Category Archives: Vegetarian

Sage & Butternut Squash Pizza

Fall came crashing into my life today in the most delicious way ever.  Let me teach you the way:

Butternut squash + goat cheese + sage + homemade roasted garlic pizza sauce = the best fall inspired pizza known to mankind.

Seriously.  And don’t just take my word for it.  Make it yourself.

I was inspired by a recipe in a vegetarian cookbook I read through at the thrift store–they are the ones who gave me the idea for butternut squash and sage together on pizza.  The execution is so basic that you don’t need a real recipe, anyway.  But here’s some anyway, “just in cases” (10 points if you can name that quote).

Here’s the basic pizza dough recipe, and here’s the roasted garlic and pepper tomato sauce I used.  The pizza dough recipe makes enough for three pies, but this recipe made two pies.  Freeze the last third of the dough to use some other time!  My measurements are all very approximate–because I didn’t measure and because pizza is so specific to individual tastes!  Just try it and see.

Sage & Butternut Squash Pizza

  • pizza dough for two pies
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • dash of salt
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • handful of fresh sage leaves (about 20 per pie)
  • 1/2 C-1 C sauce for each pie
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese (to split between the two pies)
  • 1-2 C shredded mozzarella cheese (depends on your personal taste)

Spread the butternut squash and half the sage leaves on a baking sheet (I used a deep glass one).  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  I did this while the pizza dough was rising.

This is quick and easy.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (the hotter the better!) and set your pizza stone inside to heat up.  If you don’t have a stone, you can use the back of a baking sheet to bake the pizza on, but don’t worry about preheating it beforehand.

Spread the dough out to a circle with a roughly 10″ diameter on top of a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal.  Spoon the sauce on top, and sprinkle with the two types of cheese.  Layer half the butternut squash and sage leaves over the top, and add a few more fresh sage leaves.

Don’t forget to brush the edges with olive oil!

Slide the pizza and parchment paper from the table top on to a large plate or baking sheet back, then transfer it on the stone in the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the bottom and edges are browned and the cheese is bubblin’.

Best served sliced and eaten immediately so the cheese burns your mouth.

Then again, that might just be my way.

I absolutely love the taste and texture of goat cheese on pizza–it’s so good!  It makes the slightly boring taste of butternut squash become exciting.

Lastly, this pizza is ridiculously filling with all the squash on top–Fritz and I didn’t even finish a pizza between the two of us (but we really, really wanted to).

Have a good night!

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Very Veggie Burgers

Vacation feels so weird–it’s really hard to allow myself to sleep in (until 8:30!) and read whole books and go to the gym whenever I want.  I feel like I’m letting a whole weekend go to waste without getting tons of stuff accomplished–I guess I’ve gotten used to cramming a lot of work into short weekends.

But I’m getting there.  Tomorrow I might even wake up late, make Fritz a glorious Sunday breakfast, and then sneak in a midday nap, just ’cause I can.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making veggie burgers (since they are so gosh-darn expensive to buy! Why is that?!), and with all my time off and beautiful weather outside, I knew today would be a good day for it.  Using inspiration from my mom, I remembered reading a blog post from Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows about the perfect veggie burger, and I decided to stick with the recipe from a self-proclaimed veggie burger perfectionist.

I just don’t have enough vegetarian experience to experiment on my own at this yet.

Very Veggie Burgers Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 C oats, ground to flour
  • 1 1/2 C bread crumbs (mine were Italian flavor)
  • 1 C grated carrot (I used the small hole on the grater)
  • 1 C cooked black beans, roughly mashed
  • 1/2 C sunflower seeds (roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/3 C chopped almonds (raw)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T olive oil
  • flax eggs: 2 1/2 T ground flaxseed in 1/2 C warm water
  • 1 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/2 t salt

This recipe does take a lot of prep work to get all the ingredients ready, but once you’re there, it goes fast.

Combine all the ingredients and mix well–I started using a spoon but rapidly gave up and dove right in with my hands.  I was shocked and impressed by how delicious the dough was–yum.

Shape into eight large patties, packed really tightly.  To cook on the grill, pre-cook them a little bit in the oven first, so they maintain their shape.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake them on a greased baking sheet for fifteen minutes, flipping them once halfway through. 

Moving to the grill–cook them over medium heat, for just a few minutes on each side.  They’ll get gorgeous grill marks, and you can melt cheese over them once you flip ’em.  These patties are pretty stable, so you don’t have to worry about being too careful with them.

I was surprised by how much I loved these burgers.  As a meat-eater, I can attest that they don’t replace a juicy, freshly grilled beef burger, but they can hold their own in a separate category.  I can actually see myself eating these instead of burgers, since I really liked the taste, but I would never expect Fritz to do the same.

With ketchup, mustard, and cheese, these really hit the spot.  They are also really dense, and since I was starving I managed to eat two, but kinda regretted the second one later.  I was preeeetty full.

As for the texture, I give it a hearty thumbs up!  I wasn’t sure why the sunflower seeds and almonds were necessary, since meat burgers definitely aren’t crunchy, but as I started eating this one it made sense.  Without the nice textural crunch and chew, I think the burgers could rapidly head in the “too mushy” direction.  Ugh.  Reminds me of the first veggie burger I ever had–not the best.

In summary–worth the work and quite delicious! I can’t wait to have round two tomorrow.

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Zucchini and Tomato Tart

Only one more test to go (my last practical for my entire educational career!), then I’m a free woman!  My test isn’t until 8:30 tomorrow night, which gives me quite a bit of time to study (and agonize) until it’s all over.

I was searching for recipes using zucchini (since it appears I will be receiving yet more of it in my CSA box tomorrow), and I found this very yummy-looking tart from The Flour SackSince I haven’t made real food in a while, I thought it’d be a nice change from having Fritz grill everything while I cram for exams.

Zucchini and Tomato Tart Printable Recipe Cards

for the crust:

  • 2 C whole-wheat flour (you should probably use pastry flour, but I used straight whole-wheat)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • scant 1/2 C ice water

for the filling:

  • 1 C fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 C feta cheese
  • 1/4 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 C thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

top:

  • 1 medium to large zucchini, sliced thinly
  • handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • drizzle of olive oil (about a T)

This is a bit of a complex recipe, just in terms of how many bits and pieces there are to prepare, so make sure you have a little counter space and time available to you before starting.

Start with the crust.  Oil a 10-inch tart pan.  Combine the flour and salt in the mixer bowl, then drizzle the olive oil over the top while the mixer is running.  It should form small little balls throughout the flour (some flour will remain dry).  Slowly add the ice water until all the flour is moistened, and stop the mixer.  Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice to form a ball before rolling out to a large circle.  Lightly place onto the tart pan, press into place, and cut off the excess edges.

I didn’t have a tart pan, so I used a slightly smaller pie pan.  It worked fine, but I think the larger size would work better in making a thinner tart that cooks more quickly and evenly.  I used the extra edges to make four small mini-tarts–so cute!

Refrigerate the crusts for at least half an hour, then place them in the oven (preheated at 375 degrees) for 15 minutes, weighted down with pie weights or dried beans over a piece of parchment paper.  After 15 minutes, remove the weights and paper and let it toast for another 5 minutes.

While the crust is chilling and cooking, set up the zucchini.  Because they have such a high water content, toss the thin slices with a pinch of salt and lay them out on paper towels.  This will let them release some water before they drown your tart while cooking.

Mix the filling ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  When the crusts are ready, spoon the filling into an even layer.  Dab the zucchini slices with a paper towel to dry them, then layer in a circular pattern over the top.  Drop the grape tomatoes, halved, on top, and drizzle with olive oil.

Don’t expect yours to look exactly like mine, since I doubled the zucchini–I’ve got a lot to use up!  I absolutely love zucchini, so I was happy with more, but the proportions would probably be better with the original amount.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about half an hour, when the tart is cooked through–the zucchini is tender and the tomatoes are bursting with flavor.

A work of art to look at!

My only complaint with this tart was that the crust was a bit dense–that may be my fault, since I didn’t use pastry flour.  I also would have preferred to put it in a larger pan than what I had lying around, but I didn’t have anything that would be a better fit.

I must say, however, that the bite-sized tarts were absolutely amazing.  Two-bite-sized, really, but super cute and the perfect ratio of crust, cheese, and vegetable.

We ate half of the tart, and were completely stuffed.  Very filling.

Anyhoo, I have to go write a take-home final for my ethics class (best kind of test there is), so have a lovely evening!  To keep up with the late nights, I’ve been drinking vast quantities of English breakfast tea to keep me feeling sane–what’s your comforting drink of choice?  I’ve never really been a coffee kind of person.

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

As my test anxiety was building this week, I developed a very intense need for nachos.

A need for nachos.  Not just your average, “oh, I want nachos”, but a need for nachos.  You can’t ignore those kind of things.  When your body tells you that chips, beans, cheese, and chili powder must be in your belly in 15 minutes or you might die, you listen.

Just like when my body tells me I need to watch Christmas movies even though it’s the middle of June.  I listen and I listen well–and I’m currently watching The Family Stone.  (Please don’t judge me–times of high stress make me do weird things).

But back to the nachos.  I wanted to use up some more of my cilantro, so I decided to spice up my nachos and then cool it back down with a yogurt sauce.  Sound good?

And if you don’t like yogurt sauce, or if the smell/taste/look of cilantro makes you die a little bit inside (hi Fritz!), then you can just skip it.  Fritz enjoyed the nachos quite nicely without it.

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

  • 8 small corn tortillas, sliced into quarters (or corn chips)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/4-1/2 C jalapeno slices (depending on how much you love your spice!)
  • 1/4-1/2 C Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 lemon (about 2 T lemon juice)
  • 1/4 C plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • small bunch cilantro (about 2-3 T chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and arrange your corn chips.  Since I had tortillas in the freezer, I microwaved them for a few seconds, sliced ’em in quarters with a pizza roller, sprinkled with a little salt, and baked them until they were crispy, about 15 minutes.  Obviously you can skip this step if you have some chips handy.

These were vegetarian chips, so I used an entire can of refried beans, but you could easily use half or less and add some meat to make them more hearty.  Once the chips are crisp, add the beans on top.  (By the way, I’ve made refried beans from scratch before, and they didn’t quite taste as yummy as the good ol’ canned version.  Reason why?  Third ingredient on the canned kind is lard.  Yeah.  Maybe not so good.)

Sprinkle with jalapenos and cheese.  Be generous.  With both.

Sprinkle on the spices and pop in the oven for a few minutes until the beans are warmed and the cheese melted.

Meanwhile, process the yogurt, cilantro, and lemon juice (lime would probably be even better if you had it!) until smooth.  Drizzle over the top and enjoy!

We both love, love, loved this dinner treat of nachos.  I definitely would have eaten these with some spicy salsa on the side, but we didn’t have any and there was no way my tummy was allowing me to hold off on the nachos.

Experiment with the spices–if you are the hot and spicy type, some cayenne might be just the thing you need.  And if you haven’t already jumped on the smoked paprika bandwagon, now is the time.

Really.  That stuff is good.

In other good and exciting news, we got our fourth CSA box yesterday!  Check out the goods for this week:

I’ve had a lot of variety in my green monsters lately–using kale, chard, and beet greens instead of only plain ol’ spinach.  For those new readers, I am a first-time CSA user from Golden Earthworm Organic Farm on Long Island–read more about their CSA program here.

Plan for tomorrow–up early for the gym, then a doctor’s appointment and spending a large majority of the day reading (for pleasure!) and definitely baking!  I feel like I haven’t baked anything in ages and I absolutely miss having it around. 

Have a great night!

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Filed under Appetizers, Snacks, Vegetarian

Our CSA Box, and Crispy Chard Chips

After months of excited anticipation (I know, I’m such a dork), we finally got our first (and second) CSA box!

Because Fritz and I are idiots, when I was out-of-town last week, I forgot to call and remind him to pick up our first box.  Major bummer–but part of the fun of buying from a small farmer is that you can call them and figure out a solution to your own stupid mistakes.  Maggie, the farmer’s wife, offered to give us a few veggies that we missed last week so we wouldn’t feel like we wasted a week’s worth of money.  Isn’t that nice?  Not to mention that the box we forgot to pick up got donated to someone else who needed it (you’re welcome!).

So this is really about a week and a half worth of veggies:

And yes, they are as vibrant and green and delicious as they look.

Here’s the issue, though.  Now I have an entire tableful of greens–and I refuse to waste any of them!  You’ll be seeing a lot of greens-based recipes this year.  Between the green monsters (they use up a lot of greens, really fast) and salads, I’m not too worried about getting through them.  I also blanched and froze the beet greens, and I have some other fun things planned for the next few days.

Fritz is out-of-town for the weekend with his dad, though (and he took my camera!), so that is going to make cooking, blogging, and eating those greens a lot more difficult.

Our first recipe?  Crispy chard chips.

Crispy Chard Chips

  • 1 bunch chard (or kale, or any hearty green)
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Rinse the chard leaves and tear them into pieces–they can be as large or small as you want–I went pretty large.  Drizzle two cookie sheets with the olive oil and divide the chard pieces between them.  Using your hands, toss the leaves with the olive oil until they are evenly coated.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (and other spices if you want–garlic salt, paprika, chili powder…go crazy!).

Place on a middle rack in the oven and bake until dry and crispy, about 20 minutes.  Once they are cool, they shouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (thanks to the olive oil) but they may need to be gently loosened to remove them.  You can store these in a Tupperware container or plastic baggies, but trust me, they’ll go pretty quickly.

The crunchy, salty satisfaction of potato chips with all the health benefits of leafy greens.

I took these to school for a snack during my long days of lectures.  It was so nice to have a snack that feels like potato chips, since I try not to eat them but I really, really love them.

Really, really, really love them.

So far, the CSA has been a success–but I’ll update you again next week.  Hope you get a few minutes today to enjoy the weather (if you live near me) or just have some time for yourself.  Au revoir!

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Filed under Snacks, Vegetarian

Year of the Vegetable (and Pasta Puttanesca)

I have very exciting news.

News that involves vegetables.  Many vegetables, coming to me once a week in a box from a farm just a little further east on Long Island.  A CSA box.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a system where the consumer (that’s me) buys directly from a farmer (that’s them).  It’s a bit expensive for our budget, but I talked Fritz into letting us try it this year.  It averages out to about $21 a week (our grocery budget is around $50 a week).

From June 1st ’till the end of November we will be picking up a box of CSA veggies from a drop-off point close by our apartment.  I’m really excited because I can’t wait to have fresh-picked local vegetables at my disposal for 26 weeks.  I’m also looking forward to learning how to use some new vegetables that I’ve never had the opportunity to use–the farm grows over 100 varieties of vegetables, and they promise 6-10 different types of vegetables in each box.  Of course, I am a little nervous about getting stuck with a giant pile of kale every week for 26 weeks–but their list of last year’s boxes has a lot of variety, so I remain hopeful.  I also have wanted to really dive into making us eat a lot more fresh and green vegetables this year, so with this system I’m stuck finding a way to use what I’ve been given (plus I hate wasting food and I love a challenge so…).

The farm we are using is called the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, and here’s their website if you want to learn more about CSA or their farm: thegoldenearthworm.com

In other exciting vegetable news, our baby tomato plants are growing like wildfire.  On some advice from Mom, I knew I needed to thin them out ASAP since a lot more of them were growing than I anticipated.  I bought some peat pots for $1.50 and got to work.

To prepare the pots, poke a hole in the bottom, fill with potting soil, and drench with water until the pots are saturated.  Transplant the babies, and voila!

Obviously I would rather not be transplanting baby plants when they are this small, but the pots got overcrowded really fast and I didn’t have much of a choice.  Hopefully now with more room these 14 plants will prove their worth (’cause I’m dreaming about fresh salsa and canning tomato sauce already).

I think that Henry also considers himself their watchdog/mother/guardian angel.  He’s constantly watching over them, sniffing them, and not yet eating them.

Not yet.

Lastly, here’s a recipe for a fresh  new pasta sauce I tried for the first time ever tonight: pasta puttanesca.  It’s quick and simple (and I left out the anchovies, so it’s not fishy), and I absolutely loved it.  I normally don’t even like olives, but between the brine and the bright bites of parsley that I harvested from our herb garden (already!? I know!!), it was my favorite pasta sauce ever.

Pasta Puttanesca (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

  • 1 box whole-wheat angel hair pasta, cooked according to directions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (I only had dried garlic so I did my best)
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 C black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 C minced fresh parsley
  • 1 T capers (optional–I didn’t have them)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to directions on box.

Over medium heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil.  Before it starts to brown, add the olives, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes.  Let the sauce simmer until it begins to thicken, then add the parsley.  Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner was conceptualized and on the table in less than 20 minutes, including picture time.  Love when that happens.

Light and fresh is really the best way to describe this meal.  Sprinkle some fresh parsley on top for a springtime finish.  We also added a dash of grated parmesan cheese–serious yum.  Fritz did wish that he had some chicken in there.  Sometimes I forget that there are other people in this household who crave meat in their meals–sorry Fritz.  It’s an easy addition for next time, though.

Fritz and I are watching a movie called Creation about Charles Darwin’s life.  I strongly recommend it, even to those of you out there who aren’t giant nerds.  And especially those of you who are (Mom!).

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Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

We have officially entered the phase of eating from the bottom shelf of the cabinet–that’d be the dry goods shelf.  The non-perishable (for a really long time) food shelf.  It’s where I turn when everything else in the house is long gone, but I still want a healthy meal.

And when I want that meal to be done cooking before I graduate from PT school, I turn to lentils.

Sometimes I just don’t have the patience for dried beans.

To kick it up a notch, I decided to transform this into a pilaf with a Middle Eastern flair.  With a healthy dose of garam masala (recipe here) and some canned tomatoes, this recipe went from lackluster side dish to spicy and exciting main entree.

Well, I find it exciting.  I am aware that not everyone feels as passionate about ground coriander and brown rice as I do.

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C dried red or green lentils (I used red)
  • 1 C uncooked brown rice
  • 2 C broth (I used beef, but you could use chicken or veggie)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1/2 t dried garlic (or 1 clove fresh), minced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until browned.  Once they are ready, add the spices (garam masala, garlic, and cinnamon stick) and toast for a minute or two until fragrant. 

In a separate pot, bring two cups of water to boil and add the brown rice.  Cook until just about tender–a little al dente is best.

Add the lentils and broth to the spices and onion.  Stir and cover, allowing it to simmer on low until the broth is absorbed and the lentils are cooked (this will go faster with red lentils than green).

When the lentil mixture is ready (and the rice cooked), combine the two and stir.  Add the can of tomatoes and stir in.  If you want, you can add a sprinkle of sugar but it’s not necessary.  Cover for a few minutes until the remaining liquid is absorbed and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

My favorite way to eat lentils is to broil a green bell pepper cut in half vertically, and fill with the rice and lentil mixture.

Sadly, we had no green bell peppers.

I ran out of grocery money for the month, remember?

Don’t be like me.

We had to eat it plain–but luckily, it was still delicious (not to mention full of essential amino acids).

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian