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Posts Tagged ‘spinach’

In a perfect world you would always have a vibrantly green basil plant growing on your kitchen windowsill, and ¼ cup of olive oil and ½ cup of pine nuts wouldn’t affect your hips at all. In my world, however, I have yet to plant some basil, the grocery store charges out the wazoo for it, and 102 grams of fat in one pan of pasta scares the bigeezes out of me. So I gave my friend pesto a little face lift. It’s still a work in progress, but it wasn’t bad the first time out of the gate, especially since I pretty much closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and resolved myself to eat whatever despicable mess would turn out to be my dinner since I had no idea what I was doing. It didn’t turn out so bad though…

A long time ago I saw an asparagus pesto recipe on the FFV. Yesterday I was trying to figure out what the hell to make for dinner when little butternut squashes started dancing around in my head. “Hmmm…,” I said to myself, “Why not?”  But before I begin I wish not to lead you astray so let me warn you that it would taste a lot better with all that olive oil in it, not to mention fresh basil (definitely go get some fresh basil), but the 30-some-odd grams of fat in my sauce pan is worth the missing flavor of the other 70ish.  That’s 30-some-odd divided by 4 meals by the way, just remember that (you do need some fat or you will kick the bucket).

ButternutSpinachPesto

So basically I cubed up a small (1-1.5 lbs) butternut squash (I know you can’t see it, that spinachy green overtook every bit of orange), seasoned it with salt, pepper, basil, etc. and pan-fried it for about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile I ground up 1/3 cup of whole raw almonds and 5 cloves garlic in a food processor.  I added about 1 T olive oil, 1-2 T lemon juice, 2 T water, 1/8 – 1/4 C white wine, 1 T dried basil, 1-2 tsp oregano, and salt and pepper.  Then I added about 2 cups packed baby spinach (this is where you would rather use fresh basil – and if so omit the dried stuff).  I pulsed all that up in the Cuisinart and once the butternut squash was cooked and cooled enough I threw it in with the rest of the ingredients and pulsed some more.  E va bene! Buon appetito!

I cooked about 12 ounces of spaghetti and there was a little pesto left over, which turned out to be pretty tasty on a tortilla chip.

This recipe isn’t perfect, but it’s a good base and a good way to incorporate more veggies into a pasta dish.  Be creative!  I would try adding some nutritional yeast if you make it.  If you have a larger squash reserve some of the pan-fried pieces so you have some texture in your dish.

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Typically I’d have some witty repartee to greet you with, or I think I’m witty… anyway, but as I’ve just spent far too many minutes simply typing out the recipe, my brain is shot.  Tonight’s dinner:

IMG_2149

  • 6oz silken tofu
  • ¼ C whole, raw cashews or almonds
  • 1 T olive oil or grape seed oil
  • 1 C soy milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ C white wine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Rosemary, oregano, basil, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Red pepper flakes, optional
  • Onion powder, to taste
  • ¼ C water, if it appears to be too thick
  • Dab of mustard
  • ½ C nutritional yeast (large flake)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 T rice flour (or sorghum, wheat, white, etc.)
  • 2 T ground flaxseed and 6 T hot water
  • 10oz frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 jar or can of artichokes hearts, drained and rinsed
  • Half a large zucchini, sliced
  • Bread crumbs from 1-2 slices bread mixed with a little oil and spices
  • 8oz spaghetti

Geez that’s a long list of ingredients!  I had no idea…  You can imagine me spinning around in my kitchen grabbing all these things at various points in my cooking soirée this evening.  Perhaps you can’t actually since you don’t know what my kitchen looks like…  Anyway, the other day, or month rather, I made this pasta pie dish from the Goddess.  It wasn’t bad but the sauce wasn’t quite to my liking.  Due to my recent excursion with an ice cream maker I had half a block of silken tofu sitting in my fridge, begging to be done with – something, anything, it didn’t care.  So we talked and it agreed that tonight it should become a part of dinner.

Let us commence.  Ahem..

For the sauce: place the tofu, cashews, olive oil, and ¼ cup of the soy milk into a blender.  This is where you’re going to connive your way into using the food processor but trust me, the blender gets it better, more smooth that is.  Puree the above until smooth, likely after scraping down the sides a few times with a spatula.  If you’re using rosemary and it’s not already ground up, throw it in the blender as well. 

Spray a little olive oil in a sauce pan over medium/ low – medium heat.  Sautee the garlic for a minute or two until fragrant.  Add the rest of the milk, tofu mixture, wine and stir.  Add the seasonings and mustard.  If the sauce appears too thick add some water, I added ¼ cup.  Next stir, or whisk, in the nutritional yeast.

This would be it for the sauce but since this is going to end up as a “torta” we must make it sticky.  Whisk the ground flaxseed with the hot water, or use Ener-G for 2 eggs.  Add it to the sauce as well as the baking powder and flour.  Now this caused a few lumps in my pan so you may want to consider sifting in the baking powder and flour.  Stir until combined, let simmer a moment, and remove from heat.

Moving on, if you haven’t already cooked your pasta, now’s a good time to do that.  Drain.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350.

If you didn’t previously thaw the spinach, heat a pan over medium heat and put the spinach in to thaw.  I cut the artichokes into eighths and added them to the pan of spinach.  Sautee for a few minutes with some salt, pepper, oregano, etc.  Remove from heat.

You should use a deep pie pan or pyrex, or a spring form pan worked well for me.  Place the drained pasta into the baking dish and add about half the sauce.  Mix it well and try to get the noodles to be spread somewhat evenly.  Arrange the sliced zucchini next in the pan, and dabble some sauce over it.  Next add the spinach and artichokes, cover with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs.*

Bake for about 25 minutes, then turn the broiler on for just a few minutes to brown the top.  Let cool.  Slice.  Enjoy.

*I never buy premade breadcrumbs – it just strikes me as silly.  Toast 1-2 pieces of bread in your toaster and then tear it into pieces and place in a mini food processor, or a blender.  Add some seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, etc.) and a little olive oil and pulse it until crumbly.

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my Lunch

I’m giving you the pre-eaten version, in case you were concerned.  I decided to try to make these: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/03/colcannon-puffs.html.  I subbed spinach for kale as that’s what I had in the ole kitch, and decided some grilled eggplant would be lovely (I ❤ eggplant).  Not so bad.  I would recommend making the potato puffs not so puffy and more pancakey, and also fry them versus baking as I think they will end up crunchier.  I then topped it with my marinara sauce.

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