Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto & Feta Cheese (Vegan or Vegetarian)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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A few months ago, I made the vegan arugula pesto you see above.  I made a lot of it & then I froze it in batches of about 1/2 to 1 cup each – freezing each serving in sandwich baggies – like below.

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They freeze flat – like little DVDs – and take up very little room in the freezer.  Then – you can just thaw it as you need it.  I used some to make this pasta salad for a BBQ this weekend.  I used real feta in this but – at home – I would have used this vegan cheese here – below the feta.  You could do whichever – or leave the extra cheese out entirely.  Your call!  Whatever you decide – this is easy & fresh & tasty!

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Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto & Feta Cheese (Vegan or Vegetarian)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta – cooked, drained & rinsed in cold water

1 arugula pesto recipe

6 oz feta or vegan cheese – crumbled

1/2 to 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes – halved or quartered

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta & drain under cold water.

Make (or thaw – if you are using some you froze) the pesto.

Ratio of pesto to pasta is a personal thing.  Start light & add as much as feels right to you.  Mix well.

Stir in cheese & tomatoes.  Season with S&P.

Enjoy!

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Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Everybody has had stuffed cabbage but, typically, it is stuffed with a mix of meat & rice.  This recipe uses neither – though you could add some – if you wanted to.  This recipe is more rustic & lighter.   No carbs.  No animal products.  Just loads of veggies & sauce!   I had grilled eggplant in the fridge – leftover from a night of Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade – seen below.

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If you have a grill pan or a grill where you can easily grill the eggplant – I recommend it because it adds a smokey char to the dish that is lovely – though not necessary.  If grilling the eggplant first sounds like a pain in the ass – blow it off & just cut your eggplant into small cubes

Grilled Eggplant

INGREDIENTS

1 eggplant – sliced into rounds

Olive oil or some kind of oil & vinegar salad dressing

DIRECTIONS

Dredge the eggplant through the olive oil or dressing & grill (either on a grill or in a grill pan) –  just to get some grill marks on them & cook out some moisture.  I did it on the grill & it took about 5-7 minutes – flipping the slices occasionally.  You can do this on your burners on the stove or in a grill pan or on a real grill – with or without oiling the slices.

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UPDATE – after eating this for lunch – at dinner – I wanted something more substantial.  So – I added a bag of Beyond Meat crumbles & some grated cheese to the top before I reheated these guys.  AMAZING!

Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

1 head cabbage (I used Napa but any kind will work

Olive oil

1 eggplant – either grilled as outlined above or not – and, either way, cubed

1/2 lb mushrooms – sliced or chopped

2 tomatoes – diced

1 onion – diced

2 stalks green garlic or 1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

2+ cups fresh spinach

1 TBS dry parsley

1 TBS dry oregano

Crushed red pepper (to taste)

S&P

2-3 cups pasta sauce (homemade or jarred)

Fresh basil as garnish

OPTION – vegan or fresh mozzarella baked on top of these might be nice.  I opted not to use any – in an effort to keep these very healthy – but I bet it would compliment this dish nicely.  Additionally – adding some faux beef crumbles on top or underneath the rolls makes this dish more substantial.

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil a large pot of water – deep enough for the head of cabbage.  Remove the cabbage core & drop the head into boiling water – whole.  With tongs – pluck out each leaf as it becomes tender & plunge into a bowl of ice water.

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Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.   Add the onions, mushrooms, tomatoes & eggplant.  Saute until the vegetables get tender.  Add garlic & spinach & stir until the spinach wilts.  Add the oregano, parsley, S&P and crushed red pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.

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Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Place a cabbage leaf on a kitchen towel & scoop a few TBS of filling into it & roll it up.  I did not really bother with the ends but if you are good at making closed ends – knock yourself out.  Place in the casserole pan – seam-side down.  Continue until all the filling is used up.  Season the rolls with S&P.

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Top with sauce – as much as suits your taste.  You might want t reserve some to add – warmed – to the finished rolls.  Bake for about 40 minutes.   Serve with additional warm sauce – if you like – and some fresh basil.

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Vegan Roasted Fennel & Beets Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Pistachios & Goat Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Fennel is a divisive vegetable.  The sharp licorice flavor is either something you love or hate, it seems.  But, as with garlic, the flavor of fennel mellows into something else entirely – when you roast it.  It becomes soft & sorta sweet & it compliments this salad nicely.

I used arugula but any mixed greens or baby spinach would work, too.  I added pistachios but any nuts would work – especially if you toasted them a bit first.

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I used this lovely blood orange olive oil but regular olive oil would work.  I used the dark balsamic – but white balsamic would be lovely, too.

And for the goat cheese – I used this stuff (below).   It has the texture of a soft goat cheese & was really delicious.  If you eat cheese – real goat cheese or feta would also work.

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Vegan Roasted Fennel & Beets Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

4-6 beets (red or golden – no matter)

1 large fennel bulb

2 fists full of arugula or other greens

1/4 cup pistachios

1 avocado – cubed

Vegan soft cheese (or real goat or feta cheese) – quantity up to you

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap the beets in foil.  No need to even wash them – as that will happen later.  If they are large (mine were about the size of ping pong balls) – cut them into smaller chunks.

Cut the fronds off the fennel (saving some of the dilly leaves for garnish) & cut the bulb in half.  Place on a cooking sheet & drizzle with olive oil.

Place the beets in foil on the cooking sheet with the fennel & roast 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  The beets might take longer than the fennel.

When the beets cool – wash them under running water & rub the skins off.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Slice up the fennel.

Place some greens on each plate.  Top with beets, fennel, avocado, pistachios & crumbled cheese. Drizzle with olive oil & balsamic.  Garnish with fennel leaves and S&P.

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Vegan Sticky, Sweet & Spicy Chinese Five Spice Pork for the Slow Cooker

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Nothing is easier than a slow cooker dish.  You could make this stove-top by simply simmering it until the sauce is as thick as you like it to be.  Not much more to say about this except that it is damned tasty & crazy easy.

Vegan Sticky, Sweet & Spicy Chinese Five Spice Pork for the Slow Cooker

Serves 2 very well when served with rice

INGREDIENTS

2 (10.5 oz) packages Gardein Porkless Bites (or other vegan pork, beef or chicken) – I threw the sauce packets away

1/4 cup Shao Xing rice wine

2 TBS minced ginger (I used the squeezable kind pictured)

2 TBS minced garlic (I used jarred)

1 TBS tomato paste or ketchup

2 TBS sesame oil

2 TBS vegan hoisin sauce

2 TBS vegan oyster or mushroom-flavored sauce

2 TBS sambal oelek (less if you do nott like a lot of spiciness)

2 TBS sweet Thai chili sauce

2 TBS dark soy sauce

1 – 3 tsp Chinese 5-spice (I used 3 but I think that was heavy-handed.  Maybe start with one & increase it as it cooks – if you think it needs more)

Cooked rice for 2

Garnish – cilantro and/or sliced hot peppers (I used red jalapenos)

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DIRECTIONS

Put everything except the rice & garnish in a slow cooker & leave on high for 4 hours.  Mine was still too thin at that point – so I cooked it a bit longer with the lid off.  If you are going to leave this on low for 8 hours – maybe add a cup of water – so it doesn’t burn – and then cook off excess moisture at the end by taking the lid off.  If it gets too thick – add water.

Serve with rice & garnish as you desire.

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Vegan Pasta with Creamy Avocado & Spinach Pesto (or Vegetarian)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is a 5 minute recipe so – if you can boil pasta & own a blender – you can make this dish.  I had an avocado that was about a day past its prime & loads of spinach – so this was born.  I used a few serrano peppers for heat but that it totally optional.

*NOTE – I also used fresh basil that I had frozen a few weeks ago.  Worked great – so – if you are ever wanting to preserve fresh herbs so they do not go to waste – they can be frozen & then used in pestos & sauces.

Vegan Pasta with Creamy Avocado & Spinach Pesto

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta – cooked as directed

1 large avocado

2 packed cups of fresh spinach

2 garlic cloves

1/4 packed cup fresh basil *See note above

2 serrano or jalapeno peppers (optional) – seeded

1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan (vegan or otherwise) – quantity to your taste

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Blend everything except the pasta in a blender or food processor.  Season with S&P & adjust anything else to suit your fancy.

Toss with warm pasta.

See?  EASY!

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Baked Stuffed Eight Ball Squash (or Zucchini) with Leftover Pasta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Farm Fresh To You sent me three little 8-Ball squashes this week – and I had a boatload of leftover pasta and so – this dish was born.   I used the three eight ball squashes & a green & a yellow zucchini I had, too.  The kind of squash is not important but the eight ball squashes do make a cute presentation.   You can eat the flesh (and skin) of the eight ball squashes but I think this might be less pleasant if yours are very large.  Mine were pretty small & got very tender in the oven.

I did stuff the yellow zucchini but ran out of stuffing for the green one & could not be bothered to make more – so – I just filled it with sauce.  I used a teeny bit of real mozzarella on top & a really tiny bit of real Asiago in the filling but vegan cheeses would work just as well.

I used leftover pasta like this & the jarred sauce below.  You can use any type of pasta & sauce you prefer – even homemade ones.  You could add ground meat – like Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble to either the squash filling or your sauce – if you wanted to add protein to the dish.

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Baked Stuffed Eight Ball Squash (or Zucchini) with Leftover Pasta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

12 oz cooked pasta

4 eight ball squashes (or 4 zucchini)

2 TBS olive oil

16 oz pasta sauce (or less but up to 16 oz – depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta)

1-6 garlic cloves

1 TBS fresh oregano – chopped (or 1 tsp dry)

1/4 cup mozzarella (or vegan mozzarella)

1/8 cup grated Asiago (or vegan Parmesan)

S&P

Garnish – chopped basil or parsley and maybe extra cheese (or vegan cheese)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the pasta & drain.

Cut the tops off the eight ball squash & carefully scoop out the flesh & set it aside.  A melon-baller or grapefruit spoon might make that easier.  If using zucchini – slice in half the long way & scoop out the seeds & flesh and set it aside.

Take about 1 cup of the cooked pasta & chop it a bit.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the squash flesh & saute a minute or so.  Add the garlic & oregano & stir.  Add the CHOPPED pasta, 1/2 cup or so of pasta sauce stir.  Add Asiago or vegan Parmesan & stir.  Season with S&P & set aside.

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Treat a cooking pan with cooking spray.  Carefully stuff your peppers in the pan.  Top each with a little more sauce, some grated mozzarella & then with the squash tops themselves.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the squash are tender & the cheese is warmed (and/or melted).  If using zucchini – do the same thing – but there will be no little squash hats for the zucchini boats.

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This next part is up to you.  You can either boil water & put the remaining pasta in it for about a minute, just before you are ready to serve – or warm as much pasta sauce as you think you need for 2 servings & stir the pasta directly into it to reheat it.   The advantage to heating the pasta & sauce separately is that you can better control how much sauce each serving gets – because some people like lots of sauce & others prefer less.  This is your call.

Whatever you decide – when the squash is ready – plate some pasta & sauce on two plates & place two baked squash on top of each.

Garnish with basil and/or parsley & grated cheese.

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Super Easy 5-Ingredient Homemade Frascatelli Pasta with Mustard Greens & Parmesan Cheese (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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My Farm Fresh to You delivery came today & there were mustard greens in there.  I’ve never cooked with them so I Googled them for some inspiration.  And did I find it!!!  The mustard greens in a recipe – sure.  But the revelation is the FRASCATELLI!    I had never heard of frascatelli before & I was intrigued.  It was the photo below (from Bon Appetit) that caught my eye. Looks like gnocchi.  I read more & discovered it was a 2 ingredient pasta that required no tools or resting time.  I had to try it.  Immediately!

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Incredibly, frascatelli is as easy to make as the instructions suggested & I am certain I will be making this stuff over & over again.

The process is to spread out 2 cups of semolina flour & splatter it with water.  Then scoop it up, put it in a colander & shake it around.  Tiny dumplings form & the rest of the semolina falls back to the work surface.  Repeat.  When all my flour was used up – I manually pressed some of the teensy bits into larger dumplings but that is not necessary.  And guess what?  You can cook it immediately & it is done in 30-60 SECONDS.  Yes – seconds.  You MUST try this.  It would be a great thing to make with kids.  I think they would love the process.  Here are the directions from Bon Appetit:

  • Spread semolina flour in an even layer in an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Fill a small bowl with 1 cup water and set next to dish. Working in 4-5 batches, gather your fingertips and thumb of 1 hand together and, working quickly, dip into bowl of water, lift hand from bowl, and splatter water over semolina. Repeat several times until surface of semolina is dotted with ragged wet patches about the size of a nickel. Let stand until water is absorbed, forming individual dumplings, about 5 seconds. Using a fish spatula or slotted spoon, turn dumplings over to coat with semolina, then transfer to a sieve. Shake gently over same baking dish to remove excess semolina; transfer dumplings to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining semolina and water until all of the water or all of the semolina has been used (there may be some water or semolina left over).
  • Working in 3-4 batches, cook dumplings in a large pot of slowly boiling salted water (if the water is boiling too rapidly, it may break up the dumplings), gently swirling water once or twice to prevent sticking, until al dente, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer frascatelli to another large rimmed baking sheet.

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Frascatelli is like a softer cavatelli or a chewier & more dense gnocchi.    Worked great with the cheese & mustard greens but a red sauce or cream sauce or anything would work with this stuff.  Just amazing!  I have no idea how frascatelli was not on my radar until today.

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5-Ingredient Homemade Frascatelli Pasta with Mustard Greens & Parmesan Cheese (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2 very well

INGREDIENTS

2 cups semolina flour

1 bunch mustard greens (or collard greens or spinach or arugula or chard) – ribs removed & chopped

2-3 TBS butter (or vegan butter or olive oil)

1-6 garlic cloves – chopped

1 cup Parmesan – vegan or otherwise (or any other cheese/vegan cheese you like blended into pasta)

OPTIONAL  – Crushed red pepper, S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Make the frascatelli & set aside.

Prep the other ingredients.

Bring a pot of salted water to a slow boil & immerse the frascatelli.  Stir so it doesn’t stick.  Scoop out a cup or two of the boiling pasta water & reserve it.  In 30-60 seconds – drain the frascatelli & set it aside.

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Heat the butter (or vegan butter or olive oil) in a large saute pan.  Add the frascatelli.  Warm it through – stirring but trying not to crush or mush the dumplings.  I added some crushed red pepper here – about 1 TBS.

Add the garlic & greens.  Stir in a little of the reserved pasta water to wilt the greens.

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Add the cheese & some more pasta water (only use as much water as you need to melt & blend the cheese).  I added a bit of salt & a bunch of pepper.

Serve with extra cheese.

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