Roasted garlic, olive, tomato and fresh basil pasta

DSC00797Nina’s family has a tradition: pasta lunch on Sundays. We adopted it last year, and are so deeply in love with the tradition. We make our own tomato sauce in huge batches and then freeze it, thawing a portion each Sunday to have with pasta, garlic bread and a quick salad. It’s easy comfort food at the end of busy weekends, and routines make me happy. It also limits our pasta intake to once a week, which has been a challenge in my vegetarian life before. Win/win/win!

As I said, we usually make pasta with tomato sauce, but then this recipe came along and I couldn’t help substitute it for our regular fare. Nina’s first words after eating it were “you need to tell people that this is shockingly good!” And it is.

Roasted Garlic, Olive, Tomato and Fresh Basil Pasta
Source: the Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 3 small heads of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound of pasta
  • 15 ounces of whole or skim ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 small tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 1 cup black or green olives, sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the tops off the cloves of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the cloves (cut side up) in tin foil, and place the packet in the oven (I just put mine in like that, but you could also place it on a baking sheet). Roast for 40-50 minutes or until the garlic is very soft. Remove and let cool.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, mix the ricotta and yogurt together in a medium-sized bowl. Open the foil packet of roasted garlic and with your fingers or a spoon, squeeze the garlic out of the cloves into the ricotta/yogurt mixture. Once it’s all added, mix it to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and return to the pot. Add the ricotta/yogurt/garlic mixture, tomatoes, olives and fresh basil. Toss everything together and serve! This is delicious hot, but we also add the cold leftovers the next day and it was just as delicious.

Caramelized Cauliflower x 2

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It has been ridiculously cold in Ottawa lately (-40. -40!). So cold I’ve been reluctant to leave my house. So cold I cry when I got outside, and then the tears freeze. It’s obviously time for comfort food and for me, that’s caramelized cauliflower.

I have two recipes for you today, both which begin by roasting a head of cauliflower. Slice it thinly (1/2 cm wide), toss it with a bit of olive oil and salt, lay it on a parchment-paper covered baking sheet (the parchment paper isn’t necessary but helps with clean-up) and roast it for about 30 minutes at 450 degree F. You can actually stop right there too, and just eat the plain roasted cauliflower as a side – it’s DELICIOUS. But if you’re feeling like something more, these recipes are for you.

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Caramelized Cauliflower Soup
Source: Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, roasted as per above directions
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup of bread torn into 1″ pieces
  • ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. While the cauliflower roasts, head 2 tsp of olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute shallot and garlic for about five minutes to soften. Add vegetable broth, dried thyme and white balsamic vinegar. Warm through.
  2. When the cauliflower is roasted, add it to to the broth and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper, and keep warm.
  3. To make the croutons, heat the remaining olive oil in a small pan. Add the torn bread, pepper and saute for 5-8 minutes until the bread is crispy and the edges are browned.
  4. Serve the soup topped with croutons, hazelnuts, fresh thyme leaves and grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

DSC00755Caramelized Cauliflower Risotto
Source: The Vegetarian Collection (Canadian Living)

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, roasted as per above directions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. While the cauliflower roasts, bring broth and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Fry shallot, garlic and salt, stirring occasionally, until shallot and garlic are softened (about five minutes).
  3. Add the rice, stirring to coat and toast the grains. Add wine and cook, stirring, until no liquid remains (about one minute).
  4. Add the broth mixture a 1/2 cup at the time. Stir after each mixture until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding more. This should take about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cauliflower, cheese and parsley.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Pesto Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Zucchini

ImageI haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been in a detox diet-induced food funk. I’m exceptionally privileged in that my insurance pays part of the cost to see a naturopath, and so I am, and of course the first step we took was to do a detox diet. In part it’s to just give my body a break, but it’s also to figure out if I have any food intolerances. I’m on day 10/21 and counting every single second because the list of foods I cannot eat is extremely restrictive: no gluten, no dairy, no eggs, no nightshades (potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers), no corn, no soy, no bananas/melon/strawberry, no peanuts/cashews/pistachios, no caffeine, no alcohol…. it goes on and on! Right now I’m so immersed in it that I can’t really speak fairly of my experience so far – perhaps I will when I’m done. I’ve also been quite sick with a cold for the last week, so that’s compounded everything and well… I’m hungry and cranky!

I’m also getting really bored of quinoa and beans (two of the big things I’m allowed to eat and should eat often because of the high levels of protein they contain)! Enter this dish. Green Door pesto with quinoa pasta, add some roasted veggies and a side of salad… yum! This is so easy to make, filling without weighing you down, and really delicious. You can use any kind of pasta, but if you’re avoiding gluten, check labels like a hawk: a lot of brown rice and quinoa pastas still contain wheat!

Pesto Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Zucchini

Source: Pesto from the Green Door Cookbook

Ingredients

For the Pesto (makes 1 cup)

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 salt

For the Pasta and Veggies

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 4 cups pasta of your choice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet or a roasting pan with parchment paper. Thinly slice the zucchini and cauliflower and toss with olive oil and a bit of sea salt. Spread on baking sheet/roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes, flipping the veggies halfway through.
  2. In the meantime, combine all the pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth. Set aside.
  3. When the zucchini and cauliflower have been baking for about 10 minutes, put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Once it has boiled, add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or however long the package directs you to. Once it is cooked, drain in a colander and rinse with hot water (rice and quinoa pasta tends to stick a bit and this helps it not turn into a big blob). Put it back in the pot.
  4. Add the zucchini, cauliflower and pesto to the pasta and stir to combine.
  5. Serve immediately, perhaps with a green salad, and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries with Roasted Garlic Mayo

ImageI’m back! And a married lady now. We had an amazing wedding and honeymoon – pictures (mostly of food and wine!) to come soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to introduce you to these sweet potato fries and this mayo. We’ve been getting lots of squash, root vegetables and potatoes in our organics box, and I was so excited to get sweet potatoes this week!

These fries are a bit long on the baking time, but don’t require a lot of prep, so they’re perfect if you’re multi-tasking. You could easily make these vegan with vegenaise, and they’re a perfect side or on their own with a salad. You can also add other spices – cumin and chili powder come to mind – along with the salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato Fries and Roasted Garlic Mayo

Ingredients

For the fries

  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the mayo

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oli
  • 1/2 cup mayo

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To prep the roasted garlic: remove any loose skin from the head of garlic, and then cut about 1/2 an inch off the top so the tips of the cloves are exposed. Drizzle the olive oil over the tips, and then wrap it in a piece of tin foil. Put in the oven for 30 minutes.
  3. To prep the fries: peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into fries, about 1/2 inch in width. Toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on the baking sheet.
  4. Once the garlic has been roasting for 30 minutes, add the sweet potato fries to the oven as well. Bake them for 30 minutes, flipping them once in the middle.
  5. Remove the fries and the garlic from the oven and set the fries aside to cool a bit. Take the foil off the garlic – the cloves should be soft and spreadable and HOT, so watch out. Squeeze them out of the skin into a small bowl, using your hands or a small spoon. Mash them with the back of a fork, and then add the mayo. Mix it all together.
  6. Serve the fries with a scoop of mayo, and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas

My mother has been telling me about the magic of slow cookers for years. She recently informed me that she has four of them, of varying sizes, in case I’m ever in need. And last fall I was finally swayed, and asked for one on my birthday.

I love eating out once in awhile, but when it happens too often, it’s incredibly expensive and I don’t end up eating very well. I love being able to cook the majority of our meals, but that can be super hard with our busy lives. I often work evenings or come home exhausted, so I’ve had to learn how to plan around this. Enter the slow cooker! Do a bit of prep the night before, throw everything in, turn it on in the morning, and you’re done! And they are so versatile: you make make soups, sauces, drinks, baked goods… even enchiladas.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas

Source: The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion, diced small
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (or a 16 oz can of them)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used mozzarella because it’s what I had, but I think it would also be great with monterey jack. If you’re making this vegan, you can omit the cheese or use a vegan one like Daiya)
  • 4 cups salsa
  • 12 6-8″ tortillas (choose the size based on how big your slow cooker is)
  • 2 cups veggie ground round (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, pepper, beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, salt and veggie ground round (if using) and 1/2 cup of cheese.
  2. Pour a cup of salsa on the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture into a tortilla, roll it up, and put it in the slow cooker (seam side down). Repeat until the bottom of the slow cooker is covered. Spread another cup of salsa over these tortillas, and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Roll the rest of the tortillas and make a second layer in the slow cooker. Cover with a cup of salsa, but leave the cheese for now.
  4. Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn it to HIGH for 2-4 hours (I did mine for 2.5 and it was prefect – the top tortilla edges were crispy and the bottom ones weren’t mushy yet). 15 minutes before you think they’re done, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and let it melt.
  5. Turn the slow cooker off, and serve the enchiladas with the remaining salsa and perhaps some salad or ripe avocado slices. Delicious!