Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vegie Puttanesca Over Spaghetti Squash

Since my daughter became a vegan, I've been able to experiment with vegetables in whole new ways. I love this complex-tasting puttanesca sauce which can be served with or without the addition of ground beef or sausage (I use roasted chick peas in this recipe instead of meat) and served over high protein/fiber pasta (I used spaghetti squash here instead of pasta).

A puttanesca sauce can be adjusted according to your taste, but it needs something a bit salty and briney (capers, olives, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and or pepperocinis) to give it the wonderful "twang." I also like to balance that with something sweet (sundried tomatoes, raisins and/or brown sugar).

This is what I put in my puttenesca, but don't be intimidated by the ingredient list: it is what I had on hand in the fridge. Just pull out whatever you have in your fridge or pantry -- and as long as you have something salty & briney, and something sweet, to balance the basic marinara, you'll probably love the results.

Vegie Puttanesca Over Spaghetti Squash

Into a medium high skillet (I love my cast iron for this) saute 2 cloves minced garlic and 1/2 chopped onion in olive oil. Throw in any mixture of the following that you have on hand, stirring after each addition. (I do highly recommend that you use the chopped artichoke hearts, to me they are the most essential ingredient!)

1/3 - 1/2 c. chopped marinated artichoke heart
1/2 c. to 1 cup, any roasted vegies, diced. (eggplant, squash, peppers are wonderful, as are carrots, Brussel sprouts, butternut squash and broccoli)
1 T. capers
2 T. olives, chopped, any kind
2 T. pesto sauce (if you have it on hand... no worries if not)
2 T. chopped pepperocini peppers
2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, preferably)
1 - 2 T. brown sugar (this will depend on your taste and also how many "sour" ingredients that you put in your sauce that will need balanced by sweet)
1 T. chopped raisins, if you like raisins
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I like the ones with basil and garlic)

Simmer until sauce is thick and chunky, then season with salt, pepper, and Italian spices to taste. Serve with meat or beans over pasta or spaghetti squash

Roasted Garbanzo Beans ( Chick-peas )
Drain, rinse and pat dry a can of garbanzo beans. Pour them evenly on a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with olive oil, then roll them around. Sprinkle with salt or your favorite spiced salt. Roast at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are browned and crisped. (Shake them once or twice while baking so they can brown on two sides.)

Spaghetti Squash
Take a spaghetti squash and cut it in half length wise. Scoop out seeds. Put 1/2 cup water in the bottom of a big microwave proof bowl. Put one of the squash halves in the bowl, hole side up. (If it wobbles, trim a thin piece of the squash off the bottom so that it sits more level in the bowl.) Put the other squash half on top of the squash in the bowl. Don't cover it. Just put in microwave for 10 minutes. Test doneness by squeezing the top squash with a pot holder. If it squeezes easily, it is done. Take a fork and scrape "strings" of squash in spaghetti-like fashion.
Lightly salt, then top with sauce and roasted garbanzo beans. (You can also serve this with butter and pepper and nutmeg for a side dish.)

If you aren't vegan, you can sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mama Becky's Best Salsa

As a Texan who adores Mexican food, I have been practicing making the "perfect salsa" for many years and I think this is about as close as it comes, at least for my taste. People love it, as it has great depth of flavor (from so many ingredients) and is a nice balance of fresh ingredients alongside the richness of the canned fire roasted tomatoes. It makes more than a quart, and can be frozen in small containers with good results.

There are a lot of ingredients so you may want to take this recipe to grocery store and produce aisle with you. But the results will be worth it!

Mama Becky's Best Salsa

1 28 oz can organic crushed fire roasted tomatoes, divided in half

Into a food processor or blender put:

1/2 red onion

1 fresh tomato, quartered

2 garlic cloves

3 tomatillos or one large green tomato

1 small can green chilies or 2 roasted hatch chilis

handful cilantro (if you like it)

2 large fresh jalepanos, seeded (1 if you prefer milder)

2 chipolte peppers in adobe sauce (1 if you prefer milder)

(You can find these small cans of chipoltes-in-adobe-sauce in most grocery stores now, on the Mexican food aisle)

2 T. white vinegar

2 t. sugar

sea salt to taste

1/2 fresh lime, squeezed

Process until mixtures has the consistency you like for salsa. Then stir in the rest of the crushed tomatoes which will give it a nice chunky texture.

Grab a bag of chips, and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spicy Butter Bean, Kale & Hominy Bowl

Dish of Vegie Deliciousness, with Corn Chip Topping

Mixture simmering in pot.

A week ago, my daughter Rachel and her baby, Jackson, met us for a few days of vacation in Scottsdale. (Sun, daughter, grandbaby, pool, hubby, time to reeeelax. What more could one ask for?)

Rachel is a vegan, and so I threw together this concoction, thinking to myself, "At least it will give her some protein and vegies." And then I tasted it, and loved it! (As did she.) I actually packed it up, along with some tortilla chips to take to the pool for our lunch the next day.

Back home in Denver today, I realized, to my shock and surprise, "I'm craving butter beans, and kale... and hominy." I will eat this for dinner and snack on it through the week, knowing I'm eating something that not only satisfies, but is super nutritious as well.

Spicy Butter Bean, Kale and Hominy Bowl

Saute 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves minced garlic

To this add:

1 can butter beans (NOT lima beans), with juice from can

1 can kidney beans, with juice from can

1/2 large tomato, chopped

1 big bunch kale, ribs trimmed away and chopped in about 1 inch pieces

1 can hominy, drained

1 roasted green chili chopped (or a small can green chilis)

Season with:

1/2 to 1 t. grill or steak seasoning (taste first... as the beans and juice have some saltiness to them) Or salt & pepper to taste

1 T. brown sugar or maple syrup

1 t. smoked paprika (very key as it gives this dish a bacony flavor without the bacon)

Tabasco or buffalo sauce to taste

1 t. cumin

Let simmer until kale is soft and not too chewy, I like most of the liquid absorbed until it is nice and thick. However if you prefer it as a soup, you can simmer for a shorter time or add a can of diced tomatoes with juice.

Serve with crushed corn chips or cornbread.