Posts tagged ‘Entrees’

Creamy BBQ Pasta

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The weather has turned cold around here, and autumn is upon us in all of its chilly, rainy glory. So it’s comfort food for us, the kind that warms you up and makes you happy to be watching the rain fall outside.

This pasta is creamy, tasty comfort food at its best and (thanks to the yogurt, which cuts down on the cheese and eliminates the need for cream) it’s also not terribly unhealthy. The BBQ sauce and peppers provide a little taste of summer to a dish that we will be eating all winter long.

Creamy BBQ Pasta
Makes 2 Large Servings

1 cup dry whole wheat pasta, a short variety like penne or macaroni
3 cups water
½ teaspoon oil
1 cup bell pepper chopped (about 1 medium pepper)
½ cup cooked pinto beans (canned beans work fine)
½ cup corn kernels
1 clove garlic
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon prepared BBQ Sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In a medium pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add pasta and stir a few times to prevent sticking. Boil about 8 minutes or until pasta is the consistency you like. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the peppers and saute on medium heat until they are softened and the edges are just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cooked pasta, peppers, corn, beans, garlic, yogurt, cilantro, and BBQ sauce. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the cheese, and serve immediately.
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February 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm 3 comments

Creamy Pesto Pasta

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Friends, I present you with not such a great picture of a very delicious dish. I was inspired by a friend who cooked a similar dinner for us in the summer, and I thought that I could make my version a little bit lighter (and use up my cream cheese!) by subbing in cream cheese for heavy cream. It worked perfectly, resulting in a thick, creamy, but not-too-heavy sauce. The fresh taste of the vegetables balances this dish nicely, and it is heavenly when served with some garlic bread, a simple green salad, a nice white wine. You can make your own pesto, of course, but premade pesto makes this so easy to throw together. It’s your call. Either way, you’re in for a scrumptious meal.

Creamy Pesto Pasta
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

3 cups dry whole wheat pasta, a short shape like penne or fusilli
6 cups of water
¾ cup pesto, store-bought or homemade
½ cup Neufchatel cheese or cream cheese
2 cups mixed vegetables, finely chopped
(I used ½ cup each of carrots, broccoli, peas, and bell peppers)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In the meantime, cut up your veggies into small bite-sized pieces. (The vegetables I used worked really well, but I can also imagine green beans, asparagus, mushrooms, or zucchini being especially good in this dish.)
  3. In a large pan, combine the cheese and pesto and heat on low until the cheese is melted. Stir constantly during this process to mix the pesto and cheese.
  4. Add the veggies to the sauce and cook about 5 minutes, or until the veggies are tender but still bright and slightly crisp.
  5. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.

January 23, 2010 at 11:57 pm 1 comment

Wintertime BBQ Tacos

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Back to school! That means simple, hearty recipes that will keep us going all day long, and tacos are among our favourites. This recipe may look a bit complicated, but don’t be fooled! It’s actually really simple to put together and it makes lots, so you can enjoy it for a few days after the initial work. Each of the elements in these tacos are also delicious on their own. The coleslaw makes an excellent side dish that travels well to picnics and potlucks, and the bbq peppers and tofu are great as a main dish served over rice or couscous. They are extra delicious in these tacos, though, where the tang of the coleslaw stands out against the subtle sweetness of the BBQ sauce, and the yogurt provides a creaminess that makes it all come together.

Wintertime BBQ Tacos
10 small corn or flour tortillas
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup prepared salsa
1 recipe bbq peppers and tofu (below)
1 recipe cilantro-lime coleslaw (below)

  1. Prepare the BBQ Peppers and Tofu. While they are cooking, prepare the coleslaw.
  2. Fill each tortilla with some of the peppers, tofu, coleslaw, yogurt, and salsa. Fold and enjoy!

BBQ Peppers and Tofu
1 lb. tofu, cubed (about 2 cups)
2 bell peppers, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 large onion, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 cup BBQ sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Slice the peppers and onion and cube the tofu.
  3. In the baking dish, toss the veggies and tofu with the BBQ sauce.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Cilantro-Lime Coleslaw
4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced (or 1 bag of shredded cabbage)
1½ cups cooked or canned black beans
1½ cups cooked or canned corn
½ cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
¼ cup olive oil
1½ cups cilantro leaves (1 bunch of cilantro)
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
¼ teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a blender (or using a hand blender), combine the lime juice, oil, cilantro, honey, cumin, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, corn, and beans together with the dressing.

BBQ Peppers and Tofu recipe borrowed from The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet by Nava Atlas.

January 11, 2010 at 10:51 pm 1 comment

Simple Potato Soup

This is the soup that my family eats every year on Christmas Eve or sometimes on New Year’s Eve. It’s a super-simple soup with very few ingredients, and part of the fun is adding garnishes to your own bowl at the table. If you want to forego the garnishes, though, it’s still delicious and warming – especially with a bit of green salad and a hunk of crusty bread.

By the way, I’m sorry my posting has been so sporadic this semester. I’m hoping to get back to regular posting now, but we’ll see how this next semester goes!

Simple Potato Soup
Makes 4 – 6 Servings

1 large leek, washed and sliced (white and green parts) – about 1½ cups
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and chopped (unpeeled if you like) – about 3 cups
4 cups vegetable broth
½ cup soymilk or cream (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnishes:
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced green onions
fresh (or dried) dill
sour cream or plain yogurt

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the leek, stirring until the green parts are wilted and the white parts are translucent and separated (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft enough to be mashed easily.
  3. Blend with an immersion blender or potato masher until smooth.
  4. Add cream or milk (if using) and salt and pepper.
  5. Garnish as desired.

December 27, 2009 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment

Ethiopian Lentils and Crepes

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This week, I solved two of my long-standing culinary dilemmas. First, what to put in dinner crepes besides sauteed veggies and cheese, and second, how to enjoy Ethiopian food at home without the traditional flatbread injera, which is so central to Ethiopian cuisine. When the problems are posed together like that, the answer is simple of course: serve Ethiopian dishes in crepes!

I tried it this week and it was delicious! The crepes stood in beautifully for injera and the lentils made a scrumptious filling for dinner crepes. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making crepes, this particular lentil dish is also really good with couscous or even served on rolls like sloppy joes.

Savoury Crepes
Makes 16 crepes, Serves 8

3 eggs (ener-G egg replacer also works well here)
1½ cups soymilk or milk
2 Tablespoons oil
1½ cups whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt

  1. Using an electric mixer or blender, mix the eggs (or egg replacer) and milk until frothy.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix to combine well.
  3. Let chill for at least 1½ hour before using.
  4. After chilling, lightly grease a medium pan and heat over medium-high heat.
  5. When the pan is heated, pour in about ½ cup of batter and tilt the pan until the batter covers the bottom.
  6. Cook until the edges are solid and the crepe begins to bubble, about 1 minute.
  7. Flip and cook the other side about 30 seconds. Set aside and repeat, greasing the pan between every three crepes or so.

Mesir Wat (Ethiopian Red Lentil Puree)
Makes 8 Servings

¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne powder
½ lb. red lentils
3 cups water

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot (the lentils will expand quite a bit; you need a bigger pot than you might think). Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add spices and stir to coat the onions. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the water and bring to a boil. When it is boiling, add the lentils and stir to prevent sticking. Simmer for 30 – 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender and mushy and the water is absorbed.
  4. If desired, you can puree the mixture (an immersion blender works especially well for this).
  5. Place about ½ cup of lentil mixture in each crepe just before eating and roll them up. Serve topped with yogurt and hot sauce, if desired.

October 17, 2009 at 7:13 pm 2 comments

Parmesan-Tarragon Crusted Tofu

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This recipe is one of my favourites for simple, healthy comfort food. It’s based on my mom’s recipe for “breadcrumb chicken,” which my whole family loves. When I asked her for the recipe so that I could make a vegetarian version, I couldn’t believe how simple it was!

The tofu comes out a little bit drier than chicken, so I like to marinate it before breading and I usually serve this dish with some kind of sauce. In fact, one of the things I like best about the recipe is that it can be made really sophisticated with one sauce (say, a romesco sauce or even a good-quality pasta sauce) or really low-key and fun with a something else (we use honey mustard dressing to bring out the potential “vegetarian chicken fingers” flavour of the dish). If you are serving this to kids (or fun-loving adults), you can cut the tofu with cookie cutters before breading to make it into fun shapes – like stars or hearts or even dinosaurs.

Parmesan-Tarragon Crusted Tofu
Serves 4 – 6

1 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu
2 cups vegetable broth or water
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon dried tarragon, crumbled
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  1. Cut tofu into 16  pieces. (I usually cut the whole block lengthwise to make the slices thinner. Then I cut each of those blocks in half, and use diagonal cuts to make each of the halves into 4 triangles. If you use cookie cutters, you may not get as many pieces out of a single block of tofu, but the fun is still worth it).
  2. Mix broth (or water) and soy sauce in a resealable container and add tofu. Add more water to cover if necessary. Marinate for 2 hours, or overnight (whatever you have time for).
  3. After the tofu has marinated, preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet and set it aside.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, tarragon, and pepper in a shallow bowl.
  5. Drain the tofu. Drag each piece through the breadcrumb mixture, making sure it is well coated on all sides.
  6. Place breaded tofu on the cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes on each side (or until it is golden-brown).
  7. Serve with desired sauce. (We usually eat this dish with a green salad and sweet potato fries or mashed potatoes).

September 19, 2009 at 1:55 pm 1 comment

Tacos: Rice, Beans, and Greens

Tacos

These tacos represent a coming together of some of our favorite side dish recipes. The flavours in each (garlic in the spinach, cumin in the rice, rich dark beer in the beans) come together for a satisfying, complex mouthful of taco goodness.

That being said, this recipe can look a little intimidating given all of its various elements. Each of the recipes are quite easy, and I’ve included instructions for timing everything so that it takes the least effort and all comes together at the same time. If you are short on time or energy, though, you can use store-bought prepared beans (I especially like Trader Joe’s canned “Cuban Black Beans” but any brand of baked beans should work if you can’t get those). You’ll need about 2 cans.

This recipe can be easily doubled and is great for a fun, laid-back dinner party. Have your guests make their own tacos from the ingredients you’ve prepared. The different elements keep well in the fridge for about a week. Just keep them in separate containers and put tacos together whenever you want them.

Tacos: Rice, Beans, and Greens

10 small flour tortilla shells or taco shells
1 recipe cumin garlic rice (below)
1 recipe beer-stewed beans (below)
1 recipe garlic greens (below)
1 cup salsa, store-bought or homemade
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)
1 cup cheddar or monterey jack cheese, shredded (optional)
1 avocado, sliced (optional)
hot sauce to taste (optional)

  1. Put the rice on first, because it takes the longest and doesn’t need supervision.
  2. Next, work on the beans. They are better the longer they simmer. When they are done (if you aren’t), just turn the heat off and put a lid on the pot.
  3. Do the spinach last, because it doesn’t take long and it shouldn’t be over-cooked.
  4. Gather the rest of the ingredients, and put together your tacos as you eat. Enjoy!

Cumin-Garlic Rice
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2¼ cup water (or follow instructions on your rice cooker)
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced

  1. Put all ingredients in rice cooker and cook according to manufacturer directions for 1 cup of brown rice. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can find instructions for cooking brown rice in a pot here.

Beer-Stewed Beans
(Adapted from Vegetarian 5 Ingredient Gourmet by Nava Atlas)

4 cups pinto beans or black beans or kidney beans (cooked or canned)
1 cup tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup beer (preferably a dark beer)
½ cup vegetable broth
½ cup cilantro, minced

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Garlic Greens
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
10 oz. fresh spinach or other greens (collards, kale, chard, bok choy, etc.)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar or red wine vinegar or white wine

  1. In a large pot or wok, heat oil and add garlic, sauteeing until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add spinach and vinegar or wine, and cook until spinach is bright green, and has reduced to about a quarter of its original size (about 5 minutes).

August 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm Leave a comment

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