Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Vegetable Pasta with White Wine Pesto Sauce

So it would appear I've got some 'splainin to do about where I've been for the past few months. Well, suffice it to say I've made several changes in my life and have been completely busy with them. I got engaged to a wonderful man, which was very exciting and of course, brings lots of wedding planning with it. I started back to school for my Masters degree, so the past several Saturdays have been spent in class. I'm also transitioning to a new job at work, so I've been busy closing out my current work load to prepare for the new job. So yeah, I've been busy! But enough about me - let's get to the food!

I'm not just saying this because I made it, but this is probably one of the best pasta dishes I've ever tasted. Not only is it tasty, it's extremely easy and took me about 20 minutes to make, from start to finish. And to top it all off, you can substitute whatever vegetables you want to use. I used mushrooms, onion, and fresh tomatoes. But you got some zucchini you need to use up? Throw it in! Want to add some artichoke hearts or some sundried tomatoes? DO IT! Oh, and on top of it all, it's vegan if you use a vegan pesto sauce, like I did - so it's sure to please everyone.

This can be made one of two ways. You can either just toss the sauce with pasta and serve, or to make it extra special, top with breadcrumbs mixed with a drizzle of olive oil and bake for a few minutes. No matter how you make it, this is a pasta dish that is sure to please the masses!

Summer Vegetable Pasta with White Wine Pesto Sauce

Summer Vegetable Pasta with White Wine Pesto Sauce

Serves 4

4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (8 oz) container of sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 cup almond milk (or whatever milk you choose)
1/3 cup white wine (or sub with more milk)
1/4 cup prepared pesto sauce (either homemade or jarred)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cooked pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Prepare pasta and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion and saute 2-3 minutes, until starting to soften. Add garlic and mushrooms. Saute another few minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and saute for another 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes until starting to thicken up. Add pesto sauce and salt, and stir well. Remove from heat. Stir in pasta and tomatoes. You can either serve it at this point, or place into a greased casserole dish and top with a few tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs, mixed with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until sauce starts to bubble. Remove from oven and serve.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Arrabbiata Sauce, "Angry" Sauce, or what you make for dinner when you don't feel like cooking

I discovered Arrabbiata sauce during my first trip to Italy. I immediately fell in love with the spiciness of the sauce and ordered it at almost every restaurant. (probably also because there wasn't much of the menu that I could understand)

I've been wanting to make it for awhile and actually had planned to make this for dinner a few days ago. I had decided on my way home from work the other night that this was what I was going to make. However, when I got home, I just didn't feel like cooking. I was hungry but didn't feel like putting forth any effort for my dinner. I did some things around the house and contemplated ordering something in, but I finally decided just to go ahead and make the sauce.

And boy, am I glad I did. Not only did it exceed my expectations, but the whole meal took about 30 minutes from start to finish. The sauce is quick, easy, and flavorful, yet without the fuss. And although I've added squash, mushrooms, fresh spinach, and onions, you could easily add or subtract whatever vegetables you'd like.

So the "Angry Pasta" will be making its appearance many times again I'm sure, especially on those days I don't feel like cooking.

Arrabiata Sauce

Arrabbiata Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 cup yellow squash, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how angry you want it)
Freshly cracked pepper
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, thinly sliced

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Saute onion for a minute or two, then add squash, mushrooms, and garlic. Saute for another 3-4 minutes, until vegetables are starting to soften. Add tomatoes, wine, and remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer sauce for another 10 minutes. Add spinach and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with freshly minced parsley, and serve over your favorite pasta.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wild Rice and Cannellini Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

I love rice salads. Not only are they a nice change from the normal green leaf salads, but they are perfect for packing into your brown bag for lunch. And even better, you can serve them warm or cold, depending on your mood. This makes rice salads, like this Orange Chipotle rice salad, perfect for almost every season!

I recently found this recipe on Ginger Beat for a lentil salad with a mustard dressing and thought it looked simply delicious. The funny thing about mustard is that it was only within the past few years that I really started to love the flavor of it and appreciate all that it had to offer. So as soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making something similar.

As I started monkeying around in the kitchen, ideas of what to add to the recipe were flying around and soon enough, this recipe was born. Whoa - the flavors are absolutely delicious. It has a nice little kick from the coarse mustard, which is just perfect with the fresh parsley. Best of all, this recipe can be thrown together in as long as it takes you to make the rice.

So go ahead and give this a try - your brown bag lunches will thank you!

And stay up-to-date with all of the 28 Cooks' happenings on the 28 Cooks' Facebook page!

Wild Rice and Cannellini Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Wild Rice and Cannellini Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 4

2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked wild rice
1/3 c chopped scallions
1/3 c chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 (15 oz) can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

In a small food processor, combine vinegar, mustard, oil, garlic, and pepper. Process until dressing creamy. Set aside. In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over contents of bowl and stir well. Serve warm or cold.
3-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Seriously, if you haven’t served a stuffed mushroom as an appetizer, then you need to get on that train – STAT! Not only are they tasty and delicious, but they are the perfect size for fingers and unmessy eating. And not only that, but they are super easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time, which means you only have to throw them in the oven right before serving. Even better? They freeze extremely well, so you can always have a delicious ready-to-wow-your-guests appetizer on hand for all those last minute events.

Or check out these Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms for another great variation.

And stay up-to-date with all of the 28 Cooks' happenings on the 28 Cooks' Facebook page!

3-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

3-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

1 (12 oz) package Baby Bella mushrooms, destemmed and degilled
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup shredded fresh spinach leaves
1 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
A few tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare mushrooms by removing stems and gills and set aside. In a small bowl, combine cheeses, garlic, spinach, and seasonings. Mix well. Stuff each mushroom with a few teaspoons of cheese mixture. Lightly dust each mushroom with breadcrumbs and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Place on oiled baking sheet and place into preheated oven. Bake for 18-25 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and breadcrumbs are toasted.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Truffled Risotto with Leeks and Mushroom

Doesn't that title just sound fancy and delicious? But first, let me give a disclaimer - this is by no means a diet dish. Let's just be clear about that. However, it is a delicious, decadent, and extremely tasty treat meal.

The Boy had been given a few Italian delicacies from his parents, who recently returned from a trip to Italy. One was a jar of white truffles, and we've been talking about using them in a special dish for quite some time.

As soon as I found this recipe, I knew it was the one I wanted to try. (This recipe is a variation of one found on Epicurious) And let me tell you - I was not disappointed. The flavors are so rich and decadent and this would definitely be a wonderful dish to serve to guests.

And for those with risotto fears? Get rid of them! Although making risotto does require some careful attention, it was much easier than I thought!

Oh, and if you're curious, risotto is extremely hard to photograph!

Truffled Risotto with Leeks and Mushrooms

Truffled Risotto with Leeks and Mushroom

Serves 4-6

3 large leeks, halved, thinly sliced, and rinsed very well
1 cup whipping cream

4 oz shiitake mushrooms
4 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp truffle oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves


4 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
5 cups good quality vegetable broth
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese
2 tsp chopped white truffles

In a small saucepan, combine leeks and cream. Add freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until leeks are soft and cream has thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425.Toss all mushroom ingredients in a large bowl and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until vegetables are softened and browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

Melt butter in saucepan. Add rice and stir well. Add white wine and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add 1 cup hot broth. Simmer until broth is almost absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next and stirring often, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in mushroom mixture, leeks, cheese, and truffles. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Arugula Salad with Fontina Vinaigrette

There's something about the warm weather of Spring that makes me crave salads. And not just any salads, but salads with fresh greens and vinaigrettes that really allow the freshness of the salad to stand out.

I needed a salad to go with a heavier main dish (which will be posted later this week) and at the last minute, grabbed a bag of fresh arugula from the grocery store. I really had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I've always been a huge fan of its peppery bite.

I was using some fontina in the main dish and thought it might make a perfect addition to the vinaigrette. A few other ingredients plus the fontina tossed into the food processor and 5 minutes later, I had the most wonderful vinaigrette. I rounded out the salad with some fresh apple slices and toasted pine nuts.

What a perfect combination of flavors. I can guarantee this salad will show its face many many times over the warm weather season.

Fontina Vinaigrette

Fontina Vinaigrette
1/3 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 tbsp tarragon vinegar
Freshly cracked pepper

4 cups fresh arugula leaves
1/3 cup raw pine nuts
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced

In food processor, add all vinaigrette ingredients. Process for a minute or two, until dressing is well mixed and creamy. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast pine nuts over medium high heat, shaking frequently, until golden brown and toasted. In a large bowl, toss arugula leaves with vinaigrette. Top with apple slices and toasted pine nuts.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


So I know as a vegetarian that Superbowl parties usually aren't vegetarian friendly. Which is okay with me, because I'm not really a huge football fan anyway. But a girl needs to eat, right?

I'm reposting one of my favorite recipes from last year. It's the Hearty Vegetarian Sub, and I think it would be a perfect substantial little meal to serve to your non-meat eating friends. It's also a snap to make, so it's easy to make ahead of time and have on hand for those craving something hearty and filling.

I'm also reposting two of my very favorite vegan finger foods that are wonderful for having as appetizers, Tempeh Wingz and BBQ Ribz. Even non-meat eaters I know love these recipes! And check back for more snack-type recipes that will be perfect for your upcoming party!

Hearty Vegetarian Sub

Hearty Vegetarian Sub
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 c onion, chopped in slivers
2 c baby bella mushrooms, sliced thickly
2 c zucchini, cut into 1" long slivers
1 green bell pepper, cut into slivers
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

In large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add onion and bell pepper and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and zucchini and saute an additional 5 minutes. Add spices and stir for 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients, stir well to combine, lower heat and cook, covered for an additional 10 minutes until veggies are tender. (I wanted some texture to remain, so I didn't completely cook them until done). Serve on hoagie rolls with cheese.

Buffalo Tempeh "Wings"

Buffalo Tempeh "Wings"
1 (8 oz) pkg tempeh
1/3 c soy milk
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup Italian seasoninged panko crumbs

Wing Sauce
1/2 c Louisiana-style hot sauce
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp ketchup

Bring 4 cups of water to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, remove tempeh from package. Slice into 8 strips. (If you are a first time tempheh eater and have texture issues, I recommend slicing into 10-12 strips) Once water is boiling, lower heat to medium high, add tempeh, and boil for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
Set out 3 bowls. In one, pour in soy milk. In the second, combine flour and seasonings. In third bowl, add panko crumbs. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place each strip in milk. Coat in flour mixture, then briefly re-dip into milk. Toss with panko crumbs, coating well. Set on slightly oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tempeh strips. Once all are coated and on baking sheet, lightly spray all "wings" with cooking spray. Place into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip "wings" over and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
While they are baking, place wing sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Cover with Saran wrap and heat in microwave on medium high setting for a minute and a half. Remove from heat and whisk ingredients together.
When wings are finished baking, toss with sauce. Serve immediately.

BBQ Seitan Ribz

Susan V's BBQ Ribz
An ever-so-slight variation

1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter
1 tsp Better than Bouillon Vegetarian Beef Base (optional)
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients, from gluten to garlic powder. In a smaller bowl, whisk together tahini, bouillon, Liquid Smoke, and soy sauce. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Press and pat into lightly-oiled 8x8 baking dish. Cut in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 6-8 pieces. Place into oven and bake for 25 minutes. Start heating grill or lightly-oiled grill pan. Brush top of baked seitan with a generous amount of BBQ sauce. Place, sauce-side down, on grill rack. Brush bottom side with BBQ sauce. When there are nice grill marks on bottom, flip and rebrush with sauce. (Mine took about 2-3 minutes each side) Remove from grill and cut into riblets. Serve with additional sauce if desired.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Bisque with Basil Pesto

Well, it's Pantry Week again round here in the 28 Cooks kitchen. Not only do I have a bounty of odd grains, beans, and fresh vegetables, but I love the challenge of creatively using them up.

This winter, I have been in love with roasted vegetable soups. I've been making the roasted tomato soup with reckless abandon and I will be posting a wonderful caramelized onion soup later this week.

I had 2 eggplants languishing on my kitchen counter and really had no idea how to use them. As I was getting ready to roast some tomatoes to make yet another batch of my favorite bisque, I thought I'd kick it up with some roasted eggplant as well.

Whoa. This is amazingly delicious! Not only is is extremely easy with only about 20 minutes of active cooking time, but the ingredient list is simplistically short. But the best part? The flavor tastes as though you've been working on this soup for hours.

So go ahead and give this soup a try. I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Bisque with Basil Pesto

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Bisque with Basil Pesto
Serves 4-6

2 small eggplants, peeled and halved
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4-5 tomatoes, quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled
A few tbsp olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp prepared basil pesto
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 13x9 pan, place eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast in oven for 60 minutes, flipping eggplant halfway through. Remove from oven. Pour into a large stockpot over medium heat. Add broth and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree soup to desired texture. Stir in vinegar and pesto, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy.