Archive for February, 2009

I love pasta


Is there any food better to eat than pasta? Or more universally loved? Check out this week’s Presto Pasta Nights Roundup at the Food Hunter’s Guide blog. And bring your utensils, napkin, and maybe a bib!

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Cauliflower Alfredo


A big SHOUTOUT to Chef John of FoodWishes blog, for the inspiration to try his Cauliflower Alfredo. I’ve embedded his video here, cuz it’s easier than writing down all the directions. This recipe worked really well nondairy. All the parmesan cheese called for I subbed with soy parmesan, and instead of the 1/4 cup of cream in the dish, I used nondairy creamer. This pasta sauce was not only creamy, it was healthy, too. And the crumbs on top were simply perfect. I’ve listed my ingredients below the video. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Alfredo

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3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 heat cauliflower, cored, cut in large pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups water
1/4 cup nondairy creamer
1/2 cup grated soy parmesan cheese
for topping:
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated soy parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste 2 tablespoons any chopped fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano, basil)(I used oregano)
1 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
1/2 lemon, juiced

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Ever since I bought my bag of farro last week, I’ve been intrigued with its delicious possibilities. When I saw this recipe on Pink of Perfection blog, I decided to try it. VERRRRY tasty. I just love the chewiness of farro, and all the ingredients worked well together. I only modified it slightly, using black beans instead of kidney beans, and topped everything with soy parmesan shreds. Very easy to make, too. Enjoy!

Bean and farro soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

5 cups chicken broth

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup farro

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over moderately high heat, then saute onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, until onion is translucent. Add basil, rosemary, crushed red pepper, sage, and chicken broth. Stir in tomatoes, black beans, chickpeas, and farro. Raise heat, bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until farro is tender. Makes 6 servings.


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I won!


This must be my lucky day. I never win ANYTHING, but today, my luck changed. Hannah, author of the cookbook My Sweet Vegan,  was running a contest on her blog, BitterSweet The book, Go Dairy Free, written by Alise Fleming (also of One Frugal Foodie blog and Go Dairy Free.org fame), was the prize for two randomly selected winners. All the stars and biorhythms in the universe must have been properly aligned for me today, because there in my email inbox this morning was my winner notification.

I can’t. wait. to. get. this. book. Thank you, Hannah, and thank you, Alisa.

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Tonight was soup night, and a good thing, too, cuz it’s plenty cold out there. This is lip-smacking, colorful, gut-warming, and oh, so satisfying. Try it, you’ll like it. I used chicken sausage instead of turkey sausage, which was originally called for. Enjoy!

Escarole lentil soup with chicken sausage (modified slightly from Pink of Perfection blog)

1 2/3 cup lentils, rinsed well

4 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

4 garlic cloves, divided, finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound sweet Italian chicken sausage, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 pound escarole, chopped (1 small head)

1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Simmer lentils, water, broth, bay leaf, and half of garlic in a 4 quart pot, uncovered, for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a wide 6 quart pot. Brown the sausage, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, carrots, celery,remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Stir occasionally until softened, then add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the sausage and lentils with cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 3-5 minutes.

Stir in escarole and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Don’t forget to discard the bay leaf. Makes 6 servings.

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So, the other evening I was hungry for some spaghetti, and what better reference for searching for pasta than the Queen of pasta herself, Ruth’s blog 4EveryKitchen. Ruth is the founder and host of Presto Pasta Nights, the weekly pasta carnival that tantalizes readers with recipe submissions from all over the world (and cyberspace).

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. I modified it only slightly, using ground beef instead of lamb, and I could not find any split yellow peas 😦 so I used split green ones. I was very pleased with the results, and the aroma and taste were just delightful. Enjoy!

Persian saffron spiced pasta with split peas

1 cup green split peas, sorted and rinsed

3 cups water

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

6 ounces ground beef

1 small eggplant (about 3/4 pound), unpeeled, diced into small cubes

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

1 19-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup water

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

your favorite pasta

Cook the split peas in a large saucepan in 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, over and simmer about 20 minutes, until peas are just tender.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a Dutch oven and add onions. Saute over medium heat until soft (5-7 minutes). Do not brown. Crumble ground beef into the pot and continue to saute until meat is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Add the eggplant, salt and pepper and mix well. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant begins to soften (5-6 minutes). Add the cinnamon, saffron, and tomatoes. Mix, cover, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

Mix the tomato paste with 1/4 cup water and add to the meat sauce. Fold in the split peas and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until all the flavors meld together. Add som lemon juice, taste for seasonings.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to instructions, until al dente. Drain and place in a large serving dish. Top with sauce and sprinkle with some freshly chopped parsley. Makes 4-6 servings.

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This week’s Presto Pasta Nights brings all good things pasta. Visit Noob Cook blog and get into it!

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I’ve seen this recipe on a couple of blogs lately, and it looked so good I had to try it. I’ve never eaten farro, at least as far as I know. It is a wonderful grain, with a slightly nutty flavor, and nice texture and chewiness. A little on the pricey side in these parts, but I was willing to put out the $$ just to try some. I adapted this recipe to keep it dairy-free. Yes, it’s as good as it looks. Enjoy!

Mushroom and thyme farro

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

8 ounces mushrooms, quartered

1 teaspoon thyme, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup farro (cooked as directed)

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon walnut oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon thyme, chopped

Heat the oil in a  pan. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute more. Add the mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper and saute until the mushrooms are just starting to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes.

Place mushrooms, farro, and walnuts in a large bowl. Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Garnish with the thyme. Makes 4 servings.

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Inspiration for this outstanding soup came to me courtesy of the VeggieBelly blog. One look at her mouthwatering photos will inspire any cook to try a delicious recipe from her collection. This soup really appealed to me, and I only made one modification to make it dairy-free. I subbed the low-fat milk with nondairy creamer, and I used less than what the recipe called for; instead, I used more stock. My soup came out more orange-colored, but that’s because I didn’t realize that I had no celery, so instead I put in a couple of carrots. LOVED it! And the chimichurri was the perfect complement to the sweet soup. I served it with whole-grain toast points. This recipe is a real winner. Enjoy!

Roasted parsnip soup with fresh herb and caper chimichurri

2 parsnips, chopped, about 2 cups

2 carrots, chopped

1 leek stalk cleaned and roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

A splash of white wine

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)

1 cup nondairy creamer

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Scrub the parsnips clean and chop them into small cubes. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until they are golden (about 20 minutes).

While the parsnips are roasting, heat a large pot with 1 tablespoon olive oil. add the carrots, leeks, garlic, and bay leaf. Cook on medium-high until the leek has softened a little – about 5 minutes. Now add the oregano and wine and cook for another minute until the wine bubbles and evaporates. Add the turmeric and the stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Add the roasted parsnips and the creamer to the stock. Place in a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree into a soup – as thick or creamy as you like.

Warm through before serving. Adjust seasoning as needed, but don’t forget you’ll be topping the soup with the chimichurri, which is salty.


1 cup fresh parsley leaves roughly chopped

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

capers – 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon of the brine

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine

1 tablespoon water

1 garlic clove

pinch or two of crushed red pepper

salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a coarse paste.

Soup makes 4 servings.

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I decided to try the Barefoot Contessa’s roasted broccoli recipe, slightly modified by me to be nondairy. Yikes, I was so tempted to eat it all myself. I’ll liken it to potato chips – betcha can’t eat just one! Disclaimer – they’re very addicting. Enjoy!

Lemony roasted broccoli

4 large bunches of broccoli, cut into large florets

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

5 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup grated soy parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the broccoli with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic. Place everything on a rimmed pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, until the tips of the florets are browned.

When done, remove from oven and place in bowl. Add the zest and juice to the broccoli, add the pine nuts and the parmesan cheese. Toss and serve.

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