Tag Archives: meatless entrees

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Remember when sun-dried tomatoes were all the rage?  Seems like they were everywhere.  (I don’t remember sun-dried tomato ice cream, though, so apparently the savory ice cream phase hadn’t hit yet)…. This recipe appeared in bon appetit back around then.  Despite the odds, it has  become one of our household favorites.  I even keep a jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes on hand just so I can whip it up.  The recipe makes enough pesto to dress one pound of pasta, though I often cook 12 ounces and throw the extra 1/4-recipe into a batch of meatballs to serve alongside.  Save some of the pasta cooking water to thin the pesto.  Enjoy!

½ c. (packed) fresh basil leaves
¼ c. slivered almonds, toasted
¼ c. drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes*
1 garlic clove
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
½ c. hot water
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese, (plus more for serving, opt.)

Place the basil, toasted almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and crushed red pepper in a food processor and process until nuts are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With blade running, dribble in half of the olive oil, then half of the hot water. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and repeat, blending until almost smooth. (Pesto may be made to this point and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 3 months.) Transfer to a bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

(* (Mediterranean Organic is my favorite brand.  I usually find it at Whole Foods.)

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Black Bean Cakes with Cilantro Crème

These black bean cakes are dredged in rice flour, which give them a thin, crisp crust.  I use leftover Game Night Black Beans, but you could use any well-spiced beans.  The recipe is a lot easier than it looks– make them once and you’ll do it by memory.  I often serve black bean cakes over watercress or arugula dressed in olive oil.  With a piece of cornbread or a side of rice, you have a full meal.  Don’t skip the Cilantro Crème.  It makes the dish.  This recipe makes 4 servings.  Enjoy!

Black Bean Cakes
2 medium sweet potatoes, about 10 oz. total
3 cups well-drained, well-seasoned, cooked black beans
1 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
2 T. finely diced onion
Scant 1 tsp. sea salt
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
¼ c. brown rice flour
3-5 T. olive or canola oil, for frying

Cilantro Crème
1 c. chopped cilantro
2/3 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
2 Serrano chiles, de-stemmed
Zest and juice of 1 medium lime

Prick sweet potatoes several times with a fork and cook in the microwave until soft. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Place black beans in a large, shallow bowl. Melt the butter in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add garlic, hot pepper and onion and cook one minute. Add salt, chili powder and ground cumin and cook another 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. Scrape spice mixture into the beans. Cut warm sweet potatoes in half and add the flesh to the bowl. Use a potato masher to smash and combine the ingredients together. Stop mashing when mixture is creamy and just holds together, but still has visible bits of beans. Do not mash to a uniform consistency.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place rice flour on a small plate. Scoop up a scant quarter-cup of bean mixture and gently form it into a ½-inch-thick bean cake. Dredge it in the rice flour and set it on the cookie sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used. You should have about 12 bean cakes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. (Bean cakes may be made up to 8 hours ahead.)

Move cakes from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Pour an eighth-of-an-inch of oil into the bottom of a large, flat-bottomed skillet (cast iron is ideal). Heat oil over medium high heat. Add 6 bean cakes in a single layer and fry until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes.  Carefully flip. Continue cooking until the second side is golden brown and cakes are heated through. Remove from the skillet and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and bean cakes.  Place 3 warm bean cakes on each plate and drizzle with Cilantro Crème.  Serve, passing additional crème on the side.

Cilantro Crème
Place cilantro, yogurt, peppers, lime zest and juice into a blender and process until smooth. May be made 4 hours ahead.

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Roasted Portabellas With Spinach and Feta

These stuffed mushrooms are hearty enough to serve as a meatless entree, but I often use them as a side dish.  Omit some of the butter, if you want, but be sure to pull them out of the oven before the topping dries out. Enjoy!

3 T. butter (or less)
4 Portabella mushrooms, cleaned
Salt and pepper
16 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
½ c. crumbled feta
¼ c. pine nuts, toasted
3 T. finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place butter in a small dish and melt in the microwave. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Using the edge of a spoon, scrape out the dark brown gills on the underside of each mushroom and place, upside down (like a small bowl) into a greased shallow baking pan. Brush the “bowl” of each mushroom with a little melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Turn oven down to 325°F.

Meanwhile, place the thawed spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring to remove as much moisture as possible. Place spinach in a mixing bowl.  Using your fingers or two forks, pull the spinach into soft shreds.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix gently to combine.

Mound equal portions of the topping onto each of the par-roasted mushrooms, pressing gently to fit.  Drizzle melted butter over the top. (Mushrooms may be made to this point up to a day ahead. Cover with saran wrap and store in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm.

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Thai-Inspired Peanut Dipping Sauce

The other night I made summer rolls– neat (or not-so-neat!) packages of cilantro, basil, carrots, green onions, radishes, cucumber and tofu wrapped in softened rice paper.  I had hoped to serve leftovers the next day for lunch, but there were none! Thought I’d pass along the recipe for the Thai-inspired dipping sauce.  It comes together quickly, and my kids think it is the best they’ve had (take-out included!). Enjoy!

¾ c. all-natural peanut butter, preferably smooth
½ c. pineapple juice
3 T. tamari sauce
3 T. brown sugar
1 clove garlic
1 4” piece of ginger, peeled
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
½ – 1 T. crushed red pepper flakes

Stir together peanut butter and pineapple juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Add tamari and brown sugar.  Use a microplane or fine grater set over (or into) the pan to mince in the garlic, scraping the garlic and juice off the back of the grater and into the pot.  Do the same with the ginger, discarding any of the fibrous interior that won‘t mince.  Stir in sesame oil and red pepper flakes.  Cook over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture darkens slightly, stirring, being careful not to burn.  Serve warm.

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Red Peppers Stuffed With Rice and Veggies

The filling for these peppers is savory and nutty, both hearty and surprisingly delicate.  The mushrooms add meatiness, so the dish can be used as a satisfying vegetarian entree or as a side for roasted meat.  Use a high-quality aged (sharp) cheddar and shred it finely to distribute its flavor.  Also, go easy on the salt.  The broth and the cheese may be salty and it is hard to predict how much additional seasoning you’ll need.  You may make these peppers up to a day ahead, and they reheat well in both the oven and microwave.  (The peppers become softer, which some people prefer.)  This recipe makes 4 large or 5 small stuffed bell peppers. Enjoy!

¾ c. brown rice
Scant 1.5 c. chicken or vegetable broth

Olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

16 oz. white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme

3 oz finely shredded aged cheddar cheese (about 1 c.)
2/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted
2 T. minced chives (opt)

4 large or 5 small red bell peppers
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a small saucepan, cook brown rice in broth according to package directions.  Uncover and set aside.

Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Once pan is warm, add onion, carrot and celery and season lightly. Saute until tender and beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute, stirring constantly, 30 seconds longer. Remove vegetables from skillet and place in a large bowl.

In the same skillet, again heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and season lightly. Saute until beginning to brown. Crumble dried thyme into mushrooms and saute, stirring, until fragrant. Remove from heat to cool.

Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan (or similar dish) with cooking spray. Wash peppers and pat dry. Using a pairing knife, cut off the top of each pepper and carefully remove the seeds and supporting membranes. If needed, cut a sliver off the bottom, leaving the cavity intact, so each pepper will stand up. Season the inside of each pepper with a small pinch of salt.

Add lukewarm mushrooms to vegetables in large bowl. Add lukewarm rice. Gently stir in shredded cheese, toasted sliced almonds, and chives, if using. Once ingredients are well- mixed, taste and adjust seasoning.

Fill peppers with rice mixture. (Note: Any extra can be placed in a buttered ramekin and either baked or microwaved to reheat.) Place peppers in prepared pan. (Peppers may be made up to one day ahead at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.) Bake for 35 minutes or until peppers are crisp-soft and filling is heated through.  Serve immediately.

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