Meatless Monday – Pasta Fazool (Vegan)

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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 the lentils, if you wish.  Both are delicious options.  Pasta Fazool is usually more soupy than your typical plate of pasta but it can be made as wet or dry as you wish.  To make it more of a soup, just add more water when you add the pasta or even more before serving if too much liquid has evaporated.  If you are using broth to start, adding more water shouldn’t diminish the flavor.

img_20190213_175453.jpgThe parmesan cheese is optional as a topping but I want to share a new vegan parmesan cheese that I find is just as good as the real thing.  I found myself eating slices of it while cooking.  I mean someone had to taste it. 🙂  This Just Like Parmesan by Violife contains no dairy, soy, gluten, lactose or nut products.  So what is it made from?  Well, mostly a combination of potato and rice starch, rice protein, coconut oil and sea salt, including Vitamin B12.  As Violife says, “Delizioso”!

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PASTA FAZOOL

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 -3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 cups vegetable broth or water
8 ounces pasta (such as ziti or penne)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
parmesan cheese, grated (optional) *Check out Violife Vegan Soy*

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  •  In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some of the red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often until soft and transluscent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

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  • Add the tomatoes, thyme and broth and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt and pepper and more red pepper flakes, to taste.

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  • Add the lentils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, until the lentils are almost tender, 20 minutes.

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  • Increase heat to medium and add one or two cups of water along with the pasta and simmer, uncovered, stirring often so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Add water if necessary. The end result should be a bit soupy, unless you prefer it more pasta-like.

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  • Divide the pasta among serving bowls and garnish with the parsley and parmesan, if desired.
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Pasta Fazool

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 -3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 cups vegetable broth or water
8 ounces pasta (such as ziti or penne)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

  •  In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some of the red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often until soft but not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, thyme and broth and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt and pepper and more red pepper flakes, to taste.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, until the lentils are almost tender, 20 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium and add one or two cups of water along with the pasta and simmer, uncovered, stirring often so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Add water if necessary. The end result should be a bit soupy.
  • Divide the pasta among serving bowls and garnish with the parsley and parmesan.

Meatless Monday – Zoodles with Vodka Sauce

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Get your spiralizer out!  If you are looking for an easy, low carb, gluten free meal, or if you’re still harvesting loads of zucchini from your garden, here is a tasty dish to try.  The Vodka Sauce is delicious and so creamy, you won’t believe it’s vegan.  The vodka gives the sauce a bit of zip (although the alcohol is evaporated out so this is actually a kid friendly dish).  Zoodles, or zucchini noodles, are low calorie, low carb and naturally gluten free. Check out the handy chart below which compares zoodles and regular pasta from Dr Axe or check out his blog for more info.  Of course, if you are a pasta lover like I am, feel free to use regular pasta, no guilt intended.

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I love kitchen tools like my spiralizer and my mandolin!  They transform homely veggies into glorious pasta; spaghetti, linguini or even lasagna depending on which blade you use.  Dark green zucchini makes the firmest noodles but finicky eaters might not like seeing the bits of green.  Of course, you could peel it first but then you would lose out on a good part of the nutrients which hang out in or just under the skin.  Yellow zucchini (or summer squash) looks more like regular noodles and are generally softer so cook more quickly.  Just don’t forget to cut the zoodles into 6 or 8 inch strips or you could end up with a 6 foot long noodle which only works if you are in ‘Lady and the Tramp’.

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For other zucchini ‘pasta’ recipes, check out these two goodies:

20170625_200431.jpg Veggie Zucchini Lasagne or

Zucchini Spiral Salad1Zucchini Apple Spiral Salad with Basil and Mint which was the original inspiration for the Lady and the Tramp reference.

My zucchini plant is still going strong but my tomatoes are mostly done for the year.  Time to plant some winter veggies! If you are lucky enough to still have fresh garden tomatoes, you can use a couple of them in place of the canned chopped tomatoes.

 

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TIPS:  Not all vodka is gluten free as it is usually made from grains like wheat, barley and rye which contain gluten.  However, vodka made from potatoes, corn or other fermentable foods are gluten free.  If you are having trouble finding gluten free vodka, here is a surprisingly long list – Gluten Free Vodka List from Very Well

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Zoodles with Vodka Sauce

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  • In a large skillet saute garlic, onion and shallot in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes

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  • Stir in tomatoes and vodka, and let simmer for 10 minutes

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  • Stir in coconut milk, red pepper flakes and basil. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste and more red pepper flakes if desired.

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  • While the sauce is cooking, spiralize zucchini to make ‘zoodles’ and cut into 6 or 8 inch strips, if necessary

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  • Saute zoodles in a splash of olive oil for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often

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  • Serve zoodles topped with vodka sauce.  Garnish with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Zoodles with Vodka Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  1. In a large skillet saute garlic, onion and shallot in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes
  2. Stir in tomatoes and vodka, and let simmer for 10 minutes
  3. Stir in coconut milk, red pepper flakes and basil.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste and more red pepper flakes if desired.
  6. While the sauce is cooking, spiralize zucchini to make ‘zoodles’ and cut into 6 or 8 inch strips, if necessary
  7. Saute zoodles in a splash of olive oil for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often
  8. Serve zoodles topped with vodka sauce.  Garnish with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Penne with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms & Spinach

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There is a reason pasta is a fan favorite.  It’s fast, versatile and oh so satisfying.  It’s easy to adapt ingredients to feature the best of the season when you know the most abundant fruits and veggies are at their peak freshness and also their least expensive, due to good old supply and demand. Right now winter squashes and mushrooms crowd our supermarket shelves and dark leafy greens are still readily available. So stock up and do yourself a favor; whip up a quick batch of this yummy pasta. You won’t be disappointed.

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I love the colors of this dish.  As you know, via the concept of Eating the Rainbow, the more colors you can include in your food, the more likely you are to have a vast array of vitamins and minerals.   Any time you can sneak dark, leafy greens into meals, you’re adding important vitamins and minerals, but did you know that both butternut squash and spinach are good sources of fiber and Vitamin C and excellent sources of Vitamin A?  Mushrooms also add great nutritional value and help provide the feeling of fullness without adding unnecessary calories, fat or cholesterol.

20161101_195227TIPS:  Whatever you do, don’t forget to scoop out the pasta water which is a magic elixir.  It turns non-tomato based pasta sauces into velvety deliciousness and ‘loosens’ up a dry or too thick sauce.  Regular water just doesn’t give the same results.  Feel free to substitute the spinach for any dark leafy green.  Swiss chard or kale are good choices but may take a bit longer to wilt.

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PENNE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH, MUSHROOMS AND SPINACH

  • 12 ounces whole-wheat or multigrain penne
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups diced peeled butternut squash (or other winter squash)
  • 6-8  crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 large shallot or 1/2 onion, small dice
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed. Scoop out 1 cup cooking water and set aside before draining pasta. Leave pasta uncovered to prevent overcooking.  If it looks sticky, add a bit of pasta water.

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    • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the squash in a tablespoon of olive oil with half of the salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

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    • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and saute the mushrooms with the remaining salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the plate and set aside.

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    • Add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes, adding a bit more oil if necessary . Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

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    • Stir in the spinach and saute about one minute until slightly wilted.

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    • Add the pasta, squash, mushrooms and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the spinach/onion mixture. Cook, stirring, until heated through,1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan and the oregano. Add more of the cooking water, if desired, to make a juicier sauce.

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    • Serve with remaining parmesan and fresh oregano.

    Penne with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms and Spinach

    • Servings: 4
    • Difficulty: easy
    • Print
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    • 12 ounces whole-wheat or multigrain penne
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cups diced peeled butternut squash (about 8 ounces)
    • 6-8  crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
    • 1 medium shallot or 1/2 onion, small dice
    • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
      • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed. Scoop out 1 cup cooking water and set aside before draining pasta.
      • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the squash in a tablespoon of olive oil with half of the salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
      • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and saute the mushrooms with the remaining salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the plate and set aside.
      • Add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes, adding a bit more oil if necessary . Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
      • Stir in the spinach and saute about one minute until slightly wilted.
      • Add the pasta, squash, mushrooms and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the spinach/onion mixture. Cook, stirring, until heated through,1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan and the oregano. Add more of the cooking water to make a juicier sauce.
      • Serve with remaining parmesan.