Monday, August 27, 2012

Crisp Gnocchi Pesto with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

I got this recipe from Rachel Ray's magazine. I tweaked the recipe to make it vegan and added a little zip. 
When I set my dad's plate before him, he said, "What in the world are these things??" He apparently had never heard of gnocchi. Haha. I discovered it a few years ago and enjoy it once in a while. It's a lot heavier and more filling than a regular pasta. 
In the end, my dad loved this dish. I added extra extra spinach leaves, as you can see how green and thick the pesto is. You certainly don't have to do that. I added as little oil as possible to make it healthier. It was delicious.
Crisp Gnocchi Pesto with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Pine Nuts

4 cups (about half a 5-oz. pkg.) baby spinach, loosely packed
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp. EVOO (I used less)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used nutritional yeast)
Salt and pepper
1 package (16 oz.) gnocchi (I used whole wheat)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Pine nuts, toasted, optional
Sun-dried tomatoes, julienne, optional  

Using a food processor, puree the spinach, almonds, garlic and 1 tbsp. lemon juice. With the machine on, gradually pour in 1/3 cup EVOO until smooth. Pulse in 1/2 cup "parmesan"; season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes; turn and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden all over, about 2 minutes. Stir in the grape & sun-dried tomatoes and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pesto. Top with toasted pine nuts, if desired.
I hope you are all enjoying your summer. I'm looking forward to fall but I'm not ready for summer to end.. :) 

Happy Cooking,

Chef Teebs 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Layered Pasta Bake

I recently made Eggplant Ratatouille marinara, a recipe I tried last year. I still say it's probably the best pasta sauce I've ever tasted. So incredibly flavorful and veggie-packed, has a thicker, creamy texture.. yum. I ended up having a lot of leftover sauce, so I froze the rest. Well, the wonderful day came when I pulled it out of the freezer. I saw a recipe for a baked pasta dish in Linda McCartney's Cookbook, World of Vegetarian Cooking and thought I would use the eggplant sauce instead of making another marinara sauce. I also altered this recipe to make it vegan. It was absolutely delicious!

Layered Pasta Bake

14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 C.tomato puree
1 C. water
2 t. dried thyme, or 1 t. fresh, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
10 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 lb. vegetarian feta, diced (I used vegan pepper jack)
sea salt & black pepper to taste
3 C. dried pasta (fusilli or penne)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium zucchini, sliced
3 T. olive oil
1/2 C. cheddar cheese, grated (I used vegan cheddar)
freshly chopped basil to garnish

In a medium saucepan, simmer the tomatoes, tomato puree, and water with thyme, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. When the sauce has reduced and thickened a little, after 8-10 minutes, add the feta. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according o the instructions on the package. Drain, and mix it thoroughly with the tomato sauce. 

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion and zucchini in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
 Spread half the pasta mixture in a large baking dish and layer the zucchini mixture on top. Cover with the rest of the pasta mixture. 

Sprinkle with the cheddar and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh basil. 
 In our back yard, we have a big tomato garden. My dad asked me to make some of my mom's famous fried green tomatoes. I thought it would go well with this dish. I also made my famous garlic bread recipe, a must! 
 I hope you are enjoying the last bit of your summer. I have many more recipes to put up. I've been cooking almost every day. I just haven't had time to post them. 

God bless you,

Chef Teebs

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Indonesia, Egypt, the Caribbean? Why not mix it up?

A while ago I kept coming across recipes that called for "unsweetened shredded coconut." I finally came across some and figured I better buy it while I got the chance. When I came home I unloaded the groceries and started looking through my recipes and couldn't seem to find any that called for this! Have you ever had that happen? Well, thankfully I tucked the coconut flakes in the freezer. Because they just came in handy. Caribbean Coconut Rice, a recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine, one of my favorites. I also love Rachel Ray (though I wish she would offer more vegan/plant based recipes, but she's fun), Cooking Light, and Whole Living. Any recommendations? 
 Anywho, I was wanting to make something spicy and thought this combo would either be funky or really amazing. I took the risk... and I sure am glad I did. I paired the rice with my own twist on Spicy Peanut Sauce with Cauliflower, Carrots and Broccoli, from Linda McCartney's Cookbook, World of Vegetarian Cooking. It was so delicious. After the first bite, I said to my dad, "This is definitely one of my favorites so far." Well, I'll share the recipes with you now so you don't have to wait any longer. 

Caribbean Coconut Rice

2 t. unsalted butter
2 t. minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced (1 t.)
1 3" cinnamon stick
1 C. jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
3/4 C. coconut milk
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. grated lime zest
1/8 t. white pepper

1/4 C. toasted shredded, unsweetened coconut, optional

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, and cinnamon stick, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in rice, and sauté 2 minutes, or until rice grains are opaque. Add coconut milk, sugar, salt, lime zest, white pepper, and 3/4 cup water, and bring to a simmer. Stir once, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Garnish with toasted coconut, if using.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Beet Burgers

I haven't made many veggie burger recipes. I was on the lookout for a really good one though. I try to eat a plant-based diet, instead of a meat-replaced vegetarian diet. In other words, I don't like to eat a lot of processed soy products, like most burgers out there. I recently got Color Me Vegan, by Colleen Patrick-Goureau. The beet burger was one of the first recipes in her cookbook that caught my eye. I've been juicing beets a lot lately and had a bunch lying in the fridge. Why not turn some into burgers? 

Alongside the burgers, I made homemade fries. I simply cut them into wedges, placed them on a baking sheet, lightly drizzled them with EVOO, coarse salt, cracked pepper, and crushed garlic. Yummy!

Beet Burgers

2 C. grated beets (about 2 large beets)
1 1/2 C. cooked bulgur wheat (or quinoa or millet)
1 C. sunflower seeds, toasted
1/2 C. sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 C. onion, minced
1/2 C. breadcrumbs
1/4 C. oil
3 T. all-purpose flour
3 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 T. tamari soy sauce
1/4 t. cayenne pepper, or to taste
salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
 In a large bowl, combine the grated beets, bulgur, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, onion, bread crumbs, oil, flour, parsley, garlic, tamari, and cayenne. Add salt to taste.
 At this point, test if you can create a patty that will stay together. These are definitely softer-type burgers, but you should still be able to form a patty with no problem. If it still falls apart, add a little more bulgur or flour until you have a firm patty that won't fall apart while cooking/baking.
 Continue forming uniform-size patties. You can make them a little bulky and get 12 patties  out of them. You can also make them a little smaller and less dense. 
 Bake for 25 minutes or until firm. Carefully flip halfway during the cooking time.
 Should make 10-12 burgers. You can also fry them in a pan with a little olive oil instead of baking. 
These burgers have a delicious taste, and texture. I found that they cooked better in the oven. It seemed like the inside wasn't getting cooked, so I threw them in the oven for until they looked right. I froze the rest in separate sandwich bags. They freeze perfectly and still taste excellent when cooked again in a skillet. Give it a try. Have some friends over before summer is over. Make some shirley temples. Turn up the music. And don't forget the pickles:) My favorite is Claussen, in the refrigerated section. Yum.


Chef Teebs :)