Pesto Pasta with Pan-Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans

green bean potato pesto

I am drooling just looking at this meal; aren’t you?  Homemade Pesto?  Check.  Pasta?  Check.  Caramelized potato hash browns and green beans?  Check.

Pesto pasta with potatoes and green beans is an old Italian classic.  Traditionally, it is a one-pot meal, all boiled in sequential cook times then drained and stirred together with pesto.  I turn this into a one-pot, one-skillet meal, pan-roasting the potatoes and green beans in the skillet.  And, frankly, if I get hash browns out of the deal, I’m okay with a two-pot meal.


PESTO PASTA WITH PAN-ROASTED POTATOES AND GREEN BEANS

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound short pasta
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2-3/4 cup basil pesto

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil.  Salt the water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the water is heating, coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and roast, stirring until all sides are golden, about 10 minutes.  Add the green beans and stir with the potatoes, until the green beans are golden browned.
  3. Drain the pasta, return to the pot, and add the potatoes and green beans.  Stir in the pesto.  Start with 1/2 cup, taste, and add more according to your taste.
  4. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast to keep it vegan.

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Sesame-Ginger Jackfruit: A Review

Sometimes I look at a fruit or vegetable, especially those with a really thick, barky exterior, and think, “How in the world did the earliest folks on earth decide this thing was edible?!”  Enter the Jackfruit:

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What?!

I have exactly one cookbook that has one recipe in it using jackfruit.  The book recommends finding canned jackfruit in an Asian specialty grocery store, and, after reading that, I thought, “Well, there’s a zero chance I’ll be making and trying that recipe.”  You know how it goes, you read a recipe, and it’s either an “Ooooo, that’s gonna be gooooood!” moment, or a, “Um, yeah, I’m gonna pass on that one…” moment.

If you google this fruit, you’ll find some typical facts: It is native to Southeast Asia; on its own, its flavor is a mixture of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana; it is fibrous, and nutritionally speaking is full of fiber, rich in vitamin C, B6, potassium, calcium, iron, and its seeds are rich in protein.  It’s a powerhouse!  It’s traditionally eaten as itself, a fruit, in sweet applications, or the seeds will be cooked down and added to curries.

If you google The Jackfruit Company, you will discover an amazing company that has revolutionized the jackfruit, making it so accessible for your next quick weeknight dinner.  Forget the canned stuff and Asian specialty grocery stores!  Because of The Jackfruit Company, you can find this fruit in four different flavors and in ready-to-eat packages.  If you’ve had a busy day, you can still have Jackfruit BBQ sliders, Jackfruit TexMex tacos, Jackfruit Curry with rice, or a Sesame-Ginger Jackfruit Salad ready within minutes.

{As a side note, you’ll more likely find it in a “health food store” than a typical grocery store–for my local friends, I found it at Sprouts–but for only $5 for a 10oz package {which meant 4 meals for us!}, it might be worth it to find your nearest health food store and try it out.  Also, this item is in the refrigerated section, I found it around the vegan cheeses and tofu hot dogs.}

jackfruit stir fry 1

jackfruit stir fry 3

I decided to go with the Sesame-Ginger Jackfruit, and paired it with rice noodles and veggies for a delish stir fry.  I wasn’t sure how strong the already-sesame-ginger-flavored jackfruit would taste, and I didn’t want to overpower it with other flavors and seasonings, so I treated the veggies very minimally, just sautéed with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Feel free to make a stir fry with whatever veggies you have on hand; I sautéed broccoli, orange pepper, carrot, snow peas, and stirred the jackfruit, chopped cilantro and sliced green onion into the cooked, warm rice noodles.  Garnish with sliced cucumbers, and you have a happy bowl, happy belly.

jackfruit stir fry 2

jackfruitstirfry

I am definitely going back for more jackfruit!  I loved my experience–it was sweet, flavored and seasoned just right, and it worked perfectly with the veggies–it wasn’t too heavy, like meat can be, it wasn’t stringy, and didn’t get caught in my teeth.  This was the most melt-in-your-mouth stir fry I’ve had!  Thanks, Jackfruit Company!

Mushrooms and Fungal Growths

Although I do not think of myself as a picky eater, the husband thinks I am.  There are things I’d prefer not to eat, but still do if served to me…and then there is that One Thing I try to avoid and definitely not eat if I can help it:  Mushrooms.  The husband loves all things earthy, so mushrooms are right up his alley.  I, however, can’t stomach the thought {literally and figuratively} of eating something defined as a “fungal growth”.  Check it out.  That’s what your dictionary calls those little things growing on the underside of decaying woodland logs and germinating in the dark, damp rural outback.

From a nutrition standpoint, I understand why those following a plant-based lifestyle would seek mushrooms out as “little gems” to add to their diet–they have B Vitamins and is the only item you’ll find along the produce aisle with its own store of Vitamin D.  Thepowerofmushrooms has a pretty great write-up, if you are interested in learning more nutritional facts and benefits about these little beasts.

Despite the nutrition, and fully due to being a fungus, I have no qualms passing up the little white buttons in the grocery store.  I will make an ingredient exception, however, when I come across a “gourmet fungus” I know the hubs would enjoy for dinner.  {Usually when I want to get something out of him…Oh man, now he knows my secret…}

So when I found a small box of golden Chantrelles, known for their beautiful hue and fruity and peppery flavor, I knew risotto was on the menu.  Mushrooms don’t require much in the way of cleaning–just get a damp paper towel and brush off the extra dirt.  Coming from its own habitat, any dirt left on there is clean dirt, right?  Give them a rough chop, sauté with onions, add the rice, and gently cook to make a silky and earthy mushroom risotto.  I even got the hubs to eat a side of broccolini with this dish.

{And what did I get out of it, you ask?  A Clearance Williams-Sonoma shopping spree}

mushroom risotto 1

mushroom risotto 2


MUSHROOM RISOTTO

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: fairly easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chantrelles, gently cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 4-6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese {or nutritional yeast, to keep it vegan}
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat a medium-sized pot with olive oil and heat over medium.  Add the mushrooms and onion and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft-tender, about another 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add the rice, stirring to coat, and add enough stock to just cover the rice.  Let come to a soft boil then reduce the heat to low.  Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, and add more stock to just cover the rice.  Continue this adding-stock-and-simmering process until the rice is soft and comes together as a thickened mixture.
  3. Off heat, stir in the parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast and divide evenly among the serving bowls.  Garnish with toasted, chopped walnuts and parsley.

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Green Lentil Salad with Roasted Cauliflower, Green Beans, Cipollini Onions and Walnuts

I feel really torn about the change in weather.  Don’t get me wrong–I love summer, sun, running outside without all those winter layers…but I will desperately miss sweaters, soups, and roasted vegetables that somehow seem too heavy when the thermometer stretches above 75 degrees.

For this weather I love “In-Between Salads”–a whole grain mixed with roasted veggies.  Warm enough to hit the spot on a still-cool evening, but light enough to be a quick lunch before heading off for a sunny afternoon jog.  This salad is made of green lentils and wonderfully roasted cauliflower, green beans, and the most amazing, sweet and melty cipollini {pronounced Chee-poh-lee-nee} onions.

If you’ve never had a cipollini onion, you’ve been missing out big time.  They are small, cute as a button, have more sugar than regular yellow or white onions and none of the crazy tongue-biting raw onionness.  The folks at Thekitchn wrote up a pretty great description here–full of juicy details like how to best peel them, why caramelizing them works wonders, and links to other great cipollini onion recipes.

Super simple, this green lentil salad comes together within 30 minutes, and can be served warm or cold.  green lentil salad 1


GREEN LENTIL SALAD WITH ROASTED CAULIFLOWER, GREEN BEANS, CIPOLLINI ONIONS, AND WALNUTS

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup green beans, trimmed and cut 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup cipollini onions, skins peeled but left whole
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Place the green beans, cauliflower florets, and cipollini onions in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and spread over a large baking sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway to evenly brown all sides.
  2. Prepare the lentils:  coat the bottom of a medium pot with olive oil, heat over medium-high heat.  Add the lentils and salt and pepper to taste, and quickly toast before adding the vegetable stock.  Let come to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are tender.
  3. Toss the lentils together with the roasted vegetables and add the chopped walnuts and serve.

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Homemade Cupboard Pasta

If there’s anything I love using the rest of the squidgy remains from the bottom of the mixed greens bag, it’s for making homemade pasta.  Not all the greens are smooshy, but they are definitely more smoothy or pasta worthy vs. a fresh, crisp salad.  Homemade pasta is such an easy pull-together cupboard meal:  Homemade pasta isn’t as daunting as you might think, and there are a variety of toppings or sauces that will elevate your meal so no one will know it’s a pulled-together-cupboard meal.

Fresh: 2-3 cups mixed greens, a few sprigs of Italian parsley.  Cupboard:  butternut squash, yellow onion, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts {I keep winter squashes and onions in my pantry, and walnuts in my freezer, so I consider these “pantry items”}.

Things are always a little more fun when you have a pair of helping hands.

spinach pasta 1 spinach pasta 3

Roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, and toasted walnut gremolata…Who says a Cupboard Meal has to be a brown and tasteless meal stirred together from a box?

spinach pasta with roasted butternut squash 1spinach pasta cupboard meal


SPINACH PASTA WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, CARAMELIZED ONIONS, AND TOASTED WALNUT GREMOLATA

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium, for the homemade pasta
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I follow Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour Basic Pasta Recipe, adding sautéed mixed greens to the dough 

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PASTA

  • 2 cups spinach or mixed greens
  • 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

INGREDIENTS FOR THE ROASTED SQUASH AND GREMOLATA

  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Sauté the spinach or mixed greens until wilted, drain all excess liquid in a colander, pressing the greens to ensure all liquid drains.
  2. Mix semolina flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well int he center.
  3. In the blender, mix the spinach, eggs, water, and olive oil until blended to a smooth consistency.  Add to the semolina flour and stir together until a rough dough forms.
  4. Use all-purpose flour to cover the work surface and dump the dough out onto the flour and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and soft, not sticky.  You will add up to 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour into the pasta dough while kneading.  Once a smooth ball forms from kneading, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
  5. While dough is resting, prepare the butternut squash.  Coat the large skillet with olive oil again, heat on medium-high heat, and sauté the butternut squash until soft when poked with a fork and golden around the edges.  Set aside in a bowl.  Add olive oil to the same pan and add the sliced onion, maple syrup, and salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce the heat to low and cook the onion until golden and soft.  Add to the same bowl with the butternut squash and set aside.
  6. Press the dough through your pasta maker according to factory instructions.  Let the pasta dough rest on parchment paper and fill a large pot with water to boil.  Salt the boiling water; the fresh pasta will take just 3-4 minutes to cook.
  7. Drain the pasta and add the pan-roasted squash and caramelized onion with the pasta back into the large pot.
  8. Add just a sprinkling of olive oil into the large skillet, heat on medium, and add the walnuts and breadcrumbs, toasting quickly.  Off heat, add the parsley.  Toss all together with the pasta and squash.
  9. Serve with a sprinkling of olive oil, and extra gremolata toppings.

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