Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Weeknight Meals

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!

 

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!

 

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 8x8 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.

 

Ultimate Baked Potatoes

Okay, so I fully admit it is not baked potato weather. We’re going on a streak of 100-degree days here, and I don’t love turning the oven on.

On the other hand, I am loving potatoes right now, and sometimes, when I’m having a blah day,* a baked potato is the only thing that sounds good. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered a recipe that not only promised to deliver the tastiest baked potato possible (with butter and cheese cooked right into it!), but also cut down cooking time by a third.

Perfect Baked Potato

* Yes, I still have them occasionally, and yes, I’m taking about nausea/food aversions. This pregnancy has been difficult, especially with the heat, but I’m coping — and it could be a lot worse. But carbs are still my friends a lot of the time.

Of course I tried it at the earliest possible opportunity, and — there’s no better way to say it — these potatoes were awesome. The other members of my family, neither or whom has ever been as enthusiastic about baked potatoes as I am, loved them too.

Mom to Bed by 8 offers a great tutorial here, but I tweaked it just a little bit (and not in the direction of making it any healthier, I’m afraid — quite the opposite). So I’ll share my version here, too, but hop on over there to get a step-by-step feel for how you should be doing things. I don’t think you’ll ever make baked potatoes the “old way” again!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Ultimate Baked Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: weeknight meal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 large baking potatoes*
  • Butter
  • Cheese, sliced
  • Sour cream, chives, salt and pepper and any other ingredients you desire for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Wash and dry the potatoes. Using a sharp knife, but ¼-inch slices into each potato, crosswise, but don't cut all the way through to the bottom.Leave enough flesh to keep the potato together (think accordion-style).
  3. Stuff each of the slits you've just made with butter and cheese, alternately. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet (make a little foil "boat" to keep things neat if you want -- I did) and bake for 35 minutes.
  4. Add additional shredded cheese to the potatoes and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are cooked perfectly.
  5. Remove from the oven and cool slightly, then add your additional toppings -- I recommend a healthy dollop of sour cream and chives, if you have them, plus salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

 *Or as many servings as you would like to prepare.

Weeknight Enchiladas

Enchiladas around our house are usually a weekend project. I do love me some chard enchiladas, but they do tend to be more time-intensive. The other night, though, I wanted enchiladas, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time. Enter weeknight enchiladas.

Oh yeah, you can totally pull off enchiladas on a weeknight. You just have to be choosy with your ingredients. These are simple cheese enchiladas (studded with black olives for extra fun) smothered in a flavorful red sauce.*

Weeknight Enchiladas ~ Gourmet Veggie Mama

*Excuse the photo quality. These are the leftovers (which Nora and I were lucky enough to enjoy for lunch the next day), since I originally deemed this meal not “blog-worthy.” Then the hubby convinced me otherwise, and I’m glad he did, since it’s a handy little recipe.

Is it better if you make your own sauce? Absolutely. Do you have to? Not if you’re short on time and have access to good pre-prepared enchilada sauce. The only ones I’ve found that passes the taste test are Frontera‘s line of enchilada sauces. They come in a pouch rather than a can, and both the red chile and the green chile varieties are delicious — and, most importantly, don’t taste canned. (No, I was not compensated for saying that — I just like their stuff.)

You can pull these enchiladas off, start to finish, in 30 minutes. Can’t beat that! Serve them with a dollop of sour cream on top, plus refried beans and rice on the side. I like to jazz up plain brown rice with a can of green chiles and tomatoes (drained) and a bit of tomato paste. Enjoy!

Weeknight Enchiladas
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz colby jack cheese (can substitute cheddar or jack cheese)
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 1 pouch Frontera red enchilada sauce
  • 1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
  • olive oil for spraying
  • sour cream for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Shred the cheese and set aside about ¼ to ½ cup for topping the enchiladas.
  2. Spray an enchilada pan with oil and keep it handy. Heat a griddle or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray or brush the first tortilla on one side and place, oiled side down, on the griddle. Spray or brush the other side, while heating, and then flip. Remove from the heat and place in the enchilada pan.
  3. Working while the tortilla is still hot (but cool enough to handle), fill the center of the tortilla with cheese and roll it up. Place it seam side down in the enchilada pan, and repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.
  4. When the pan is full, spread the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with black olives and the reserved cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until warm and bubbly. Serve topped with sour cream.

 

20-Minute Homemade Tomato Soup

The days of soup-and-grilled cheese lunches are fading fast, with temps breaking into the 90s here in Austin (already — ugh!), but we may just have a few rainy days left in April. Last week, we had a few gray, chilly-ish days, and grilled cheese and tomato soup was just what the doctor ordered. However, we didn’t have any canned tomato soup on hand, so I decided to improvise. And you know what? I’m probably never going to bother to buy canned tomato soup again. This was creamy, delicious and almost as easy as the canned kind.

20-Minute Homemade Tomato Soup ~ Gourmet Veggie Mama

Sure, you could just open a can, but this is so much better and it only takes a few minutes more. This soup also freezes well, so next time we have a rainy day, all I’ll have to do is thaw it out. Golden.

Try it on your next rainy day!

5.0 from 1 reviews
20-Minute Homemade Tomato Soup
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 28-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup cream
  • parmesan rind (if available)
  • ½ tsp herbes de provence
Instructions
  1. Combine the tomatoes and stock in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir in the cream and toss in the parmesan rind (if using) and the herbes de provence, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, remove the rind, and blend using an immersion blender (or cool slightly and blend in a conventional blender).
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with a grilled cheese, and enjoy!

 

 

Chard Pasta with Ricotta

We all have those days… You know, where everyone is running late to everything, dinner doesn’t get prepped like you planned, and the easy way out is to just pick something up. I will admit having succumbed to the takeout impulse plenty of times, but a little while ago, after having one of those days, I shot down hubby’s suggestion to “just get takeout” and set about improvising.

Sometimes improvised meals turn out to be the best. We had chard growing in the backyard (it’s the gift that keeps on giving!), stuff to make a batch of homemade ricotta, and I always keep pasta in the pantry and good-quality parmesan in the fridge. That was all I really needed to make this delicious pasta with a creamy sauce happen, and, guess what? It was better than takeout, not to mention healthier. Win!

Chard Pasta with Ricotta ~ Gourmet Veggie Mama

Now, can someone please remind me of this next time we have one of those days?

Chard Pasta with Ricotta
Author: 
Recipe type: pasta
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz spaghetti (preferably whole wheat)
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch chard, tough stems removed, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • homemade ricotta (recipe here)
Instructions
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the chard and cook until wilted but still bright green. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for a couple minutes more.
  3. Stir in the cooked pasta along with the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil and a nice splash of the pasta water, and add the parmesan.
  4. Lower the heat and stir until the cheese is incorporated and a thin sauce coats the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve topped with a healthy dollop of ricotta.

 

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The Peaceful Mom

Quinoa Bowl

Sometimes all you need for a great weeknight meal is a solid formula. Here’s my new favorite:

Grain + Greens + Root Vegetable + Sauce + Protein = Yum

quinoa bowl

You’re welcome.

This formula was inspired by the Buddha bowl, which is my favorite dish at The Steeping Room. Not too long ago, I made a bowl with red quinoa, sautéed kale, roasted sweet potatoes and fried halloumi, all topped off with some sriracha and soy sauce. Perhaps tofu would have gone better with the Asian-style saucing here, but I had to work with what we had in the fridge. Plus halloumi is delicious!

Any grain will do (I prefer quinoa or farro myself), and you can go with tofu, a fried or poached egg and/or beans to add protein. In the summer, add baby greens or sliced avocado in lieu of the cooked greens and sweet potato. Get creative with sauces to mix up the flavors — think a tangy vinaigrette, or maybe a copycat of The Steeping Room’s famous cashew sauce. Have fun! I know I’ll be experimenting with this formula for a while.

Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes

I am starting to love twice-baked potatoes. Not the smallest reason is that they are easy to make ahead and then finish off right before dinner time. When I saw Kitchen Treaty’s recipe for Greek yogurt and chive twice-baked potatoes, I wanted to try them ASAP, and then I stumbled on a baked potato casserole recipe on Pinterest, and the rest is history. I made my very own Frankenstein version combining these dishes, and it was perfect.

Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes

The Greek yogurt, aside from adding creaminess to the filling, also packs a protein punch, and it’s tasty to boot. Add some sharp cheddar (I used Dubliner cheese leftover from my last twice-baked potato adventure, but any good sharp cheese will do), sautéed mushrooms and onions, and broccoli, and we’re in business. I would love to say that I served this as a put-together meal with a side salad or some roasted kale, but, alas, it was a busy night, and the fact that the potatoes already had veggies in the filling won out, and I just called it a complete meal in itself.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus additional for oiling pan
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1½ cups sharp cheddar, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly oil a large casserole dish, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, and arrange then cut-side down in the dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Flip the potatoes, pierce them with a fork and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, caramelize the onion. In a large sauté pan, melt 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook the onion over medium heat for until soft and translucent. Lower the heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
  4. Return the heat to medium and add the garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broccoli and saute for a minute or two more.
  5. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop most of the flesh out, leaving about ¼ inch so that the potato skin holds its shape, and place the insides in a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp butter and the Greek yogurt and mash well.
  6. Stir in 1 cup of the cheddar and the onion-mushroom-broccoli mixture and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Scoop the potato mixture back into the potato skins, mounding over. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar and arrange the potatoes in the same casserole dish.*
  8. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve warm.
Notes
* If you want to make these ahead and finish baking them right before dinner, stop here and refrigerate the potatoes. Simply add about 5 minutes to the cooking time.

 

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