Category Archives: main dishes

Greens Soup

Recently on the radio I heard cookbook author Anna Thomas talking about soup, and approximately five seconds after she described her Green Soup, I wanted it. It’s the perfect time of year for greens and onions (the other main ingredient in the soup), and utilizing them both in a soup sounded like a perfect way to spend a slightly chilly afternoon. Not that it is chilly in Austin these days, but those greens won’t eat themselves!

Greens soup

It’s not exactly photogenic, but trust me on this one. A great thing about this soup is that you can use virtually any kind of green you might have on hand, because even the most bitter greens will be balanced by the sweetness of the caramelized onions. I like the tang brought in by the yogurt, though you can certainly leave that out if you prefer. Serve with pita chips or wonton crisps for a bit of crunch.

Greens Soup
adapted from Anna Thomas
serves 8

Olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, sliced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
4 cups vegetable stock
3-4 bunches assorted greens, such as mustard, komatsuna, mizuna, beet greens, kale, or chard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a swirl of olive oil over medium. Add onions mushrooms and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until onions take on a nice brown color, approximately 30 minutes.
Add stock and increase heat to just bubbling. Wash and chop greens and add to the soup. Reduce heat to medium and cover soup. Let cook until greens have wilted, about 10 minutes.
Puree soup and return to heat. Stir in paprika, yogurt, and lemon juice, then season to taste. Alternatively, you can leave the yogurt out until just before serving, and then add a swirl into individual bowls.

Creamy Avocado Pasta

Sometimes I really struggle to stay meatless on Mondays if I’m craving a nice creamy pasta dish for dinner. It doesn’t happen often, but when the hunger for rich food strikes, the avocado is my secret, meatless weapon against dairy-meat-munchies!

The avocado in this creamy pasta recipe works as a binder, creating a rich, smooth dressing with flecks of bitter greens and zesty citrus notes. You’ll notice that there’s no Parmesan cheese in this dish. Most varieties of that cheese are made with animal rennet– not good for Meatless Monday! I use almonds, nutritional yeast, and plenty of salt in my recipe to replace the “oomph” that Parmesan might add.

Creamy Avocado Pasta (serves 2)

1/2 pound vegan pasta
1 medium avocado
1 1/2 cups spinach, arugula, or romaine lettuce
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice, plus extra for seasoning
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup almond
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm, about 8-10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid, and drain.

Meanwhile, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and place in a food processor. Add the greens, basil, citrus juice, garlic, salt, pepper, almond, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.

Pour the pesto over the pasta in a serving dish. Toss to coat the pasta with sauce, adding a little pasta water as necessary to loosen the sauce. Taste the finished pasta and season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

This pasta is best served on the same day it is prepared, since the avocado will oxidize and turn the sauce an unsightly brown color after a while.

 

Five Ingredient Breakfast Casserole

Happy New Year! It’s the second Meatless Monday of 2012, and we’re continuing our series of super-easy vegetarian recipes for January.

My family loves “breakfast for dinner” once in a while, and this quick and easy breakfast casserole is on heavy rotation at my house.  Leafy greens, local eggs,  and fresh potatoes make this casserole much healthier than your typical cheese-laden hashbrown supper, and it’s very quick to put together.  It makes a ton of leftovers, too– perfect for breakfasts later in the week!

One thing that really helps with all the chopping in this (and most any) vegetarian supper is a food processor. I used both attachments that came with my machine to prepare this dinner, and the whole thing came together in about 10 minutes of hands-on time.

 

Slicing Disk

Chopping Blade

If you don’t have a food processor, plan to add about 10 minutes to the prep time for chopping, whisking, and slicing.

Five Ingredient Breakfast Casserole (serves 18-24)

1 yellow onion
1.5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes)
1 bunch tender greens, stems removed
18 eggs
2 cups milk or plain soymilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9×13 casserole dish.

Wash the potatoes and tender greens and pat dry. Peel the onion and chop it into quarters. Chop the potatoes into quarters. Slice the potatoes and onion very thinly by feeding them through a food processor fitted with the slicing disk. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add potatoes and onion to the skillet and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While potatoes and onions are cooking, fit the food processor with the chopping blade and finely chop the greens. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with the milk. (The chopping blade of the food processor is perfect for this, too, if you have a large enough machine. Watch out, though– overfilling the bowl of the food processor makes a big, egg-y mess.)

Once potatoes and onions are softened, place them in an even layer in the prepared casserole dish. Top with the chopped greens. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the casserole. Bake for 40 minutes, until the middle of the casserole is set and the edges are golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Slow Cooker Baked Sweet Potatoes

I always feel a little sad around this time of year. The day has come to toss the half-empty bottles of champagne and leftover snack foods from the fridge. Starting today, I will wear my yoga pants for yoga practice, and not for waistline-expanding feasts of plenty. The time for holiday gluttony has passed.

Luckily, my friend the sweet potato is here to console me.

These winter root vegetables are my go-to comfort food in January, since they’re easy to prepare and figure friendly. Plus, if you’re really desperate for that festive feeling, you can unwrap the foil-covered sweet potato like a present.

If you pair a baked sweet potato with high-protein toppings and a side salad, it’s a complete weeknight meal. Usually when I serve baked sweet potatoes as a dinner entree to my family, I let each person choose his own toppings to really personalize the meal. I set out several possible toppings buffet-style on the counter, and everyone can go to town. This is a strategy is a great way to clean out the fridge if your condiment stash is out of control, too!

Slow Cooker Baked Sweet Potatoes (serves 4)
4 medium sweet potatoes, try to get them all around the same size

Scrub each potato under running water and then pat dry. Wrap each potato in aluminum foil. Place in the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until potatoes are completely tender. Check the doneness of the potatoes by sticking one with a skewer: if it slides through the whole potato with ease, the potato is done baking! Unwrap the hot potato and cut open before topping with the goodies of your choice.

Suggested Toppings for Sweet Potatoes

  • Baked Beans
  • Steamed chopped greens
  • Salsa
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Chili
  • Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
  • Black Pepper
  • Sriracha
  • Cilantro
  • Vanilla Yogurt
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice

What are your favorite sweet potato toppings? Let us know in the comments!

Vegetarian Chili

You may have noticed a flyer for this year’s Vegetarian Chili Cook-off in your Greenling bin this week. The Vegetarian Chili Cook-off started in 1989 when four vegetarian societies from across the state of Texas joined to form the Lone Star Vegetarian Network. In the years since, the cook-off has been held in multiple locations all across the state, including West Columbia, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, South Padre Island, and Fort Wort.

This year nearly 1000 people are expected to visit Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock for the 23rd annual cook-off.  The fun begins at 11:30 AM on Sunday, November 13th, and all are welcome.

To drum up excitement for Sunday, the Chili Cook-off organizers offered to share a winning recipe for us to publish! This vegetarian chili recipe comes from Stevie Duda, editor of Austin Vegetarian Living, the newsletter of the Vegetarian Network of Austin. With assistance from other VNA members, Stevie’s chili won First Place at the 2007 Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-off, out of about 20 entries.

Stevie Duda’s Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili

2 medium zucchini, seeded and diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable broth
4 15-ounce cans stewed tomatoes, diced
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1/4 cup julienned carrot
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded (but don’t remove ribs) and diced
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
3 tbsp no-salt-added chili powder
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a large pot, saute zucchini, onion, bell peppers, and garlic in the oil or broth, until tender. Stir in all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

Vegetable lasagna is one of my favorite cold weather comfort foods, especially when autumn vegetables like zucchini are abundant. It’s a great meatless main dish, too, because it is filling and pairs perfectly with a quick salad. However, it can be difficult to make lasagna on weeknights since the traditional preparation is so time consuming– up to an hour of hands-on time!

This easy vegetable lasagna recipe avoids many of the pitfalls of traditional preparation by utilizing some useful short-cuts to save time.  Instead of parboiling the noodles and assembling the casserole in a baking dish, we’ll layer sauce, cheese, veggies and raw lasagna noodles right in a slow cooker. Since the slow cooker retains more moisture than traditional oven cooking, there is enough liquid in the casserole to completely cook the noodles right in the dish. There’s no need to use special no-boil noodles, either. Plain raw lasagna noodles are just fine.

Another time saver I like to use for this recipe is my food processor. I use the grater attachment to process my raw veggies for the dish in much less time than it would take to grate or dice them by hand. These veggies blend right into the pasta sauce of the lasagna and give the dish a rich texture and flavor, without adding distinguishable chunks of vegetables. If your family likes chunkier veggie lasagna, by all means cook the recipe as directed with chopped veggies an it will turn out great. Either way, the total prep time for this lasagna should take less than half an hour.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Lasagna (serves 8 )
adapted from “Slow Cooker Lasagna” by BettyCrocker.com

15-ounces ricotta cheeese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups shredded vegetables: your choice of onions, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, or greens. One large zucchini and half of a large onion yield about 2 cups.
10 lasagna noodles, about 1/2 of a 1 lb. package
24-ounce jar organic pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, oregano, and garlic powder.

Shred or chop the vegetables of your choice. Break the lasagna noodles into approximately 1/3-noodle sized pieces with your hands, so that they will fit easily into the crock pot.

Use a ladle to scoop about 1 cup of sauce into the slow cooker. Place a single layer of noodles on the sauce. Layer 1 cup of shredded vegetables on top of the noodles, followed by half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Repeat the sauce-noodle-vegetable-cheese layers. Cover this with the remaining noodles. Ladle the remaining sauce over the casserole and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until noodles are tender and most of the liquid in the casserole has been absorbed.

Meatless Monday: Gemelli w/ Yellow Squash & Peas

Try this one-pot meal for an easy dinner to start the week! The light, creamy sauce and touch of lemon really let the flavors of the veggies shine here. If you don’t have gemelli, any short pasta will work!

Martha Stewart’s Gemelli w/ Yellow Squash & Peas

Recipe from MarthaStewart.com

Serves 4

Ingredients

Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 ounces gemelli or other short pasta
3 medium yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 2 minutes less than al dente. Add squash and peas; cook until squash is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta mixture, and return to pot.

To mixture in pot, add butter, lemon juice, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. If needed, add enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta. Stir in basil, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan; serve immediately.