Yellow Squash and Pepper Pasta Sauce

 

This sauce has a lovely aroma and a smooth texture and pairs well with a cheese that isn’t too bold. I used a BellaVitano (balsamic), which is one of my favorite cheeses. I ate it over spaghetti, but I imagine any other pasta would do just as well.

You need:

  1. 1 small yellow squash
  2. 1 medium red onion
  3. 1 orange bell pepper (capsicum)
  4. 1 cup vegetable stock (low-sodium or unsalted)
  5. 2-3 sprigs thyme
  6. salt and crushed red pepper to taste
  7. olive oil for cooking

How to:

  1. De-seed the yellow squash. The easiest way for me is to cut them in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Discard the seeds and finely dice the squash.
  2. Remove the sides of the pepper. Cut away the white “ribs” and retain the rest of the sides. Discard the inside and top of the pepper. Dice finely (that means small :))
  3. Finely dice the onion.
  4. Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan. When the oil is hot, add the onion.
  5. Sweat the onions. This means you cook them slowly over low to medium heat. You can read about sweating vegetables here. Add the other vegetables and stir.
  6. After about 5-7 minutes, turn the heat up and cook over high heat, stirring constantly. Do this for about 3 minutes. Do not let the vegetables brown. If they start to brown, turn the heat down.
  7. Add the vegetable stock, thyme, crushed red pepper, and salt. Stir and cover, turning the heat down to medium.
  8. Let it cook, covered, for about 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften.
  9. When the vegetables are soft, use a potato masher to gently mash some of the vegetables. Stir.
  10. Cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.
  11. Serve over spaghetti. Grate cheese over the sauce and garnish with thyme before serving.
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Chinese Van Vegetable Fried Rice

Growing up in India, I loved Indian-Chinese food (especially from the Chinese food vans) and miss it sorely in the U.S. So I tried my hand and making some vegetable fried rice that matched my memories. This was pretty good. I paired it with Chilli Potatoes (recipe forthcoming), which hit the spot!

The whole thing takes about an hour to put together.

You need:

  1. 1 cup rice, preferably basmati
  2. A handful of fresh green beans, julienned (cut into very thin strips, about 1-2 inches long)
  3. The same amount of julienned carrots
  4. 4-5 spring onions, sliced finely. Separate the greens and whites.
  5. 2 tbsp julienned ginger
  6. 1 cup bean sprouts
  7. 2 tbsp soy sauce (low-sodium if you have it)
  8. A pinch of Chinese five-spice (optional)

You can also use other vegetables like bell peppers or celery, but make sure everything is cut to the same size, which will ensure even stir-frying.

How to:

  1. Cook the rice with 1 tsp oil. While it is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Do not begin to cook them until the rice is done, as they will cook quickly.
  2. Put the cooked rice into a big plate and spread out to cool.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a hot pan. Keep the pan on a medium to high heat.
  4. When it is hot, add the white of the spring onions, and stir quickly. Add the rest of the vegetables and keep stirring until they are cooked. They should still be crunchy, so keep tasting them until they are cooked and then move to the next step.
  5. Add the soy sauce and stir. If you scrape the bottom of the pan gently as you do this, it will pick up the bits stuck to the bottom and they will add good flavor. Don’t scrape too hard–you don’t want any burnt bits.
  6. Add a pinch of five-spice and mix well.
  7. Add the rice and mix well, taking it off the heat as soon as possible.
  8. If you need more salt, add salt, not more soy sauce.

Enjoy! I hope you like it. It has a very simple flavor of soy sauce, with the vegetables in the foreground. The five-spice is a very subtle taste in the background.


Vegetable Momos with Red Chili Paste

Momos. Dimsums. Potstickers. I’ve heard all these terms used, and I don’t know what the difference is. Where I come from, they’re called momos, and the best kind were the ones you could get at the Yashwant Place market near Chanakya cinema in Delhi.

Heads up: I’m still figuring out my dough recipe, so I used store-bought wonton wrappers which were splendid.

For the filling: 1 carrot; 1 medium-sized red onion; 5 small green onions; 2 sticks celery; 1 small bell pepper; 2 small bok choy; 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce; 2 tbsp oil

How to: Julienne all the vegetables (cut them into very small, thin pieces). Heat the oil in a large wok or kadhai. Throw in the red onion and cook for a few minutes. Then add the carrots and peppers and cook some more. After a couple of minutes, add the celery and green onions. Stir and cook 2-3 more minutes. Add the soy sauce and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Follow the instructions on the wonton wrapper package to fill and cook the momos. If you boil the momos, add a little oil to the water. It might help with the sticking. I did not pan-fry mine after dunking them in hot water.

For the red chili paste: 3-4 dried red chilies, 3-4 tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tbsp garlic.

How to: put it all in a food processor and blend it into a coarse paste.

Put a wee bit of the red chili paste on a momo, dip in soy sauce, and enjoy!

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce!

Onions, peppers, and oregano from my CSA + fresh tomatoes from my garden = fresh spaghetti sauce!

I chopped up the onions and peppers, added much chopped fresh garlic, cooked it in olive oil, added fresh chopped oregano, chopped tomatoes, salt, and red chili flakes. Then I  gave it some thyme, love, and tenderness 😛

And ate it over whole wheat spaghetti. Mmmm.

Grilled Vegetables #2: Paneer Tikka

Also try Grilled Vegetables #1

I promised this a long time ago – here we are, finally. This is the one known as paneer tikka, Tiffin box-style. There are two steps – marinade + vegetables. You will need bamboo skewers for this, preferably the thinnest ones. OR, you can bake it in the oven rather than grill it.

Prep time: 2 hours + 20minutes

Cook time: about 15-20 minutes

Marinade

Ingredients: 2 cups yogurt, 1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp cayenne pepper (lal mirch), 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp amchur (dry mango powder), 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp minced ginger, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp garam masala, salt to taste.

Method: Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a big bowl. Set aside.

Tikka

Ingredients: about 2 cups cubed paneer (1″ cubes), 1 red onion, 1 green bell pepper (capsicum), 1 yellow bell pepper

Method 1:

1. Put the paneer in the marinade. Stir gently to make sure all of it is covered. Set aside for at least two hours.

2. Cut the vegetables into 1″ pieces. Remember to deseed the peppers.

3. Grab a skewer and place vegetables and paneer on it in whatever order you find aesthetically pleasing. I usually do: onion, paneer, green pepper, paneer, yellow pepper. But you can work out your own combination.

4. When all the veggies and paneer are gone, it’s time to cook. This can be done two ways:

a. Oven: Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the skewers on a large rectangular cake pan, or a cookie sheet, or foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until done, turning occasionally.

b. Grill: Place the skewers on a hot grill. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until done, turning occasionally.

How do you know when they are done? The paneer will turn golden-brown to darkish brown. Don’t let it smoke, or turn black.

Method 2:

Coat the paneer and vegetables in the marinade. Place in a greased glass baking dish.

Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Preheat an oven to about 200C or 350F.

Place paneer in hot oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the pieces over and bake for another 15 minutes.

Gluten-free Thin Crust Paneer Pizza

We used Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose GF flour with added xanthan gum in lieu of wheat flour, and it generally works fairly well. You have to get used to the taste difference, of course. This pizza has a thin crust, and won’t quite roll out into a perfect circle. So, if you’re particular, you might want to use a big bowl or something to cut the edges off. Oh, and it has no yeast. This makes enough for one person.

GF Paneer Pizza

Preparation time: About 1 hr

Cooking time: 15 minutes + 25 minutes baking

Crust Ingredients: 1 cup GF flour, 1 tsp xanthan gum, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup water, enough oil to brush over the crust

How to: Do not begin this process until you have your topping ready. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the water and mix it together with a spoon until it is well blended. It will seem a little dry. Roll it out on a sheet of wax paper/butter paper (it will stick, so don’t use a counter top without the wax paper). The edges will be a little ragged, don’t worry about it. Turn the paper over onto a cookie sheet or pizza stone (do not use a stone which has already been used for non-GF baking).

Topping ingredients: 1 cup crumbled paneer, one small tomato (finely chopped), one small onion, 1 tsp Kitchen King or garam masala, tomato paste/puree for the crust, 1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese (I used a combination of mozzarella and parmesan). Optional: 1/3 cup finely chopped capsicum/bell pepper.

How to: Chop the onion finely. Keep half aside. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add half the onion and cook until they are done. (If you are using bell pepper, add it now and let it cook for a couple minujtes). Add the masala and stir in. Add the paneer and salt to taste. Stir well, and let it cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, mix in, and cover. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, sitrring once while it cooks.

Adding the topping: Once you have cooked the paneer, prepare the crust as above. Thoroughly brush the crust with oil. Layer tomato paste over it. Add the paneer topping. Add the remaining raw onion. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.

You can, of course, use this topping with a regular pizza crust.

Stuffed bell peppers

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

We have a little veggie pot pie left over, but not quite enough for two. So we are stretching our meal with stuffed bell peppers. Serendipitously, we had exactly two peppers in the fridge 🙂

You need: Two bell peppers, 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, 2 green (spring) onions, 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, to taste: salt, red chili powder, balsamic vinegar, olive oil

How to: Heat the oven to 350F. Put everything except the bell peppers in a bowl and mix well.

Cut the tops off the peppers and clean the insides of seeds and fiber.

Remove the stem from the tops and chop the pepper that remains (from the top) very small. Add it to the feta mix and stir in.

Fill the peppers will the filling and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Tip: Put the peppers in a muffin pan when you bake them, so they don’t fall down.

Veggie-Feta Pot Pie

potpie.jpg

Preparation time: (assuming filling is leftover) 1 hr

Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

For the filling: I used leftovers from the filling for my calzones from the night before (but without the cheese). I sprinkled ¼ cup slivered almonds and about ¼ cup of feta over the veggies. The almonds and feta added a lovely flavor to the veggies. Definitely worth making, if you have the time and the energy.

FOR THE PIE CRUST

This recipe is for a double-layer crust.

You need: 3 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tsp salt; ¾ sup vegetable shortening (it works better than butter); ½ cup cold water

How to:

  1. Put the flour in a bowl and blend in the salt and vegetable shortening. You can use a metal fork to break the shortening into the flour until all the shortening has been worked into the flour. The texture should be loose and grainy, not compacted.
  2. Chill the dough for an hour in the fridge or 30m in the freezer.
  3. Add the ½ water and blend in with a fork.
  4. Divide the dough into two portions and form them into balls.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  6. Roll out one half into about ¼ inch thick and place it in the pie pan. Cut the extra edge off with a butter knife.
  7. Add the filling. Roll out the top crust.
  8. Wet your finger and run it around the edge of the bottom crust (to help seal the pie). Place the top crust over the pie. Cut off the extra edge and press down to seal.
  9. Brush some oil over the top of the pie.
  10. Cut three vents in the top. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes.

Glorious Vegetable Calzone

Making a vegetable calzone

 

Preparation time: 1 hr 20m for the dough, 20m for the vegetables.

Cooking time: 30m for the vegetable filling, 12-15 m for baking

This was astonishingly tasty. I’m very pleased with myself. It’s not something you can whip up at the end of a long day, but you could make some up ahead and freeze them for just such a day…

We made the dough in a bread machine, but you could knead it by hand and let it rise. You would probably want to knead it for about ten minutes or so, cover it and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has more than doubled in size. This will make four calzones, each of which is a good-sized meal for one hungry person.

You will have some vegetable filling left over, but you could always freeze it and make calzones some other day 🙂

THE DOUGH:

You need: 3 cups all-purpose flour+2 tsp wheat gluten (or 3 cups bread flour); 1 tsp sugar; 1 tsp salt; 1 cup+2 tbsp water; 2 tbsp oil; 2.5 tsp active dry yeast (we used “bread machine yeast”)

How to: If you are using a bread machine, add all the wet ingredients first, and then the dry ones, with yeast being the last thing you add. Follow instructions on your bread machine.

If you are doing this by hand, knead for 10-12 minutes, cover, and let rise as discussed above.

THE FILLING:

You need: 1/2 cup carrots; 1 kohlrabi; 1 medium-sized bell pepper; 1 small onion; 1 small yellow squash; 1 cup diced tomatoes; 1/2 cup peas (frozen is good); 2 tbsp slivered almonds; and to taste: rosemary, thyme, salt, red chili powder, paprika; grated Parmesan, grated mozzarella.
How to: Dice the vegetables into about 1/4″ cubes. The smaller the pieces, the better they will work as filling.

Heat oil, add the vegetables in the following order. Stir after adding each one, and give it a couple of minutes before adding the next: onions, carrots, kohlrabi, squash, peppers, almonds. Stir well and cover. Let it cook about 5-6 minutes. If it starts to stick to the bottom, add the tomatoes. Stir well. Do not add water. If it is still sticking, add just a little bit of water- about 1/4 cup. Add the herbs and salt and let it cook (carrots and kohlrabi should be soft, but not mushy).

THE CALZONE:

Divide the dough into two and follow these instructions for each half. Preheat the oven to 400F.

1. Roll out the dough and divide into two.

2. Put a little filling into one side of each half. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan and grated mozzarella over the filling.

3. Wet the tip of your finger and run it along the edge of the rolled-out dough, then fold the top half over and seal it by pressing it down. With a knife, cut three vents in the top. Brush a little oil over the top of each calzone.

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400F or until brown. The dough should not become hard.

5. Cut in half, let it cool, and eat 🙂


Vegetable Riot Pasta Sauce

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: about 40-45 minutes

I wanted to make a pasta sauce that had lots of vegetables (and thereby reduce the amount of pasta eaten as well). This turned out very, very well, and we were pleased with it.

You need: 1 yellow squash, diced; 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped; 2 cups tomatoes, diced; 1 bunch any greens you like, finely chopped; 1-2 bell peppers, diced; 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (or parsley, whichever you prefer); 2-3 bay leaves; 1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 2 tbsp minced garlic; and to taste: dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, black pepper, red chili flakes or dried red chilies, salt. Yes, I know I add too many herbs, but they taste so good.

How to: I used dried herbs, BTW, but you could use fresh if you have them.

Heat some olive oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add the dried red chilies if you are using them, and the bay leaves.

Add the squash, cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add rosemary and thyme.

Add red peppers, cook 5 minutes, etc. etc.

Add onions, stir, cook for 5 minutes.

Add greens, stir, cover and let it cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add red wine vinegar, stir well, and let it cook uncovered until the vinegar has cooked away. Add garlic.

Stir again, add tomatoes. Stir, cover, let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add remaining herbs and salt. Cover and let it cook till done.

Uncover and let the water cook out, if you like. Add the cilantro just before you take it off the heat, stir, and ladle it over the pasta of your choice. (We had spinach fettuccine).