Thursday, June 27, 2013

Creamy Zucchini Chickpea Linguine

And on the eighth day, God made zucchini, but he got a little carried away or something. I love zucchini, but in the summer it often seems like there is more of the stuff around than you can use. Well, today I not only bring you a recipe that dispatches three of these ubiquitous seasonal squashes, but one that is delicious, easy, fast, and even rhymes! You're welcome.

Creamy Zucchini Chickpea Linguine 
~ 1 lb. linguine
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 3 zucchini, cut into quarter moons
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: oregano, salt
~ ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
~ 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
~ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
~ 1 cup soy milk
~ 1 tsp. "no chicken"bouillon
~ ½ cup nutritional yeast

~ In a blender or food processor, combine the soaked, drained cashews, the soy milk, bouillon, and nutritional yeast. Puree until smooth.
~ In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the zucchini over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Add the garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and red pepper flakes and cook another minute or two.
~ Stir in the chickpeas and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
~ Add the pureed cashew mixture, stir thoroughly, and continue cooking 5 minutes more.
~ Cook and drain the linguine according to package directions, reserving one cup of the cooking water.
~ Return the drained pasta to the pot, add the zucchini mixture, and combine, adding reserved pasta water as necessary to coat the linguine with sauce.
~ Serve hot with a few grinds of black pepper.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Baked Polenta with Pesto, Beans, Greens, and Squash

I've been having a bit of a love affair with polenta lately. For one thing, it's extremely versatile, morphing easily from grits to breakfast scrambles to side dishes to hearty baked casseroles like the one below. And its substantial, starchy goodness makes it the perfect comfort food: like the beautiful lovechild of mashed potatoes and pasta. Today's recipe is a particularly fine use of the stuff; adding white beans, orange squash, and leafy greens to a base of podgy yellow yumminess puts everything you need in one place, and that place is your tummy. Add a simple green salad, and you've got a Proper Nutritious Dinner that can be done in about an hour.

Baked Polenta with Pesto, Beans, Greens, and Squash
~ 3 cups chopped, fresh basil
~ 1/2 cup pine nuts
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1/4 cup water

~ Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend thoroughly. (There, wasn't that easy?)

Beans, Greens, and Squash
~ 1 small butternut squash, chopped into 2" pieces
~ 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
~ 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, thyme, oregano
~ Black pepper to taste
~ 1 15 oz. can white beans, drained
~ 1/2 cup white wine
~ 1 lb. baby spinach, roughly chopped

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ Arrange the squash on the baking sheet, coat with 2 tbsp. of the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside.
~ In a large skillet, heat the remaining tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the mushrooms over high heat about 5 minutes, until fragrant and beginning to brown. Add the garlic, salt, thyme, oregano, and pepper and cook about one minute more.
~ Add the beans and the wine; stir thoroughly and cook a few minutes until most of the alcohol burns off.
~ Stir in the pesto, the baby spinach, and the roasted squash; cook until the spinach is just wilted, and remove from heat while you make...

The Polenta
~ 5 cups vegan "chicken" broth
~ 1.5 cups cornmeal (I use Bob's Red Mill)

~ In a large pot, bring the broth to a rapid boil. Pour in the cornmeal and cook for about ten minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened but still a bit soft.

The Assembly
~ Coat a 9 x 13" casserole with cooking spray, add the cooked polenta, and spread evenly with a spatula.
~ Distribute the bean/vegetable mixture on top of the polenta, cover with foil, and bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
~ Remove the foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, until the topping is slightly browned.
~ Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Herb Roasted Potatoes with Asparagus and Feta

This is a frank appropriation of a recipe I saw in the Guardian's "Three Good Things on a Plate" feature. The original featured halloumi cheese, which I have replaced here with soy-based feta for that salty tang; I also upped the seasonings and subbed fresh basil for parsley, but other than that we have Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to thank for this delicious, summery meal. (Indeed, I've even stolen his photo!) Since this dish proved to be equally good hot, cold, or at room temperature, I will definitely be making it again as the warm weather sets in; the addition of white beans at the halfway point would make this a one-dish supper of four good things on a plate.

Herb Roasted Potatoes with Asparagus and Feta
~ 2 lbs. small new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
~ 1/4 cup olive oil
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, marjoram, basil, oregano
~ A few generous grinds of fresh black pepper
~ 1 lb. asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 3" pieces
~ 6 oz. soy feta (or homemade tofu or nut-based feta)
~ 1 cup fresh, roughly chopped basil leaves
~ Fresh lemon juice (optional)

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and coat a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, marjoram, basil, oregano, and pepper.
~ Spread the potatoes on the baking sheet, pour the oil and herb mixture over, and coat thoroughly (I just get in there with my hands).
~ Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, stirring ever 10 minutes or so.
~ Remove the baking sheet from the oven, add the asparagus and feta, and mix thoroughly to coat them with the oil mixture (unless you have asbestos hands, you'll need some sort of utensil this time).
~ Return to the oven and cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is cooked, the feta is a bit melty, and the potatoes are browned and beauteous.
~ Remove from oven, mix in the basil leaves, transfer to a plate and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice (if you like).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chickpea, Chorizo, and Spinach Stew

I've been featuring a lot of legume-based recipes on here lately, and this post is no exception. We eat a lot of lentils, peas, beans, etc. around here because they are A. loaded with protein, fiber, and other good stuff, B. endlessly versatile and interesting, and C. yummy. Today's recipe mixes things up a little with the addition of soy-based chorizo to this Spanish-inspired stew; in combination with lots of veggies, spices, and the ever popular chickpea, I find it adds a certain "meaty" something to this one-dish meal. Served over plain or saffron rice, a simmering cauldron of this stuff will fill your kitchen with delicious aromas and - as always - only improves as leftovers.

Chickpea, Chorizo, and Spinach Stew
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large red onion, chopped
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 2 carrots, diced
~ 2 stalks celery, diced
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, smoked paprika, thyme, chili powder, sweet paprika
~ 1/2 tsp. each: turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 12 oz. vegan chorizo (I used Trader Joe's)
~ 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, including liquid
~ 2 cups vegetable broth
~ 1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed

~ In a large, deep skillet or wok, sauté the onion over medium heat for a few minutes.
~ Add the garlic, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and seasonings; cook about 5 minutes more.
~ Crumble the chorizo into the pan, stir to combine, then add the chickpeas and broth. Raise the heat to high, cover, and bring just to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Add the spinach, stir to combine, and cook 5 minutes more. Fish out the bay leaves and serve hot over rice with hot sauce (if desired).