May 16, 2010 § 3 Comments
Sorry vegans, but for this girl pasta just isn’t pasta without cheese. I could never be vegan. I love cheese and plain yogurt too much. Along with eggs, they are staples in my diet. I’ve tried limiting dairy products or replacing them with soy, but truth be told, I’m wary of soy. I was spooked by watching “Food, Inc.” and learning that most, if not all, of non-organic soybeans are genetically modified (as is non-organic corn. As far as I know, products labeled as organic are guaranteed not to be genetically modified). I’ll occasionally eat a soy product, like tofu or miso, but surely not every day. Organic dairy products work for me. And, yes, I most definitely buy organic dairy products. In my idealistic brain, they are procured in humane ways from healthy, well-treated, hormone-free animals. I hope I’m not being too naive.
All that is to preface this recipe which appears in the May/June 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times (p. 28). It’s a recipe that was excerpted from Donna Klein’s vegan cookbook Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Real People in the Real World. With a few tweaks (sorry, Ms. Klein!)–which I’ll mention at the end of the recipe–this dish was a winner. Pair it with a fresh green salad and you’re good to go.
Baked Ziti with Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Olives
Serves 6 | 30 minutes or fewer
- 8oz. ziti, rigatoni, or penne pasta
- 1/2 pound zucchini, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, with basil, garlic & oregano, juices included
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives, divided
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
- 2 Tbs. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 11×7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook ziti according to package directions for al dente in large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Return ziti to pot, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes and juices, tomato puree, 2 Tbs. olives, tomato paste, and garlic in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. Stir zucchini mixture into ziti, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Transfer ziti mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 2 tbsp. olives. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until pasta is heated through and breadcrumbs are golden brown.
My tweaks: I used whole wheat penne pasta. I also used panko breadcrumbs with added Italian seasoning in place of the pre-seasoned breadcrumbs suggested in the recipe. What really made the dish for me was the crumbled feta cheese and grated parmesan cheese that I added to the top along with the panko breadcrumbs. Next time I make this I may add some lemon zest to the sauce. That may sound odd, but the dish has a Mediterranean feel that I think would be complemented by a little lemon flavor. It’ll “kick it up a notch,” as Emeril would say.
I give this one 5 out of 5 zucchinis.
May 13, 2010 § 4 Comments
“She’s too busy,” is the comment made by my 2.5 year old son that simultaneously stopped my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and left me with this unrelenting pit of guilt in my stomach. To make matters worse, he made the comment to my HUSBAND who is always on me about how much time I spend on the computer. I’m the first to admit that I’m having a hard time disconnecting from my laptop. Up until August, I’d worked on a computer all day, 5 or 6 days a week, since 1992. When I don’t have access to a computer I feel like I’m missing an appendage. But I have never in my life told Peter that I was “too busy” on the computer to play with him. I’ve never uttered those words and hearing it from him nearly brought me to my knees. Where did he hear that phrase and how did he know how to use it in the proper context??? And why for the love of God did he have to say it to my husband?!? My husband, who now imagines that I plant Peter in front of the t.v. all day watching SpongeBob while I fiddle away on the computer shouting “I’M BUSY” when he asks me to do something. That’s not how it is, I swear!
After Peter’s daycare closed in July, my husband and I decided that it would be best if I left my job to become a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), which contrary to what some people believe, is a job. Being a SAHM means that Peter is my #1 priority, of course, but I also have the desire to start a health counseling practice or at least do some writing about health and wellness (hence, this blog) to put my education to use and maybe help people who are struggling with their health. Starting a business takes time. I try to limit my computer time to first thing in the morning when I’m making breakfast (my new office is the kitchen counter), then during Peter’s nap time which is 1.5-3 hours in the afternoon, and then after I put him to bed at 8:00.
OK. Sometimes in the morning I do end up farting around on FB and/or Twitter and/or my email before I realize that I’m supposed to be making breakfast for the kid who is now standing in front of the open refrigerator saying “I’m hungwy.” Ooops. Where did the time go? But even in those odd moments, I don’t say “I’m busy. I’ll feed you later.” I stop whatever time-sucking activity I’m in the middle of and make us breakfast.
So then we go about our day until nap time. As I said, I have 1.5- 3 hours to get stuff done. Of course, I want to devote this time to building my business, but there’s laundry to be done, bills to be paid, and other blogs to be read. Before I know it, I hear Peter yelling “MaMaaaa”! indicating that nap time is ovah, as they say in Boston.
So then we go about our evening until I put him to bed. Night-night. Now, if I were a different type of person I’d have 3 or 4 productive hours ahead of me. But I am not a different type of person. I am me, a person whose brain really does turn off at around 8:00. Really. I can manage to read a book or watch t.v., but writing something intelligible is out of the question. It’s ridiculous to even consider doing something constructive and it’s soooo disappointing. One of my friends is up until midnight/1 a.m. working on her business and I feel like such a slacker in comparison.
I’m telling you this to explain why I’m not posting on the blog, FB, or Twitter as often as usual. I’m consciously spending less time on the computer so Peter will never again think that I’m ”too busy” for him. It’s becoming clear to me that I need to wait until he starts preschool in the fall to accelerate my business. I can use those hours when he’s off on his own to get my stuff done. Right now my time is his time, and that’s the way it should be. I need to be present, in the moment, while playing with him, not off in the ether thinking about my next blog post or what “important” tweets I’m missing. I can’t compete with the bloggers who post more than once a day. I will try to post something useful/informative at least once a week. That’s the best I can do for now. I’m so lucky to have this time with Peter…time flies…I mean, if I feel like I’m missing an appendage when I don’t have access to a computer, how am I going to feel when I don’t have access to him?
May 11, 2010 § 2 Comments
So far, so good, thanks. Not that I have anything to do with it. I am merely the weekday waterer and photographer. My husband and his friend will–and should–take full credit for the bounty we are sure to reap this summer.
Most of these pictures were taken about a week ago; things are much greener now. The radish, however, was picked (and eaten) by my son this morning (“I wike wadish, mama. Mmmm”). I’m so happy that he will know that radishes and other vegetables come from the ground, from the sun-warmed dirt, not the misty chilled shelves at the supermarket.
May 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
As I had hoped, I’m pretty much back on track this week, rebounding from the wackiness of last week. Dinner tonight was pretty good. It was a pasta and cauliflower dish I found on the Arubula’s Kitchen blog. Arubula’s Kitchen is a service which creates weekly menus for its customers. According to their site, all menus come with grocery/prep lists and wine pairings are also available. Past menus are found on the blog, which is where I found tonight’s recipe:
1/4 cup pitted olives
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1” florets
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/4 cup water
3/4 pound spaghetti
1 oz Parmesan, finely grated
3/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
Pulse olives and parsley in a food processor.
Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium heat . Add cauliflower and salt stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 3-5 minutes more. Stir in water and boil for 1 minute.
Add olive mixture and cook until heated through.
Meanwhile cook pasta until al dente. To the side, reserve 1 cup pasta water.
Add cauliflower mixture to pasta and toss well. Add cheese and toss again. Moisten with pasta water.
Sprinkle with almonds and serve with additional side of cheese.
I liked that most of these ingredients were already in my kitchen. The only item I had to buy today was the parsley. When I make this again, and I’m sure I will, I’ll probably roast the cauliflower in the oven rather than cooking it on the stove top. I love the rich flavor of roasted cauliflower and I think it will only make the recipe better. I may also add some sautéed spinach or some other greens, as the dish was kind of ugly and white. Sun-dried tomatoes may also be a nice addition.
[...Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I'm only falling apart...nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart...Turn around bright eyes! .... sorry, I'm watching Glee...]
Where was I? Dinner. Yes. I recommend it. It’s easy, tasty and fairly nutritious. I give it 4 out of 5 cauliflower heads.
And tomorrow? Cinco de Mayo, baby! For some reason, it’s one of my favorite days. I’m looking forward to a burrito and a margarita. Or maybe a Corona. ARRIBA!!
May 3, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Cooking on the hottest day of the year (so far) wasn’t one of my better ideas. I’m so hot right now I kind of feel like crying. And this hot laptop isn’t helping, so this shall be an unusually brief post. Hallelujah, right?
For dinner I made Heidi Swanson’s Double Broccoli Quinoa recipe. I’m just going to link to the recipe here rather than copying it. I’ve been wanting to make it for a while and tonight was the night. It was good, I enjoyed it, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more when I’m not wiping sweat from my brow between forkfuls. I was intrigued by making a pesto with broccoli instead of basil. There’s some pesto left over and I’m looking forward to spreading it on a tomato sandwich tomorrow for lunch. Or tossing it with pasta. Or mixing it in scrambled eggs…it won’t go to waste, that’s for sure.
As Heidi suggested, I topped the dish with feta cheese, avocado and toasted sliced almonds. I skipped the fire oil since, as I may have mentioned, I was already HOT. Possibly melting. In my humble opinion, the toppings are mandatory rather than optional. They’re so good, and, of course, a nutritional boost to boot. (How many commas can I use in a sentence? I am the worst comma user in the world. My middle name should be Splice.)
Anyway, here’s a picture. I have to go now because I’m, you know…
I hope you had a nice weekend~