Garlic Scape Pesto

What’s new lately?  It’s been a while.

We’re gearing up for the summer months, which means much travel and family time for me.  This year, we’re heading up to Bar Harbor for a week prior to my cousin’s wedding.  After that, a week in Wildwood, New Jersey, building sand castles and visiting family.  And finally, at the end of the summer, my sister is getting married!!

Also part of the summer months, enjoying all the great things from our garden!  This year, we planted sugar peas, which are ready to be picked, Romaine lettuce, sprinach, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, dill, basil, parsley, and my chives have returned from last year.  As you know, we’re a big veggie eating family, so to supplement, we’ve joined a CSA through Frost Arrow Farm.  I’ve always wanted to join a CSA, but this is the first year doing so.  We’re only in the second week, but I’ve had fun researching and creating meals based on what’s in the box.

garlic scapePhoto Credit:  agardenforthehouse.com

This week’s mysterious visitor was garlic scapes.  Garlic scapes are the part of the garlic plant that you see above the ground.  It’s long and twisty and green.   If you’ve never seen a garlic scape, think Medusa’s hair.  I had fun chasing my boys around the kitchen yelling, “the snakes got me!  Help!”  They just thought I was weird and walked away.  Oh, well.  I’ll be trying a few different recipes with my scapes, but my first use was Garlic Scape Pesto over tortellini.  I have to say, while my breath could kill an army, it turned out really good.  This is definitely not first date fare, but if you are at your local farmer’s market in the next few weeks, and happen to see some scapes, they’re worth trying.

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Garlic Scape Pesto

1 bunch of garlic scapes, cut in two inch pieces.

1 C of parmesan cheese, or more depending on taste

1 C of olive oil

1/2 C walnuts

1 TB lemon juice

black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. 

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Pan-Fried Tofu and Watercress with Lemon Caper Sauce

Phew…long title.

Ok, let’s get ready folks.  It’s Monday, or maybe it’s Tuesday where you are.  Whatever the case may be Thanksgiving is right around the corner…ok, if you live in America…which not all of you do.  Ok, well anyway…I’m gearing up for Thanksgiving and you can come along, too.  

Let’s eat lots of buttery things, and stuffed things, and things smothered in gravy.  Then, for dessert, let’s have one of each.  Then, repeat.  The next day, eat a stuffing sandwich…mmmm.  

But, to do this, we must get ready.  We must prepare our minds, bodies, and souls.  This week, we eat Tofu.  Tofu and Oatmeal.  And, lots of spinach. 

But we’ll make it really tasty, so it will be ok.

Pan-Fried Tofu and Watercress with Lemon Caper Sauce

from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson (Great Cookbook)

1 16 oz package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

Salt and pepper

2 Tb olive oil

1/4 C dry white wine

3 Tb fresh lemon juice

2 Tb capers, drained and chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 bunches watercress, tough stems removed

1. Pat the tofu dry and season with salt and pepper to taste, set aside.

2. Heat 1 Tb olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the tofu and cook in batches until golden brown on both sides, 2-4 minutes per side.  Add the wine, lemon juice, and capers.  Simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

3. Heat the remaining 1 Tb oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the watercress and cook, stirring until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Transfer the watercress to a serving platter or 4 individual plates and arrange the tofu on top.  Drizzle the sauce over the tofu and serve hot.

Meatless Monday: The Ultimate Veggie Burger

 

Before I jump into the recipe, I was pondering Meatless Monday.  Why is it important? Well, we all have families, loved ones, and people who we care for deeply.  They are the reason for Meatless Monday.  

The goal of Meatless Monday is to encourage healthy eating through vegetables and whole grains, so that we can take care of our bodies, and in turn, hopefully live longer and healthier for the ones we love.  I am encouraged by the fact that my two-year old loves Tofu and Edamame.  I count that as a major success!

I have two reasons for making Meatless Mondays a priority.  Here they are:

My babies!  Now, if they’d only stop growing up, that would be wonderful.

So, Meatless Monday…do it for yourself and  your family.  Your body will thank you.

I have tried to make many a veggie burger.  They are usually mushy and bland.  This one was neither.  The use of cashews and mushrooms gives it a meaty flavor without trying to replicate a real hamburger.  Give yourself about an hour for prep, but it is an hour you won’t regret.  Plus, you can freeze the ones you don’t use!  See notes at the end of recipe.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

From Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:
3/4 cup dried brown lentils
3/4 cup bulgur
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp table salt
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup leek or scallion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. cremini or white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup unsalted cashews
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I used light sour cream)
2 cups panko

Instructions: 
Bring lentils to boil in 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, until falling apart. Drain in a mesh strainer, dry and set aside. While lentils are cooking, boil 2 cups of water for bulgur, add bulgur and turn off heat. Let it cook until water is absorbed. Put bulgur aside. In a large pan, heat oil. Add onions, celery, garlic and leek or scallion, and cook for about 8 minutes. Set aside, then add mushrooms to the pan and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. In a food processor, process cashews until fine. Combine cashews, lentils, and bulgur with cooled vegetables and cashews. Add mayonnaise. Food process (pulse) in batches until mixture is cohesive but roughly textured. Stir in panko, and salt and pepper to taste. Form into 12 patties. Cook on the grill or in a pan, about 5 minutes per side. 

**These freeze really well.  You can make them completely, but don’t cook.  If you’re going to freeze, add 1/2 tsp of panko bread crumbs for each patty you are planning on freezing.

 

Meatless Monday: Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh

This recipe was given to me by a great family friend, Mary Jane.  You should eat this for a few reasons.  

1.)  She has beautiful children, and you are what you eat…so…

2.)  This is a smart lady, and again…see above.

3.)  It is muy muy yummy.

4.) Tempeh costs under $3.00.  Chicken Breast can run you well over $6.  That’s double people!  I’m an Elementary School Teacher.  Give me a pat on the back, will ya?

The original recipe can be found here.

You will notice immediately that the pictures at 101 cookbooks are much better than mine, and you’ll then think…oh, that does look good.  Ok, I see what she was saying.  

 

I served mine with Kale and Brown Rice.  This is a super fast weeknight meal, so give it a try!  You’ll like it, I promise 🙂

Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 large juicy oranges)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
roughly 10 ounces of tempeh (or extra-firm tofu)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lime
a handful of cilantro (coriander) leaves

Put the orange juice in a small bowl. Squeeze the grated ginger over the bowl to extract the juices, then discard the pulp. Add the tamari, mirin, and maple syrup, ground coriander, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.

Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into thin-ish, bite-sized pieces, and if working with tofu, pat dry with a paper towel.

Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tempeh and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden underneath. Turn and cook the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden. Pour the orange juice mixture into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a lovely thick glaze. Turn the tempeh once more during this time and spoon the sauce over the tofu from time to time.

Serve the tempeh drizzled with any remaining sauce and a squeeze of lime, with the coriander scattered on top. Heidi note: As I mention in the head notes, I served this over some leftover wheat berries heated with a few handfuls of chopped kale.

Meatless Monday: Autumn Stuffed Acorn Squash

It’s funny how things happen.  I say that for two reasons.  First, I plan my menus for two weeks out, so that I go shopping on paydays and can just pick up little things on off weekends. So, I knew I’d be eating this two weeks prior.  Two weeks ago, it was 90 degrees.  Today, its rainy, 45 degrees, and I have our first fire of the season in my fireplace because I REFUSE to turn on the heat. So, an autumn meal should be in the works.

Second, I got one of those phone calls yesterday, that makes you stop and think.  My mom called me to let me know that my sister, and best friend, was in the hospital.  Her first news was that the doctor’s were doing tests, but that they didn’t know what was wrong with her.  Now, before everyone gets all worried, she was fine.  Just a bad stomach bug…I blame that pesky cantaloupe.  But, it did make me think, what would I do if she wasn’t around?  

People are in our lives for such a finite amount of time.  They can enter quickly, and leave just the same.  The call made me think about our daily phone calls, basement musicals, late night talks when all I wanted to do was go to bed, wedding planning, and so much more.  Its hard to imagine what life would be like without the most important people; the ones that make us who we are, that make us laugh and cry, happy and sad.  But, I guess that it is moments like that phone call, that make us come to that realization, for however fleeting it may be.  

I know that she will read this, so I just want to say, Callie, I love you 🙂  Your my best friend, and I am so happy to have you in my life.  Thanks for all of the times we’ve laughed together, danced together, sang together, and acted like morons in the name of having a good time.  I pray we have many more memories yet to come, and that they are equally as fabulous as those we’ve already shared.

You may be wondering what all this sisterly love has to do with Autumn Stuffed Squash.  Well, I’ll tell you, you lucky dog, you!  My sister has two favorite things.  At least, she did when she was 13.  She may have moved on to something else, but I’m stuck thinking that these are her favorites for eternity.  Her boyfriend will always love Oreos, even if he actually hates them.  I can’t imagine that he does, but I digress…

Her two favorite things are Squash and Goat Cheese.  And guess what!  This has them both!  WOAH!

I won’t bore you any longer with my rants and raves.  Here’s the recipe:

Autumn Stuffed Acorn Squash

Adapted from Kath Eats Real Food

Serves 2

1 Acorn Squash

1 C Wild Rice, prepared (if you don’t have Wild Rice, you should go get some.  Ok, fine, Brown Rice will work too)

1/2 C Chopped Walnuts

1/2 C Dried Cranberries

Pinch of Salt

Dash of Cinnamon

Pinch of Nutmeg

GOAT CHEESE, Yum! Crumbled, of course.

 

Preheat your oven to 375.

Slice your Squash in half, and scoop out the seeds.  

Put the acorn squash flat side down in 1/2 inch of water.  (This would be really good if you drizzled some olive oil on and sprinkled salt, put them flat side down, and roasted for 30-40 minutes, or until soft.  BUT in the name of cutting calories, and fat, we’ll do it this way.) Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until squash is soft.

Hidden Mickey!!

Mix your prepared rice, with the walnuts, cranberries, and spices.  When squash is done, fill the cups with the rice mixture, and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Enjoy!

Have a good Meatless Monday recipe? Please send me an email.  You can find my address at my contacts page!  Thanks!

 

Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Lasagna

Lesson of the Day:

Tomato Paste, you know those little teeny tiny cans you buy in the Italian aisle at the grocery store. The thing that you use like ONE scoop of and throw the rest away. Wasteful. Yes, I’m talking about you.

I saw this amazing recipe on Foodess.com, and it looked so good I had to try it. So, I pulled together my ingredients. Canned diced tomatoes, check. Lasagna Noodles, check. Eggplant and Portobello, check and check. Tomato Paste, AH!! What to do!!

So, with a little help from Seattle Times, I discovered that you can boil down pureed tomatoes until the liquid reduces, and you’re left with that thick paste of tiny containers. SAVED!

Now, I have shared my wisdom; you must pass it on to someone else. You’re welcome. No, no, really. It’s ok. It’s why I do this.

I now present: Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Lasagna: aka, What Dreams are Made of…

A Word of Caution: This is not something you whip together. It is VERY time consuming, but delicious. So, if you’re having company over, this is a dish for you.

First things first, you must chop your veggies. Salt the eggplant generously, and let sit for at least 15 minutes, but longer is better. This will draw out the bitterness of Eggplant and allow it to cook nicely instead of getting goopy and oily (Think Eggplant Parm, YUMMO!)

Then crank that broiler up, and let the veggies char. Flip and broil for a few minutes more. Now you’re ready to move on to the marinara.

Add a generous amount of olive oil to a deep skillet. Let it heat until it shimmers and add your chopped onions. Cook until translucent and divine smelling, and add a heap of minced garlic. Oh, doesn’t that smell nice??? Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste (that you made yourself) to the pot. Sprinkle with salt. Add some spices, basil, oregano, and parsley are good. Let this simmer for at least 20 minutes. If you have one of those food immersion tools, use it. If you don’t (don’t feel bad, I don’t either), put it in your blender and give it a whirl.

Moving on to the spinach and cheese mixture. If you have a food processor, you are awesome. Mine got lost in either my move, or kitchen renovation, but its all for the best. It was terrible. Christmas gift?? Mince the spinach in your food processor and stir in the ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. If you have to use your blender, I added a splash of milk to get things moving. It made a delicious creamy spinach concoction.

We’re ready!! Here we go, time to put it all together!

Let it bake uncovered until the cheese browned and its bubbly. Mmm…that looks good and it tastes even better!

For the full recipe, visit Foodess.com

Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
6 oz spinach (about 6 cups)
1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded (makes 4 cups)
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano (optional, do not substitute the powdery parmesan cheese)
1 recipe Marinara Sauce (below)
1 recipe Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Mushrooms (below)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mince spinach in a food processor, then stir in ricotta or cottage cheese. Set aside. Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13″ by 9″ baking dish, and arrange 3 lasagna noodles over top. Spread another 1 cup of sauce over noodles, and add half of the roasted vegetables and 1/3 of the cheese. Top with 3 more noodles, then the spinach/cottage cheese mixture. Repeat with another layer of sauce, vegetables and cheese. Top with noodles, the remaining sauce, the remainder of the mozzarella, plus the parmagiano reggiano, if using. Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes, and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Basic Marinara Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups diced, canned tomatoes
Salt

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and canned tomatoes. Simmer 20 minutes, uncovered. Puree sauce with an immersion blender, or in batches if using a regular blender. Season well with salt, tasting as you go.

Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Mushrooms

1 large eggplant or 2 small ones
2-3 portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt

1. Preheat broiler, and arrange a rack at top of the oven. Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Sprinkle generously with salt on both sides, and layer in a colander. Let eggplant sit for at least 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water and dry well with paper towels.

2. Slice portobello mushroom caps into 1/3 inch strips. Coarsely chop stems. Toss mushrooms and eggplant with 1/4 cup oil and arrange in a single later on a baking sheet. Broil until soft and charred, flipping after about 6 minutes and cooking about another 3 minutes on the other side.

Meatless Monday: Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

What is your key food?  The ingredient that catches your eye on a menu and makes you scream, “MMMM!!! I’m having that!!!”  For me, it’s Risotto.  For my sister, it’s Goat Cheese.  For my husband, I’m thinking its Onion Straws.  The boy will eat anything that has onion straws on it.  I once discovered him eating a can of French’s Fried Onions because it kinda tasted like onion straws.  

When I came across this recipe, I thought I have to have it.  Risotto with ANYTHING would make me happy!  And, since its Meatless Monday, we’re going to use Barley, instead of the traditional Arborio rice.  Let’s pause for a word about barley:

Fun Fact #1: In medieval Europe, Barley was considered a peasant food, while the upper class consumed only breads from wheats.

Fun Fact #2: Barley contains EIGHT amino acids

Fun Fact #3: Eating whole grain barley (like we’ll be doing in a moment) regulates blood sugar for up to 10 hours after consumption!

Fun Fact #3: Barley is in beer and beer is good.

Now, a discussion on Risotto..some of the key ingredients include wine and cheese.  I mean, really the only thing that could make this dish better is if you could some how get chocolate in the mix.  I know, I know that would be gross, but it’s an interesting concept, just the same.

So, with all this in mind, Barley Risotto makes the perfect dish for a Meatless Monday. 

 

 

Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

 

Adapted from JenMenke.com

For the Barley

1 C Barley

4 C Water

1 C dry white wine

2 tsp salt

 

To Complete the Dish:

2 C Butternut Squash, cubed and roasted

1 Tb Olive oil

1 small onion chopped

1/3 C dry white wine

1/2 C Parmesan Cheese

1 Tb fresh thyme

1 tsp saffron threads

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

 

To Roast Squash:

Preheat oven to 400

Peel and cube squash.  Place on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.

 

For the Barley:

Bring the water, wine and salt to a simmer in a pot over medium-low heat.

 Add the barley, stirring frequently, and cook for an hour or until the barley is cooked through.

 

To Complete:

Place a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add a olive oil, then add chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. 

Add the white wine and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the wine reduces slightly.  Pour the barley and its liquid into the pan.  Add the cooked squash.  Add additional water or chicken broth to bring the risotto to preferred consistency.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, add spices.  Enjoy!

 

Meatless Monday!

Tostadas with Lentils and Fresh Salsa

It’s Monday.  So throw out the chicken and beef and opt for some meatless protein.  Did you know Lentils contain 25 g of protein per 100 g of Lentils!  That’s crazy.  Tony Horton would be proud!

Tostadas with Lentils and Fresh Salsa

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup salsa

12 corn tortillas

1 1/2 cups spinach

1 cup chopped fresh tomato

1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

6 tablespoons fat free sour cream

In a large nonstick skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the lentils, chili powder, cumin and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Uncover; cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Mash lentils slightly. Stir in salsa.

Add oil to frying pan.  Briefly place each corn tortilla in the oil, one at a time.  Place on towel to soak up oil.  When cooled, top with spinach, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream.