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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Meatless Monday: Red Curry with Vegetables

Some of you may recall when I first made this curry dish and couldn’t stop talking about it or how crazy easy it turns out curry-making is. You could say it sent me racing down a curry-making rabbit hole. Curry-based anything – I love it. It really is unbelievably easy to make, and as a bonus, your kitchen/home almost instantly fill with amazing smells. Still, in spite of my curry fascination, I’ve mostly stuck to similar dishes that use either a yellow curry or a basic coconut curry. This introduced a new flavor profile to my at-home recipe Rolodex (extra points for outdated cultural references right?!), and is beautiful and full of color, flavor, and good smells. This recipe has a little hint of a bite to it, as red curries can, so if serving to littles like me, I strongly recommend having additional coconut milk on-hand to mix into their bowls to temper the punch. “A little spicy” aside, this was a delightful Meatless Monday victory, and you should totally try it. If the all-veg version isn’t enough for you, any protein would work beautifully with these flavors. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDredcurry2
* 1T coconut oil
* 1 sweet onion, rough chopped
* salt
* 1T grated fresh ginger (about an inch or so of ginger root), or ginger paste
* 2t minced garlic
* 1 bell pepper (any color), julienned
* 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
* 5oz sliced button mushrooms
* 2T red curry paste
* 14oz can coconut milk (plus extra for smaller eaters’ bowls)
* 1/2C water
* 5oz bag baby spinach
* 1 1/2t raw (aka turbinado) sugar
* 1T low-sodium soy sauce
* 1t rice vinegar (if you don’t have rice vinegar, add the juice of a second lime)
* juice of 1 lime
* for garnishing: lime wedges and a handful of fresh basil cut into thin strips

WHAT TO DO
Heat a wok or large, high-sided pan over medium heat, then add the coconut oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute for 3-4 minutes, mixing frequently, until they soften and become translucent. Add the ginger and the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until all the aromatics are released (bonus perk: your sinuses are now also cleared!).

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Add the pepper, carrots, and mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes, until the crunchy veggies begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Then add the curry paste and stir through for about 2 minutes.

Now add the coconut milk, water, spinach, and sugar. Stir to combine and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

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Remove the pan from the heat. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and another pinch of salt. Stir to mix through, and then taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve over rice and garnish with some fresh basil and a wedge of lime. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate how amazing your home smells while you’re at it!

Meatless Monday: Spinach, Mushroom, and Sweet Onion Calzones

There was this great little calzone shop in the town I grew up in for a few years. D.P. Dough. Man, those were some good calzones. When that shop opened up in town, it was the first time I’d ever had a calzone, and for a while there, I probably could have had one every day. Revelatory! They were actually a chain, I guess. There was randomly one in town where my cousins went to college.

A calzone is an oven-baked folded pizza that, according to the Interwebs, originated in Naples, Italy. A traditional calzone uses a salted bread dough, and is baked in a super hot oven after being stuffed with meat (ham or salami) and mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan or pecorino cheese. But I haven’t seen (or made) a traditional calzone in a while – and why limit yourself, really??

This past weekend, My Tiny Sous Chef and I took a little trip out east to visit my parents for a few days. Every time we take her back to my home town, where I lived from the time I was four until I left for college at 18, I share just one or two more childhood memories with her–often at least one of those has to do with food (of course). Maybe that’s why the idea of calzones popped into my head. Whatever the reason, I’m glad it did. You can get fancy and complicated with calzones if you want. Or you can keep it simple. Or somewhere in between. But on a weeknight — and a Monday after a weekend away, at that! — this easy and delicious version will satisfy every time, guaranteed. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDcalzone6
* 1 bag baby spinach
* 5oz sliced button mushrooms
* 1/2 a sweet onion, sliced thin
* 2T olive oil, divided
* 8oz ricotta cheese
* 3/4C-1C shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
* 2t minced garlic
* 1t dried oregano
* 1lb prepared pizza dough (I like Trader Joe’s)
* grated Parmesan cheese
* your favorite pizza or marinara sauce, warmed up, for serving

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 500F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, set aside.

Boil some water in a medium-sized pot. When it gets to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and add the whole bag of spinach. Leave the spinach in the water just a minute, to wilt. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a pan and cook the mushrooms and onions just until softened, a few minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, mushrooms, onions, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, the other tablespoon of olive oil, 1 egg yolk, garlic, and oregano.

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In a small bowl whisk together the full egg with two tablespoons of water to prepare an egg wash. Set aside.

Flour a working surface and cut your pizza dough into four equal sized pieces. Roll each out into an approximately 6-8-inch round. Place a quarter of the cheese and vegetable filling on one half of each round – pile it up. It will look like a lot, but you want it to be *stuffed* so don’t be shy with your filling. Be sure to leave about a half-inch to an inch border around the edge.

Fold the other half of the dough round over the filling and pinch the edges together. Crimp or fold the seam (or just press it together) to seal. Brush the seams and each calzone with the egg wash and place the calzones onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut 4-5 small steam vents in the top of each.

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Bake at 500F for 8 minutes. Then remove the calzones from the oven, brush the tops with the remainder of the egg wash, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake another 7 minutes. Allow the calzones to cool slightly before serving so that the filling can set and isn’t runny, and so you can pick up your calzone for ultimate dipping in the warmed marinara sauce!

Meatless Monday: Garlic Tofu and Black Bean Tacos

I don’t cook a lot of tofu, but when I do, I always wonder why not. It’s super easy and fast to work with, and it absorbs flavor so well. I’m in a few different recipe sharing groups on social media, and I found my way to this recipe’s inspiration through one of those (here’s the inspo post on Real Simple). It looked great as-is, but I can’t help myself and I decided to add a little to it. The outcome was SO GOOD. Even a certain Meatless Monday hater admitted it was delicious. And totally kid-friendly. Our little foodie ate three whole tacos and then licked her plate clean and then sucked all the lime juice out of the remaining garnish limes and then asked for more! Plus, it’s inexpensive (!) and so fast to pull together (!). Ding! Ding! Ding! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1T olive oil
* 1 package cubed extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry
* 2T minced garlic
* 1t chili powder
* 1 1/2t kosher salt, divided
* 1/2t black pepper
* 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
* 12oz package frozen sweet corn, thawed
* 15oz bag baby spinach
* Juice of 1 lime
* Corn tortillas, warmed
* Crumbled goat cheese, for topping
* Fresh lime wedges, for topping

WHAT TO DO
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu, garlic, chili powder, 1t of salt, and the pepper and mix carefully. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes, then add the black beans. Again, mix carefully to combine, and cook another 2 minutes.

Add the corn, and stirring to combine everything cook another 2 minutes. Finally, reduce heat to medium low and add the spinach. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the pan and mix to combine until the spinach has wilted, just a few minutes more.

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There you go. That’s the whole tortilla, as it were. Serve with warmed corn tortillas, a little crumble of creamy goat cheese, and a squeeze of lime. Delicious beyond what you think. Seriously. This seasoning and texture combo is so so good. Yessir.