Tag Archives: vegetarian recipes

When Life Gives You Artichokes, Make Pasta

Gentle Readers, here we are, springing forward.Though I love the birds chirping and the tree frogs singing, one could do without the loss of sleep. As we enter this time between seasons (is it liony outside, is it lamby, one never knows), I often crave substantial but not heavy fare.

Enter the humble pasta toss. You know it, the thing you create from whatever’s available? This is that, but guided by a desire for stronger flavor and not one more jar of red sauce. Without further ado, and certainly without enough sleep . . .

Pasta with Artichokes and Beans

Pasta with Artichokes and Beans

Pasta with Cannellini Beans, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients: 
2 cups dried cavatapi
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, skins on
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (I cannot lie, I use the baby carrots that are not on their first opening and looking little sad and soggy in the bag)
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon or so of Italian seasoning blend
1 can of artichokes (not the marinated kind, just in water), drained and roughly chopped
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons or so sun-dried tomatoes packed in seasoning and oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
juice of 1/2 lemon

Method: 

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil, add salt when the water boils, and cook the pasta per pot directions. Cook until al dente and then drain and set aside briefly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot with a good lid, heat some olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the sliced carrots and the garlic cloves in their skin. Add some salt (I leave this to you), and the Italian seasonings. Cover with the lid and stir and check on it often while the pasta cooks.
  3. When the carrots are a bit softened and the garlic is starting to soften, add the artichokes to the pot. Keep stirring. When the garlic cloves are softened, pull them out, peel them, mash them with a fork, then add them back to the pot.
  4. Lower the heat, add the beans, cooked pasta, and sun dried tomatoes. Be sure to include some of the oil they were packed in.
  5. Add the poultry seasoning, don’t ask, just trust me, additional olive oil as needed to make it moist, and stir gently until warmed through.
  6. Bring off the heat, put in serving dish, top with lemon juice, and adjust salt and olive oil to personal taste.

Enjoy! I love the simplicity of the dish, and the savory nature without it being a complete salt lick. It’s infinitely flexible, so match it to your needs. It is a very filling dish though, so it will easily feed a family of 4.

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Sunday Menus: I’m Eating Your Dinner Edition

Gentle Readers, for more than a month of Sundays, The Practical Cook has been supplying weekly dinner menus. The time has come to request a favor/issue a challenge. I want to eat your dinner!

Breakfast for dinner, any hora.

Breakfast for dinner, any hora.

Yes, I am fortunate to be asked to dinner to try new things, but let’s go a step further, shall we? I will still show up for dinner, please don’t hesitate to ask, but I will also cook your favorite dinners for the world to see.  (If you are in need of some meal plans, visit the Weekly Menus archive for ideas!)

Bruschetta for dinner: the perfect way to use up a little bit of everything

Bruschetta for dinner: the perfect way to use up a little bit of everything

So send me your dishes of pride, your Punt! dishes, your make-it-in-your sleep dishes, your new discoveries. What are YOU eating for dinner? Bonus points for things I can turn vegetarian, but I will try anything that won’t kill me. Shellfish is out, and I will not appreciate hazelnut or licorice suggestions.

Sunday Dinner with the Practical Cook

Sunday Dinner with the Practical Cook

If it’s served by a mime, forget it. Everything else, fair game. I will feature menus from you Gentle Readers either as a whole week or guest stars in upcoming posts.

Strawberry Spinach Salad, You're Haunting My Food Memories

Strawberry Spinach Salad, You’re Haunting My Food Memories

Okay, I’m on vacation again. More field research to be done. So please start your ovens and fire up those grills. Feel free to post suggestions in the comments section, on Twitter, or in an email.

Serve the sweet potato bacon rustic tart warm or room temperature with fruit or a salad.

Serve the sweet potato bacon rustic tart warm or room temperature with fruit or a salad.

Send your dinner, your questions, and your brilliant ideas to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday, Quinoa Melange Plus Chickpeas!

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Weekly Menus: New Year’s Edition

Gentle Readers, the end of the year is nigh, and pork is in the air. Well, I am Southern, and that is a capital “S.” It just can’t be New Year’s Day without pork, greens, and black-eyed peas. This year we are going to experience this at scale, more on that later in the week.

A traditional vegetarian New Year's meal: collard greens, black-eyed peas, salad, and cheese pizza.

A traditional vegetarian New Year’s meal: collard greens, black-eyed peas, salad, and cheese pizza.

This past week has been an eating bonanza, but it’s time to buckle down and get back in the kitchen. Here’s what that looks like, with weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 12/30/2012

Weekly Menus: 12/30/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/30/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/30/2012

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Pasta and Salad
Feeding kids, will probably be cheese tortellini with sauce. Side of protein. Extra salad.

Tortellini with Pesto and Tomatoes

Tortellini with Pesto and Tomatoes

Monday: Salmon and Green Veg
Simple and complete. Side of quinoa or couscous for a quick meal before the partying begins.

Salmon Cravings Inspired by This Dish!

Salmon Cravings Inspired by This Dish!

Tuesday: Pork, Black-eyed Peas, Collard Greens
Potentially I’ll do Hoppin’ John for the Jrs, as I can easily make that vegetarian friendly.

Simplified Hoppin' John

Simplified Hoppin’ John

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Pumpkin-Apple Pancakes with Fauxsage or Grits and Eggs. To be determined.

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Thursday: Mexican
Nacho, nacho time!

Friday: Polenta Surprise
This time, major mushroom edition. The Jrs just discovered how many mushroom types there were in the world. Game on.

Saturday: Dine Out!
We’re going to conquer another cuisine of the world. Not sure which one. All suggestions welcome.

What’s on your holiday recovery menu? Post a comment below, or Tweet it out for the world to see.

Send your resolutions, pork, and black eyed peas to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Wednesday: Three Salad Ideas for the New Year

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Weekly Menus: Week of 12/9/2012

Gentle Readers, what a delight it is to be back in the kitchen. The time of holiday food-gift making is upon us. This year, it’s cookie time, with a side of spiced nuts. Surprise. I’m back from Las Vegas, where the tourist sections rival Texas in portion size. So this week’s menus are an exercise in restraint, in preparation for cookie time.

World's Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

World’s Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

Weekly Menus for this week:

Weekly Menus: 12/9/2012

Weekly Menus: 12/9/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/9/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/9/2012

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Frozen Pizza and Salad
This is not technically in the kitchen, but I have an event to attend, and TPC’s Dad is at the helm. Of his many many life skills, feeding burgeoning foodies is not among them. Rather than risk them cooking a full meal, I’m keeping it simple.

Monday: Pork Chops and Sides
When the vegetarians are away, the omnivore will play. I think some spicy sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are in order here.

Tuesday: Polenta Delight
We’re having a special guest over, and it’s time to break out yet another version of polenta! Mushrooms, spinach, and what? TBD.

Wednesday: Latkes and ??
I have never made latkes, and I don’t know what goes with them, but I fully intend to a) find out and b) help make them. Happy Chanukah to all who celebrate!

Thursday: Mexican
Long week, tough crowd, Mexican for the win. Burritos or quesadillas, with a side of beans. I am afraid I’m going to have to learn how to do sweet plantains at home as well. They are in very high demand by TPCs Junior.

Friday: Soup and Sammie
Hoping to make veggie stock and try some soup ideas. If not, another boxed soup test will happen. Options, always keep the options open.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Scouting some new places in Durham! As always, send your suggestions.

What are you making for food holiday gifts? Post your ideas in the comments section below. Or just send me a sample. 😉

Send your latkes, your spare presents, and your legitimate questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Wednesday, Telling the Truth About Food: Picky Eater Updates.

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Soup Review and Recipes: Trader Joe’s Mushroom Soup Two Ways

Gentle Readers, with cooler weather upon us, and holiday demands being what they are, soup is an excellent fast choice. Do not let it be said that I don’t love to make the stuff from scratch, I do. However, I currently have two newly converted vegetarians and a lot of chicken stock on hand.

Trader Joe's Portabella Mushroom Soup

Trader Joe’s Portabella Mushroom Soup

Thus I was led to the boxed soup aisle of Trader Joe’s. As the weeks progress, look for more reviews here. Today we tackle the Trader Joe’s Portobella Mushroom Soup and two applications of it. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Trader Joe’s Mushroom Soup Two Ways

1. Mushroom Soup with Wild Rice: Make the soup according to directions on the package (in our case, we went with water instead of milk at the request of TPCs Junior). Add 2 cups of cooked wild rice. Season with black pepper to taste. Eat. This was a huge hit with everyone. I’m sure other faster grains would work (barley, bulgar, etc.), but we had wild rice on hand. It was toothsome, full of umami goodness, and disturbingly simple.

Wild rice stuffed squash = leftover wild rice. What to do?

Wild rice stuffed squash = leftover wild rice. What to do?

2. Not Your Great Aunt’s Green Bean Casserole: Steam a pound of green beans (we used French-cut frozen ones), cut in bite-sized pieces as needed. Mix with concentrated soup (do not dilute) and 1/4 cup or so of grated Parmesan. Top with Trader Joe’s Fried Onions. Do not substitute on this one. They are in fact the bomb. Bake at 350 to 400, depending on how much time you have, covering with foil until the last few minutes to prevent burning. Thank me later.

What would you do with a non-gloppy mushroom soup? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

Send your lucrative book deals, garlic fries, and good ideas to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, For the Love of Doughnuts.

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Polenta: Mexican Style! (Recipe of Sorts)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook listens to the crowd in planning menus. And TPCs Junior have spoken–polenta for the people! Apparently, if a casual counting of likes, reactions, and genial nods are indicators, you, the viewing public, also like polenta recipes.

Mexican Style Polenta (vegetarian!)

Mexican Style Polenta (vegetarian!)

Here’s this week’s offering, Polenta: Mexican Style!

1 shelf-stable package of Trader Joe’s polenta (feel free to make your own, or sub your favorite brand), cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 Tablespoon butter/olive oil combo, in any ratio
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 can diced no-salt tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon cumin
a pinch of oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package Trader Joe’s soy chorizo (or the real stuff, or another kind of soy chorizo)
1 avocado, diced
shredded cheese for topping
sour cream for topping

1. Heat the butter/oil in a large skillet over a strong medium heat. When hot, add the polenta and fry both sides well, at least 8 minutes per.

2. Meanwhile, open, drain, and rinse the black beans. In a small saucepan, heat a dash of olive oil over a low medium heat and saute the onions until soft. Add the garlic and saute until you smell it, about 30 seconds, then add cumin and oregano. Add black beans and tomatoes, stir. Lower the heat and simmer until flavors meld, which I find happens right when the polenta is done because I’m hungry.

Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe's: Not bad actually, but on the spicy side.

Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s: Not bad actually, but on the spicy side.

3. Meanwhile, yes, there’s a lot of meanwhiling going on, saute the chorizo (remove the casing!) over medium heat in a dash of olive oil.

Saute the chorizo (soy chorizo in this case, don't be afraid).

Saute the chorizo (soy chorizo in this case, don’t be afraid).

4. Assemble by placing at least 2 rounds of polenta, a dollop of beans, chorizo, cheese, and sour cream on the plate. Dig in.

Deconstructed Mexican-Style Polenta, or Polenta Face (courtesy of the Eldest)

Deconstructed Mexican-Style Polenta, or Polenta Face (courtesy of the Eldest)

I suppose that was actually a recipe. Enjoy, it was my favorite iteration to date. Not quite the masa cakes of Brooklyn Star, but I’ll get there yet. I suspect I need to find a way to make my own polenta cakes, or masa cakes, but the shelf-stable one is so very easy and in demand.

Have you tried polenta yet? What’s your flavor? Post a comment below, the crickets will thank you.

Send your corn meal, witty rejoinders, and favorite cereals to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up next, it’s Weekly Menus or Wait, Where’s November?

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Weekly Menus: Week of 11/25/2012

Gentle Readers, the official season of eating has begun. The Practical Cook adores this time of year, until, being sweetly awakened by the Youngest with a “Santa is coming” card, she descends into a blind panic of holiday tasks! I fall for it every year, the lull that is an overabundance of carbs and pie.

Roast 'em if you've got 'em.

Roast ’em if you’ve got ’em.

This year, I’m traveling for work before the holidays, so there’s no avoiding things to the last minute. Planning is a must! The other thing I learned from Thanksgiving, the simplest things were often the most well received. Every roasted veggie in the house is gone, there’s not a single cookie left (recipe for those tomorrow), and no one commented that I didn’t make a souffle. I’ve never made a souffle actually, that’s why I’m the Practical Cook.

Nary a souffle in sight.

Nary a souffle in sight.

But I digress, and I have cards to create, laundry to fold . . . the weekly menus are as follows:

Weekly Menus: 11/25/2012

Weekly Menus: 11/25/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 11/25/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 11/25/2012

Which translates into:

Sunday: Soup and Salad
This depends on time, and may switch with Monday. We’re trying a number of the boxed soups from Trader Joe’s as part of an upcoming series. My panel is ruthless, so watch for this.

Monday: Roasted Veggie Tart
Puff pastry, meet roasted vegetables. I love these things, and want to try a few combinations to bring into the fold as dinner options with leftovers. They reheat fairly well, and pair with the aforementioned soup, too.

Tuesday: Mexican
This will either be a play on the masa cakes I had recently at Brooklyn Star or a Flying Mayan burrito.

Masa cakes with black beans, eggs, and chorizo, I think I love you. Brooklyn Star.

Masa cakes with black beans, eggs, and chorizo, I think I love you. Brooklyn Star.

Wednesday: Dine Out!
The pleasure of our company has been requested. Oh, who am I kidding, The Juniors were invited to dinner and I’m driving them. Sigh, it’s hard to be the least popular one in the family. Will it be pasta? Something Asian stir-fry? Stay tuned.

Thursday: Dal and Naan
I miss cooking Indian food, and a friend’s Twitter stream has left me craving home-cooked dal. When you choose one of the split lentils, it’s relatively quick comfort food. I’m skipping making roti this time in favor of some frozen naan I need to use anyway.

The largest, fluffiest naan I've ever seen. You can ignore the adage to not fill up on bread at Roti Boti.

The largest, fluffiest naan I’ve ever seen. You can ignore the adage to not fill up on bread at Roti Boti.

Friday: Salmon and Veg
I have a back-up option if the Juniors deny fish, but I’ve been craving salmon since I had these rather unctuous and delightful fish kebabs.

Fish kebabs from An in Cary. Very satisfying indeed.

Fish kebabs from An in Cary. Very satisfying indeed.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Chances are it will be someplace with salad, because I will be running errands like mad in preparation for a week in Vegas.

Simplicity reigns: roasted acorn squash with a maple glaze.

Simplicity reigns: roasted acorn squash with a maple glaze.

What’s your secret for surviving the holiday rush? Share your tips or words of support in the comments section!

Send your creative insights, elves, and coffee to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Wednesday, Oatmeal Scotchies with Macadamia Nuts Recipe.

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