it in the oven with whatever else you’ve got on, so it’s not exactly time-consuming. Plus, adding a little fat to your veggies (here in the form of olive oil) helps your body absorb all those nutrients, and makes them tastier to boot. It’s a win-win!

We had roasted broccoli the other night with ultimate baked potatoes, and it made for the perfect, simple weeknight meal.

Simple Roasted Broccoli

This preparation is so simple it almost seems silly to make it into a recipe… but it’s too good not to share!

Roasted Broccoli
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets, and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Spread the broccoli in a single layer in a baking dish. Roast for 15-20 minutes, tossing at least once to ensure even browning. Remove when bright green and starting to brown in spots, but still crisp.

 

Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Garlic Aioli

It must be fall, because sweet potatoes are here! And, of course, when life gives you sweet potatoes, the very first thing you must do is make sweet potato fries.

Sweet potato oven fries with garlic aioli

This time around, I went for a super-simple preparation of wedge oven fries, skin-on, served with a homemade(-ish) garlic aioli. It would have been all the way* homemade, but it was left over from a dinner this weekend — spinach and chickpeas with garlic aioli — and, as I am currently knocked up, the raw-egg version was just a little too iffy for me. Of course, that version is delicious, and I highly recommend it, unless you are similarly immunocompromised.**

*As Nora would say. That’s one of her favorite expressions these days. For instance, in choosing an outfit in the morning, she often wants to be “all the way pink,” “all the way green,” or “all the way stripey.” It’s quite fashionable. But I digress.

** I still sample raw cookie dough, however. I am a conundrum.

The halfway homemade version is quite delicious, though, and super-easy to whip up as long as you have good quality mayo, garlic cloves and a lemon on hand. Bonus points — it’s even better after the flavors meld in the fridge for a day or two.

We had these the other night along with spiced-up grilled cheeses and a salad, and it made a lovely, super-quick meal.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Garlic Aioli
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Ingredients
For sweet potato fries:
  • 2½ tsp peanut oil
  • 1½ – 2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 2-3 medium)
  • salt and pepper to taste
For aioli:
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed in a garlic press
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
For sweet potato fries:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Using ½ tsp peanut oil, grease a rimmed baking sheet and set inside the oven to heat while you prepare the sweet potatoes.
  2. Scrub the sweet potatoes and, leaving the skin on, cut them lengthwise into 8 wedges (or more, depending on how big your sweet potatoes are). Cut in half crosswise, if desired.
  3. Toss the sweet potatoes in a large bowl with the remaining peanut oil and salt and pepper to taste. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread the sweet potato wedges in one layer on the hot sheet.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes on one side, then flip each wedge using tongs or a spatula and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and serve with garlic aioli.
For aioli:
  1. Mix the mayo, pressed garlic cloves and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Taco Night, Vegetarian-Style

One of my favorite meals as a kid was fried white bean tacos. I hadn’t thought about them in ages, until I suddenly got a craving for them the other day.* So, I set about searching all of my cookbooks and scouring the internets for a recipe… but to no avail. It’s like no one had ever heard of these things! There were a few recipes out there for white bean tacos, but nothing really like what I remembered. So I had to wing it.

* Pregnancy is weird.

That’s okay. Winging it can be fun, and it yielded delicious results, very similar to what I remembered, and it actually wasn’t all that much work.

white bean tacos

I started with dried white beans, but you could easily use canned if you don’t have time for that. I made a big batch of tacos and froze the leftovers (pre-frying), so hopefully that’ll provide another, even quicker meal for us some rainy day. With a baby on the way, there are sure to be some of those days in our future!

White Bean Tacos
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 lb white beans (Great Northern or similar), cooked and drained (or 2 cans)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder (to taste)
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 2-3 Tbs canola oil, for frying
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the beans, mashing with a potato masher, and stir until heated through. Add the cumin and chili powder and stir to combine. Stir in the black olives and sunflower seeds. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside.
  3. Heat each corn tortilla on a griddle until soft and pliable. Stuff with the white bean mixture, fold in half, and secure with a toothpick. Continue with additional tortillas until all filling is used.
  4. Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a batch of tacos and fry on one side until golden brown. Flip and fry on the other side until golden brown. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and continue, working in batches. Serve with sour cream and hot sauce, if desired.

 

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

I’m late to the spaghetti squash game. I could never really get behind the whole squash-as-pasta-substitute thing, and I never really had too much opportunity to try it until now. But, when life (or, in this case, your CSA) hands you spaghetti squash… you make spaghetti squash alfredo.

For the uninitiated, spaghetti squash has an interesting feature — when it’s cooked, the insides scrape up just like, well, spaghetti, which makes it a perfect, healthy vessel for your favorite pasta sauce.

spaghetti squash

At first I was just going to use some run-of-the-mill pasta sauce with the spaghetti squash, maybe with some store-bought veggie meatballs thrown in. Then I ran across this recipe, and it looked too good to pass up — despite the “skinny” in the title, which tends to make me roll my eyes.

Let me tell you — it was good! Whether or not it’s truly “skinny,” I can’t say, but it definitely didn’t taste like it. It was creamy, garlicky, filling and delicious. A must try!

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

5.0 from 1 reviews

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 spaghetti squash
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 Tbs cream cheese
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, grated, plus additional for topping
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
  • parsley, to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Split each spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and then scoop out the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon. Fill the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with water, and place the squash cut side down on the sheet. Bake until the squash is tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and add the garlic. Saute until fragrant, and then add the flour, whisking to combine.
  3. Add the milk gradually, whisking to break up lumps, and continue to heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens. Add the cream cheese and stir to incorporate. Remove from the heat, and add the parmesan, stirring to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When the spaghetti squash are done, remove from the oven and drain the water from the baking sheet. Flip them over and, using a fork, scrape the insides to create that “spaghetti” texture, leaving just a little flesh around the outsides so the squash holds together.
  5. Preheat the broiler. Spoon the sauce into each squash half, and toss and stir to combine, so that the filling is well-coated with the sauce. Sprinkle each squash half with a bit of parmesan, crushed red pepper and parsley (if desired). Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese on top begins to brown and bubble. Enjoy!

 

Crock Pot Potato Soup

You guys. It is still so hot. But, I have it on good authority that fall has come to other parts of the country, and that it may soon make an appearance here! If Starbucks has pumpkins spice lattes, it must be true — right?

Anyway, if you’re ready for soup weather (and boy am I ever), hop on over to LiveMom and check out my latest post with a delicious recipe for crock pot potato soup.

potato soup

It’s easy to throw together, delicious and comforting — perfect for fall. Enjoy!

Eggplant Stir Fry with Green Beans and Cashews

I don’t usually write about stir frys, since I tend to put them together often, and on the fly, with no real recipe to speak of. This time, however, I was feeling inspired to try something a little different with the Chinese eggplant we scored in the CSA box. I had been flipping through an issue os Vegetarian Times, and I came across an article on eggplant, complete with a recipe for Eggplant Stir Fry with Green Beans and Cashews.

eggplant stir fry

I’m not usually one to shop for stir fry ingredients, either, but this sounded so delicious — and I was admittedly lacking any green vegetables in the fridge to throw in — that I decided to give it a whirl. I’m glad I sucked it up and bought green beans, because this was a wonderful dish, and one we’ll definitely be enjoying again. The hubby raved, and Nora, who has scarcely tried a bite of anything I’ve cooked for the past three days (sigh) nibbled at it a bit… and then settled for plain rice instead. Can’t win ‘em all. I did eat her leftovers, though, so at least there’s that.

Eggplant Stir Fry with Green Beans and Cashews
Author: 
Cuisine: asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
For sauce:
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
For stir fry:
  • 8 oz (about 1 cup) fresh green beans, snipped
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2-3 Chinese or Japanese eggplant, sliced crosswise on the diagonal
  • 1 carrot, sliced crosswise on the diagonal
  • 2 green onions, sliced crosswise on the diagonal
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • Crispy fried tofu (about 8 oz before cooking, prepared ahead)
  • Cashews for serving
  • Brown rice for serving
Instructions
  1. Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar and Sriracha together in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.
  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a rapid boil in a small pot, and blanch the green beans, about 3-4 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and rinse with cold water Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the eggplant and stir fry for a few minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the carrots and stir fry for an additional minute or two, and then cover with a lid and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and add the green onions, garlic and ginger, and stir for 30 seconds. Add the green beans and the sauce, plus a splash of the green bean cooking liquid. Stir until the sauce begins to thicken.
  5. Add the tofu and stir to coat. Cook until warm and fragrant. Serve atop brown rice, topped with a handful of cashews.

 

Vegetarian Tamale Pie

Ah, tamale pie. I confess I hadn’t ever made it before, but now that I’ve given it a shot, it’s bound to become a regular feature on our weeknight table. Not only is it quick and easy to pull together, but it also serves as a “kitchen sink” meal for veggies I have a lot of — like summer squash and zucchini. Oh, and it’s delicious.

Vegetarian Tamale Pie ~ Gourmet Veggie Mama

I used a yellow crookneck squash and a zucchini here, plus some roasted sweet peppers, but you could play around with it and add all kinda of fun stuff, depending on what you have on hand. The corn was a must, though — we had some sweet corn that the hubby had grilled a couple of weeks earlier, removed from the cob and frozen, and it was perfect in the filling. Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Vegetarian Tamale Pie
Author: 
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
For filling:
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 colored sweet peppers, roasted (if desired), stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced into half-moons
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
For crust:
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 cups cornmeal
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top
Instructions
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the peppers, zucchini and summer squash, along with the chili powder and cumin. Saute until softened.
  2. Add the beans, mashing with a potato masher as you incorporate them, and the salt, tomato paste, black olives and corn.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease an 8×8 glass pan.
  4. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and then the cornmeal gradually, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook, stirring, until thickened and beginning to boil. Add the salt and chili powder.
  5. Spread half of the cornmeal mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the baking dish. Spread the filling mixture over the cornmeal mixture evenly, and top with ½ cup cheese.
  6. Drop and spread the remaining cornmeal mixture over the top. Top with additional cheese to your taste. Bake for 35-45 minutes, and serve warm.

 

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