Meatless Monday – Eggplant, Kale & Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

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We are just beginning week three of shelter in place. Who knew tofu would be almost as hard to find as toilet paper? Well if you are lucky enough to score some, here is a savory recipe that includes eggplant, greens and a delicious black bean sauce. You’ll forget you’re on lockdown. Be well.-Joyce

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Are you a lover or a hater?  Tofu gets a bad rap and seems to trigger a love/hate reaction. I am totally a lover, I think it’s delicious and guilt free-just sayin’.  Let’s talk about what’s good about tofu besides the obvious – no animals were harmed in the making of my dinner!  Tofu is high in protein, low in fat, and naturally cholesterol-free. along with providing a whole slew of healthful nutrients. It is fairly bland in flavor and easily absorbs flavorful sauces and marinades so it’s easy to manipulate in cooking. So why does tofu get a bad rap?  Well some people just don’t like the taste and texture but there is controversy beyond the likability aspect. Tofu is a processed soy product, and the verdict is still out on it’s health benefits and risks.  For more info click HERE.  It’s quite a complicated topic and no one…

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Meatless Monday – Chicken Fried Cauliflower ‘Steaks’ and Creamy Mash

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In this crazy time of sheltering in space, keeping social distance and quickly emptying grocery store shelves, its hard to plan meals or have even food available to cook. Last night my husband took one for the team and went to a grocery store where bulk supplies were gone but there was plenty of produce. So obviously veggies are not in the same disaster category as toilet paper. He came home with three kinds of cauliflower. Sometimes you just have to go with what you can get. Here is a recipe in which cauliflower is both the main dish and the side dish and the recipes use just a few ingredients that hopefully are still in your pantry…and it’s delicious! Hang in there. We’ll get through this. xo-Joyce

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20170730_124206Here’s a vegetarian or vegan twist on the classic comfort food, Chicken Fried Steak, nestled on a bed of creamy mash.  This version has all the yummy flavor with none of the guilt, perfect for your summer barbecue or picnic. Cauliflower, the chameleon of veggies, makes a great couple of center cut ‘steaks’ while the rest is pureed into a silky, creamy cauliflower mash. This recipe makes use of the whole head of cauliflower and requires very few other ingredients, other than spices that you probably already have in your pantry. Now you can make a healthier, lower fat and meat free version of this popular dish.  Its an easy and surprisingly satisfying meal that can be ready in about 30 minutes. You just might lick the plate clean…

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This recipe serves two adults if prepared as directed but can easily be doubled.  The head of cauliflower is cut in half and two thick planks are cut from…

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Meatless Monday – Pasta Fazool (Vegan)

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Although Daylight Savings Time just started, it’s not really spring for another ten days and I’m expecting chilly weather to return. This savory pasta dish, which is a twist on an Italian favorite, Pasta Fazool, is a delicious comfort food. Picture penne pasta and lentils swimming in a delicious hot broth, flavored with tomatoes, garlic, onions and the zing of red pepper flakes. I served each bowl with a pinch of parmesan and chopped parsley. Plus its a One Pot Meal!

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Cold and rainy (or snowy) days call for hearty and warm foods that warm you up from the inside out.  This savory pasta dish, which is a twist on an Italian favorite, Pasta Fazool, was a winner with my meat eating men.  Picture penne pasta and lentils swimming in a delicious hot broth, flavored with tomatoes, garlic, onions and the zing of red pepper flakes. I served each bowl with a pinch of parmesan and chopped parsley.  Plus its a One Pot Meal!

IMG_20190213_185034This is technically not Pasta Fazool, or pasta e fagiole, which means pasta with beans.  Lentils are actually a legume not a bean, so the technical name would be Pasta e Lenticchie which is way less fun to say and why I call it a twist on a classic.  You can make it more traditionally by using two cans of white beans, drained and added in place of…

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Meatless Monday -Vegan Mini Meatloaf

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Vegan meatloaf might not spring to mind as a delicious main course but I’m here to tell you it is….It’s reminiscent of my mother’s traditional meatloaf using Quaker Rolled Oats, onions, ketchup and Beyond Meat ground ‘beef’, cooked to a nice perfection and then topped with barbecue sauce for the last bit of cooking.  It’s pretty delicious.

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I was asked to come up with a vegan main course for a St. Patrick’s Day event where the main course was going to be corned beef.  This was a nice (and perhaps selfish)  challenge for me since even though I have gotten used to eating around the main course or making side dishes into dinner, its always nice to have a dinner option available.  Vegetarians and vegans are often in a pickle at parties where a vegetarian/vegan option isn’t being served.  We don’t want to be perceived as difficult or judgey, but then again we won’t eat the meat option and we are hungry too.  So when someone goes to the trouble to make sure there is something meat free , I am beyond grateful.

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I used to love my Mom’s meatloaf which was based on a Quaker Rolled Oats recipe from the 1960’s.  It was a huge hit in my house and now that there are so many good meat substitutes available, I decided to give meatloaf another whirl but using Beyond Meat ground beef substitute instead of actual ground beef. If you are interested in the health aspects or nutritional information, check out  Beyond Meat. I chose to make mini meatloaves because they are easier to serve than slicing, and they are darned cute.  You can use a mini meatloaf pan or hand form the meatloaves onto a glass baking dish or cooking sheet with a rim.

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You can also make a traditional large meatloaf using a loaf pan or free formed onto a baking dish.  This recipe is makes eight mini meatloaves. You can cut the recipe in half for four servings if you prefer.  Or you can make one large meatloaf.  Form meatloaf mixture with your hands into 10×6-inch loaf on glass baking dish or cooking sheet with a rim. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until meatloaf is firm and has a nice crust. Add barbecue sauce for the last 10 or 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes to ensure easy slicing.

I used real eggs as a binder, compliments of my backyard rescue chickens whom I consider ambassadors for all factory animals. Here’s my sister, Margaret, with Margaret the chicken. Aren’t they cute?  Check out their facebook page Mrs V’s Rescue Chickens.   If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to pasture raised chicken eggs or you don’t use eggs at all, there are really good options beyond making a flax egg (1 Tablespoon flax seeds to 3 Tablespoons water equals 1 egg).  I have had success using Just Egg but there is also Follow Your Heart and Red Hill Egg Replacer neither of which I have tried.

Tips:

Mini meatloaves can be made ahead of time, which is a nice time saver if you are hosting an event.  Uncooked loaves can be covered in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for a few days until you are ready to cook.  Just bring to room temperature before cooking to ensure even cooking.  Cooked meatloaves can be frozen for about three months and microwave well once defrosted.

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VEGAN MEATLOAF

  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 pkgs of @beyondmeat Beyond Burgers  (2 lbs)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 eggs or vegan egg substitute (*see note)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce or gf soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp of Onion Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup barbecue sauce

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  • Saute the chopped onions in olive oil until tender, remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Combine all ingredients except for barbecue sauce in a large bowl.

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  • Mix well using a large wooden spoon (or I prefer to use my hands)

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  • Divide the mixture into eight parts and form them into small loaves and place on an oiled baking sheet, or spoon into oiled mini loaf pans, forming a rounded top on each one.

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  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, spread with barbecue sauce or ketchup and cook another 15 minutes,

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Vegan Mini Meatloaves

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 pkgs of @beyondmeat Beyond Burgers  (2 lbs)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 eggs or egg substitute (*see note)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp of Onion Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup barbecue sauce or ketchup

 

  1. Saute the chopped onions in olive oil until tender, remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for barbecue sauce in a large bowl.
  3. Mix well using a large wooden spoon (or I prefer to use my hands)
  4. Divide the mixture into eight parts and form them into small loaves and place on an oiled baking sheet, or spoon into oiled mini loaf pans, forming a rounded top on each one.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, spread with barbecue sauce or ketchup and cook another 15 minutes,

 

Citrus Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa & Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

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This citrus and kale salad is loaded with flavor and textures. The cumin lime vinaigrette is a perfect complement to the creamy avocado and zesty citrus while the crispy quinoa adds a delightful crunch as well as a healthy dose of protein and vitamins. Once you try crispy quinoa, you will never go back to croutons and their empty calories. Even if you aren’t a fan of quinoa, you might be surprised by how different it tastes once it’s been ‘crisped’ in olive oil. This salad is the perfect precursor to spring!

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With sunny weather finally here, I have moved on from steaming hot soups to fresh seasonal salads and lighter dishes.  This citrus and kale salad is loaded with flavor and textures.  The cumin lime vinaigrette is a perfect complement to the creamy avocado and zesty citrus while the crispy quinoa adds a delightful crunch as well as a healthy dose of protein and vitamins.  Once you try crispy quinoa, you will never go back to croutons and their empty calories.  Even if you aren’t a fan of quinoa, you might be surprised by how different it tastes once it’s been ‘crisped’ in olive oil.

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This is my favorite time of year, when my garden comes to life. The month of May is a wonderful overlapping of seasons.  Spring blooming plants like rhododendron and azalea are still in full bloom and summer roses are just beginning to emerge creating a gorgeous riot of color.

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Meatless Monday-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Balsamic Drizzle

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Move over portobello mushrooms, Cauliflower Steak is the hot new vegan main course, and rightly so.  Cauliflower is the chameleon of vegetables and can become whatever you want it to be.  In this case, it takes center stage as a beautiful plant based steak with a caramelized crust and drizzled with a balsamic reduction.  Infused with herbs and smoked paprika, it is delicious and surprisingly hearty and done in 30 minutes.  I recommend serving over rice or couscous to soak up the delicious juices.

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When buying cauliflower, choose a head that is firm and heavy.  A lighter head will probably fall apart when you try to cut thick slices.  As it is, I plan on two steaks per head.  Sometimes I get lucky and get two more smaller ones but sometimes its mostly florets, which are still delicious but don’t have the same presentation.  If you are lucky enough to have your outside pieces stay together, cut off the curved edges so both sides can properly caramelize. This recipe serves two to three people but the sauce recipe can easily be doubled using two heads of cauliflower.

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TIP:  The trick to getting the proper caramelization or sear on the cauliflower is by managing the heating element of your oven.  Preheat your oven to a warm 300 and then increase the heat to get the element going again when you put the cauliflower in to roast.  Your baking sheet should be in the bottom third of the oven and close to the element. The key is to keep the element hot as ovens are designed to bake everything and keep the oven at a constant temperature, which means the heat source turns off as the desired heat is achieved, but we definitely want the heat to stay on.  Think of it as broiling in reverse…

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For my nutrition and health conscious friends who want to delve deeper into the goodness of cauliflower, here is an article that lists 8 Amazing Health Benefits of Cauliflower including heart and brain health. One serving of cauliflower contains 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, vitamins and anti oxidants. Surprisingly, it is also an anti inflammatory and a good detoxifyer so don’t be surprised if you see cauliflower start showing up in even more foods…  Check my  recipes below that feature cauliflower.

CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE CAULIFLOWER RECIPES:

‘Chicken’ Fried Cauliflower Steaks with Creamy Mash

Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks

Spice Crusted Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Capers and Lemon

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ROASTED CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION

  • One head of cauliflower (makes 2 steaks)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh pepper
  • 2 tsp dried Italian herb mix
  • 1 Tbsn fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey or agave nectar (optional)

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  • Preheat your oven to 300°F  . Remove leaves from stem end of cauliflower, leaving the core intact.

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  • Place cauliflower core side down on cutting board and slice in half with a large knife. Carefully slice a one inch thick steak from the center of each half. You will be left with two smaller steaks or possibly some florets.  Slice the rounded edges off for better caramelizing.

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  • Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, and 2 tsp of the thyme into a bowl.

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  • Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil and arrange the cauliflower steaks along with smaller piecesBrush the cauliflower slices generously on both sides with this mixture.

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  • Turn the oven up to 425°F and place the baking sheet in the lower third of the oven near the element.  Roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Carefully turn over the steaks and spread any remaining olive oil mixture on the top. (optional)

 

  • While the cauliflower is roasting, pour balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.  Stir in honey, if using, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until thickened.  Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Continue roasting another 8 to 10 minutes to caramelize the other side.  Smaller florets may need to be removed to a platter earlier.  If the heating element on your oven turns off, increase the temperature to 450°F. When the cauliflower steaks are done, remove from oven and transfer onto a serving platter or individual serving plates.

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  • Sprinkle with additional fresh thyme leaves and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

 

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Balsamic

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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  • One head of cauliflower (makes 2 steaks)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh pepper
  • 2 tsp dried Italian herb mix
  • 1 Tbsn fresh thyme (divided)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F  . Remove leaves from stem end of cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Place cauliflower core side down on cutting board and slice in half with a large knife.
  2. Carefully slice a one inch thick steak from the center of each half. You will be left with two smaller steaks or possibly some florets.  Slice the rounded edge off for better caramelizing.
  3. Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil and arrange the cauliflower steaks along with smaller pieces.
  4. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, and 2 tsp of the thyme into a bowl.
  5. Brush the cauliflower slices generously on both sides with this mixture.
  6. Turn the oven to 425°F and place the baking sheet in the lower third of the oven near the element.  Roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Carefully turn over the steaks and spread any remaining olive oil mixture on the top. (optional)
  7. While the cauliflower is roasting, pour balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.  Stir in honey, if using, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  8. Continue roasting another 8 to 10 minutes to caramelize the other side.  If the heating element on your oven turns off, increase the temperature to 450°F
  9. When the cauliflower steaks are done, remove from oven and transfer onto individual serving plates. Sprinkle with additional fresh thyme leaves and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Meatless Monday – Kale, Fennel Salad with Apples, Pecans & Goat Cheese

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This salad has a delicious combination of ingredients that are pleasing to the eye and the taste buds. If you have ever been interested in massaging kale and soaking fennel, here’s your chance to find out why and how. BTW, both are completely optional…you can always just toss everything together and it comes out just fine.

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Well I’ve finally done it!  I massaged kale. I have always thought kale was just fine the way it is naturally but have heard that massaging kale is a thing and have been wondering if ‘super relaxed’ kale is really worth all the fuss.  So when I spotted this recipe from Vegetarian Times, June 2016 for Fenway Park’s signature salad, I thought I would give it a try – even down to the kale massaging and fennel soaking, (Nope, I hadn’t done that before either).  What could be better than a salad that has been given the ultimate in pampering and spa treatments?  This lucky salad is a delicious combination of sweet and savory on a bed of velvety kale and fennel and drizzled with a Maple, Lemon, Dijon Vinaigrette.  Not bad for ballpark food, don’t you think?  Good on you, Fenway Park!

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Why do we massage kale anyway?  Kale…

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Meatless Monday – Ginger Miso Eggplant with Sesame Soba Noodles

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I like to circle back and remake old recipes to make sure they still work and that I like the results. I really loved these two recipes which I paired with Sesame Crusted Tofu (https://goodmotherdiet.com/2018/08/20/meatless-monday-sesame-crusted-tofu/) and broccolini sauteed in olive oil and garlic. It was way too much food but delicious!

goodmotherdiet

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I love eggplant pretty much any way it is served and I’m always looking for a new recipe.  I’ve been eyeing this one for a while but have been thwarted several times in my attempts.  I planned to make this last week but my eggplant had already grown a few moldy spots, so we had to resort to dinner out (darn!).  In subsequent tries, one or both of us had plans.  Oh darn again, parties…  Anyway, last night was the night and I can report that it was worth the wait.  Tender and flavorful roasted eggplant topped with a miso and ginger sauce, coupled with yummy sesame soba noodles, this dish really satisfies, especially when you’re craving something with an Asian twist. I also like pairing it with my Sesame Crusted Tofu

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We all know that eggplant is an exceptional vegetable and not just because of it’s glorious purple color…

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No Peel Potato Latkes for Hanukkah

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Hanukkah begins tonight so get your latkes going! Here’s a tasty and easy (no peel) method Vegans can substitute ‘Just Egg’ with excellent results. Happy Hanukkah!

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Hanukkah falls really early this year, beginning Sunday, December 2nd (which is tomorrow!) and the holiday season starts with a bang. You know what that means… chocolate and latkes!  So, I want to share my easy no-peel latke recipe which, besides skipping the tedious and time consuming job of peeling potatoes, serves two purposes. The skin has much of the nutrition and leaving it on helps make the latkes extra crispy and tasty.  Warm latkes topped with applesauce and sour cream, are a family favorite. The only problem is, that no matter how many I make, they disappear! Feel free to try my No Peel Applesauce recipe as a great topper. Click HERE for the recipe

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Who wouldn’t love a celebration that lasts eight days and involves lighting pretty candles, exchanging gifts, playing games that involve chocolate coins and eating foods that have been fried in oil?  Once a year, latkes (and even doughnuts) which…

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Meatless Monday – Squash, Wild Rice and Kale Salad

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I love this combination of kabocha squash brushed with maple syrup and roasted to sweet tenderness, on a bed of fresh baby kale, hearty wild rice, creamy avocado, pomegranate seeds and salty crushed pistachios, all drizzled with a light orange, ginger vinaigrette. You can tell by all its colors that its a nutritional powerhouse. Remember “Eat the Rainbow”? This is a hearty main course salad when paired with crusty sourdough bread or a bowl of soup.

goodmotherdiet

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I love this combination of kabocha squash brushed with maple syrup and roasted to sweet tenderness, on a bed of fresh baby kale, hearty wild rice, creamy avocado, pomegranate seeds and salty crushed pistachios, all drizzled with a light orange, ginger vinaigrette.  Its a hearty main course salad when paired with crusty sourdough bread or a bowl of soup.

My friend, Kerry and her daughter, Gabby, were visiting from Maine last week. I could tell that Kerry was unimpressed by the pile of greens on the counter while i was making dinner. By the time the whole salad was assembled, she was singing a different tune…

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The colors alone tell you that this salad is a nutrional powerhouse.  Remember “Eat the Rainbow”?  The more colors you combine in your meals, the more vitamins and minerals you are likely to be getting.  I haven’t posted a food color chart in a…

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12 Vegetarian and Vegan Soups

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Thanksgiving is over but Soup Season has just begun. Brrr… Soup is the ultimate comfort food for cold, rainy or snowy days.  It’s hot, steamy goodness warms you up from the inside out. Click through for a collection of 16 of my favorite soups. Mmm, so good!  All soups are vegetarian or vegan (or easily adapted for vegans) and gluten and wheat free.  Since they are meat free, they are naturally low in calories but nutrient dense, so fill up your belly guilt free!  Each link will send you to the recipe and original blog post. Sharing is caring. -J

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (Vegan)

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Thai Red Curry Soup

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Hot and Sour Soup

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Tuscan Bean Soup with Squash and Kale

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Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup

Black Bean Soup1

Spicy Black Bean Soup

CArrot Sweet Potato Soup1

Carrot, Sweet Potato Soup with Turmeric

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Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

Mushroom Barley Soup 1

Mushroom and Barley Soup with Cannelini Beans

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Fall Harvest Minestrone

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Butternut Squash and Potato Soup with Crispy Fried Sage

Black and White Chili

Black and White Chili with Garlic Toast

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

Carrot Coconut Soup with Marinated Tofu Triangles

Butternut Squash Soup and Polenta Tower2

Butternut Squash Soup with Polenta Towers

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Dhal Lentil Soup with Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes

Harvest Vegetable Tart

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Still looking for a vegan dish for Thanksgiving? This beauty takes advantage of the exquisite red/orange palate of fall by using colorful root vegetables cut into small leaf shapes using cookie cutters to create an Autumn motif. It happens to be savory and delicious too!

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As you can see, I’m still on a tart kick.  You might say I’m ‘practicing’ for Thanksgiving, but in my defense, when the air gets cold outside, I love to be bundled up inside with a steaming casserole (or hot bowl of soup) and a tart is really just a fancy casserole.  This beauty takes advantage of the exquisite red/orange palate of fall by using colorful root vegetables cut into small leaf shapes using cookie cutters to create an Autumn motif. It happens to be savory and delicious too!

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The original inspiration for this recipe was filled with three kinds of cheese which sounds delicious but I was looking for something less caloric and more savory.  I opted to braise the leftover bits of veggies in olive oil and vegetable broth with shallots and garlic for a flavorful, lower fat tart filling.  I also added coconut milk for creaminess and…

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Portobello Wellington (Vegan)

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This vegan Portobello Wellington is pretty enough to serve as a main course for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It features layers of rich beluga lentils, whole portobello muchrooms and sauteed garlic spinach.. The dish was a huge success, pretty AND delicious. Just add mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce! 🙂

goodmotherdiet

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This vegan Portobello Wellington is pretty enough to serve as a main course for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It features layers of rich beluga lentils, whole portobello muchrooms and sauteed garlic spinach. I made a vegan Wellington last year using chestnuts and portobello mushrooms as the predominant ingredients.  While the dish was beautiful, it wasn’t as tasty as I thought it should be.  So this time, I scrapped the chestnuts which are difficult to find, and a bit dry, and layered lentils,  mushrooms and spinach instead.  The dish was a huge success, pretty AND delicious.  Just add mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce!  🙂

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A traditional Beef Wellington is a fillet steak coated with pâté and duxelles, which is then wrapped in pastry and baked.  In this reimagined vegan  version, whole portobellos stand in for the ‘steak’  and the lentils with shallots and garlic would be the ‘pate’ with duxelles, which is just…

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Spaghetti with ‘Sausage’, Zucchini and Mushrooms (Vegan)

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This recipe is a re-boot of my family’s favorite pasta.  It’s incredibly flavorful and loaded with sausage, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes.  The difference is that I substituted Beyond Meat Hot Italian Sausage for traditional meat sausage.  I haven’t made this recipe for about five years, since I stopped eating meat, so I was happy when Beyond Meat introduced their wonderful vegan sausages.  Top with freshly grated Vio-Life Vegan Parm for a salty, nutty flavor.  The recipe tastes just the same as it used to, but now its guilt-free.  I guess you really can go back home…

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This is one of the first recipes I started making early in my marriage back in the 80’s.  I had no idea how to cook, so I ordered a subscription to a monthly book series, “Great Meals in Minutes” which is really how I learned to cook.  The format of the books is quite brilliant and shows step by step instructions, but most importantly teaches HOW TO HAVE EVERYTHING DONE AT THE SAME TIME!  which is always the biggest challenge in cooking.  With that in mind, I try to design my recipes incorporating all the steps including a photo of what the dish is supposed to look like.  Call me needy, but I like to know what I’m shooting for.

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This recipe is based on one that originally came from the Pasta Menus book of this series. It quickly became a favorite of ours and then of our kids too, once they were old enough that we didn’t have to separate their food into piles that didn’t touch each other any longer.  Once you’re there, you’re golden.  However, for those parents with young kids, this recipe also worked when we were at that phase of life.  I would fix the kids plates with plain pasta with butter with sauteed zucchini (or defrosted peas) and plain sauteed sausage.  Then I would proceed to make the proper dish for the grown ups. Easy, and I didn’t have to become a short order cook in the process.

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SHORT CUTS & SUBSTITUTIONS: Over the years, I have taken short cuts when necessary.  I think this dish is best when the sausage and veggies are cooked separately and added to the sauce toward the end, as their flavors and textures are retained, however, I have also had good results doing it all in one pot.  Saute the onions and garlic, then add the sausage and cook about five minutes.  Add mushrooms and wine and let evaporate.  Then add tomatoes, herbs, and zucchini.  Simmer while pasta is cooking.  Another short cut is to use diced tomatoes with Italian herbs already included.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, substitute crushed tomatoes.  If it is still tomato season, you can use fresh tomatoes.  Just parboil them for a few minutes in boiling water.  Remove with a slotted spoon and peel when cool enough to handle.  Dice and use as directed in the recipe.  Or go the lazy way and just dice whole.  The skins will mostly disappear into the sauce if you cook them a little longer.

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VEGAN PRODUCTS:I like to share new vegan products as I find ones I like. (FYI, there are many I don’t like and no one pays me to recommend products) BEYOND MEAT offers a Sweet and a Hot Italian Sausage.  I like them both but think the hot has a little better flavor without being too spicy..  The sausage has a pleasing texture too.  You can cook them as you would any meat sausage but not for as long since they aren’t really raw and you don’t want them to dry out.  I also really like the VIO LIFE JUST LIKE PARMESAN.  It comes in a small wedge so you can freshly grate it as needed.  It tastes just like regular parmesan.  Click the underlined product names above for nutritional information on their products.

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PASTA TIPS: Don’t forget to save a cup of pasta water before draining!  It literally is the magic that restaurants use to make a sauce glisten.  Its not the same as adding hot water.  Pasta water contains essential starch that smooths out your sauce and gives it a velvety quality.  You should never rinse pasta after cooking (unless you are making a cold pasta salad) and pasta should remain wet, not dry, because the starch is what helps the sauce stick to the pasta.  Adding oil to your cooked pasta to prevent sticking actually prevents your sauce from sticking to the pasta which may seem counter-intuitive. Instead, add back a little pasta water.  Trust me, pasta water will change your life…

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  SPAGHETTI WITH ‘SAUSAGE’, ZUCCHINI AND MUSHROOMS (VEGAN)

  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil(divided)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsn fresh chopped basil or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
  • Salt (for pasta water)
  • 1 lb spaghetti or spaghettini
  • 2-3 small zucchini (1 lb)
  • 5-6 mushrooms (criminy or white)
  • 1 lb sweet or spicy Beyond Meat Italian Sausages
  • 3 Tbsn red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated vegan parmesan cheese (optional)

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  • Chop onion and garlic finely. Heat half of the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
  • Set pasta water with salt and a drizzle of olive oil to bring to a boil.

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  • Add tomatoes, basil and thyme to onion mixture and stir to combine. I like to rinse the tomato can out with about a quarter cup of water and add to the pan. Simmer 10 minutes on low.

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  • While sauce is cooking, slice zucchini into 1/8 inch rounds. Wipe mushrooms with damp paper towel, remove tough ends and thinly slice

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  • Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium heat and saute zucchini several minutes until lightly browned  Remove zucchini to a plate and set aside

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  • Beyond Meat sausage has no casings to remove.  Just break off small pieces with your fingers. Saute sausage in the same pan, breaking it into a crumble with a wooden spoon.  Add mushrooms and mix gently.  Add wine and let it evaporate.

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  • Add zucchini and sausage mixture into the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Let simmer over low heat while pasta is cooking. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

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  • Cook spaghetti according to directions.  Before draining, remove one cup of pasta water and set aside.  Drain but do not rinse pasta.

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  • Add about a 1/2 cup pasta water to sauce and stir to combine.  Its the magic ingredient that binds everything together!  If it seems too dry or too skimpy, add the rest and simmer until ready to serve.

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  • Spoon sauce on top of pasta or mix all together, depending on your preference. Serve with grated parmesan if desired.

Spaghetti with Vegan Sausage, Zucchini and Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil(divided)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsn fresh chopped basil or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
  • Salt (for pasta water)
  • 1 lb spaghetti or spaghettini
  • 2-3 small zucchini (1 lb)
  • 5-6 mushrooms (criminy or white)
  • 1 lb sweet or spicy Beyond Meat Italian Sausages
  • 3 Tbsn red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated vegan parmesan cheese (optional)
    1. Chop onion and garlic finely
    2. Heat half of the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
    3. Set pasta water with salt and a drizzle of olive oil to bring to a boil.
    4. Add tomatoes, basil and thyme to onion mixture and stir to combine. I like to rinse the tomato can out with about a quarter cup of water and add to the pan. Simmer 10 to minutes on low.
    5. While sauce is cooking, slice zucchini into 1/8 inch rounds
    6. Wipe mushrooms with damp paper towel, remove tough ends and thinly slice
    7. Beyond Meat sausage has no casings to remove. Just break into small pieces with your fingers.
    8. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium heat and saute zucchini several minutes until lightly browned  Remove zucchini to a plate and set aside
    9. Saute sausage in the same pan, breaking it into a crumble with a wooden spoon.  Add mushrooms and mix gently.  Add wine and let it evaporate.
    10. Add zucchini and sausage mixture into the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Let simmer over low heat while pasta is cooking. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
    11. Cook spaghetti according to directions.  Before draining, remove one cup of pasta water and set aside.  Drain but do not rinse pasta.
    12. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup pasta water to sauce and stir to combine.  Its the magic ingredient!  If it seems too dry or too skimpy, add the rest.
    13. Spoon sauce on top of pasta or mix all together, depending on your preference. Serve with grated parmesan if desired.

Salted Caramel Apple Bites

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Apple Harvest calls for lots of creative ideas of things to do with freshly picked apples. Judging by the number of people who are reading my Easy No Peel Applesauce recipe, there are many people with too many apples. Here is a fun and cute mini dessert to help use up your apples…delicious too!

goodmotherdiet

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It’s Apple Harvest time!  And you know what that means… Dessert.  How about a twist on the traditional apple pie?  I don’t mean to knock America’s favorite dessert, because I will make a couple of those too this season, but I have been on a kick for mini or two-bite appetizers and desserts lately.  This one is definitely a winner!  Finely diced sweet apples with cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and lemon juice sauteed to tender deliciousness, then spooned into graham cracker cups and topped with a drizzle of salted caramel.  All I can say is, yum!

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I just picked my apple crop the other day.  I have three apple trees in my orchard; Fuji, Pink Lady and Pippin.  Each type of apple has it’s own flavor and texture.  The Fuji apples are really sweet and firm and more yellow in color.  The Pink Ladies are sweet but more delicate and the…

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