Posts tagged with vegetarian:

Hearts of Palm Dip



Sometimes the simplest and fewest ingredients result in the tastiest dishes.  Such is the case for this Hearts of Palm Dip which I found in a Food and Wine magazine from a year ago, and made recently.

While so many of the dips and spreads that we love are filled with high fat ingredients…think sour cream, cream cheese, mayo, all kinds of cheeses… (although I use them at times the low fat versions are just not the same when it comes to flavor), I found this particular dip really satisfying and yet about as low fat as you can get.

I love hearts of palm, and will often slice them and add them to a salad.  They are tasty, high in fiber, vitamin C, calcium and iron, low in fat, and have a nice texture to them.

For those,  however who must watch their salt intake, the sodium count is rather high.

Blended with some olive oil, garlic, lime zest, and a bit of pepper it becomes this creamy, yet slightly chucky dip that goes great with plantain chips, pita chips, flatbreads, or just plain crudites.  And, it’s guilt-free eating!

Hearts of Palm Dip ( adapted from Food and Wine, March 2012)

1 large garlic clove, minced

 Salt (I prefer Kosher salt)

Two 14-ounce cans hearts of palm, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

Freshly ground white pepper (If you don’t have it, black pepper will do)

Plantain chips, pita chips, flatbreads, or veggies for serving

Using the side of a chef’s knife, mash the garlic to a paste with a generous pinch of salt.  Scrape the paste into a food processor.  Add the hearts of palm and oil and process to a medium-fine paste.


Add the lime zest, season with salt and pepper and pulse just to blend.

Transfer the dip to a bowl and serve with plantain chips, pita chips, flatbreads, or fresh veggies.

The dip can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days.


Cheesy Mac and Cheese


Every now and then I get an uncontrollable craving for mac and cheese. 

Since my husband’s love for cheese is limited to a chunk of Jarlsberg  or melted mozzarella on his pizza or Chicken Parm I can’t use him as the excuse for why I would make this large pan of Cheesy Mac and Cheese in the photo above.

Yep, I must admit I made it for me…although I’m always willing to share with anyone who may walk through our door, including repairmen, painters, etc… and countless times I have walked out the door and down the street carrying something hot off the stove to share with our best friends. 

They have since moved away (too far a walk now), but for 20 plus years I could always count on them to enjoy a dish I was itching  to make that wasn’t on the top of my husband’s list, or if truth be known, not on his list at all.

But you didn’t think that would keep me from making this Cheesy Mac and Cheese, did you? For someone who loves to cook and try new recipes as much as I do, I find I subscribe to that tag line for Clairol…I’m worth it!

This is the second time I’ve posted a recipe for macaroni and cheese.  The previous one  is a bit different, but I use a variety of pasta shapes and cheeses in both.

In this one I added an over- the- top amount of shredded cheese to the bechamel sauce before adding the pasta to the sauce.  It is good enough to eat right there and then, or you can pour it into an augratin dish, cover it with Panko (coarse Japanese bread crumbs), and bake it off in the oven.

Either way…it is one cheesylicious Mac and Cheese!

Cheezy Mac and Cheese

(adapted from Homeroom’s Classic Macaroni and Cheese Recipe)


For the bechamel:                                                                               
4 cups whole milk (I used 3 cups skim and 1 cup half and half)

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons kosher salt (to taste)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

To assemble:

Kosher salt

2 pounds assorted pasta (I used penne, cellantani, and gemelli)

8 ounces shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese

8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

4 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese

4 ounces shredded Asiago cheese

2/3 cup panko (optional)

For  the bechamel:

1.  Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it just comes to a simmer, then turn off the heat and set aside.

2.In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown in color, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

3.  While whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture until evenly combined and smooth. (It will get very thick when you first add the milk, then thin out.)

4.  Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and while whisking constantly, cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in 2 to 3 teaspoons of the salt, taste, and add the remaining salt as desired. Stir in the cayenne and nutmeg.  Remove from the heat and set aside.


To Assemble:
1.  Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until it’s almost al dente (just on the edge of being underdone), then drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.

(If you plan to top the mac and cheese with panko and bake it, heat the oven to 400 degrees and arrange a rack in the middle.)

2. Place the reserved saucepan of bechamel over the medium heat and stir in the cheeses just until melted and smooth.  Add the pasta and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through and steaming, about 2 to 4 minutes.


Serve immediately, or, if baking, transfer to a large baking dish, sprinkle with the panko, and bake until bubbling and brown on top, about 25 to 30 minutes.


Couscous With Roasted Carrots, Fennel And Toasted Almonds

This is a richly flavored side dish yet chock full of healthy ingredients.  I’ve adapted this from a recipe I found on Food52.

I roasted carrots and some of the minced shallots along with the fennel. Instead of couscous alone I substituted  a blend of grains available at Trader Joe’s.  It is a combination of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. 

The orange juice soaked raisins and toasted almonds give added texture to the dish while the shallots adds a sweetness and kick to what is otherwise  a basic sherry vinaigrette.

Arranging the roasted carrots and fennel on top of the finished couscous blend and garnishing with the chopped fennel fronds makes for a dish that will surely bring some sparkle to the table.

Couscous With Roasted Carrots, Fennel, And Toasted Almonds

(adapted from Couscous with Roasted Fennel and Toasted Almonds, a recipe for Food52 by Jennifer Ann)

serves 4

juice from one orange, about 1/2 cup

1/3 cup black or golden raisins

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and cored and cut into about 16 slim wedges

3 carrots, peeled, and sliced diagonally in 1-2 inch pieces

3-4 tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided

1/4 cup almonds

1 and 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 and 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend or 1and 1/4 cup couscous

1 tablespoon butter, optional

1-2 large shallots, minced

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1-2 tablespoon fennel fronds, chopped

freshly ground black pepper  to taste

generous pinch of kosher salt or sea salt to taste

1.  Soak raisins in orange juice until plump, about 1-2 hours; drain, and reserve.

2.  Toss the fennel wedges and carrot sand half of the minced shallots with two tablespoons of the olive oil, pepper and salt; spread on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes, until the edges begin to brown and the fennel is softening but still a bit firm to the bite.

3.  Toast the almonds on a separate pan in the oven until lightly browned; allow to cool; chop coarsely, and reserve.

4.  While the fennel, carrots and almonds are in the oven, bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat; add 1 tablespoon (optional) butter and stir in 1 and 1/4 cup of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend.  Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let rest til all of the stock is absorbed.

5.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the shallots and sherry vinegar, then whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; add pepper and salt to taste.

6.  Transfer the couscous blend to a serving bowl and fluff with a fork; stir in the orange-soaked raisins and some of the fennel fronds.  Toss with enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat everything, including the bits of shallots.

7.  Top with the roasted fennel and carrots, a sprinkling of coarse salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and some chopped fennel fronds.

Serve with chicken or salmon.

Olive-Oil-Braised Carrots with Warm Spices

The Feb/Mar 2012 issue of Fine Cooking featured an article on olive-oil braised vegetables by Tamar Adler.

In the introduction she describes this simple method of preparing these delicious tender vegetables…Just drizzle vegetables with good olive oil, and some fresh herbs or other aromatics, and put them in the oven to braise in their own juices.  The prep takes only about five minutes, and since the vegetables largely braise themselves, there’s almost no effort involved.  The results are vegetables at their best—-tender, a little bit caramelized, and fully flavored from the oil and seasonings.

Vegetables prepared this way are at their best served barely warm or at room temperature which means you can prepare them early in the day or the day before, bringing them to room temperature for an hour or so before serving.

I took these carrots to my sister’s as my contribution to the wonderful meal she prepared for the Passover Seder. 

Olive-Oil Braised Carrots With Warm Spices (serves 4)  (Recipe is easily doubled)

To complement the sweetness of the carrots, add a tiny bit of nutmeg and cinnamon and scatter a few sliced garlic cloves in the baking dish.  For a meatless meal, serve these carrots along with basmati rice and spiced chickpeas.

1 and 1/2 lb. carrots ( about 10 small), peeled and halved lengthwise (if large, quartered lengthwise)

3 medium cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 cup lower-salt chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne

Kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Fit the carrots in a snug single layer in a shallow 9x13-inch baking dish.  Nestle the garlic slices among the carrots.

In a small bowl, whisk the broth, olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and drizzle over the carrots.  Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. 

Braise the carrots in the oven until completely tender and easy to pierce with a fork, about 45 minutes.  Uncover the dish and continue to braise until the spices on top have toasted and are mahogany-brown and the carrots look a little shiny, about 15 minutes more.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  The carrots will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

The other recipes for olive-oil-braised vegetables in this article include:

olive-oil-braised red onions with bay leaves

olive-oil-braised leeks with thyme

olive-oil-braised fennel with lemon

Tamar Adler has worked as a personal chef and cooked professionally at Prune in New York City and Chez Panisse in Berkley, California.  She is the author of An Everlasting Meal:  Eating with Economy and Grace.

Rigatoni With Tomatoes, Zucchini and Pine Nut Crunch

Baked pasta is a wonderful thing.  From lasagna to tortellini or pastitsio to mac and cheese there are countless variations that are always crowd pleasers.

The combination of hearty pasta with veggies and or some kind of meat, be it turkey sausage, ground beef or lamb just to name a few, with a cheesy sauce of some kind just oozes warmth especially on a chilly night.

I adapted the above recipe from one I saw in the March 2011 issue of Bon Appetit.  Here, from the article, are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing baked pasta dishes…

1.  Baked pastas usually need to sit for 10 to 15 minutes after baking.  This lets all the gooey ingredients (like melted cheese) set up a bit, preventing things like a piece of lasagna that oozes all over the plate.

2.  The basic French sauce bechamel (made of milk and the butter-flour mixture called roux) helps bind ingredients together.  The key to a beautiful bechamel is not browning the roux.  As soon as it begins to color, yank it from the heat.  Once you’ve mastered bechamel, you can mix in cheese and macaroni for basic mac and cheese, or layer it (and your other favorite ingredients) with lasagne noodles.

3.  If creamy baked pasta dishes stand too long, they can end up a little dry- the same can be said of leftover mac and cheese.  To revive these cheesy dishes, rewarm them and stir in some cream.

Rigatoni With Tomatoes, Zucchini and Pine Nut Crunch

(adapted from Rigatoni With Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch, Bon Appetit, March, 2011)

8 servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes

1 large red pepper or (1 medium red and 1 medium yellow), cut into1/2-inch squares

2 cups grape tomatoes or (1 cup grape tomatoes and 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes)

3 large garlic cloves, divided

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cups (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves, divided

1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided or (Parmesan Cheese)

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice

1  cup heavy whipping cream or (half cream and half milk)

1 pound rigatoni

1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese (or part-skim), cut into 1/2-inch cubes or shredded

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Toss zucchini and tomatoes together on baking sheet.

Using garlic press, squeeze 1 garlic clove onto vegetables.

Drizzle vegetables with oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.

Roast vegetables until tender, stirring often, 35 to 45 minutes.

Combine 2/3 cup basil, 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, pine nuts, and 1 garlic clove in mini processor.  Blend until crumbly.  Season topping with kosher salt.

Blend tomatoes with juice, cream, 1 and 1/3 cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in processor until smooth.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally; drain.  Return to pot.

Toss with vegetables, sauce, and 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano.

Transfer to 13x9x2-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with mozzarella and pine nut topping.

Bake pasta until heated through, 25 to 35 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes and serve.


Colorful food and holiday parties…they seem to go hand in hand.  At this  time of the year many of us are either giving or going to holiday parties, or doing both.

Occasionally the participants of my aerobics dance class get together after class at each others’ homes to snack and socialize.

Yesterday I had  invited everyone to my home for what’s becoming my annual aerobics class holiday party.  Last year I served potato latkes for lunch, along with chili.  This year I served pulled BBQ Brisket sandwiches along with the latkes. And always homemade applesauce to accompany the potato pancakes.

The entree as well as the appetizers and desserts have to be dishes that can be prepared well ahead since I literally leave class a little early to welcome the rest about 20 minutes later.  ( I don’t live far from the community center where our class is).

Among the appetizers this year was an old stand-by of mine which I’ve adapted from a recipe called Everyday Caponata from Giada De Laurentiis.  I’ve made a few changes, substituting zucchini and yellow summer squash for the eggplant. Sometimes I include the eggplant as well.  I’ve also added some olives.

This caponata, with its wonderful sweet-and-sour taste,  is a traditional Sicilian vegetable dish which can be served as a relish along with chicken, pork or fish, as part of an antipasto, spooned on toasted bread or crackers, or used as a topping on sandwiches. 

It can be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature, making it the ultimate vegetable dish for a casual party.

Caponata (adapted from Everyday Caponata by Giada De Laurentiis)

(6 side-dish servings or 12-14 appetizer servings)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1-2 celery stalks,chopped

2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes

2 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 (14 and 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices

3 tablespoons raisins

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

4 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon drained capers

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1/2 cup small Spanish olives or your choice, preferably pitted

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame.  Add the celery and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.  Add the zucchini and yellow squash (and eggplant, if using), and saute until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. 

Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the red pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, raisins, and oregano.  Simmer over medium-low heat until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.  

Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, and serve on a platter surrounded by assorted crackers or toasted baguette slices.


 To accompany my Sauteed Chicken I roasted these adorable teeny tiny potatoes which are popping up in the markets these days.  I purchased these at Trader Joe’s.

I tossed them with carrots, onions, and a sliced fennel bulb in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Celery would be a good addition as well.  Sprinkle with some herbs if you wish.

Roast them at 450 degrees on a sheet tray for 45 minutes, and turn occasionally so they won’t stick.

As the veggies caramelize, and the flavors meld it becomes a delicious accompaniment to your chicken.

I have also pan fried these unpeeled teeny tiny potatoes in butter as a substitute for home fries for breakfast. 

It’s true…good things do come in small packages! 

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

If you look the word adapt up in the dictionary you will find that it means to make suitable to requirements or conditions, adjust or modify fittingly.

This recipe for Roasted Vegetable Lasagne is a result of my efforts to create a lasagne which would appeal to my husband’s tastes.  I may have mentioned before that unlike me he is not a cheese lover.  With the exception of jarlsberg (don’t ask me why),  mozzarella, and parmesan (especially on pizza and chicken parmesan),  he prefers his dishes cheeseless.   In trying to come up with a vegetable lasagne that he would like I took the fact that he eats mozzarella and ran with it.  Instead of the traditional ricotta cheese mixture used in many lasagnes I decided to make a similar blend, but with mozzarella replacing the ricotta.  Additionally, I used only vegetables that he likes, and I made a Classic American-Style Tomato Sauce because he loves his red sauce…no bechamel for him!

We both agree I came up with a pretty good tasting lasagne. The best part is when my husband asked as he often does when he thinks I may have snuck something in there he doesn’t like,” By the way, what’s in this?”,  I could answer honestly, “Everything you like, honey!”

So here is my version of Roasted Vegetable Lasagne         (13 x 9  x 2 inch pan)

(adapted from Lasagne with Oven-Roasted Vegetables from the Pasta Cookbook from Food and Wine Books)

1 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch squares

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch squares

3 zucchini, cut into 3/4 inch dice

3 yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4 inch dice

1/2 pound each of white mushroom and Baby Bella mushrooms, cut into 3/4 inch dice

2 shallots, unpeeled, halved lengthwise

1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1/4 teaspoon dried

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 and 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

1 cup (about 1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella cheese, diced

1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch grated nutmeg

1 egg

2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

Enough milk to thin, if necessary

3/4 pound dry lasagne noodles (no boil is fine)

5 cups Classic-American Style Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  On a large rimmed sheet pan, combine the bell peppers, zucchini,summer squash, shallots and rosemary.  Toss with the oil, 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.

In a separate skillet saute the mushrooms, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, until browned.  Set aside.

When vegetables are done, discard the rosemary sprig, if using, and combine the cooked mushrooms with the vegetables.  When the shallots are cool enough to handle, peel and chop them.  Combine the chopped shallots, diced fresh mozzarella, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, the nutmeg, egg,  chopped parsley, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Mash the fresh mozzarella into the mixture, and add enough milk just to blend.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray baking pan with non-stick baking spray or lightly oil the bottom of the pan.  Spread about 1 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of the pan.  Lay several sheets of pasta overlapping on the sauce.  Dot with about half the mozzarella mixture.

Spread half of the roasted vegetables on top of the cheese.

Pour about 1 cup of the sauce over the vegetables.  Top the sauce with a second layer of pasta.  dot with the remaining mozzarella mixture and 1 cup of the grated mozzarella. Cover with the remaining vegetables and about 1 cup of the sauce.  Top the sauce with a final layer of pasta and the remaining sauce.   Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of grated mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.

Cover tightly  with a sheet of parchment paper and a sheet of aluminum foil over the parchment paper.   Bake, covered until bubbly, about 50-60 minutes.  Uncover, and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

Classic American-Style Tomato Sauce

This recipe also comes from the Pasta Cookbook from Food and Wine Books.  It is a thick, robust and fragrant sauce with thyme, oregano and bay.  It is great served over spaghetti on its own, with meatballs, or as in this case, lasagne.

This recipe makes about 2 and 1/2 cups.  For the lasagne  you will need 5 cups, doubling the  recipe below.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (I use 4 cloves)

2 and 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

3/4 cup water

 1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

 1 and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over moderately low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, sugar thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until thickened, for about 1 hour.  Add the pepper.

Note:  Although higher priced, I believe imported canned tomatoes are worth the money.  If you can find them on sale, better yet.  Here’s why. In general they are less watery and more flavorful.  Most are packed in enamel-lined cans, which eliminate the metallic taste that tomatoes pick up so easily.  The difference between sauces made with tomatoes from lined and unlined cans is astounding.  The better the flavor, the better the sauce.

When you’re done dumping the tomatoes out of those enamel lined cans, don’t throw them away.  After rinsing them carefully, with the label intact, keep them to use as utensil holders for outdoor entertaining.  The designs are so colorful they really can add a lot to your tablescape for a picnic or an Italian themed party.