Archive of ‘Clean Cooking for Dirt Cheap’ category

Uova al Piatto (Baked Eggs in a Tomato Sauce)

It feels like 2017 is the year of the egg. We are living in an egg-topped age, people. So my question is, how do you like yours? I can’t say that I am able to pick a favorite way, but one of my favorite dishes combines all of my general favorite ingredients.

Tomato sauce + Basil +Eggs = Heaven on the plate.

This healthy recipe is perfect any time of the day, but I first discovered it at one of my go-to neighborhood restaurants called Felice. It was during one of those epic meals with my girlfriends where we stayed for over three hours catching up while laughing hysterically over freshly baked breads, Bellini’s, and more… so much more.

Do you have a go-to person that you split everything with when you go out to eat? If you don’t, I highly recommend that you recruit one immediately. It’s a real game-changer. I saddled myself up with my split-buddy over 25 years ago, so you can imagine that we sort of have down a system at this point.

My wife for life… aka my splitsy buddy who has been doubling my menu options for so many years.

Been splitting meals since 1991.

When it comes to any breakfast-type options, I always order the savory dish and she orders the sweet and then we swap. It’s a tradition I love so much that I hope we will continue it well into our denture days when we have to tuck our boobs into our trousers, (wow, I am really painting you a picture there).

Aaaaanyway, we split “Uova al Piatto” on that fine Manhattan Sunday morning and we were blown away. It’s just a quick little tomato sauce with eggs cooked right in it, but I could not believe I hadn’t tried making baked eggs at home. Especially since it’s so ridiculously simple.

This recipe is sort of a hodgepodge of different ingredients in one oven-proof pan, so I suggest playing around with it and adding or swapping items based on your preference. Want to add spinach and garlic? Go for it! Thinking smoked or buffalo mozzarella would be a nice little addition? How could it NOT be?!

My version is simple, healthy, and I think it’s pretty perfect. I dip toasted Sprouted Grain Ezekiel English Muffins into this dish, but any kind of crusty bread will suffice!

 

Uova al Piatto (Baked Eggs in a Tomato Sauce)
Uova al Piatto Cuisine: Eggs, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch Author: Michele Wolfson Serves: 3 Inspired by Felice Restaurant and food.com
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 6 eggs
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a shallow flameproof dish.
  2. Add the onion, and cook until soft and golden.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the onions, and cook for 5-10 mins., or until the tomatoes are very soft.
  5. Stir in the chopped basil.
  6. Break the eggs, one at a time, and slip them into the dish in one layer on top of the tomatoes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with butter.
  8. Cover the dish, and bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until the egg whites have just set, but the yolks are still soft.
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese if you wish. Serve!

 

Red Lentil Soup

How’s the weather where you are?

 

Is it still cold?

 

The beginning of March in NYC still has a little bite in the air even though the end of February gave us a nice glimpse into spring weather last week.

So if you’re still stuck in winter weather like me, I have just the thing. If not, just pretend you’re in your sleeping bag jacket and in desperate need of a recipe that will warm up what my dad calls “your kishkes” (or to the rest of us, your soul).

 

How does red lentil soup sound? My recipe is perfect for when you’re craving something hearty and comforting yet nutritious.

 

This soup has 6 ingredients and has convinced even the biggest lentil naysayers that these pink-hued legumes can taste so freaking good. Bonus? It takes less than an hour to make and requires minimal cleanup as it is a one-pot recipe.

The combination of simple ingredients that this soup calls for consists of things that are often hanging around in my fridge and pantry, allowing me to whip it up on a whim. Plus, this soup reheats up beautifully and the lentils provide plenty of plant-based protein and fiber, making it a perfect dish to have for lunch or a light dinner throughout the week.

Anything that is this delicious, super heart healthy, easy to make, and hits the spot on a cozy winter day gets an A+ in my book.

 

Red Lentil Soup
Red Lentil Soup Author: Michele Wolfson
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb red lentils, picked over and rinsed very well
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 8 cups stock or water
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the lentils very well until the water runs clear.
  2. Heat oil in a medium pot and sauté onions and celery for 5 minutes until soft. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Add tomato sauce then add vegetable stock and the lentils. Stir well.
  4. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.
  5. Serve hot. Delicious!

 

Butternut Squash Lentil Tacos

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Happy 2017!

I don’t know about you, but I spent the holiday season indulging a bit more than usual.

It’s the time of year when I find it hardest to turn down perfectly baked Christmas cookies and red wine while I cozy up by a fireplace.

I spent a week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with my sister-in-law’s family the week before Christmas and Chanukah. To say it was delightful would be an understatement.

FullSizeRender.jpg I cooked almost every meal for 11 adults and 2 children and I didn’t hold back on the heavy cream or decadent cheeses.

While I’m not big on skiing, I love the culture around the sport. Meaning I thrive at sipping on hot cocoa or coming in from the cold for a big bowl of chili, and if I am very lucky, taking a dip in the hot tub to help relax the muscles.

I skied a total of one half day the entire trip, but partook in all the other activities like a boss.

FullSizeRender.jpg-6 The holidays are now over and reality has set in, which isn’t a bad thing.

I am not going to come at you with any New Year’s Eve clichés, but I thought it would be wise to post a recipe that you may want to make when you’re feeling kind of lazy, looking to stay on a budget, and want to eat a delicious, healthy dish. 

Here’s a little tip from me to you: MEAL PREPPING AHEAD OF TIME IS WHERE IT IS AT MY FRIEND! Planning what I am going to eat for the week and chopping ingredients in advance has saved me SO much time, money and stress in the long run. It’s simple- Meal planning makes cooking more enjoyable.

FullSizeRender.jpg-4 Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love going to restaurants, but it’s usually not cost effective. The urge to dine out is tempting since I live in Manhattan which is arguably the food capital of the world.

IMG_6477 Not only is eating at a restaurant expensive, there is a good chance that there are hidden calories laced into every scrumptious bite.

Also, when I spent that week in December with my two adorable nephews who are 2.5 and 8 months old, I realized that eating at home is much preferable for many families because… have you ever been at a restaurant with a toddler and a baby? Suddenly the idea of cooking even for 13 people for the week became tremendously more appealing.

I love the results that staying home and cooking new dishes has had on my skillz. The more I cook, the more I enjoy figuring out which meals scale easily and can be prepped in advance to accommodate various diets and food allergies.

FullSizeRender.jpg-7 FullSizeRender.jpg-5 The recipe I am sharing today is the perfect meal post-holidays when it’s time to put down the hollandaise, renew your gym membership, and make healthier choices. Aside from being vegan, this dish is easy to make and Sam and I LOVE the way it tastes! It is so versatile that it started off as a dish on it’s own, but then one day I had corn tortillas on hand, so I turned this meal into lentil tacos. Hello new taco Tuesday recipe!

IMG_6460 I am also going to give you another little tip to make this recipe 100 x easier: If you don’t have the time to do your prep work in advance, buy your butternut squash pre-cubed at the grocery store. You will kiss yourself later for spending the few extra shekels and ultimately saving yourself a little time and effort.

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Eating the filling on it’s own with baked tofu + cabbage soup is another great dinner option!

Butternut Squash Lentil Tacos
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs medium butternut squash (I used pre-sliced butternut from Whole Foods), peeled and sliced into 1-inch cubes
  • ¾ cup black lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)
  • 8 corn tortillas (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • Optional garnishes: shredded lettuce and guacamole
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line one large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easier cleanup.
  2. To roast the squash: On your prepared baking sheet, toss the cubed butternut in enough olive oil to lightly coat all sides, about 2 tablespoons. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon chili powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange the butternut in a single layer. Bake until the butternut is tender throughout and caramelized on the edges, about 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway.
  3. Meanwhile, soak lentils for 10 minutes in a small bowl, then drain. Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water, then drain and cool.
  4. Combine lentils, butternut squash, goat cheese, if using.
  5. To warm the tortillas: In a small skillet over medium heat, warm each tortilla on both sides before transferring to a plate and covering with a lint-free towel to keep warm. Repeat with each tortilla, stacking each warmed tortilla on the last.
  6. To assemble the tacos, spoon an ample amount of filling down the center of your taco, top a spoonful of guacamole down the side. Top with garnishes of your choice and serve immediately.

Simple guacamole (double if you love guac!)
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup diced tomatoes (optional)
  • Pinch of salt, more to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the diced avocado, lime juice, tomatoes and salt. Mash with a fork until the mixture is blended and no longer chunky. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan: The Easy and Healthier Version

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I am thirty years old.

I officially start my Master’s in Nutrition program this month at the University of Bridgeport.

Also this month, my brother turns twenty-six, which makes me feel like I am ancient since he is still a baby in my head.

Summer is my favorite time of year and it’s not even close.

There are more days than I would like to admit when I don’t make my bed in the morning.

I love living in New York City, but it leaves me having a love/hate relationship with owning a car. I often spend at least 3+ hours dealing with it on a weekly basis.

Life is still good. I pinch myself every day over how fortunate I am to live in our apartment.

My husband is the best. 

I wish I can be in my gardens every day. I also wish I can see my parents every day.

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The recipe I am posting today is the bees knees. It is a total game-changer. Why, you ask? I make this dish on the reg because this version saves so much time and cuts a lot of calories from the typical recipe. I have a strong feeling that you will love this dish.

FullSizeRender-4 Every time I make a tray of classic Eggplant Parmesan, it is so labor intensive that when all is said and done, I usually wind up calling my mother or one of my aunts and I say, “As delicious as this meal is, I am not making this again for a LONG time!” They are the ones who originally taught me how to make this recipe, so they can completely relate.

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It makes me sad though because I really love eggplant parmesan. That is why I created this recipe: It is not intimating. It reduces a hefty amount of oil. There is no egg, bread, and frying the eggplant. Best of all… It is still so. freaking. delicious. NO FRYING. Music to my ears.

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This recipe is vegetarian, but can easily be adapted to becoming vegan by omitting the cheeses and using vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast instead.

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There are less than 10 ingredients in this recipe. Sometimes when I am having company, I make a pound of linguine and extra tomato sauce to serve with this entree. Linguine is my favorite with eggplant parm, but any kind of pasta works. When it’s just me and the hubster though, we usually skip the pasta and opt for something like a shaved brussels sprout salad or sautéed mushrooms and kale on the side.

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Baked Eggplant Parmesan: The Easy Version
Adapted from Mario Batali: Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggplant, about 2 pounds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • ¾ pound fresh mozzarella, sliced ⅛-inch thick
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted under broiler
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Using some extra-virgin olive oil, oil a baking sheet. Slice each eggplant about 1 to 1½ inches thick.Place on the oiled sheet. Bake the eggplant until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 15 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.
  3. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In an 8 by 12-inch brownie pan, spread ¼ cup sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Then, place the largest eggplant slice evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread 3 TBS of tomato sauce and sprinkle with a teaspoon of basil. Place one slice of mozzarella over each and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiano. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the disks and repeat with tomato sauce, basil, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.
  5. Sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over the top of the eggplant dish, and bake uncovered until the cheese is melts and the tops turn light brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Basic Tomato Sauce
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often.
  3. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick.
  4. Season with salt and serve.
  5. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

 

 

Spinflower Soup

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I have been craving a soup that seems creamy, but doesn’t actually have any cream. You know what I mean? Like when you want to fit into your skinny jeans, but you don’t actually want to put in the effort of going outside, heading over to the gym, and then getting on the treadmill for 45 minutes. I was starting to think that my desire for a healthy soup that would taste unhealthy wasn’t going to be possible. My husband often tells me that I am a skinny girl on the outside with the thoughts of a very large (and in charge) person on the inside.

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Whenever my refrigerator is filled with produce that will go bad in a few days, my mind goes to combining all of these extra ingredients and making a scrumptious soup. This dish is easy to make a delicious lunch or light dinner. You can replace the cauliflower with broccoli rabe if you want a super green soup. I added the superfood spinach at the end to wilt.

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If you have an immersion blender, you are going to want to cook this soup in a nice, deep pot. Turn your heat way down, put your immersion blender all the way to the bottom of the pot, and stand back a little so you don’t get splattered. Then, just start whizzing that up and you have your healthy, vegan, no-cream creamy soup all ready to roll! If you do not have an immersion blender, you can just blend this soup in batches. I used my vitamix (a chef’s best friend) and the soup came to a perfect texture. My husband likes to add some grated parmesan cheese on top, which is over-the-top delicious, but I keep mine vegan and I love it just the same.

Spinflower Soup
Adapted mostly from Rachael Ray's Spinoccoli Soup
Author:
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter (omit butter and use more olive oil if vegan)
  • 2 leeks, whites and light green tops, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, small cubed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 10 ounces spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful basil, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add butter and melt; when it foams, add leeks and garlic, and stir 2 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower, sweet potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and cover to sweat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add stock and bring to boil. Wilt in the spinach, then throw in the shredded basil and then blend with an immersion blender or purée in batches in a vitamix, blender, or food processor. You can add a cup of water if soup is too thick. Adjust seasoning.

 

Tomato Series, Part 2: Lentil Caprese Salad

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Mozzarella and tomatoes arguably make for the most perfect food pairing of all time. I am sure when people think of two items that go best together, the first things that come to mind are pairings like peanut butter and jelly or ketchup on fries. Both are excellent food pairings, but a forkful of pillowy chunks of fresh mozzarella mixed with a ruby red tomato, especially on a hot summer day, cannot be beat. One bite and you’ll get a sweet blast followed by a wonderful tomato flavor.

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My recipe is not a typical caprese because I have added things like lentils and vinegar. Truth be told, I like it even better this way because the lentils turn a classic appetizer into a main dish. Sometimes I even add in a dollop of pesto and mix that in if I have some sauce sitting in my fridge (as homemade pesto tends to be a main staple in my house). If I REALLY want to make it an entree, I add farro, barley, sorghum, or another health supportive grain and my work is done! I typically make it the way that I am posting below, but if you have any other ideas to make it delicious, let me know!

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The tomato crop from my dad’s garden this summer has been the best in years! I hope all of you fellow green thumbs are having a great tomato season as well. We have picked HUNDREDS of tomatoes this August, which was the inspiration for my tomato series. I have bags of tomatoes covering all of my countertops and a freezer filled with jars of tomato sauce that we will delve into with delight on a cold wintery night many months from now.

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This salad holds up well in the fridge for several days and makes a great lunch to pack for work!

 

Lentil Caprese Salad
Author:
Ingredients
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons basil, chopped
  • ¾ cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the lentils well, discarding any rocks or discolored lentils.
  2. Place lentils and 2 cups salted water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Turn to low heat and cover the pot. Cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add more water if they are drying out.
  3. Drain cooked lentils of any leftover water and let cool in a large bowl. Gently stir in the olive oil and vinegar.
  4. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Tomato Series, Part 1: Barley & Lentil Stuffed Eggplant

Hello, readers! I bet you are wondering where the heck have I been… And if you weren’t, I will tell you anyway. On Sunday, August 9th I married my fella of seven years. Tying the knot was everything I pictured it to be and even more. It truly was the best day of my life.

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All the planning and prepping was pretty time consuming, but I am back and better than ever with some new and awesome stuff.

Wedding planning and working to get slim and trim inspired me to prepare healthy meals ahead of time on Sundays or Mondays so I didn’t have to think about what I was going to eat when I would come home starving after a long day of work. It’s just so lovely when everything is all planned out for me by the earlier-in-the-week version of myself. She is typically a gal who starts her week off really well organized, goal oriented, and she’s very proactive about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I love when I get all of my ducks in a row on a Sunday or a Monday so that come Wednesday, when the week is in full swing and I become the “if my head wasn’t attached to my neck, I’d probably misplace it” version of myself, AT LEAST I don’t have to think of what I am going to eat because it’s already done! Pretty cool.

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Now my trick has been to think of healthy options that are also economical. Is this the year of weddings for anyone else? I have more than a handful of weddings this year (including my own) and that means bridal showers and bachelorette parties as well. If my bank account could talk it would already be saying things like “Excuse you??? Girl, you better take it easy.” That’s why I need to start coming up with recipes on a budget. I REALLY love perusing the produce department of a grocery store probably more than a healthy, normal amount, so I am trying to reel it in or at least buy just a LITTLE bit of this and that.

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This recipe essentially gives me everything I want from the stipulations that I already mentioned. It is really healthy, super delicious, affordable, and easy to make. Does it get better than that? No. It does not. That’s why I knew right away that I had to share it with my beloved readers. This is going to be our new end-of-summer go-to recipe. I am so excited for all of us because we are going to keep healthy AND have a scrumptious recipe at our fingertips at the same time. YAY VEGGIES AND HEALTHY GRAINS!

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*IMPORTANT TIP: Make the barley and lentils ahead of time so you can make this dish in a pinch when you’re hungry! I usually make about 1.5 times the amount of lentils and barley that this recipe calls for and then use the leftover grains and legumes in other recipes for the week. 

Barley and Lentil Stuffed Eggplant with a Fresh Tomato Sauce
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Roasted Eggplant, Barley and Lentils
  • 3 TBS olive oil, plus ⅛ cup
  • 3 small eggplant, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups barley, cooked
  • 1 cup green lentils, cooked
  • 2 cups arugula
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Roasting Eggplant: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve eggplants lengthwise. Drizzle each half with ½ Tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.Place the eggplant in the oven for 50 minutes to one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and then add cooked lentils and cooked barley, cooking for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Take eggplant out of oven after fully roasted and scoop out the insides of the eggplant. You can cook up the eggplant insides in the pan that you cooked the garlic and lentils in and add that to the barley mix or you can save the eggplant to use at another time.

  4. To make tomato sauce:
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  6. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the fresh tomatoes. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally.
  8. Once it comes to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Add the basil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes longer.

  10. Assembly:
  11. Add barley and cooked lentils mixture to the pot of tomato sauce. Throw in the arugula and mix.
  12. Stuff eggplant with barley, lentil, arugula and tomato mixture.
  13. Enjoy!

 

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

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Holiday festivities are upon us and it’s time to whip out the best appetizer and party snack recipes. I attended an ugly Christmas sweater party this weekend (who knew Christmas sweaters would become hip someday) and later on this week I will be making edible gifts for many of the people in my life who make it so much sweeter. I just love this time of year. It’s what makes the harsh, cold weather actually bearable because many of us are feeling festive and jolly.

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Last year I posted 4 Perfect Christmas Hors D’oeuvres that were vegan, but they are actually great 365 days of the year. The recipe I am posting today is no exception. I grew up on stuffed mushrooms and I bet anyone who I was good friends with in high school would say that they grew up on stuffed mushrooms at the Wolfson house as well. They are one of the dishes that I hardly ever order out at a restaurant because they usually aren’t as good as the way that my family makes them (bragging, I know… but c’mon, I bet you have family recipes that you feel snobby about as well). To be honest, I also rarely order stuffed mushrooms at an establishment because many times they are not vegetarian and are stuffed with ingredients like bacon.

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I have mentioned previously that I am trying to be more vegan-ish and have been cutting down on my cheese intake. I can say with certainty that there is no one in the world that loves cheese more than I do- I’ve never met a cheese that I didn’t like… but it’s time for me to cut down. That’s why I tweaked my beloved family stuffed mushroom recipe from vegetarian to VEGAN. Guess what? They are just as delicious as they were before and I’ll tell you why in two words: nutritional yeast.

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If you don’t know what nutritional yeast is then you’ve been missing out, and it’s time that you become informed about this excellent vegan cheesy tasting substitute. Nutritional yeast is much tastier than the name makes it sound. It is made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate.” Since it’s inactive, it doesn’t froth or grow like baking yeast does so it has no leavening ability.

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Not only is it tasty, but it also lives up to its name because it’s loaded with nutrition, particularly B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein. It’s low in fat, is gluten-free, and contains no added sugars or preservatives. Because vitamin B12 is absent from plant foods unless it’s added as a supplement, look for nutritional yeast brands that contain B12.

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I have performed several taste tests to see if critics can differentiate between my vegetarian & vegan stuffed mushrooms (the only difference being that one has parmesan cheese and one has nutritional yeast), and no one knew which was which! YAY! A win for veganism where no one feels like they are sacrificing. If you are a stuffed mushroom fan, you’ll love this recipe. They are SO easy to make while maintaining an impressiveness that your guests will appreciate.

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms
Author:
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28 large (2½-inch-diameter) cremini mushrooms, stemmed
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Stir the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, to taste, and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl to blend.
  3. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through and golden on top, about 20 minutes. Serve.

 

Cabbage Soup

This recipe is NOT related to “the cabbage soup diet,” although it’s very healthy, so if you are looking to stay slim and trim, this recipe will do the trick. Believe me when I tell you that this soup tastes incredibly delicious. When I tell people I am making cabbage soup, it usually invokes the that-doesn’t-sound-so-appealing facial expression, but those people couldn’t be more wrong!

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This soup contains few ingredients, yet it is packed with flavor. I learned how to make this recipe back in 2004 when I was a freshmen in college and my aunt & uncle would invite me over to Staten Island to their house for Sunday supper. The prospect of not having to ingest another gross meal from the college cafeteria was pretty much my version of Heaven on Earth, especially because I knew that I was going to eat an incredible meal prepared by my Aunt Elena.

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When I would arrive, all of my favorite dishes would be splayed across the table like eggplant parmesan, potatoes and eggs, vodka sauce, and cabbage soup. My aunt and uncle would encourage me to bring along whoever I wanted and Aunt Elena would make enough food to feed an army. She insisted that I take home all of the leftovers and would also send me home with a grocery bag filled with gourmet cheeses and pasta as well. I would come home and struggle to shove all of my goods into my sad little mini-fridge. My aunt’s generosity and delicious food, paired with my Super Nintendo setup, made me the most popular room to hang out with on the entire floor.

Shredded Cabbage

Back then, I was a novice in the kitchen, but I craved home cooked meals since I didn’t even have a kitchen on my floor in my college dorm. My Aunt showed me how to make her cabbage soup and it’s so easy, that even a beginner in the kitchen such as my 2004 self could handle. Aunt Elena uses only water in her version and it’s delicious, but I add some broth to mine. This is another old Italian dish that is considered to be “peasant food.” I guess I would have been a really good peasant when it came to eating because all of those recipes are my favorite!

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According to The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Woods, “cabbage ranks as one of the healthiest of vegetables, with good reason. It supports chi circulation, clears heat, and tonifies the lungs, large intestine, and stomach.” Cabbage in general—but also Savoy cabbage in particular—turns out to be an especially good source of sinigrin. Sinigrin is one of the cabbage glucosinolates that has received special attention in cancer prevention research. The sinigrin in cabbage can be converted into allyl-isothiocyanate, or AITC. This isothiocyanate compound has shown unique cancer preventive properties with respect to bladder cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. Cabbage also helps treat contipation, poor circulation, mental depression and irritability. It was used by the Romans as a hangover cure, so maybe plan to have yourself a bowl of cabbage soup the day after your upcoming holiday party!

 

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Cabbage Soup
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 gloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups green or savoy cabbage (about ½ head), shredded
  • ½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups water
  • Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes (if making vegan) OR ½ cup parmesan cheese (if making vegetarian)
Instructions
  1. Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage. Slice the remaining head of leaves into very fine shreds. If you are going to do it by hand, cut the leaves into fine shreds, slicing them off the whole head. Turn the head after you have sliced a section of it until gradually you expose the entire core, which must be discarded. If you want to use the food processor, cut the leaves off from the core in sections, discard the core and process the leaves through a shredding attachment.
  2. Put the olive oil and garlic into a large pot, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the garlic until it becomes vey pale gold colored. Then add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it is wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, white beans and water. Turn the cabbage over once completely, lower the heat to minimum, and cover the pan tightly. Cook for 50-60 minutes, or until it is very tender, turning it from time to time. If while it is cooking, the liquid in the pan should become insufficient, add 2 tablespoons water as needed. When done, add nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese and then taste and correct for salt and pepper. Add as much broth as desired. Allow it to settle a few minutes off heat before serving.

Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils)

Pasta and Lentils

I’m not sure if this was a dish on the original Yom Kippur table when they were breaking fast thousands of years ago, but lentils with pasta has always been on the Wolfson table that evening. We had a guest over during the occasion last month and he has been hounding me to post this recipe ever since. The best part is that he isn’t Jewish, so it wasn’t like he was fasting all day long and would’ve thought anything was delicious at that point– he was just hungry for dinner, as usual, and was blown away by this simple, yet flavorful dish.

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There was a point when my mother made this dish so much when I was a little girl that I could hardly look at lentils, so it took me a few years to get back onto the lentil bandwagon. Despite my personal protest, my mother taught me how to make this meal and I am so grateful that she did because it is now one of my favorites.

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Now that summer is a thing of the past, I am really trying to make the most of it by cooking fall/winter friendly recipes such as pasta e lenticchie. It is very easy and cheap to make while doubling as a figure-friendly dish! For my super-skinny variation, I make Lenticchie e scarola, aka lentils with escarole. I leave out the pasta and in its place add a 1/2 – to 1-pound head of escarole, chopped or shredded. This variation will have a soupier consistency.

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Lentils and pasta are a traditional pairing in Italian cooking, and most of the regions in the southern part of the boot enjoy pasta con lenticchie in some form, usually in soups. In the future, I will post a variation of this dish where the lentils are cooked with other vegetables into a sauce that served as a delicious dressing for rigatoni. It was excellent that way—this sauce seems to me even more delightful as a dressing for whole-wheat or barley pasta.

I’ve been to restaurants before where orriechetti (also known as “little ears” macaroni) is used in this dish, but in my family, we always used Capellini, also known as capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair), broken into 2- or 3- or 4-inch lengths. I prefer using this very thin pasta and I love it because it cooks so quickly. Be warned: This is not soup. It should be very thick and it is eaten with a fork.

Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils)
Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils) Author: Michele Wolfson
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can or jar or tube of tomato paste (6 oz)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 bag of lentils
  • 1- 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 lb of capellini pasta, broken into 3 inch pieces or Fideo Cut Spaghetti
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.
  2. Add minced or pressed garlic, cook for a few minutes, but be careful not to brown.
  3. Add tomato paste, then put the stove on a on low flame. Watch carefully stirring frequently for 20 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, bring another pot of salted water to a boil for the lentils. Once it comes to a boil, add lentils and simmer for about 30 min.
  5. Add the lentils to the pot with tomato paste and stir. Add the tomato sauce and additional water to the consistency that you want, 1-2 cups.
  6. Check the salt and pepper. Add if needed.
  7. Boil salted water for pasta. I usually use capellini and break it into about 3 inch pieces, but there is a new pasta that I found out there called Fideo Cut Spaghetti that is perfect because it's already broken all up. Drain and put the pasta in a serving bowl and add enough lentil mixture to keep it from sticking together. Put some in a soup bowl and add more lentils. I keep some of the pasta and the lentils separate so that the pasta doesn't suck up all of the liquid.

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