Meatless Monday: Orzo Veggie Bowls

I made this for our dinner tonight and it was delicious as a dinner. But note this would also make a great side dish or potluck contribution, served warm or cold. This is adapted from this recipe from the Kitchn. A friend shared it recently and I wanted to try it right away. When I got to it, I made some changes for convenience and because of ingredients and stuff, and I was really happy with the result. All that said, this is a very interchangeable recipe. Don’t like mushrooms? Leave them out or substitute another veg. Have some broccoli you need to use up? Throw it in! You get the gist. Here you go.

* Salt
* 8-12oz orzo pasta
* Grapeseed oil
* 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
* 2 sweet onions, diced
* 4t minced garlic
* 1T ginger paste
* 4-6oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps diced
* 1T balsamic vinegar
* 2T low sodium soy sauce
* 2C chopped kale (about 3 big leaves, stalks removed)
* ~1 bag baby spinach
* Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional, for garnish)
* Crushed red pepper flakes (optional, for garnish)

Heat a pot of water to a boil. Cook the orzo until 6 minutes, to barely al dente. Drain the orzo and toss with a generous drizzle of oil so the grains don’t stick together. Set aside.

Heat a very large pan over high heat. Drizzle in some of the oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When it’s very hot, add the sweet potatoes in a single layer and cook until they begin to turn brown, about 4 minutes. Stir and toss the sweet potatoes and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Move the sweet potatoes aside in the pan and then add the onions. Season with a little salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir them together with the onions. Then move the onions to the side of the pan, too.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook 4 minutes. Stir everything together in the pan until well mixed.

In a small bowl, quickly whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour it into the pan and mix everything together.

Add the orzo gradually, stirring it in with the veggies as you add it.

Add the kale and spinach and cook, mixing constantly, until they wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and season as needed.

Serve hot, with shavings of Parmesan and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti and Semi-Homemade Broccoli Pesto and Broccoli

Sometimes pasta is just the way to go, right? It is easy and quick, and has literally infinite variations. Here’s one. With a little twist, a jar of store bought pesto is lightened up and brightened up and a simple, lovely meal is ready to serve. Here you go.

* whole wheat spaghetti
* 1 small jar prepared basil pesto
* 3 heads of broccoli
* olive oil
* 1/4C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 1t honey

Take one head of broccoli and cut it down into florets, then cut it into tiny pieces. Cut the other two heads of broccoli down into florets and set aside.

Add the pesto and chopped up broccoli pieces to a blender. Pulse to break the broccoli down further. Add the Parmesan and honey and blend on a low speed. With the blender on, drizzle in the olive oil until everything is well blended and a texture you like. Taste and add more Parmesan or oil or honey if necessary.

Boil water to cook the pasta. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package instructions. With 3 or 4 minutes to go, add the broccoli florets to the pasta so that it can cook to just tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pot.

Add the pesto and mix to combine. Serve with some warm bread or a fresh salad and enjoy.

Meatless Monday: Caprese Gnocchi

Not only did we homemake gnocchi ON A WEEKNIGHT, but it was indeed a ‘we’ who made them–My Tiny Sous Chef and I. The key takeaway here? Gnocchi is totally easy to make!! You can make it, too! And it doesn’t take long and it’s super fun and it’s delicious! Here you go.

serves 2-4
* 1lb potato (~1 large potato), steamed to fork-tender
* 1t salt
* 1t pepper
* 1 egg
* flour (~1-1 1/2C)
* olive oil
* 1pt grape tomatoes
* handful fresh basil leaves
* 8oz small freah mozzarella balls, like ciliegini or boccancini

Steam the potato. If you don’t have time to steam it on the stovetop, put your potato in a glass bowl or shallow dish with a little bit of water. Puncture the potato a few time with a fork, and microwave for 5-8 minutes until fork-tender. Peel the potato and then mash it in a bowl until there are no large chunks.

Add salt and pepper and mix to combine. In the bowl, move the potato into a ring, creating a small space in the middle. Break the egg into that space and use a fork to beat it lightly, then mix it together with the mashed potato until fully combined.

Move the potato mixture to a lightly floured working surface and form into a ball. Add flour, about 1/2 a cup at a time, to the ball, mixing and folding into the potato mixture to create the potato dough. When the dough is ready and no longer sticky, reform it into a ball.

Use a knife to cut the dough into fourths. Take a fourth of the potato dough and role it out by hand into a long tube until about a foot long. Then divide in half and roll back out to about a foot again. Cut the tube into small sections, about an inch long each. Repeat until all the dough has been cut down into gnocchi.

Heat a large pot of water over high heat. While that’s happening, use your thumb to press into each gnocchi or roll the individual pieces over a fork to leave an imprint. You can also leave them as-is.

Regardless, when they’re ready, place them into the boiling water. When they float to the surface, remove them from the pot. This will literally take just a minute or two at most.

Heat just a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan and move the cooked gnocchi to the pan when the oil is hot. Sauté a few mintes until they begin developing a golden brown crust. Add the tomatoes to the pan and continue sautéing, shaking the pan occasionally. When the tomatoes burst, lower the heat.

Cut the basil leaves into ribbons and add them to the pan. Carefully mix to combine and you’re ready to serve.

Add a few little balls of creamy delicious mozzarella to your plate before serving and garnish with a few extra leaves of fresh basil.

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

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!