Posts tagged ‘Pasta’

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.

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

Fiesta Macaroni Bean Salad

IMG_8341We had friends over for dinner last night, and we decided to mark the closing of summer with all of our favourite summer foods. Baked beans were there, along with corn on the cob, and rosemary roasted potatoes shared the oven (and our plates) with fabulously simple roasted asparagus – but this pasta salad was the star of the show.

I love it because it has the creaminess of a mayonnaise-based pasta salad, without either the flavour or the texture of the mayo taking over the dish. The whole wheat pasta, along with generous portions of beans and veggies, add texture and flavour that is sometimes lacking in pasta salads.

I should be up front with you, though: this recipe is not mine. It comes to you (only very slightly modified) from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer (who also co-wrote How it All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan, the books that taught me how to cook and how to be vegan. I still use a lot of those lessons, even as I’ve added some dairy and the occasional egg back into my diet). All three cookbooks are favourites of mine; worth checking out both for their basic recipes and for their more elaborate dishes (like this one). My only complaint is the portion estimation. Every recipe in La Dolce Vegan claims to make “2 large or 4 small servings.” While the recipes vary, I find that most make 6 – 8 servings, but maybe that’s just me.

Fiesta Macaroni Bean Salad

3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta (macaroni or fusilli work well)
6 cups water
½ teaspoon olive oil
1 large carrot, grated or diced (about ½ cup)
1 small bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cups kidney beans or pinto beans (or 1 – 19oz. can, drained)
1 cup corn kernels
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup mayonnaise (I really like vegan Vegenaise)
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, or to taste
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

  1. In a large pot, bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, 6 – 8 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with olive oil to avoid sticking. Set aside to cool.
  2. When the pasta is completely cool, toss it together with all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for a few hours first. Keeps well for a few days in the fridge.

September 12, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Curried Tofu Mac & Cheese

img_6656Inspired by a scrumptious trip to S’MAC in New York, Sean and I decided to try out our own mac & cheese creation with the motley crew of leftovers hanging around our fridge. The result was delicious, and successful in quelling our desire to go back to S’MAC immediately. The list of ingredients is long. So long, in fact, that I considered leaving this recipe unposted. The preparation is really simple, though, and you can play around with spices and ingredients to suit your pantry’s capacities. The serving size for this recipe is relatively small, because we found the dish particularly filling – and because we wanted to eat it with giant piles of steamed asparagus, which is highly recommended.

Curried Tofu Mac & Cheese
Makes 4 smallish servings

1 cup uncooked macaroni pasta
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. ginger, finely grated
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup cornmeal (plus additional 2 tsp. for variation)
1 cup tomato, chopped
½ tsp. mustard seeds, optional
½ tsp. fenugreek seeds, optional
½ tsp. cumin
1½ tsp. garam masala or curry powder
½ cup vegetable broth or water
2 Tbsp. coconut milk
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1  cup aged cheddar cheese, shredded (plus additional 1 cup for variation)
1 tsp. sriracha or other hot sauce, plus additional for garnish

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Saute the garlic, ginger and onion until onion is translucent. Add tofu and saute until browned on both sides. Add cornmeal with seeds and spices, stirring to coat. Sautee until the tofu is well-coated and the spices begin to release their fragrances.
  3. Add cooked macaroni to the pot, with the coconut milk, broth, nutritional yeast, cilantro and sriracha. Add 1 cup cheese gradually, stirring constantly.
  4. Optional: Preheat oven to  400F. Spoon mac & cheese into four oven proof bowls. Sprinkle an additional ¼ cup cheese plus ½ tsp cornmeal for each bowl and bake 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

March 15, 2009 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

Classic Spinach Lasagna

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Mmmm… lasagna! Another in a long repertoire of hearty winter meals that last all week long. This recipe makes about 12 servings, but it freezes well if you don’t think you can get through all of that in one go. This is my most basic version, but I believe that it could be made vegan or gluten free with slight alterations. To veganize, try replacing the ricotta with additional tofu and omitting the mozarella. To go gluten free, try replacing the pasta with thinly sliced eggplant.

Classic Spinach Lasagna
Serves 12

1 head garlic
1½ tsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. lasagne noodles, preferably whole wheat
6 cups marinara sauce (2 – 750 ml jars)
2 cups ricotta cheese (1 pint or 500 ml)
1 cup medium-firm tofu, mashed
10 oz. spinach (thawed if frozen, stemmed and cooked if fresh)
3 roasted red peppers (1 – 16oz. jar), drained and chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1½ cup mozzarella or aged white cheddar

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the top off the bulb of garlic and peel away any loose layers. Rub with oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. of oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking. Boil about 10 minutes, or until cooked, and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, tofu, spinach, herbs and peppers.
  5. Assemble lasagne. Lightly oil a 9×13 pan. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of the pan. Cover with noodles, and spread  with ½ the ricotta mixture, 1 cup sauce, and ½ cup mozzarella. Repeat with additional noodles, ricotta mixture, sauce and mozzarella. Cover with remaining noodles, sauce and mozzarella.
  6. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake ten more minutes  to let the cheese get bubbly.

February 26, 2009 at 11:03 pm Leave a comment

Pasta d’Hiver

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I was craving some pasta primavera this week, just as the temperatures dropped and I finally had to break out my early-winter coat. Knowing that I couldn’t head to the farmer’s market for fresh spring vegetables, I did the next best thing and went to my freezer for peas, asparagus spears and broccoli to toss with pasta and some fine cheeses. If you didn’t manage to put up freezer vegetables for winter, don’t worry. Some commercial frozen vegetables are really high quality these days (I’m especially partial to the Europe’s Best and Trader Joe’s brands), and frozen vegetables are just as good for you as the fresh versions available in the spring. Frozen vegetables from local sources are also a great alternative to the fresh produce that is being flown in from farther and farther away at this time of year.

Rather than making a traditional cream sauce, I tossed the pasta here with cheese, butter and vegetables. It’s (slightly) lower in fat and I enjoy the texture and sharper taste.

Pasta d’Hiver
Serves 4 – 6

8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1½ cups frozen broccoli
1 cup frozen asparagus
1 cup frozen peas
3 Tbsp. butter
¾ cup Feta cheese
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. dried dill
¼ tsp. lemon zest (optional)

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta, cooking until al dente, about 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, snap the frozen asparagus into 1 inch pieces.
  3. When the pasta is just about done, add the vegetables and cook until thawed and heated through, about 2 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta and vegetables and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Toss with butter, cheeses and spices, adjusting as necessary.

November 27, 2008 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

Veggie Noodle Soup

I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday, so I needed something quick, easy and nourishing for dinner. This soup was incredibly easy to make and totally hit the chicken-noodle-soup-for-vegetarians spot. Serve with crusty bread and butter and you are ready to cozy up under a warm blanket and watch your favorite DVDs.

Veggie Noodle Soup
Makes 2 Big Servings

1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth (“Better Than Bouillon” is great here)
1 cup dry short whole wheat pasta (penne, fusilli, macaroni, etc.)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Chop the carrot, celery and garlic. This is so easy if you use the food processor. Do it – you’re sick.
  2. In a medium pot, heat the olive oil.
  3. Add the carrot, celery and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Get well soon.

Tip: Since so many winter recipes start with “one onion, one carrot, one celery stalk” and since it’s not always easy (or cheap) to get carrots or celery stalks one at a time, we like to buy in bulk and make a frozen mixture for easy cooking later. Buy a 3lb. bag of onions, two 2lb. bags of carrots and 1 big bunch of celery. Chop them up super-finely in a food processor (big chunks tend to get soggy when they thaw) and saute in a large pot with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil until tender. Drain if necessary and let cool before packing them up in freezer safe containers and freezing for later. Then, take out about 1 cup every time a recipe calls for “one onion, one carrot, one celery stalk.” It’s so easy and cuts down on prep work for your other recipes. I also like to liven up plain rice by cooking it in vegetable broth and adding about ½ cup of these veggies at the beginning of the cooking time.

September 27, 2008 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment

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*All entries tagged "vegan" and "gluten free" meet those dietary requirements to the best of my knowledge as long as the vegan or gluten free instructions are followed (where applicable). It is always wise to double-check ingredients (especially when dealing with packaged foods) and to confirm ingredients and preparation methods at restaurants.