Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Pasta

Zucchini Tomato Pasta

So, it’s August and every gardener has more zucchini than recipes and more cherry tomatoes than any salad can hold. Here is a simple meal that only takes 15 – 20 minutes to prepare using all your garden abundance. Strikingly beautiful on the plate, I served it as a warm salad on a plate of fresh arugala for even more color and vitamins, but I think any dark leafy greens would work as well.

While you are preparing the vegetables, cook 2 cups small pasta according to package directions (shells, elbow macaroni, or spirals work well). Drain well. Add a few drops of olive oil, and toss to keep pasta from sticking together

. Ingredients:

1 medium size zucchini, cubed

2 cups cherry tomatoes, whole (they will soften as they cook and pop when you chew them — I like that)

2 TBS. Olive oil

1 TBS. Minced garlic (fresh or bottled)

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. dry Italian seasoning

Herbamare (seasoned salt) or Himalayan pink salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 – 5 TBS. Marinara sauce

Feta cheese, or cheese substitute for topping (optional)*

Method:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and garlic; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Season with Herbamare and pepper. Add red pepper flakes and dry Italian seasoning. When vegetables are tender add the marinara sauce and heat through. Add the cooked pasta to the vegetables in your skillet and mix gently. Serve warm on a bed of greens.

*If desired, top with feta cheese or feta substitute (There is good recipe for vegan feta,”Betta Feta,” in The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, by Jo Stepaniak; Book Publishing Company, Green Press Initiative, 2003).

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Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

  Shepherd's Pie

   This is an entrée I love serving to meat-loving friends.  It’s fun to watch them try to figure out where the beef is!  It tastes like it’s there, but in reality it’s not.  Invariably, they have to admit this is a great version of the fat-laden Shepherd’s Pie they’re used to.  All the flavor, minus the artery-clogging cholesterol…what’s not to love?

As always, cook once but eat twice.  This recipe is easy to throw together if you have leftover Vegetarian Taco “Meat” https://vegtutor.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/recipe-vegetarian-taco-meat and cooked brown rice in the freezer.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. Vegetarian Taco “Meat”

1 1/2 cooked brown rice

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp. dried basil

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 c. dry bread crumbs

Bottom Layer:  Place Taco “Meat” and brown rice in a large bowl. Saute vegetables in oil for 4 – 5 minutes, then add to bowl with Taco “Meat” and rice.  Add spices, Dijon mustard, and bread crumbs. Stir with a large spoon to mix ingredients. Season with sea salt and pepper if desired. Spread mixture in an oil-sprayed glass casserole dish.

  Top Layer:  If you’re smart, you have leftover mashed potatoes on hand to make this recipe as simple as can be. If you don’t have any leftover mashed potatoes, here is a recipe:

Mashed Potatoes

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 qt. water

1/3 c. unsweetened rice, soy, or almond milk

1 – 2 Tbs. organic butter or substitute

salt and pepper to taste

   Bring water to a boil and add potatoes.  Reduce heat and cook 15 – 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain and place in a mixing bowl. Add seasonings and use an electric mixer or hand masher to mash potatoes.  Add milk a little at a time as you mash until potatoes are thick and creamy with no lumps. Adjust seasonings to taste.

   Spread thick layer of mashed potatoes on top of the bottom layer of Shepherd’s Pie. Top with vegan parmesan cheese or Gomasio if desired.

   Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 -45 minutes

   Cut into thick slices and serve with vegan gravy.

Veggie Lasagna

A word to the wise: If you’re trying to change your family’s eating habits to a healthier vegetarian diet, please don’t serve them a green smoothie or a blended salad to start out.  Unfamiliar and unrecognizable food like that will only shock them into resistance. Give your family something they are used to, something they can identify and already enjoy eating — but make it healthier, lower in fat and calories, with no animal ingredients.  This is a delicious recipe even a carnivore can enjoy.  It may become one of your family’s favorites!

Ingredients:

1 chopped onion

1 clove minced garlic

1 lb. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

8 oz, sliced mushrooms, rinse well and drain

12 – 15 lasagna noodles

1 container (12.3 oz) Mori-Nu silken tofu, drained and mashed with a fork

¼ c. vegan parmesan topping, plus another 1/2 c. reserved for top

1 Tbs. parsley flakes

1 tsp. oregano

1 ½ tsp sea salt

12 oz. shredded vegan mozzarella (Soya Kaas or Daiya are good brands)

1 ½ qt. any good meatless spaghetti sauce (reserve 1 c.)

Method:

— Cook noodles according to package directions.

–Saute onions, garlic and mushrooms in 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add thawed, drained spinach and toss together.

–In a large bowl combine: tofu, ¼ cup veggie parmesan and spices. Add sautéed vegetables and mix together with a fork.

–In an ungreased oblong casserole layer:

A thin layer of sauce

¼ noodles

¼ sauce

¼ tofu mixture

¼ vegan mozzarella

Repeat this process three times.

–Spread reserved 1 cup sauce over top layer of noodles.  Sprinkle with ½ cup vegan parmesan topping. (At this point lasagna can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.)

–Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (allow additional 10 – 15 minutes if lasagna has been refrigerated.)

For easier cutting, let stand for 15 minutes after removing from oven.

Vegan Polish Stuffed Cabbage (Halupki, Golumpki, Pigs-In-A-Blanket)

One of the things I miss most about my hometown is the food.  Populated by descendants of European immigrants brought to the anthracite area of Pennsylvania as cheap labor for the booming coal industry in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, the Wyoming Valley is rich in ethnic heritage and the most wonderful foods you can imagine.  These simple peasant dishes will not be found in any fine restaurant, but families still gather to make and feast on recipes that traveled from Europe and  have been handed down for generations.

I thought Halupki, pure Northeastern PA soul food, was gone from my life forever when I gave up meat, but I have found that with a little imagination and experimentation I can still have my Pigs-In-A-Blanket (as we called them when I was a child) and eat them, too!  This recipe is the result of sheer determination and stubbornness, since I also decided to not use prepackaged fake meat for the traditional ground beef filling. I think this one is a winner. It takes a long time to prepare, so the best thing to do is plan ahead and do it in two stages.  The first day make the brown rice and  Medley’s Vegan Oat Burgers; the second day you can prepare the cabbage, filling, and sauce and assemble the cabbage rolls. It truly is a labor of love (now I know why it took my mother, aunts, and grandmother all together to make these for family gatherings), but to make things easier prepare extra brown rice to freeze, and note that one Oat Burgers recipe is enough for two Halupki casseroles, so making it next time will not be as time-consuming.  Here we go:

MEDLEY’S  VEGAN OAT BURGERS

These are the tastiest vegan burgers ever — on a bun with your favorite toppings or as a substitute for chopped sirloin with mushroom gravy.  This recipe makes a lot so you can freeze some for another time.  The recipe comes from my niece (a wonderful cook just like her mother) who got it from the restaurant where she first enjoyed them. I veganized it.

In a food processor separately grind:

2 c. rolled oats

1 c. walnuts (not too fine, chunky is better)

1 lg. onion

Add:

2 c. rolled oats

2 Tbs. ground flaxseed & 6 Tbs. warm water (mix together and allow to sit a few minutes until thickened)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground sage

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp pepper

1 c. unsweetened soy or almond milk (or just enough to hold it all together)

Let mixture sit for 20 minutes.  Form into patties (slightly wet hands so they don’t stick) and brown in olive oil. Then add 2 cups of water with enough soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (about 3 Tbs) to taste.  Pour this over the burgers and simmer uncovered until liquid is absorbed, turning once or twice. Enjoy!

Halupki FILLING:

1/2 recipe Medley’s VEGAN Oat Burgers chopped up after cooking (freeze the other half for next time)

1  – 1 1/2 c. cooked brown rice

1 Tbs parsley

1 Tbs sweet paprika

Saute together: 6 oz. chopped Portobello mushrooms, 1 lg. onion, and 2 Tbs. Annie’s Organic Worsteshire Sauce.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and season to taste with sea salt and cayenne pepper.

Halupki SAUCE:

1 – 10 3/4 oz. can tomato soup and an equal amount to crushed tomatoes

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice or vinegar

1 soup can water

Mix all together and season with sea salt and pepper as desired.

Method:

(Dealing with a whole head of CABBAGE can be intimidating — don’t worry, you will win).  Core the cabbage and submerge the whole thing in a large pot of boiling water.  It will be somewhat bouyant so you will want to turn it occasionally so that the leaves soften evenly. Cook until the outer leaves become tender, then you can start to peel the leaves off one at a time, and place them on a clean towel to drain. (You can take the cabbage head out of the water to do this, then return it to the water to cook a little while longer until more leaves can be removed.) Repeat until all leaves are removed.

When cabbage leaves are cool enough to handle: In each leaf place 2 – 3 heaping Tbs.filling, tuck in sides and roll to cover filling.  Place cabbage rolls in a large oblong glass baking dish (seam side down).  Pack them tightly together so they don’t unroll.

Pour sauce over all the rolls and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake @ 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. This recipe makes a lot (about 30 cabbage rolls).

Miracle Fat-Burner Stew

I found this recipe about five years ago in a magazine, and have used it many times since. It makes A LOT. (I had to buy a large stock pot just to accommodate this recipe — a traditional dutch oven will not do). It is great for when you are cooking for a crowd, but if you are cooking for just one or two you can use one of the variations on different nights so you don’t get bored. It also freezes well. Serve with a crusty wholegrain bread.

Makes 10 (2-cup) servings: 258 cals.; 18 g. protein; 4 g. fat; 45 g. carbs.; 1.54 mg. sodium; 0 mg. chol.; 12 g. fiber

1 1/2 bags (1 lb. ea.) dried lentils

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 c. chopped onions (1 12 oz. bag frozen)

2 Tbsp chopped garlic (6 cloves)

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

10 c. vegetable broth

1 can (28 oz.) stewed tomatoes

1 Tbsp. salt

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 bags (1 lb. ea.) assorted frozen vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, & red pepper work well)

3 Tbsp. wine or balsamic vinegar

Sort and rinse lentils. In a very large pot saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 4 – 5 minutes. Add lentils and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute stirring. Add broth and spices. Break up tomatoes into pieces with back of spoon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until lentils are very soft (ab. one hour).

About 10 minutes before serving add frozen vegetables and vinegar. Heat through.

MIRACLE FAT-BURNER STEW VARIATIONS:

To one (2-cup) serving of stew, stir in any of the following and simmer 3 – 5 mins.

CHINESE:

1/2 c. cubed firm tofu

1 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. peanut butter (reduced fat)

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1 sliced scallion

MEXICAN:

1/2 c. salsa

Heat through and top with 1/4 c. shredded veggie cheese

HARVEST STEW:

1/4 c. frozen baby carrots

1/4 c. orange juice

1/4 c. canned pumpkin

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

INDIAN:

1 tsp. curry powder

1 tsp. tumeric

1 Tbsp. golden raisins

2 Tbsp plain soy yogurt

1 Tbsp cashews

1 tsp. chopped cilantro

Steamed Vegetable Casserole

This recipe is only a guideline.  You can use whatever vegetables are cluttering your refrigerator.  I usually make it when I have an overabundance of produce and just need more frig. space.  You can also substitute pasta for the brown rice, and it will be just as delicious.

Ingredients for the sauce:

6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Whisk the sauce and put it aside.

Ingredients for casserole:

Whatever vegetables you desire.  Fresh broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower work well.  I’ve also added sweet red peppers, zucchini, green beans, or yellow summer squash to the mix — whatever you have on hand. Cut vegetable into one inch chunks (slice carrot chunks in half), do not chop.

2 cups cooked brown rice or pasta

1 – 2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

8 oz. grated veggie cheddar cheese

1 – 2 Tbsp. veggie parmesan cheese

Method:

Using a steamer pot, bring water to a boil over high heat.  Put the veggies in the steamer basket, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes, gently turning the veggies two or three times.  You want them to be crisp-tender, not wilted (the green veggies should be still bright green); if you see them start to wilt or change color remove the pot from the heat — they are done.

In the bottom of a PAM sprayed oblong glass casserole dish, place the cooked brown rice (or pasta).  Sprinkle half the veggie cheddar cheese over rice.  Spread the steamed vegetables over that and sprinkle reserved sauce over the veggies.   Dust with Old Bay Seasoning, to taste.   Top with remaining cheddar cheese and veggie parmesan cheese.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil, and put in 350 degree oven for just 10 minutes (to melt the cheese).

Beautiful colors — healthy and delicious!


Recipe: Vegetarian Slow Cooker Casserole

Normally vegetarian recipes for dishes prepared in a slow cooker require additional preparation before you put everything into the slow cooker and turn it on. I like this one because it requires no advance prep: nothing to saute or blanch beforehand. What could be easier?

Ingredients:

2 – 3 large potatoes, sliced

2 – 3 med. carrots, sliced

1/2 lb. frozen peas

3 med. onions, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 – 10 oz. can condensed tomato soup

1 – 10 oz. can water

salt, pepper, smoked paprika* (as desired).

1/2 package Morning Star Veggie Crumbles

Method:

Place layers of vegetables in order given into slow cooker. Season each layer with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika to taste.

Mix together tomato soup and water, and pour mixture over all.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hrs.

After 6 hours have passed add the Veggie Crumbles. Gently stir to mix and turn heat to HIGH.

Cook an additional 10 – 15 minutes until heated through and vegetables are tender.

*Smoked paprika is a wonderful spice that gives vegetables a barbecued flavor.

Recipe: Pierogie Reuben Casserole

   The inspiration for this vegetarian recipe was found on a box of Mrs. T’s frozen pierogies. If you don’t know what they are, then you aren’t familiar with Polish food. Pierogies are the Slavic version of ravioli. Inside two layers of pasta is a filling of potatoes and cheese, potatoes and onion, potatoes cheese and onions, potatoes and sauerkraut, or even a fruit filling such as prunes or cherries. They are usually triangular shaped, and the potato varieties are the most common. I grew up on homemade pierogies, but thankfully they can now be puchased in most grocery stores in the frozen food section. To make them from scratch is an all day project. Pierogies can be boiled, fried, or baked. This recipe is so easy because you can use the frozen pierogies with no advance preparation at all. It goes together in minutes!

Ingredients:

About 20 frozen pierogies (Mrs. T’s tastes most like the ones my grandmother used to make, so I always use that brand although there are others out there)

One 2 lb. bag of sauerkraut (get this in the refrigerated deli section of your grocery store; it’s always better than the canned variety), drained

6 slices of vegetarian Swiss cheese (I used Galaxy Nutritional Foods Veggie Slices)

One 10 oz. package Boca Meatless Italian Sausages (cut in half and then thinly sliced lengthwise)

One cup Thousand Island Dressing (look for vegetarian)

   Layer half the pirogies in an oblong glass casserole. Top with half the sauerkraut,  meatless sausage, Veggie Slices, and 1/2 cup dressing; then another layer of pierogies and the remaining ingredients as before. Top with rye croutons if desired, or simply serve with warm rye bread.

   Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes until hot and bubbling. Serves 6 – 8 people.

Tofu Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 clove minced garlic

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

8 oz. chopped mushrooms

1 container (12.3 oz.) Mori-Nu silken tofu, drained and mashed with a fork

15 – 20 jumbo pasta shells

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast*

1/4 c. Parmesan flavor veggie cheese, plus another 1/4 c. reserved for topping

1 Tbsp. parsley flakes

1 tsp. oregano leaves

1 – 1 1/2 tsp. salt or sea salt

about 8 oz. shredded mozzarella flavor veggie cheese

1 qt. any good marinara sauce

Method:**

Cook the pasta shells according to pkg. directions, drain and set aside. (Lay them on a damp linen dishtowel covered with another damp linen dishtowel so they won’t dry out or stick together while you work).

Saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms in olive oil. Add thawed, drained spinach and cook for another couple minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl combine tofu, 1/4 c. veggie Parmesan, oregano, salt, nutritional yeast, and veggie mozzarella (reserve 1/4 cup). Add sauteed vegetables and mix together with a fork.

In a rectangular casserole spread a thin layer of marinara sauce.

Stuff the noodles with the tofu mixture (2 – 3 Tbsp. per shell), and place the stuffed shells in the casserole. (Place the stuffed shells close together so they don’t tip over).

Spoon remaining sauce over the stuffed shells and top with reserved veggie mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 30 – 4o minutes. Serve.

* Nutritional yeast can be purchased at the health food store. It is not Dry Active Yeast although it looks similar. It is a granular powder that comes in a jar, and it gives food a cheesy flavor and aroma. Nutritional yeast is high in B vitamins.

** You can also substitute this tofu mixture for the ricotta cheese used in any vegetable lasagna recipe — just layer it between lasagna noodles, sauce, and veggie mozzarella cheese. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Or, you can layer the tofu mixture with of any type of pasta and sauce for another one dish variation.

Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie

This is another good way to use Vegetarian Taco “Meat.” It is also an excellent way to use leftover brown rice and mashed potatoes. (I always like to cook large quantities of rice and Taco “Meat” so there is always some in the freezer to use in this recipe). I have served this Shepherd’s Pie to carnivores, and they don’t believe me when I tell them that it really doesn’t contain any meat. It is a hearty, filling meal served with any vegetarian gravy (Hain’s gravy mixes are good in a pinch — just add water, heat, and stir and you have gravy!)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. Taco “Meat” (see recipe)

1 1/2 c. cooked brown rice

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

1 small carrot, diced

1 c. bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. each dried parsley and basil

3/4 sea salt, if desired

2 tsp. oil

In a small pan saute the onions in oil until translucent. Then add celery, garlic, and carrot; cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Put vegetables into a large mixing bowl and add bread crumbs, rice, and Taco “Meat.” Add the dijon mustard and spices; mix well. (Add a little water or broth if it seems too dry. It should be the consistency of raw meatloaf).

Place mixture in a lightly oiled 9″ x 9″ baking pan. Spread a thick layer of mashed potatoes on top (I have used prepared instant mashed potatoes when I didn’t have leftover mashed, and they work great).

Bake uncovered for 30 – 40 minutes at 375 degrees. (When done you may want to sprinkle a little rice Parmesan cheese or Gomasio (sesame seasoning) on top just for looks. Serve with vegetarian gravy and a salad.