Goat Cheese Polenta with Mushroom Chickpea Ragu

Goat Cheese Polenta with Mushroom Chickpea Ragu

Would you believe you can have this bowl of creamy goat cheese polenta with chickpea mushroom ragu on the table in less than 30 minutes! Made with instant polenta and an easy protein packed vegetarian ragu, this is some serious Italian comfort food!

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Pumpkin, Shiitake and Gruyere Pizza with Trader Joe's Cauliflower Crust

Pumpkin, Shiitake and Gruyere Pizza with Trader Joe's Cauliflower Crust

Have you tried Trader Joe's cauliflower frozen cauliflower crust? Make this fall inspired pumpkin, shiitake and gruyere pizza! It's a tasty vegetarian meal, and gluten free too! Made with a canned pumpkin sauce then topped with chewy shiitakes and aged gruyere. 

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Tropical Tofu Kebabs with Mango and Avocado

Tropical Tofu Kebabs with Mango and Avocado

Heat up the grill to make these tropical tofu kebabs with avocado and mango! They're insanely easy to make, and you can swap in whatever vegetables and fruit you like. Or, instead of this vegan version, make these with chicken, shrimp or pork. 

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Fully Loaded Refried Bean Skillet

Fully Loaded Refried Bean Skillet

Remember when you used to eat tortilla chips with refried beans from the can? This is so much better. This fully loaded refried bean skillet tops homemade spicy refried beans with extra sharp cheddar, grilled onions and mushrooms, juicy tomatoes, creamy avocado, and lots of fresh herbs. Serve with warm tortillas for dipping! 

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Red Curry Tofu and Mushrooms with Cauliflower Rice

This rich and creamy red curry tofu and mushrooms is served over cauliflower rice to soak up all the delicious sauce! 

I mean, would you just look at that.

Seriously, this red curry tofu is everything my body wants right now. We got back from New York City last night and our last 24 hours in the city turned into a bit of a cheese fest. Not cheesy as in tacky in a goofy kind of way, but cheese as in my favorite food. It’s basically all we ate for an entire day. We had cheese stuffed soft pretzels, fried saloumi and cheese croquettes, a bagel piled high with smoked fish and dill cream cheese, late night pizza dolloped with giant scoop of fresh ricotta cheese. We ate dinner at AN ACTUAL CHEESE BAR. Yes, this thing exists outside of heaven and it’s called Murray’s Cheese Café. And because we apparently hadn’t enough dairy, there was a stop at The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop for a soft cone dipped in dark chocolate pretzels and hot fudge. When it’s 107 degrees in a concrete city, you eat and drink your way through in an effort to get out of the sun.

(P.S. People who can fix things in NYC, please take some advice from the south – work on your AC game.)

So yeah, I see a lot of bright, fresh, herby, spicy, vegetable-laden, meatless dishes in my future. Not because I’m trying to detox the cheese out of my system, but because that’s what I want. Intuitive eating is cool like that.

This red curry tofu is a nice transition dish from all the cheese, oddly enough. The coconut milk is fatty and creamy, like cheese. And tofu is basically mozzarella cheese. Seriously. You make tofu the exact same way you make mozzarella, except it’s made from soy milk, not dairy milk.

For veggies, I used a mixture of mushrooms, which soak up the delicious curry sauce. If you can get your hands on a variety of wild mushrooms, that’s definitely what I would recommend. I used shiitakes, which has a chewy texture that makes it my favorite mushroom. I also used cremini mushrooms, which are baby portobellos. I like to have lots of different mushroom flavors and textures going on, so if you can get your hand on oyster mushrooms, enokis, or porcinis, throw them on in too!

I served this over cauliflower rice, which is so much easier now that you can find riced cauliflower at grocery stores. I’ve already admitted to liking cauliflower rice more than actual rice, but remember, it’s still not rice so you need some carbs in your dish. I threw in green peas, a yummy starchy vegetable, but feel free to toss in a can of drained chickpeas as well if you need/want a little more. Or, you know, just serve it with rice.

Red Curry Tofu and Mushrooms with Cauliflower Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients

Cauliflower Rice:

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower, avocado or coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen rice cauliflower, or 1 lb cauliflower florets and stem pulsed in the food processor to make rice

Curry: 

  • 1 lb firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 ounces shiitakes, sliced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/4 cup full fat coconut cream
  • 4 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

For serving: 

  • Lime, sliced
  • Freshly chopped cilantro
  • Red chili flakes

Instructions

  1. Wrap tofu with paper towels. Top with a heavy skillet or can to drain for 15 minutes.
  2. Make rice. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes until translucent. Add cauliflower, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. While rice is cooking, cut tofu into cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large sided skillet on medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook until golden. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  4. Ad remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the skillet where the tofu was cooked and set on medium-high. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and saute 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender, 7 minutes. Add coconut milk, curry paste, and fish sauce. Stir in tofu. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Pour in peas and cook another minute to warm through. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve over caulilfower rice with lime, cilantro and chili flakes.

Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burger

This classic grilled portobello balsamic portobello mushroom burger packs a flavor punch from an overnight marinade! Pop on the grill for a summer vegetarian main. 

Happy July Fourth! We celebrated the holiday a day early on Saturday, so today we're spending the day working out in the backyard, which we're finally landscaping after living in our house the past five years. But if you've still got some celebrating in you, it's not too late to run by the store, grab a few portobello mushroom caps and get them marinating for a flavor packed vegetarian meal!

Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burger

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 4 portobello mushroom caps

  • 4 whole grain hamburger buns

  • 1 tomato, sliced

  • 1/2 cup guacamole

  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Directions

  1. In a large zip top bag, mix together balsamic, olive oil, garlic, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Add portobello mushrooms and toss to coat. Refrigerate 8 hours to marinate.

  2. Heat grill on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and grill four minutes per side until grill marked and tender. While mushrooms are grilling, lightly toast the buns on the grill.

  3. Serve portobello burgers on the bun with tomato slices, guacamole and feta.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Red Wine Tomato Jam and Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EntertainandPair #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Red Wine Tomato Jam and Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

This grilled vegetable platter served with a red wine tomato jam and caramelized onion buttermilk dip, both infused with Dreaming Tree Wine, is the red carpet version of your standard raw vegetable platter! 

Admit it. You've been that person who brings a raw vegetable platter to the party in an attempt to have a healthy option for everyone to enjoy.

Except, no one actually enjoys that raw vegetable plate. Some eat it because it's there, but who has ever left a party saying "Wow! That baby carrot dipped in ranch was amazing! I wish Susan would share her recipe!"

No one. Ever.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Two Wine Infused Dips

This awards season, give your standard raw vegetable platter a red carpet makeover. My secret for a vegetable platter people will actually want to eat? Grill (or roast) the vegetables first, adding a caramelized, smoky flavor, and serve alongside a couple tasty, homemade dips.

Usually I do some type of hummus or avocado-based dip, but for this campaign, I decided to experiment cooking with Dreaming Tree wine...and I think I found two new favorites in the process! Both get a deep, rich, and luxurious flavor from a base of caramelized onions infused with Dreaming Tree wine. The jammy notes of Dreaming Tree Crush, a red wine blend, went perfectly in the tomato jam, adding a layer of fruitiness and complexity. For the buttermilk dressing, I went with Dreaming Tree chardonnay. Now, normally I'm not a chardonnay person. Actually, I rather despise chardonnay, which is why it was the only Dreaming Tree wine I hadn't tried. But I thought chardonnay's buttery flavor would go really well with the caramelized onions over the crisp, more acidic everyday white (which I love for sipping!). So glad I picked it up though, because I discovered I really like their chardonnay! Like, a lot! It's aged in both stainless steel and oak barrels, so it's not overly oaky and cloying like the other chardonnays I've tried.

Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip with Dreaming Tree Chardonnay
Red Wine Tomato Jam with Dreaming Tree Crush

As a long time fan of Dreaming Tree Wine, I was particularly excited about the project. As an even longer time fan of Dave Matthews (high school flashbacks!), who launched Dreaming Tree with winemaker Sean McKenzie, I picked up a bottle almost as soon as it launched and it's been a favorite ever since. Outside of the flavor (Crush is my favorite) and high quality for a reasonable price, I really appreciate their commitment to sustainability. It's a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery and has the largest solar initiative in the wine industry. The wines are even packaged sustainably, using less glass and a recycled label.

Dreaming Tree Wine

Considering we're smack dab in the middle of awards season, I think you'll have plenty of opportunities to whip this up. Usually I'm not big into award season, but this year, we've kept up with most of the nominees and I definitely have my favorites...which I won't share, because after they win I like to say "I knew it! I totally called it!" ;) So, I'm thinking we may have people over to watch and put out this grilled vegetable platter along with a selection of cheeses and crusty bread. Although this might seem like more effort than a premade vegetable platter, leftovers can easily be stretched into meals during the week. Serve the leftover vegetables in a grain bowl. Leftover buttermilk dip is perfect in my collard green salad with cornbread croutons or your favorite simple side salad. The tomato jam would be so tasty served over roasted fish or a grilled steak, or even on a sandwich. And of course, the leftover wine is perfect for sipping and pretending to be fancy during your very own awards party! 

For more inspiration on how to #EntertainandPair, head to their website. Be sure to check out your local retailer for wine tasting demos! What are your favorite red carpet bites, and which Dreaming Tree Wine would you like to pair it with? 

Keep up with Dreaming Tree Wines:

Grilled Vegetable Platter

Use any fresh vegetables you like. I used cherry tomatoes (on a skewer), cauliflower florets, halved baby zucchini, mushrooms and green beans. If you prefer roasting, toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven until golden and tender.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh vegetables, trimmed, and cut into 'serving' pieces
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Red wine tomato jam & caramelized onion buttermilk dip, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Set grill to medium high. Spray vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill and cook until lightly charred, but still crisp-tender. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.

Red Wine Tomato Jam

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup Dreaming Tree Crush or other rich, fruity red wine
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium pot. Add red onion and garlic and saute until starting to get golden, about 7 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and continue to cook over medium heat until deeply caramelized, tender and almost jammy looking, about 40 minutes.
  2. Pour in wine, scraping up the bottom with a spatula. Add tomatoes, balsamic, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until very thick and jam-like, about 15 minutes total. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dreaming Tree chardonnay or other richly flavored white wine
  • 1 cup buttermilk, low or full fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium skillet. Add onion and garlic. Saute until starting to look golden, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and continue cooking, stirring every so often, until onions are deeply caramelized and jammy in appearance, about 40 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up bottom of the pan with a spatula, and cook until wine is almost completely reduced and the onions are very jammy in appearance, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, scrape onions into a bowl, and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. When onions have cooled a bit, stir in buttermilk, olive oil, parsley, vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more if desired.

3 Recipes for Mason Jar Soup

3 Recipes for Mason Jar Soup

These recipes for mason jar soups are perfect for packing for lunch! Batch cook on the weekends, store in the fridge, just add hot water, give it a good shake, and you're good to go! Try Italian zoodle with white beans and tomato broth, red lentil coconut curry and miso noodle. 

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Cannellini Bean Pumpkin Risotto with Garlicky Mushrooms

Cannellini bean pumpkin risotto with garlicky mushrooms is the perfect comforting fall meal. Vegan and gluten free too! 

Today, I bring you a big, cozy bowl of fall.

This cannellini bean pumpkin risotto with garlicky sauteed mushrooms is basically the food equivalent of wrapping up in your favorite sweater. It's so warm and comforting and stick to your ribs good. The perfect meal for when you want something rich and decadent, but don't want to feel like you just ate something super rich and decadent.

Can we talk about how much I love risotto? I used to make it on occasion, but I haven't in years. Stupid Top Chef ruined it for me. I mean, how many people have been kicked off for failing risotto? If legit top chefs can't make risotto, then I probably can't make risotto. I'll stick with this mock-risotto thank you.

This risotto (can I even call it risotto if it's not made with rice??) is infinitely easier and does not require sitting around a pot constantly stirring. I appreciate that. Not stirring leaves time for doing other fun things.

Fun things like going to art museum parties with friends. This Friday we went to Arts & Draughts, a quarterly event at the art museum with live music, craft beer, and food trucks. And of course, all the exhibits are open, which are always fun to explore with a buzz. The current exhibition is Georgia O'Keefe, which definitely brought out our juvenile sense of humor.

That wasn't the end of fun things this weekend. One of Scott's best friends from high school was in town, so after watching another Clemson victory, we went out for tacos. I was a little sad because I forgot to ask for corn tortillas (>>>>> flour tortilas), but a taco is a taco so how sad can you be?

Most fun of all, my sister-in-law, Rebecca, got engaged this weekend! How pretty and happy is she?? Honest to goodness, I can't think of a more kind and caring person than her. I'm sure you're a lovely person, but I'm sorry, you don't hold a candle to her. So internet world, lets send them lots of happy thoughts and well wishes!

Now, go make risotto!

Cannellini Bean Pumpkin Risotto with Garlicky Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients

Risotto: 

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 14-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 teaspoons miso paste
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Mushrooms:

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms, cleaned and quartered or sliced
  • Large pinch of dried thyme

For serving: 

  • A couple handfuls of arugula, optional

  • Balsamic vinegar, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, broth, coconut milk, pumpkin, tahini, miso and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Simmer 10-15 minutes until thickened then season with salt and pepper.
  2. While risotto is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and saute 2-3 minutes until tender. Add mushrooms, dried thyme and sea salt. Saute, stirring every so often, until mushrooms have released and reabsorbed their liquid.
  3. Serve risotto topped with mushrooms. Garish with a handful of arugula and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar if desired.

More easy recipes for fall:

Simple White Bean Soup with Feta, Smoked Paprika Oil and Olives
Simple White Bean Soup with Feta, Smoked Paprika Oil and Olives
Chipotle Roasted Kabocha Squash and Kale Salad
Chipotle Roasted Kabocha Squash and Kale Salad
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Leeks
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Leeks

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup + Best Ever Homemade Broth

Make the most of your leftover Thanksgiving turkey with this BEST EVER homemade broth for leftover turkey noodle soup. Learn my trick for creating the most flavorful broth. 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by #PastaFits through my participation in the Healthy Aperture Network, which is awesome, because I love pasta. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! 

It’s time for a Thanksgiving confession:

I don’t love Thanksgiving turkey.

There. I said it. Does this make me less of an American?? Are they going to revoke my citizenship? Will I be deported? If I do get deported, do I get to choose where I go? Is Bali an option?

Despite my lack of affection, we still roast a turkey every year. In my mind, it’s for one reason – soup.

Leftover turkey soup is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. Frankly, it’s the only reason I eat Thanksgiving turkey. Less room in the fridge for turkey means more room for soup! We’ve hosted the past four years, not because we love squeezing a dozen people into our old craftsman, but because we end up with all the leftover soup. Sorry family. We still love you (we just love soup more).

This year, sadly we’re not getting a Thanksgiving. Although it’s not too sad – we’re headed to Hawaii for Scott’s big sisters wedding! Hawaii > stuffing. But only slightly.

This year, whipping up Thanksgiving inspired recipes for the blog has to take the place of the actual holiday. I’ve already got some Thanksgiving worthy Brussels sprouts, a classic Italian holiday dish, AND a non-pie pumpkin dessert on the way! When #pastafits asked me to create a healthy pasta meal for the holidays, I essentially used it as an excuse to make soup.

Normally, we make matzo ball soup the day after Thanksgiving, which I love, but after a day or two I’m ready to get some fiber back in my system. That’s where whole grain pasta comes in. With 6 grams in a serving, it’s a nice way to get your gut in order after the stuffing-extravaganza that is Thanksgiving (as it should be!). Comforting, yet vegetable packed and nourishing turkey noodle soup is a nice break from sweet potato casserole.

What makes this soup is the broth. It’s spectacular. I learned how to make broth from my mom, who I would consider a soup making pro. Sorry mom, but I’ve learned some things. I see your broth and I raise you one. My secret is roasting both the bones and vegetables before making the stock. It adds a richer flavor and a hint of sweetness. Once the bones and vegetables are roasted, you use a little wine to deglaze the pan and scoop up every last bit of yummy goodness. I used red wine, which gives it a darker color, but feel free to use white. The other secret ingredient - dill. How do people eat chicken noodle soup without it? It's a blasphemy!

When making noodle soup, be sure to boil your pasta separately. Cooking them in the broth will make your leftovers mushy and sad. If you freeze leftover soup, just boil up a small pot of pasta when you’re ready to eat.

What's your favorite thing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers? Share in the comments below! 

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup + Best Ever Homemade Broth

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Best Ever Broth: 

  • 1 leftover turkey carcass, picked clean of meat
  • 4 quarts water (or more)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup red or white wine
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 6 sprigs of parsley
  • 4 sprigs of dill

Noodle Soup:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 10 cups turkey broth
  • Leftover cooked turkey
  • 8 ounces 100% whole grain pasta
  • Lots of chopped, fresh dill, for garnish

Instructions

  1. First make the broth. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Break turkey carcass into pieces and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 45-60 minutes until bones are dark and caramelized. Place bones in a large pot and cover with 4 quarts of water (or more to cover bones). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, skimming any foam that forms at the surface.
  2. Meanwhile, toss onion, celery, and carrots with a tablespoon of olive oil. Spread evenly over the same baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until browned. Scoop roasted vegetables into the simmering broth and add dill, parsley and peppercorns.
  3. Place baking sheet over the stovetop and add wine, scraping up browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Let simmer to reduce a few minutes, them pour into the broth. Continue to simmer 60-90 minutes until flavors have melded. Season with salt and set aside.
  4. In another large pot, heat tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms and onions and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add 10 cups broth and leftover cooked turkey. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-30 minutes until flavors have melded.
  5. While soup is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to soup along with lots of fresh dill for garnish.

Vegetarian Lasagna with Eggplant and Mushroom 'Meat' Sauce

This vegetarian lasagna uses meaty eggplants and mushrooms for a 'meat' sauce and swaps Greek yogurt for some of the cheese. 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by #PastaFits through my participation in the Healthy Aperture Network, which is awesome, because I love pasta. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! 

One thing I love about teaching people how to cook is showing them how to makeover their favorite comfort foods in a more nutritious and equally tasty way. Eating healthy doesn't feel restrictive when you're enjoying all your favorites on the reg.

Now, don't get me wrong. As all my long term readers know, restriction is the last thing I advocate for. And there's absolutely nothing wrong or 'bad' about eating rich foods. I am all about a mindful indulgence! Still, when you know how to prepare those traditionally not so nutritious foods in a more nutritious way, it's a game changer.

That said, there are a few foods I've always had a hard time messing with. Classic mac and cheese for one. Goodness knows I love my recipe for dairy free mac and cheese, but it's not the same as my famous pimento mac and cheese. If I'm in the mood for a rich, creamy, nourishing bowl of goodness, I'll whip up my dairy free mac and cheese in a snap. But on Thanksgiving, you better believe I'm making my mac with ALL the cheese.

Lasagna is another classic dish I was always scared to mess with. Are you sensing a cheese and pasta theme here? It wasn't until I made this recipe for the worlds greatest vegetarian lasagna (which is, in fact, appropriately named) that I realized it could be done.

Since then, I've had all sorts of fun playing with different takes on lasagna. I've made a vegan lasagna with cashew cheese sauce that I was even brave enough to bring to supper club (where it was happily devoured!). I've made this fall appropriate kale and butternut squash lasagna. Most recently, I came up with this vegetarian lasagna using a Greek yogurt in lieu of ricotta and a hearty eggplant and mushroom "meat" sauce. The new worlds greatest? I'll let you be the judge.

I want to circle back to the whole 'forbidden foods' thing. I frequently hear people refer to favorite foods as 'bad'. Besides the fact that I don't agree with moralizing food choices, often times, foods one might think of as 'bad' is actually quite nutritious.

Pasta is just one of those examples. It's a great source of energy sustaining complex carbohydrates and actually has a low glycemic index. This recipe uses 100% whole wheat pasta noodles, which are rich in fiber, protein, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Most importantly, it tastes great! I find whole grain pasta is one of the easiest whole grains for people to adapt to as they switch over from refined grains.

Vegetarian Lasagna with Eggplant & Mushroom 'Meat' Sauce

serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 100% whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large eggplant, diced small
  • 8 ounces cremini mushroms, diced small
  • 1 25-ounce jar tomato sauce of choice
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 8 ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add eggplant, season with salt and pepper and saute about 5 minutes until softened. Add mushrooms and cook until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Pour in all but 3/4 cup tomato sauce and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix yogurt, egg and Italian seasoning in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with olive oil. Spread 1/4 cup reserved tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Spread a layer of lasagna noodles evenly on the bottom. Top with half the vegetable 'meat' sauce. Spread another layer of noodles over the sauce. Top with all of the yogurt sauce. Layer with more noodles and the other half of the tomato sauce. Top with another layer of noodles and half a cup of reserved tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella slices and parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake 30 more minutes until bubbly. Set aside to cool before slicing and serving.

More dishes that prove #PastaFits:

Pasta with Tempeh Sausage, Broccolini and Cremini Mushrooms
Pasta with Tempeh Sausage, Broccolini and Cremini Mushrooms
Gazpacho Pasta Salad
Gazpacho Pasta Salad
Dairy Free Mac and Cheese
Dairy Free Mac and Cheese

Spicy Lentil & Mushroom Veggie Burger and Vegan Sausage Hash

This month's theme for Recipe Redux is reworking leftovers. My spicy lentil and mushroom veggie burgers taste like sausage in a sweet potato hash made from the leftover burgers. 

Although I’ve seen and heard it all in my years as a dietitian without judgement, there are a few eating quirks I don’t understand. For example, people who don’t like chocolate. HOW IS THAT PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE?? I just don’t get it. Or with the recent popularity of intermittent fasting, people who skip breakfast and say they feel great. Are you sure you’re not homicidal by 10:30 am?

But what confuses me the most are people who don’t like leftovers. I understand it when you make a dish that turns out a little disappointing, but when you create something delicious, don’t you want to eat it for every meal for the rest of your life? Or at least for the next week?

That’s why this month’s Recipe Redux was such a challenge for me. The theme is reworking leftovers to get two dishes out of one. But what if I like the first one? Why fix something that’s not broken?

But the more I started to think about it, it made sense. Why not make extra portions of something more time intensive, then work the extras into an easy, weeknight meal?

So, I started to think about what I spend the most time on in the kitchen. Veggie burgers immediately came to mind. The frozen ones will do in a pinch, but once you’ve had a homemade veggie burger, its hard to go back. Only problem? Most recipes (or the tasty ones at least) involve cooking beans and/or grains, sauteeing vegetables, blending patties, forming patties, then pan-frying or baking said patties. It's not exactly weeknight friendly.

This first recipe for mushroom and lentil veggie burgers was heavily adapted from My New Roots. Rather than being made with the ingredients left whole then bound together with egg, all the ingredients are blended up in the food processor. The result is somewhat of a wet dough, which I was initially dubious of. But when you bake them in the oven with a quick spray of olive oil, they come out with a crispy crust and tender interior. Oh, and TONS of meaty flavor from the mushrooms and spices. In fact, of all things, the flavor reminded me of sausage, which inspired me to create recipe number 2.

A few years ago, Scott and I had this amazing Southern hash with sweet potatoes, collards and sausage when we were on vacation in Asheville. I decided to recreate it using crumbled veggie burger, added towards the end of cooking. You could top it with a fried egg, but since we were running out the door the play kickball, we enjoyed it plain. Which was anything but plain with all the flavor from the bitter greens, sweet sautéed potatoes and spicy “sausage.”

Spicy Lentil & Mushroom Veggie Burger

Makes 8 patties

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils (I used black lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, halved
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch or two of cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup oats
  • Burger buns
  • Toppings (lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, mayo, mustard, etc)

Instructions

  1. Place lentils in a medium pot an cover with water by a few inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. In a large pan on medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and pepper. Saute 5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook until mushrooms are golden and have released their liquid. Add cumin, thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne. Stir and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
  4. Place pepitas and oats in the food processor. Pulse until they form a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add sauteed vegetables and lentils with salt and plenty of pepper in the food processor and blend until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil. Form 8 balls and flatten slightly on the baking sheet. Spray again with oil and bake in the oven 40 minutes until golden.
  6. Serve on toasted buns with desired toppings.

Sweet Potato, Greens and Vegan Sausage Hash

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small-medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bag of Trader Joe's Southern greens, or a bunch of greens of choice, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 leftover spicy mushroom and lentil burgers

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large sided skillet. Add potatoes and cook until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. If using sturdy greens, add the greens along with a couple tablespoons of water to help it wilt. If using tender greens, add them at the end. Continue to cook, stirring, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Crumble in veggie burger, stir to combine and cook until heated through, 2 minutes.