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.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 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)

WHAT TO DO
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: Broccoli Lasagna

We’ve hit the part of winter when I just want deep, heavy, rich comfort food all the time. Chicago has this terrible sweet spot at this point in the season when it’s just grey all the time. Like, grey-grey. And indulgent comfort food seems like the only proper response. Except that, sigh, it’s not (isn’t it?).

This lasagna kind of turned out to be the best of both worlds. It’s lasagna, and if that’s not comforting, I don’t know what is. But it’s fresh and much lighter than a traditional lasagna, so you can feel better about the third and fourth helpings you’re definitely going to want. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 15oz package part-skim ricotta cheese
* 1 egg
* 1t salt
* 1/2t ground black pepper
* 1T oregano
* 1 small head broccoli, broken down into tiny florets
* precooked lasagna noodles
* 1 jar your favorite marinara sauce
* 1 8oz package shredded cheese (mozzarella or an Italian blend)
* garlic powder

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, oregano, and broccoli florets.

Spoon a bit of the marinara sauce into the bottom of an 8X11 to just cover the bottom.

Place a layer of noodles over the sauce. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture into a layer over the noodles. Pour half the marinara sauce over the mixture. Sprinkle garlic powder generously over the sauce, and then add half of the cheese on top. Repeat.

Bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, until the cheese melts and begins to brown, 30-49 minutes or so. Allow to sit/cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash and Veggie Skillet

One pan, 30 minutes, totally comforting and warm and delicious. And healthy! This one started with this recipe, and then I did a little adjusting here and there (you know, amping up the garlic, etc.). The end dish was perfection. It’s lovely as-is for a simple weeknight vegetarian dinner, but would also be amazing with shrimp or sausage, or a fried egg (ooh!). Basically, it wins. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 large spaghetti squash (~3-3.5lb.)
* olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
* 4-6t minced garlic
* 1t (heaping) dried oregano
* 1/2t black pepper
* 1/4t salt
* 1 1/2C marinara sauce
* 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
* 1/4C ¼ flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
* 1/3C grated Parmesan cheese

WHAT TO DO
Pierce the spaghetti squash several times with a sharp knife, and the place it into the microwave in a glass baking dish. Cook for 15 minutes on high. Of course, if you have time to properly roast it, go right ahead!

While thats cooking, chop the onion, slice the mushrooms, chop the parsely, and prep the remaining ingredients.

Let the squash stand for 10 minutes, and then cut it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Use a fork and twist out/scrape strands of the spaghetti squash flesh and place them into a bowl.

Heat some olive oil in a large nonstick, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onion and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften and brown.

Add the garlic, oregano, pepper and salt, and cook for 1 minute more. Then add the spaghetti squash, marinara sauce, chickpeas, and parsley. Mix well, then spread the mixture out evenly in the pan. Top with the Parmesan cheese.

Place the skillet under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately with some warm crusty bread.

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Farro Bake

I’ve been collecting farro recipe ideas since I discovered this wonderful ancient grain. It’s got loads of heath benefits, it’s hearty and filling, and it’s got a lovely nuttiness that makes it great on its own or with other ingredients. I found this lovely idea over on the wonderful Smells Like Home blog, and her recipe was adapted from another fan favorite blogger, Smitten Kitchen‘s pasta version. I’ve been cooking a lot of mushrooms lately, so I adapted it myself, using the basic recipe as a jumping off point. And if ONE PAN MAGIC + Kid-FRIENDLY + NO LEFTOVERS isn’t a selling point, I don’t know what to tell ya! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* ½ cup dry farro
* olive oil
* 1 small cauliflower, broken down into small florets
* 1 small sweet onion, chopped
* 2t minced garlic
* salt
* freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4C cooking sherry
* 2T unsalted butter
* 3T flour
* 1 1/2C vegetable broth (chicken broth us fine, too)
* a few sprigs fresh rosemary
* 1/2C grated Parmesan cheese
* 4 oz mozzarella, cubed small
* handful thinly sliced fresh basil
* crushed red pepper flakes, optional

WHAT TO DO
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat a few glugs of oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and cook until the florets begin to soften amd brown. Add the onions an garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper, then cook until the onions soften and become somewhat translucent.

Add in the sherry to the pan and stir to scrape any bits up from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 1 minute. Add the butter, and when it’s melted, sprinkle the flour over the pan and stir it in so everything gets a little coat. Add the broth slowly, stirring as you go, then add in the rosemary.

Simmer 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the farro and cheeses.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are bubbly. Remove the rosemary sprigs and sprinkle with the fresh-cut basil. serve immediately with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.