Tag Archives: pasta

Kale Pesto Pasta

10 Apr

Hi guys. It’s April, which means I disappeared for over a month again. Sorry. If you’ve been reading long, though, you know I do that kind of thing from time to time. There’s not always a good reason. Things just happen. I’m in no way a professional blogger — I’ve never made a dime from Vegging Out, and I’m more than ok with that. In fact, you’ll notice on the top right that I’m totally ad-free now. I want this blog to be a personal space and an opportunity to share some recipes with my handful of wonderful readers.

So. Onto the good stuff: pasta.

This dish was dinner Monday and Tuesday, and it is my new favorite pasta recipe. It combines fresh spring vegetables with whole-wheat pasta and mushrooms (basically our favorite food).

Kale Pesto Pasta with Seared Mushrooms

Kale Pesto

  • 1/2 a bunch of kale
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Dried Italian herbs (optional – to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pasta

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or a heavy spritz of spray oil
  • Handful of greens from spring onions, chopped (or shallot would be great)
  • 1 pint mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly (I used cremini, but wild mushrooms would be great)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 16 oz pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated gouda, fontina or mozzarella, or 1/4 to 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino (optional for a vegan dish)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Steam kale using your preferred method. Meanwhile, put garlic and cashews in the food processor and pulse until combined and in very small pieces (though not a fine powder). Add kale leaves and the rest of the pesto ingredients and pulse until it becomes a paste, tasting along the way. Place in the fridge.

    Start the water for the pasta in a large pot. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions (or shallot) and cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown. Add the mushrooms, stirring well. Let them reduce and release their liquid, and then add a pinch of salt, stirring again. Now step away from the pan and let them sear. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to directions/your preference.

    Check the mushrooms every three to five minutes. If they are sticking, add a little more oil. The goal is to brown them on both sides and draw out most of the moisture. Turn off the heat when they are done.

    When pasta is cooked, drain and them add to a large bowl. Toss with most of the cheese, if using, to distribute it evenly and get nice and melty. Now add half the pesto in small amounts at a time, stirring and tossing to coat. Add more as desired, though you will have some left over. Plate the pasta and top each serving with mushrooms, more cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh black pepper.

    Serves 4-6.

    We enjoyed our alongside an incredibly simple (read: just lettuce, parsley and dressing) salad.


    The dressing was leftover vegan ranch. That stuff keeps a surprisingly long time and stays tasty.

    I hope the deliciousness of this recipe atones for my absence! Let me know how you all are doing, too. I have been way out of the loop.


    Seitanic Piccata

    7 Feb

    I recently hot a wild hair and decided I had to make piccata. I’m not sure why — it may have been placed there by this comment on the Hungry Hungry Hippie’s blog. I’ve not really sure I’ve ever had proper in my life, but the combination of tart lemon, salty capers, and some kind of chewy faux meat just sounded irresistible. I attended a cooking demo at Native Foods a few weeks ago that was all about seitan, so I decided to use wheat meat as the base instead of tofu or tempeh. This recipe originally from Candle 79 is all over the web, so I used it as my basis. Here’s  the result, served atop whole wheat spaghetti:


    So let’s break it down. First you make seitan using your preferred/pretty much any method. I used Native Foods’ recipe, which is here. My only alterations were not using kombu in the broth (since I didn’t have any) and mincing instead of microplaning the garlic (since I don’t have a microplane). I follow Chef Kendall’s note of rolling it into one log/loaf, though I wrap it in foil (agian, because I did not have cheesecloth). It’s a great recipe, and I highly recommend it! Oh, and it makes up really well in a mixer if you have one. I use the paddle for the basic mixing and then the dough hook for kneading. If it appears too wet (and mine did both times I made it), just add a little more vital wheat gluten.

    Once the seitan has simmered and cooled enough to handle — and you can easily make it a day or two in advance — cut it into six cutlets. I did so by cutting the whole log in half  and then cutting each half into three pieces that were similar in size. Now follow the Candle 79 recipe. My only changes:

    • Used less oil, though it was still more than I usually would (maybe three tablespoons total)
    • Subbed an onion for the leeks and shallots
    • Omitted the parsley because I plain forgot about it
    • Used dried thyme (~1/2 teaspoon) instead of fresh
    • Omitted turmeric (I didn’t have any, and I frankly don’t like the taste of it)

    I recommend a nice dry, acidic, and citrusy white wine. I used a sauvignon blanc, and while it was a little lacklustre on its own, it had the right properties. An unoaked chardonnay might work, but a very crisp pinot grigio would be my second choice after the sauv. Make sure it’s a drinkable wine because you’ll have plenty left from the bottle, and it will make a great accompaniment to the piccata. Anyway, the sauce comes together in no time and it seriously tastes like heaven in a saute pan. Plate whatever grain you choose — the noodles were great, but I imagine millet, cous cous, or rice would be awesome — then top with the seitan and then the sauce. Glamour shot:

    More piccataIt is delicious fresh and hot. It is delicious refrigerated, or so Mr. X tells me. It’s delicious reheated in a pan on the stove. It’s just delicious.

    And a note: for us, this was three servings, not six. If you’re eating as part of a larger meal, you might be able to stretch it to more, but it’s so tasty that you won’t want to!

    Noodles two ways

    27 Oct

    Both of these recipes featuring whole wheat spaghetti fall under the categories of “basic and tasty” and “good ways to use up vegetables that are hanging out in the fridge possibly too long.” The first is Italian-style:

    Like I said: basic. It features an even simpler version of my Roasted Tomato Sauce (by using fire-roasted tomatoes from a can, but adding in fresh oregano from my CSA basket), a Tofurkey Italian Sausage, roasted zucchini, and crushed red pepper. Quick, easy, delicious.

    The second version was a Saturday lunch stir fry-style:

    It seems weird to post a recipe for stir fry, since it’s just a bunch of veggies stirred and fried in some oil and then added to noodles or rice or whatever. Instead, here are the ingredients in the order in which they went into the pan:

    • Coconut oil (and as needed two more times to continue the stirring and frying)
    • Onion
    • Carrots
    • Soy sauce (and as needed two more times to deglaze the pan and add flavor)
    • Garlic
    • Hot pepper
    • Minced fresh ginger
    • Button mushrooms
    • Swiss chard
    • Cooked noodles

    And then we topped our servings with chili garlic sauce for a little more heat and a nice vinegar-y flavor. I’m usually way too skimpy on the oil in stir fries, which renders them a little sad, but this one had between 1 and 2 tablespoons total, I would guess. You may have noticed that I’ve been including more fat in my diet lately. I still consume less of it than the average person, but since I’ve been exercising more, I’ve been ravenous, so I’m finding ways to sneak a few extra calories in. I will start amping up my plant-based proteins, too, once things calm down and I can do a better job of meal planning.

    Weeknight recipes

    10 Oct

    Frequent readers of this blog know I’ve been pretty hardcore about meal planning the last couple of months due to my CSA, my need to save money, and my desire to eat better. Naturally, these efforts necessitate cooking during the week, even when I’m tired and cranky (or, in the case of last night, fighting off some nasty allergies). I’m turning to meals that sound delicious but are not complicated, and so far I’ve had great success this week, so I wanted to share a couple. First off is a variation on my Basic Lentil Soup:

    I adapted it for the slow cooker, though, since I still only have one working burner at home.

    Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

    • 1 cup brown lentils
    • 1/3 cup barley
    • 3 small-medium carrots, chopped
    • 1/2 container of mushrooms, coarsely chopped
    • 3 scallions, sliced (white and green parts) — you could use a small onion instead
    • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 Tofurkey Italian Sausage, chopped coarsley
    • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • Pinch of crushed red pepper
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    The soup epitomizes what I love about the slow cooker: combine everything in your cooker, add eight cups of water, and set to cook. You can put it on low and let it cook all day while you’re at work, or you can set it to high, and it will be done in three or so hours. I did the latter since I was preparing it for lunches on Sunday evening. It makes a very thick soup that is filling but not too heavy.

    Serves 6ish.

    I love lentil soup because, really, you can add any vegetables you want and season it however you prefer. I went Italian this time, but it could just as easily been curried or made Mexican-style.

    For dinner Monday and Tuesday night, we enjoyed a variation on Oh She Glows’ Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze.

    I made the following modifications:

    • Used olive oil instead of Earth Balance.
    • Added two garlic cloves (instead of the powder), two scallions (though I would actually saute regular white onion next time for even more flavor), and a lot of crushed red pepper.
    • Mashed the roasted butternut squash with a fork and didn’t bother with a blender.

    Our bowls contained the sauce, whole wheat spaghetti, shiitake mushrooms, the rest (FINALLY!) of the white beans, and kale. I would guess the ratios were:

    • 1 recipe of the sauce
    • 1 bag of spaghetti minus one serving (though I did boil the spaghetti fresh each night since I really hate the texture of leftover whole wheat pasta)
    • Half a container of shiitake mushrooms (button or cremini would work great, too)
    • 1.5 cups cooked cannelini beans
    • 1 bunch of kale, torn into pieces

    Made 4 hearty servings.

    Since I had roasted the squash on Friday night, the meal came together really fast, especially last night, since all we — Mr. X, rather, since I was feeling sick and, therefore, had regressed to a whiny baby — had to do was boil some pasta and reheat the sauce. I won’t say it truly tasted like a cheese sauce, but the flavor was delicious and very interesting. It also had a great consistency even without blending it.

    Tonight we’re having variation #10 billion on X’s Spicy Portobello Chili, and he has demanded I update the recipe with our current favorite combination, so expect that post soon.

    Gourmet at home

    24 Sep

    We are starting to establish some new routines in our casa, namely fancy dinners on Saturday night and brunch on Sunday morning. We’ve done brunch a few weekends in a row now (and I’ll post more about it tomorrow), but our finer-dining Saturdays are technically too new to call them regular. Instead, I’m putting it out to the universe to keep conditions clear for more gourmet dinners at home in the coming weekends.

    Our kick-off event was this past Saturday. I made Butternut Squash Ravioli from scratch for the first time, and it was a huge success!

    It was a bit time-consuming, but the process was a ton of fun, so I took photos for documentation. Here’s the recipe:


    • 1 medium butternut squash
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Optional: cheese or nutritional yeast to taste

    Pasta dough:

    • 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1/4 cup of water


    • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    • 8 fresh sage leaves

    Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut your butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Lightly oil the cut side and place both halves face down on a baking sheet (I recommend one with sides, in case of oozing). Bake for 30+ plus minutes, until tender. Mine got nicely browned on the cut sides, which I like. Set aside.

    While the squash is cooling, combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Now add the olive oil and the water. You can either mix and knead with your hands or using a stand mixer. My Kitchenaid is my only fancy kitchen appliance, and it’s perfect for making dough. I start out with the mixing attachment, and when it starts to come together cohesively, I switch to my dough hook. Mix/knead for about two minutes, then let it rest for five minutes. Then knead for five minutes more and rest for five. Repeat once more, for a total of 12 minutes of kneading and 10 of resting. Add more flour if it’s too sticky or more water if it’s too stiff.

    By now, your squash should be cool enough to handle. Just scrape the innards into a bowl and add salt and pepper and optional cheese or nutritional yeast to taste. Combine. It’ll take no time at all, as long as your squash is cooked thoroughly.

    Prepare a clean, flat surface (I used a cookie sheet) with flour to coat lightly. Flatten the dough into a rough disc and then use a rolling pin (or, you know, a Klean Kanteen bottle) to create a long, thin, roughly rectangular piece of dough. It may take a while — my manual dexterity isn’t great, so I bet I spent 15 just flattening the dough — but keep at it until it’s quite thin. Flip it over several times and add more flour as needed. Now cut it into more or less even ribbons. I made eight that were about 1.5″ wide, but the width will ultimately depend on how big your cutter is. Choose something to be your cutter — I used a Champagne flute, which is a little smaller than your standard ravioli pres, but I loved the shape. Delicately score half the ribbons with the shape just as a guide, but do not actually cut anything out.

    Use a small spoon to scoop squash mixture into the center of your shape. The exact amount will require a little trial and error, but overfilling isn’t a huge problem.

    Grab one of the unscored ribbons. Now, using your fingers or a pastry brush, lightly wet one side of the dough with plain water and place it, wet side down, on top of the filling. Start at one end, and use your fingers to make little ravioli pillows by pressing down around the filling on the outer edges and between each individual ravioli.

    Now use your cutter to cut them out. Arrange on a plate or baking sheet, but don’t let them touch.

    Aren’t they so cute and puffy?

    You probably aren’t supposed to, but I re-rolled the leftover dough and made a few more ravioli, for a total of 27.

    Since I only have one working burner, I had to make my topping in advance, but you can also do this part while the pasta is boiling. Anyway, to prepare the sage, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the whole sage leaves and fry for a couple of minutes, until they get crunchy. Place on a paper towel to cool.

    Now boil water in a large pot. Add the ravioli one at a time, stir the pot, and let cook. They will float to the top when they’re done, and it’ll take about five minutes max.

    Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and the crushed sage.

    Makes two servings for very hungry people.

    See? Labor intensive but completely worth it! We served it with sides of roasted zucchini (multi-season squash, hey!) and sauteed chard with garlic.

    Plus a bottle of pinot grigio. I also added a little more pepper and some crushed red pepper to my pasta. Here is my dinner all together:

    Yay! Like I said, it was a gourmet meal at home that was delicious, filling, and full of organic produce from my CSA box. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

    Mushroom pasta delight

    12 Oct

    The big, nasty fight with our roommate went down on a Monday, and we weren’t willing to hit the kitch again until Friday. I won’t even recount the fast-food meals and wasted money that characterized the rest of the week.

    Anyway, we decided to make a third recipe from The Voluptuous Vegan, namely the Pasta with Fresh Shiitakes, Tomatoes, and Basil. However, by the end of the week, the fresh tomatoes were gone, as was nearly all of my garlic, so our version was highly, highly altered. Plus, a 1/2 cup of olive oil? Really? I cut that way, way down. Enter the B&X spin:

    Shiitake Mushroom Pasta with Basil
    6 to 8 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
    1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
    1 box whole wheat pasta (I used rotini, but farfalle or fusilli would have been good, too)
    1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly
    4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
    1 cup basil, washed and cut into a chiffonade
    Black pepper to taste

    Preheat the oven to 375° F. Add the mushrooms to a bowl and top with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the soy sauce, mixing to coat thoroughly. Pour them on a prepared baking sheet and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 or so.

    Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of water until al dente (according to package directions). Drain and set aside.

    Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive in a pot over a medium-low flame. Add the sliced onions and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until caramelized and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about two minutes or until softened but not browned. By now, the mushrooms should be warm and soft. Remove them from the oven and add them along with the pasta and basil to the pot, stirring to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes until everything is warmed through. Top with black pepper to taste.

    Serves 4.

    It was deeeeeeliiiiiicious. The mushrooms cooked with soy sauce were an ingenious addition to super-basic pasta. I never would have thought to combine them with fresh basil, but I certainly will again. I topped mine with nutritional yeast, which was tasty but not necessary. I would increase the garlic next time and cook it a little longer, but this method worked in a pinch.

    What’s your favorite pasta ingredient?

    Pesto lovin’

    25 Jul

    Today I had some less-than-stellar service from what used to be one of my favorite restaurants in Tulsa. I had a Living Social deal for Pita Place that expired today, so I decided to get lunch for today and tomorrow with the $20 I had to spend. It seemed like a good idea, especially since I didn’t go grocery shopping on Sunday as I prefer to do. I was spoken to rudely (he said as I was about to order, “decide what you want” and then almost went back to the kitchen even though I never indicated I hadn’t figured it out), half my lunch order was ignored, and it took him 30 minutes to prepare my to-go order even though there were only two people there when I arrived and I ordered it at the same time as my lunch. Plus, when I opened it up, he had left a couple of things out. I have no idea what caused this 180 – he used to be really friendly to me. I wasn’t rude or anything either. He was polite to others even. I know I can be a pill, but I swear I wasn’t in this instance. All in all, I will never go back. It was really that unpleasant. I love, love supporting local restaurants, but I still demand professional, courteous service. Do you ever choose to stop patronizing a business because of curt – not necessarily terrible – service?

    Anyway, the real point of this post is to share tonight’s dinner.

    Sha-boing. This, my friends, is a love affair with local produce. Everything vegetabley you see came from the farmers market, other than the red bell pepper. Plus, the pesto is very low-fat but still incredibly delicious. Here’s how to work the magic.

    Low-fat Pesto Pasta Extravaganza

    • Large bunch of fresh basil, or about 3 cups
    • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
    • Juice of one lemon
    • Small handful of raw almonds (somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 cup)
    • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
    • Black pepper to taste
    • 1 pound whole wheat linguine
    • 1 pound green beans, ends snapped off and broken into bite-size pieces
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1.5 to 2 cups summer squash, diced (I used baby patty pan, zucchini, and yellow crookneck, but any would be great)
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 to 2 cups cherry or other small tomatoes, cut in half, quarters, or left whole

    First, make the pesto. Add to a blender or food processor the basil, garlic, lemon juice, almonds, nutritional yeast, black pepper, and water as needed to blend/process. Set aside.

    Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the linguine until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    Meanwhile, cook the green beans: either steam them until tender or add them to a large pan sprayed with a little olive oil and/or some water until tender. Set aside. Re-spray the pan with olive oil or add some water and the onion. Cook until translucent. Now add the squash and bell pepper, and cook until softened and/or lightly browned. Add the cherry tomatoes and the green beans and cook about two minutes longer. Now add the pasta and the pesto, tossing to combine.

    Serves 4 (or 2.5 in my household!). It’s also tasty cold as a pasta salad.

    My boyfriend asked me to note that this is pesto Genovese (despite the absence of pine nuts — it’s either a pound of them or my water bill), since I take most opportunities to school folks on the fact that pesto has nothing in particular to do with basil. The green stuff is in the style of Genoa. The more you know.

    And now I must remove some very fragrant banana bread from the oven. More on that soon.