Meatless Monday: Bruschetta Pasta

Ticking all the boxes for Monday dinner requirements, this dish is a total winner. It’s easy as anything; it’s light; it’s full of flavor; it’s kid-friendly; and it’s FAST. Plus, you could easily turn this into a non-meatless dish by adding grilled chicken or quick-seared shrimp, so it’s also totally modifiable, which adds bonus points! Who doesn’t love bruschetta? A perfect combination of acidic tomato, earthy basil, sweet balsamic, a punch of garlic – another example of ticking all the boxes, right? And pasta… DUH. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDbruschpasta3
* 3T balsamic vinegar
* 2t minced garlic
* 1-2 shallots, minced
* 3-4 large Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
* big pile of fresh basil leaves (~1/2C tightly packed), sliced into ribbons
* lemon pepper
* 1lb wide noodle pasta (like fettuccini, tagliatelle, etc.)
* 1/4C olive oil
* freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

WHAT TO DO
Heat a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions (approximately 6-8 minutes usually).

While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, dice and mince and slice everything else.

Add the balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and minced shallots to a large serving bowl. Let it sit for a bit to allow the flavors to come together a bit. Add the tomatoes, basil, and lemon pepper. Mix carefully to combine, and then let it sit and marinate a bit while the pasta finishes cooking.

As soon as the pasta’s ready, drain it and add it directly to the serving dish. Pour the olive oil over it, and then carefully mix everything together until the noodles are all coated and everything is well blended. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan and enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Egg + Veggie Pita Pockets

Not too long ago, I posted a “Food for Thought” post asking what your go-to meal is for those nights when it either all falls apart or you just completely failed to plan or organize. Mine is an omelet or omelet sandwich. Didn’t get home in time? Omelet saves the day! Protein plus fast, and you can add in any other goodies you *do* have available (cheese, veggies, leftover shredded chicken, etc.) and give it a little extra something without having to spend a lot of time or energy. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a guaranteed win. But even when you’re not scrambling (get it?!) to get something on the plate, that same combination of goods can make for a darn delicious–and easy–weeknight dinner success. And that is how we ended up with this very simple, very quick, very very yummy Meatless Monday meal. Note that, of course, the cheese and veggies are up for interpretation, and you could easily add some kind of meat, too, if you want. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
makes approximately 4-5 servings
* 6 large eggs
* salt
* pepper
* onion powder
* garlic powder
* optional crushed red pepper flakes
* olive oil
* 1/2 an average-sized zucchini, sliced into rounds and then quartered
* 1/2 an average-sized yellow squash, sliced into rounds and then quartered
* 1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
* 1/2 red pepper, diced
* 1-2 shallots, sliced
* 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
* crumbled feta cheese
* pita bread, sliced in half for serving (1/2 a pita per serving)
optional for serving: fresh sliced avocado or guacamole; mayonnaise; hot sauce

WHAT TO DO
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and seasonings, to taste. Set aside.

Prepare your veggies and then heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the veggies to the pan all at once and saute until they begin to soften, just a few minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low and then add the egg mixture directly into the pan. Immediately begin gently mixing the eggs around the pan with the veggies, stirring carefully but constantly as they cook. When the eggs are almost done, add the feta cheese to the pan and continue mixing another minute or so until they’re ready. Watch the eggs carefully – good scrambled eggs are cooked through but not dry at all. You want to remove the pan from the heat at just the right moment.

Warm the pita bread up just before serving, then fill each half with a generous portion of the egg and veggie mixture. Serve as-is or add any toppings or condiments you like. Enjoy!

Pink Pesto

This is a good one for all of you parents struggling with picky non-veggie eaters. I found a while ago that cooking with color worked wonders. “Ooh! Look at this purple spiky thing! What do you think purple tastes like?” And then, boom, kid’s eating purple cauliflower and dipping it in hummus and I’m high-fiving myself. I also find that involving the kiddo in meal planning for the week helps too. I usually try to get her help selecting at least one meal or all the sides or something like that. I find that encourages her to at least taste some things she might not otherwise taste, and discover she actually likes a wider variety of options (thus allowing me to grow our weekly rotation). A few weeks ago we were looking at food blogs together, and came across this post. And those two things came together – color + involving her in planning. PINK! This Tiny Sous Chef loves pink like nothing else – we HAD to try it. So tonight we finally did, with some tweaks and modifications, and it is a SERIOUS winner. Unlike traditional basil pesto, the bite is softened dramatically by the beets, which offer a gentle, luscious, flavor and texture. Still, it holds its own and satisfied all the eaters – no leftovers at all! Note, this recipe makes about 4X what you need for a Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 3 small to medium-sized beets, washed
* 3t minced garlic
* zest and juice of 1 lemon
* 1/2C pinenuts
* 2T red wine vinegar
* 1/3C olive oil, plus more if needed for consistency
* 1/2-1t fine sea salt
* 1/2C grated Parmesan cheese

WHAT TO DOpinkpesto1
Bring a pot of water to boil and then add the beets to it. Cook about 30-45 minutes, fork-testing the beets for tenderness after 30. Remove from heat and run under cold water. The skin should peel back just with a little rubbing by hand.

Cut the beets into small pieces and add to a blender or food processor. Add the rest of the pesto ingredients, leaving the olive oil and Parmesan cheese aside. Blend until well combined. Then add the Parmesan and blend again. With the machine on, stream in the olive oil until you reach the consistency and texture you like for your pesto. Taste and add more salt or olive oil if necessary.

Add your beautiful bright pink pesto to pasta, serve it as a dipping sauce for garlic bread, or in a cold pasta and veggie or potato salad for your next summer potluck barbecue. And save the extra — if you’re not going to use the rest within the next week, it’ll freeze well, too, so you can pull it out when you need a fix! Enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Asparagus “Noodles” with Pesto and Tomatoes

aspnoodles2Vegetable “noodles” are super popular right now. I am familiar with and appreciate the criticism – not a noodle is NOT A NOODLE. I’m not eating veggies as noodles because I’m under some delusion that they taste just like pasta. But I actually think they’re super fun to make and eat, and they’re usually pretty and can pair really nicely with a sauce because of the veg connection. But a certain person in this house has made it explicitly clear that the next time I try to serve him a zoodle (zucchini + noodle) he’ll walk out of the house to go get a taco with meat. But he only said this about zoodles, so I sneakily planned this dinner and didn’t tell him we’d be eating “noodles” (we can call them ribbons!) of asparagus instead of pasta. MWA HA HA!

I found the inspiration for this recipe on a blog I love and follow, Pinch of Yum. But because we go Meatless on Mondays, I modified it, removing the bacon (I know! Just because it’s Monday, I swear it!) and adding bright and juicy grape tomatoes. If you want the original, it’s right here. But my all-veg version sings of seasonal goodness and offers a bright, light, easy, and shockingly fast to make dinner — multiple servings of which were consumed BY ALL. Seriously. Here you go.aspnoodles4

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2lbs asparagus
* olive oil
* 1 small jar pesto sauce (or make your own – here‘s a great recipe!)
* 1/2 bag frozen peas
* 1pt grape tomatoes
* fresh Pecorino Romano to grate

WHAT TO DO
Wash and then trim both ends of the asparagus. Use a vegetable peeler to peel wide ribbons of the asparagus. As you go, it’ll reach a place where you can’t quite get the thin ribbon anymore – I discarded these pieces, but you could certainly chop them up and cook them into the dish, or use them in another meal on another night.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it glistens, add the asparagus in batches, tossing the ribbons of asparagus just enough to get them softened but not soggy. Just 30 seconds to a minute at most, tossing constantly. Add a tiny bit of oil for additional batches if needed.

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While this is going on, warm the pesto over medium low heat until heated through.

Move the asparagus ribbons to a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss gently to mix through.

Add the peas and tomatoes to the pan where you cooked the asparagus, still over medium heat. Add a bit more olive oil and a pinch of salt and cook until the tomatoes just blister and the peas thaw and warm – just two or three minutes is all it takes. Add the peas and tomatoes to the bowl with the asparagus and carefully mix them in.

Grate fresh Pecorino Romano over each serving and enjoy! MMMMMMMMM…

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