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).

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: Greek Salad Dressing (+ Salad)

This is an easy dressing that you can mix up in minutes with common ingredients you already have in your kitchen. It’s the best!

Ingredients:

1/3 c. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. of chopped fresh dill OR 1 Tbsp. dry dill weed

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Whisk all above ingredients together until well blended.

Then add 2/3  – 3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, and whisk again.

Serve over a salad that includes Romaine lettuce, sliced sweet onion, sliced green bell peppers, cucumbers, black Greek olives (Kalamata), and tomatoes. Top with crumbled feta cheese (look for vegetarian) if desired.

( Note: Sometimes I toss everything above with cooled cooked wholegrain pasta to make a complete meal.)

How to Stock a Vegetarian Pantry

While browsing the Internet I came across this article which I thought would be helpful to people who are new to the vegetarian lifestyle. I remember searching for hours for things I could eat when I made the switch (grocery shopping took forever!). I hope this is useful as you set up your vegetarian kitchen. When you have the common ingredients already on hand cooking is a breeze.

How to Stock a Vegetarian Pantry

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

A vegetarian pantry has different needs from a more general pantry. It is important to keep vegetarian foods on hand that will provide energy and nutrients; and substitutes for other non-vegetarian food products. This article will help you achieve you goal of a well-stocked and healthy vegetarian pantry, all in the span of just a few hours.

Steps

  1. Clean out your pantry. If you are changing to a vegetarian diet, or even if you are simply updating an existing impoverished vegetarian pantry, it is time for a good clean out. Remove all out-dated food, any food with unsuitable animal-derived products (ovo-lacto vegetarians can keep more foods than vegans) and remove anything that lacks labels but you aren’t quite sure what it is. Wipe down all the shelves and allow to dry.
  2. Go shopping. It is always a good idea to stock a new pantry with as many fresh items as possible at the same time, so that the items date together. If you are simply restocking, keep items that are still plenty in date but note them. Make sure to write a list of the items that you need, so that you are not overwhelmed by choices or forgetful as to what you need.
  3. Select your items in food groups. A vegetarian pantry that is stocked with the basics should contain:
    • Grain products: rice (especially brown, arborio, jasmine, basmati and sweet), millet, couscous, quinoa, kasha, wild rice (aquatic grass), buckwheat, barley, polenta, and whole grain flours.
    • Pasta and noodles: pasta made from grain products (e.g., wheat pasta, rice pasta), noodles (e.g., udon, buckwheat etc.). Try to avoid quick-cook noodles; these tend to have a lot of the healthy nutrients removed and are often high in trans-fats.
    • Legumes: dried legumes (peas, split peas, lentils, puy lentils, chickpeas/garbanzo, kidney beans, pinto beans etc.), tins/cans of legumes, shelf-stored tofu.
    • Instant mixes for veggie burgers, falafels, etc. Try to prefer organic options and low sodium.
    • Vegetables and fruits: There are various ways of storing these in the pantry:
      • Tins/cans of fruit in natural syrup, tins/cans of some vegetables. Try to avoid sourcing a lot of your fruit and veggies in this way because canned varieties lose nutrients, have high sodium, and can leach chemicals from the can soldering/composition into the food over time. Always choose cans that are free from dents, and be sure to check use-by dates.
      • Preserved fruit and vegetables. Follow the instructions carefully if you make your own at home.
      • Dehydrated fruits and veggies can also be kept in the pantry for reconstitution.
      • Dried fruit. A must for both eating and cooking with. Apricots, peaches, pears, apple, nectarines etc. are all great choices. Beware of added sugar; dried pineapple, strawberries, paw-paw, kiwifruit etc. often have considerable added sugar.
    • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds should be eaten quickly to ensure that they remain fresh. Only purchase small amounts at a time. It is handy to always have on hand walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, pecans and sesame seeds. Peanuts are a personal choice given modern allergy problems. Nut and seed butters are also very useful to keep on hand; consider tahini, peanut butter, cashew nut butter, almond butter etc. Some require refrigeration on opening.
    • Flavourings: There are a number of key flavourings that no vegetarian pantry should be without. These include:
      • Nutritional yeast
      • Soy sauce, shoyu, tamari; look for low sodium options
      • Vegetable broth/stock cubes, liquid or powder – check ingredients carefully!
      • Cheese sauce or cheese substitute sauces in packets; packet soups
      • Seasoned vegetable salt (there are numerous good brands around)
      • Concentrated liquid stock or flavouring derived from vegetable, herb and spice sources (a few drops will do each use)
      • Curry powder
      • Seasonings such as herbs, spices, salt, pepper etc. Dry your fresh herbs for seeing the winter through
      • Seaweed products for seasoning, including dulse
      • Flavoured vinegars, dressings
    • Sweeteners such as raw and organic sugar, stevia, rice syrup, agave syrup, honey, maple syrup, xylitol etc. Select whatever suits your needs, preferences, and dietary requirements.
  4. Have a few treats in store. It is useful to have some treats on stand-by for guests, children and the munchies. Good products include dark chocolate, soy chocolate, chickpea crisps, wasabi peas, sugar-free cookies (sweetened with alternatives), microwave popcorn and raw kernals, etc.
  5. Keep a few quick packet mixes for cakes, muffins and pancakes. Prefer organic and low-sugar versions where possible. It isn’t always possible to be a saint and make your own baked goods from scratch; having these packaged possibilities still allows you to add fresh fruit, macadamia oil in place of saturated fats and you have the choice of using eggs or not. This is far better than resorting to store-bought goodies.
  6. Have milk on hand. It is always handy to have some shelf milk on hand for times when you run out and guests arrive. Depending on your needs, you can purchase dairy, soy, nut, grain and other milks that can be shelf-stored. Flavoured milks are also handy, including chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
  7. Keep an eye on use-by dates and discard products that go beyond these. They might seem all right, but once stale, items never taste quite as fresh. They also do not provide the same nutrients as fresher, in-date items. Circulate goods at the back of the pantry and bring them to the front at least monthly, if not more often. It’s easy to forget about items you can’t see, and the less you waste the happier your wallet will be.

Tips

  • Places to stock up on vegetarian pantry foods include health food stores, health food co-ops, large health-food oriented super-stores or supermarkets, fruit and vegetable stores, some bulk/wholesale stores, local markets (farmer’s markets etc.) and straight from boutique stores on farms.
  • Don’t over look your local supermarket. Many “regular” grocery stores are now catering to the Vegan crowd by offering several varieties of soy milks, tofu and vegetarian meat substitutes as well as organic produce.
  • Some specialty grocery stores are also great to visit in and discover new flavours and textures; try Chinese, Lebanese, South African, Italian, West Indian, Samoan, etc. stores for new ideas.
  • Some artificial sweeteners, while low in calories, have been implicated in health problems in some individuals. Research carefully before choosing an artificial sweetener option. Stevia is a good, natural sweetener alternative that avoids potentially problematic chemicals.

Things You’ll Need

  • Pantry
  • Items as listed in article
  • Shopping bags – take your own

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Stock a Vegetarian Pantry. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Sun-dried Tomato/Greek Olive Pasta

   This is a favorite make-ahead recipe of mine. If you mix together all the ingredients but the pasta the night before, then making dinner the next day will be easy. This is so great to do if you’re expecting company for dinner and have to work that day. Plan ahead, and all you have to do before your guests arrive is make the pasta and this dish is DONE! 

    I have also added leftover grilled vegetables along with the pasta, and this made the dish even more interesting. I love the new wholegrain pastas that are now available in supermarkets making even a pasta dish healthy.

1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, plus 1 Tbsp. reserved oil

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 lg. cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (Optional, but so good). I just toast them in the toaster oven.

salt and pepper to taste

   Place all of the above ingredients into a bowl and set aside. (Cover and refrigerate if using tomorrow).

   Meanwhile prepare 8 oz. of your favorite pasta (Try the wholegrain — rotelli works really well) according to package directions. Drain. If adding any leftover veggies warm them up now.

   Mix everything together.

   ADD: 1/4 – 1/2 cup pesto, (small jars of pesto can be found near spaghetti sauce in the supermarket). The pesto will add a lot of flavor, color, and texture.