Grilled Veggie Naan-wich with Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Spread

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Sandwiches, sandwiches, more sandwiches! This is a great one, and since it’s vegetarian, it makes me feel better about myself. Just a little. Roasted vegetables — it’s the way to go. It adds a meatiness and flavor you’ll never get any other way. This sandwich incorporates portobellos, zucchini, summer squash, peppers and onions together with an awesome combo of goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s a Jeff Mauro recipe. And waaay better than any cold cut sandwich you can get. Trust.

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TW’s Tips

  • I tried a couple of different types of naan for this — really liked the onion naan.
  • If you have a gas stove, it’s easy to warm/grill the naan directly over the burner instead of using a grill pan. Just keep the heat fairly low, use tongs to flip the naan a couple of times and keep close watch.
  • The goat cheese spread is delicious — make a little extra!

Enjoy!

Ingredients

Marinated Veggies:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 3 banana peppers, stemmed, seeds removed and quartered lengthwise
  • 2 medium yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Spread:

  • 3 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, minced
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Naan-wich Build:

  • 8 pieces whole wheat naan
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

Directions
For the marinated veggies: Mix the oil, vinegar, thyme, Dijon, honey and garlic together. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Clean the gills of the portobello mushrooms by using a spoon and scraping out the black gills from the underside of the cap.

Place all the vegetables in a baking dish and then pour the marinade over them and toss. Allow the marinade to work its magic for 15 to 30 minutes.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Grill the vegetables, in batches if necessary, until nice grill marks appear, 3 to 5 minutes a side. Set the cooked vegetables aside until ready to assemble (you can place them back in the baking dish where they were marinating). Once the mushrooms come off the grill, slice them thinly on the diagonal.

For the spread: Mix the goat cheese with the sun-dried tomatoes and season with some salt and pepper.

For the naan-wich build: Lightly brush the naan with oil and grill on both sides, just until some grill marks appear, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Start by schmearing some of the goat cheese spread on each piece of the griddled naan, and then layer the grilled vegetables high and top with a generous amount of basil, closing the naan-wich with the other slice of naan. Slice the sandwich on the diagonal and then enjoy feeling healthier with each bite.

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Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto

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Meatless Monday? Yes! This spaghetti squash recipe from Food Network is a great one. While, let’s be honest, nothing can replace the love I have for lots and lots of pasta, spaghetti squash really does come close to imitating the look and feel of pasta’s starchy goodness. With a fresh, garlicky pesto covering it, you might even be able to fool a couple of people. (Kids? Fool the kids.)

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I was a little skeptical about this kale pesto, but I really like it. And it even makes a little extra you can save and put on salmon (or some real pasta, don’t lie) later in the week. And it’s even great reheated. Boom.

TW’s Tips

  • I had some pine nuts hanging around that I wanted to use up, so I substituted for the hazelnuts. Walnuts or almond would also work here, just make sure to toast them.
  • I skipped the raisins since I didn’t have on hand and didn’t want to bother with it, but I’m definitely curious about what that would add to this.
  • Make sure the squash is really done. It should feel soft when you flip it over on the baking sheet and the flesh should scrape easily into strands.
  • I had to add the liquid to the pesto in the food processor for it to really come together — the try ingredients were too dense.
  • I spent a few minutes staring questionably at the bins of squash in the grocery store when there were clearly butternut squash in the bin labeled spaghetti squash. I finally figured it out and yes, I was right. Spaghetti squash are yellow and usually oval in shape.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups roughly chopped kale leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Halve and seed the spaghetti squash; roast face-down on a baking sheets at 400 degrees F until tender, 25 minutes; let cool slightly. Scrape the squash into strands with a fork. Discard the skin.

Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Pulse the kale, parsley, garlic, raisins and 2 tablespoons of the toasted nuts in a blender or food processor until combined. Add 1/4 cup olive oil; blend until smooth. Add 1/3 cup water, the parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pulse until the pesto comes together, adding up to 3 more tablespoons water to loosen, if necessary; season with more salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti squash and cook, stirring, until coated. Add 3/4 cup of the kale pesto. Stir to coat, adding up to 1/2 cup water to loosen; season with salt and pepper. Top the squash with the remaining toasted nuts and more parmesan.

Cook’s Note: Refrigerate the extra pesto up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Cheese Tortellini

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If you know me, you know I love pasta — any type, shape, filling, flavor or sauce. As long as it’s cooked al dente, I’m in. This is a great winter meal that combines pasta with roasted acorn squash with a pretty impressive presentation. And you don’t have to feel quite as guilty about the cream-based, cheese sauce since you have vegetables involved.

So yes, it’s cheesy and rich, but it’s delicious and perfect for a dinner party since the presentation is so lovely. The sage on top is the perfect finisher. And for the record, another Tyler Florence.

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TW’s Tips

  • Any small stuffed pasta would work here — mini ravioli, etc.
  • It took a while for the squash to cook through — longer than the recipe indicated. Make sure it’s done well by testing with a knife. Nothing is worse than crunchy squash.
  • Reheating this meal isn’t easy — I scooped the whole bit out of the squash and reheated in a bowl.
  • This is a heavy meal. Serve with a salad on the side.

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Cheese Tortellini

Ingredients

  • 2 medium acorn squash (about 1 pound each)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound store-bought fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Fresh sage leaves, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the squash in half through the equator and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Cut a small piece off the rounded edge of both halves to give them a base to sit on. Place the squash halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until tender.

Cook the tortellini in salted boiling water according to package directions; drain well, reserving some of the pasta water. Set tortellini and pasta water aside.

In a separate saucepan heat the cream over medium heat. Add garlic and thyme; cook 5 to 7 minutes, until liquid is reduced and mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add the 1 cup the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the nutmeg, stir over low heat to melt the cheese. Toss tortellini into cream mixture. (Use some of the pasta water to thin sauce, if necessary.) Season with salt and pepper, then divide among cooked squash bowls.

Turn the oven to 400°F. Sprinkle the tops with Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh sage leaves; bake for 10 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and golden.

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

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While housesitting for my friends a few weeks ago, I took advantage of their awesome vegetable garden to make a few dishes using fresh kale snipped right off the plant. I’m awfully jealous of anyone with a vegetable garden these days — I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and I love the idea of growing and eating your own produce and eating “in season” instead of buying something subpar from the grocery store. In fact, when my parents were visiting, we bought four little herb plants so I could attempt to have at least that on hand — cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and basil. The cilantro is thriving…we’ll see if I kill everything else. 🙂

So, there was no way I was letting this opportunity pass me by when I had a garden at my fingertips and an open invitation from my friends to pick and eat whatever I wanted. I found this great recipe for kale and couscous with green garlic dressing on the Naturally Ella blog, and it was a perfect fit for my list of ingredients. And while I love Israeli couscous, I switched it up for orzo in my version since I had some on hand in the pantry.

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The flavors in this dish are really fresh and light, with tang from the feta, crunch from the kale and nice acidity from the dressing (I used scallions since I didn’t have green garlic). It’s vegetarian, but it doesn’t feel like it since the chickpeas add a nice meaty texture.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, any will do (white wine, red wine, sherry, etc.)
  • Sub out the couscous for your small pasta/grain of choice — regular couscous, noodles, etc.
  • Buy kale fresh from the farmers market or steal from your friend’s garden

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup kale, de-stemmed and shredded
  • ½ cup Israeli couscous, uncooked
  • ½ cup chickpeas (drained, if using canned)
  • ¼ cup feta

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons green garlic (or ¼ cup green onions)

Instructions
Place couscous in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until couscous is tender, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
While couscous is cooking, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, and minced garlic. (You can also whiz the green garlic in the food processor and then add the other dressing ingredients.)

Once couscous is done cooking, toss with kale. Let sit until kale is slightly wilted. Add in dressing, feta and chickpeas. Toss all together and serve. If you want it warm, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add in chickpeas, cooking for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Add in kale and cook until slightly wilted. Toss with couscous and dressing.

Zucchini and Olive Flatbread

More zucchini! While sometimes it can feel like a chore to figure out how to use an ingredient I have on hand, experimenting with zucchini recipes has been fun (and delicious)! This one for zucchini and olive flatbread was ahhh-mazing.

This is a Giada de Laurentiis recipe, and SO simple you’ll be shocked. The key is good pizza dough, fresh zucchini and quality pecorino romano. I bought my pizza dough at the farmer’s market from an Italian restaurant — SO good — but get the pre-made kind in the freezer section and you’ll be fine. I buy my good, hard cheeses at Costco — they come in big blocks but a cheese like pecorino romano or Parmigiano Reggiano will last you a long time in the fridge. It’s worth it for the quality of the cheese.

I loved the crunch of the super fresh pizza dough, freshness of the zucchini, topped with the melty mozzarella and salty pecorino romano cheese and olives. It’s also great reheated!

TW’s Tips

  • I used kalamata olives instead of black olives — I think either one would be amazing, but the kalamatas added a bit more saltiness and a definite kick. I’m a big kalamata fan, so I loved it.
  • For leftovers, cut the remaining flatbread into single serving slices, wrap in foil and throw in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus extra, for drizzling
  • 1 large (8 ounce) zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup (2 1/2 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup pitted sliced black olives

Directions

Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle. With a pastry brush, brush 1 tablespoon of the oil over the dough. Using the tines of a fork, prick the dough all over. Arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer on top of the dough. Drizzle the zucchini with oil.

Bake the dough for 18 to 20 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Remove the bread from the oven, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of oregano, the cheeses, and the olives. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until the cheeses are melted and bubbly.

Sprinkle the flatbread with the remaining oregano, cut into wedges and serve.

Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Inspired by my friend Megan’s gift of a fresh zucchini from her garden (jealous!), I found this Tyler Florence recipe for Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes and hit the farmer’s market for some more super fresh produce to round out the dish. Oh boy, was it worth it. This pasta is light and fresh, and bursting with great flavors from the veggies — and the fresher you go, the better this will taste. I even got some arugula from the farmer’s market and it was unbelievable — spicy, peppery and the perfect hit in this tasty bowl of pasta.

Roasting all the vegetables instead of sautéing really make a difference in this recipe. The roasting caramelizes the veggies and also adds more of a nutty taste to them — so much better than a turn in a frying pan, even if it does take a little longer. There are so many vegetables in here that you don’t even feel bad about eating a bowl of pasta!

TW’s Tips

  • Use fresh farmer’s market veggies.
  • Go super al dente on the pasta — I love when pasta has some bite to it, and it makes this even better reheated.
  •  Cut the tomatoes in half if they’re bigger than normal (which you may get since farmer’s market produce isn’t so uniform)
  • Don’t forget the ladle of pasta liquid before you drain!
  • Use lots of fresh cracked black pepper on top, and sprinkle with a little sea salt/kosher salt. Yum!

Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Handful of arugula leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the spaghetti.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the squashes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and oregano in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and give it all a good toss. Dump that out onto a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the squash is tender and caramelized. Scrape the vegetables into a large pasta bowl and cover with a plate to keep everything warm.

The pasta water should be boiling by now. Add the spaghetti and stir to separate the strands. Cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente.

To finish, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and toss gently with the roasted vegetables. Add the pasta water if needed. Toss with the arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Roasted-Potato Fennel Soup

I’ve been in a soup mood lately, and I had some leftover potatoes from my parents’ visit that I had no idea what to do with (I don’t each much potato), and so…potato soup it was. It was also a cold, dreary day, which made this recipe from Barefoot Contessa sound very homey and warm and delicious.

And it was! The soup came out creamy and thick, with a ton of great potato flavor. You keep the skins on the potatoes (makes it super easy), and get such a nice earthy taste from it. And the roasting does good things for the flavor, opposed to the old boiling route. Note: this is NOT your typical cheesy potato soup that doesn’t even taste like potato. And I think that’s a good thing…even though I’ve never seen a cheese I didn’t like. It really tastes like potato soup — and while it’s filling and creamy, you don’t feel like you ate a block of cheese afterward. Which is always nice.

I love fennel, and in this recipe, it gives the soup a nice flavor undertone — not licorice-y at all, just a good contrast. I’d serve this by the cup (opposed to by the bowl) since it is pretty rich. It’d be perfect with a nice salad or alongside half a sandwich for lunch.

TW’s Tips

  • I halved this recipe, and it was still a LOT of soup. I froze two quart-size bags of it because there was no way I was eating potato soup for two weeks.
  • If you’ve never cut up fennel before, make sure you quarter the bulb and cut out the tough core in the middle.
  • To make this vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken.
  • Instead of pureeing in a food processor, I used my immersion blender and pureed it right in the pot. Brilliant!
  • I topped the bowls with some chopped fennel fronds.
Enjoy!

Ingredients (I halved the recipe)

  • 4 lbs red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 4 cups yellow onions, about 2
  • 4 cups fennel bulbs, about 2
  • 3 quarts chicken stock or 3 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through.

Saute the chopped onions and chopped fennel with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot on medium heat until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the roasted potatoes (including scrapings from the pan) and the stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until all the vegetables are very soft. Add the heavy cream and allow the soup to cool slightly.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or food mill, leaving some chunks. Taste for salt and pepper. Reheat and serve hot.