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.

Pasta with Spinach and Red Onions

 

This pasta was beautiful. I know, I made it, and this is not very modest of me, but it really was beautiful. The spinach was a lovely green touch, the red onions were warm and rich, and I added a little dried cranberries and crushed pecans for extra flavor. When I made it, it was a little dry, but this is easily fixed by adding a little stock to the vegetables as you cook them, or a little of the water you cooked the pasta in.

I’ve been a little vague on the measurements for the pasta and spinach because this really depends on you, and how much you want to use. I usually use a handful of pasta for two people. In this case, I used two small fettuccine nests, which made a medium-sized portion for one person. I also used a small bunch of baby spinach. With spinach, remember it really cooks down to about a third (at least!) of its size, so make allowances for that.This recipe is for one serving of pasta — enough for one person.

You need:

  1. 1 small fettuccine nests, or enough pasta for one person
  2. 1 small bunch baby spinach, washed and drained
  3. 2 tbsp crushed pecans or walnuts
  4. 2 tbsp dried sweetened cranberries or raisins
  5. Salt and white pepper to taste (you can use black pepper)
  6. Olive oil for cooking
  7. Romano or parmesan cheese (or any other hard cheese you like to eat over pasta)

How to:

  1. Put six cups of water (or enough to cook the pasta) in a saucepan. Add 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp salt and bring to boil. When it boils, add the pasta. Cool until al dente–cooked through, but when you eat it, it should still be very, very slightly hard, not mushy.
  2. Cut the onions into very thin slices.
  3. Put 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan (more if your pan is not non-stick). When it is hot, add the onions, Stir and let it cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Give the spinach a very rough chop (just once or twice).
  5. When the onions are cooked (but before the caramelize), add the spinach. The onions should still be a bit crunchy. Stir the spinach in. Add 1 tsp salt and stir again.
  6. Drain the pasta and arrange on a plate.
  7. When the spinach is just wilted, add the cranberries, pecans, and white pepper. Stir gently. If it is too dry, add a little stock or pasta cooking water and stir gently. If you added too much, let it cook off before you take it off the heat.
  8. Turn off the heat. Arrange the vegetables over the pasta.
  9. Grate romano or parmesan cheese over the top.

 

 

 

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.


Savory Cornbread Muffins

I love cornbread. It has such an excellent taste, and then, when you top it with golden, slightly-melted butter, it’s ambrosia! I still had some dill leftover from when I made the Poppyseed/Dill Kohlrabi, and we bought some hot banana peppers at the Farmer’s Market. So here are two kinds of savory muffins. I adapted the cornbread recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook.

For the cornbread:

You need: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda; 1/4 tsp salt; 1 egg white; 1 cup yogurt; 1 tbsp honey; 1.5 tbsp melted butter.

How to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients well.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  4. When you are ready, add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, and mix just enough to combine well. Do not stir aggressively.
  5. Pour into a greased muffin pan or square baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. If you are pouring into a muffin pan, do not fill the cups more than halfway.

Dill and Hot Banana Pepper Muffins:

  1. Proceed to prepare the cornbread as above, but do not mix wet and dry yet.
  2. Add 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill and 2 very finely chopped hot banana peppers (or jalapeno, or whatever hot peppers you like) to the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients, mix as above, and bake for 20-22 minutes.

Celery and Onion “Stuffin’ Muffins”:

A variation on a traditional holiday stuffing.

  1. Finely chop one stick of celery (or two) and one small red onion.
  2. Add 1 tsp butter + 1/4 tsp oil to a pan. When hot, add the onion.
  3. When the onion is pink and translucent, add the celery.
  4. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Prepare cornbread mixes, keeping wet and dry separate.
  6. Add the celery and onion to the dry mix.
  7. Add the wet ingredients and mix well as above in the cornbread recipe.
  8. Bake in a hot 350F oven for 20-22 minutes as above in the cornbread recipe.

Eggless Cornbread Dressing

This is adapted from my mother-in-law’s recipe. It’s simple, easy, and scrumptious.

You need: 4 cups crumbled cornbread (this version is eggless); 4 tbsps butter or margarine; 3 stalks celery; 1/2 a large onion; 1 cup vegetable broth; salt, pepper, and thyme to taste.

My vegetable stock had a habanero in it. If you are using non-spicy stock, you could add some heat to the cornbread with jalapenos or cayenne pepper.

How to:

  1. Chop the onions and celery into very small pieces (easy in a food processor).
  2. Sautee them in the butter, first onions then celery. Cook until well done.
  3. Mix gently with the crumbled cornbread.Use a large fork or your hands.
  4. Add enough broth to get the desired consistency. I prefer it to be slightly dry. Mix gently again.
  5. Add salt and pepper, and serve warm.

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!

Slow Cooker Vegetable Stock

I love vegetable stock. I especially love to heat it and drink it as is. The store-bought stocks tend to be very high sodium, even the low-sodium ones, so I prefer to make my own. It’s very easy, and if you have a slow cooker (e.g. Crock Pot), you can leave it to cook while you do other things, like work. There are a number of vegetables you can put into your stock, and people often use odd ends and trimmings of vegetables, but I don’t use anything I would ordinarily feed to my worms (yes, we have a worm bin in our kitchen).

You need:

1 leek, 1 bulb fennel, 3-4 sticks celery, 1 large onion, 1-2 chili peppers of  your choice, 2 bay leaves, 5-6 leaves basil

How to:

  1. Prepare the vegetables and chop them into large pieces. (Click HERE for how to prepare various vegetables)
  2. Add them to your slow cooker.
  3. Add enough water to cover the vegetables.
  4. Add the herbs and chili peppers.
  5. Cover and turn on high for 5-6 hours.
  6. Pour broth into a container.
  7. Place the vegetables in a food processor and blend well.
  8. Pour into the container through a fine mesh strainer. Use a spoon to rub it in to get it all.
  9. Refrigerate immediately and use within 3-4 days.

If you want to store the stock, cool it in the fridge for a couple of hours, then pour into ice trays. When it is frozen, put the broth ice cubes into a Ziploc bag and return to the freezer. Use within 3-4 months.

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.

Pretty Green Stir-fry

Our CSA this week contained more or less what I had said it would – tatsoi, little purple-green lettuce, garlic chives, spring onions, fresh oregano, and pak choi. Lots of greens. We did do a stir-fry, in the end, just because it was so tempting – all those greens! So we used all the ingredients listed above, except the lettuce. Here’s how:

You need: 1 bunch tatsoi, 2 bunches pak choi, 3-4 green onions, 1 red onion, 5-7 garlic chives, 2 tbsp soy sauce, black pepper, 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, 1 tbsp sesame oil (or not).

How to:

1. Wash all the greens (everything but the peanuts and red onion) well, and cut it into strips.

2. Cut the red onion into thin slices.

3. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a wok.

4. Add the red onions and bulb parts of the green onions, and stir-fry until done to your satisfaction (about 2-3 minutes usually works for me)

5. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peanuts coarsely.

6. Add the peanuts to the onion and stir. Add the rest of the vegetables immediately.

7. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, and black pepper.

8. Stir quickly. As soon as the leaves begin to wilt, turn off the heat.

Serve hot over rice. You could also use peanut sauce in lieu of the soy sauce/sesame oil.