This is a great weeknight meal. It is quick to make, satisfying, and tastes even better for lunch the next day!
I love pasta dishes, but one of my complaints is that the vegetarian versions are often low on the protein side of things. This dish has a whole can of cannellini beans along side the vegetables and pasta making it much more balanced and filling. I made a few simple changes to the original recipe, so that the sauce would be thicker and a little less soup like, and it worked really well!
In anticipation of making this popular dish I picked up a new pasta shape from the Italian Grocery Store: whole wheat orecchiette. It was fantastic: tender, yet chewy. I am not sure if it was the brand of pasta, or if it was the particular shape, but I think it would work really well in a “macaroni” and cheese type dish.
I will save that for next time. After all, there are never a shortage of great recipes and ideas to try!
Pasta e Fagioli (adapted from Toni Fiore’s Totally Vegetarian)
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
3 fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 19 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (Hint: these are also called white kidney beans)
1 -15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups of dry pasta, I used whole wheat orecchiette (use brown rice pasta to make this recipe gluten-free)
Grated parmesan (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven and saute the onion, celery, and carrots for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Stir in the oregano, sage and rosemary
- Add the beans, tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Add cooked pasta to individual bowls and top with the thick soup.
- Garnish with grated parmesan if desired.
Click to print
I was first introduced to ziti while watching The Sopranos.
In Season Two Carmella brings an aluminum pan of baked ziti to her daughter Meadow’s dorm room. I wondered, what in the world is ziti. I had never heard of it and I recalled that the dish had been mentioned a few times in Season One. At first I thought it was an Italian dish, which it is, but I found out the name of the dish is based on the pasta shape. As you all know, something not uncommon in Italian Cuisine.
EPC and I always eat whole wheat pasta, so I was delighted when I went to the Italian grocery store last month and found whole wheat ziti (they had whole wheat orzo and cavatappi too!). I knew that my fabulous Jack Bishop Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook had a recipe for Baked Ziti with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella, so I decided to pick up a few boxes of ziti and give it a try.
It is had to believe how the shape of pasta can affect the way tastes. For example, I really dislike whole wheat penne, but quite enjoyed the ziti, and cavatappi is my favourite pasta of all time. Perhaps it not just texture and shape that affects the taste, but also the appearance.
Regardless what it is about pasta and its shapes, EPC and I enjoy pasta in its various forms about once a week. This particular dish is a keeper and the quick tomato basil sauce of Bishop’s is a nice departure from canned or bottled sauces.
Baked Ziti with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, minced
250 grams of mozzarella cheese, grated
4 cups (450 g) of uncooked whole wheat ziti
1/4 cup of parmesan, freshly grated
Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Set large pot of water on high heat.
- Then start the sauce: Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic until lightly browned
- Add the crushed tomatoes, basil and pepper to taste
- Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let stand until pasta is ready.
- Oil a 9X13 glass baking dish and preheat the oven to 400°C
- When the water is boiling cook the ziti 2 minutes less than suggested. It will complete cooking in the oven.
- Stir the ziti into the pot with the tomato sauce and stir to coat
- Pour half the sauce and pasta mixture into the baking dish.
- Top with half the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Add the remaining pasta and top with the rest of the cheeses.
- Bake until the cheese browns – about 20 minutes.
Click to print
When I woke up this morning it was +8°C! I could not believe how cool it was out. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but cool mornings (and macaroni and cheese cravings) are a sure sign that fall is just around the corner.
I should have called it Chipotle Cavatappi and Cheese, but macaroni noodles will work just as well. I got the idea to include chipotle chilis in this familiar dish from my last visit to The Keg. We took EPC’s father there for Father’s Day and ordered their Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese as an appetizer. We were all blown away. The smoky chipotle taste and spice added a delicious layer to this familiar comfort food.
This dish is really easy. No need to bother with a white sauce. You just layer the sauce coated pasta with cheese, top with bread crumbs and bake. If you prefer a gluten-free version omit the bread crumbs and try substituting corn macaroni for the wheat. I think corn pasta would go extremely well with the smoky flavour of this dish. Just be sure not to over cook it (corn pasta can get mushy).
If the end of summer is getting you down, just remember that Easy Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese is sure to make the approaching cool weather a bit easier to bear.
Easy Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese
1 375 g package of vegetable cavatappi, cooked for the minimum cooking time indicated on the package
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
2 cups of grated old cheddar cheese
1 cup of grated parmesan
1/4 cup of bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375°C
- Bring water to boil in large pot, add pasta, return to boil and cook for the minimum time indicated on the package
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan and saute onions and garlic until translucent
- Add canned diced tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in chipotle chili powder and simmer 5 minutes more.
- When pasta finishes cooking, drain and mix with tomato sauce.
- Add 1/3 of the pasta sauce mix to the bottom of a prepared 2 quart casserole dish. Top with a third of the cheddar and a third of the parmesan.
- Add another layer of pasta and cheese and repeat topping the final layer of cheese with the bread crumbs and few spritzes of olive oil.
- Cook at 375°C for 20-25 minutes until the bread crumbs are brown and the pasta is bubbling.
Click to Print
Did you ever think you could enjoy a Thai curry on a weeknight without having to go to a restaurant?
Perhaps it seems to exotic to fall into the quick and easy category?
Well, exotic or not, this Thai Curry is quick and tasty enough to spruce up your weeknight dinner repertoire.
I came across a version of this recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers, but after taking a look at the recipe I realized that it was basically the same as the one on the side of my jar of Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste.
Thats right. I took this recipe straight of the side of the jar of curry paste – with the appropriate vegetarian modifications, of course. You certainly do not have to limit yourself to the red curry, as the green curry paste is equally good. In addition, feel free to experiment with the vegetables: half a can of baby corn, some broccoli or cauliflower would work equally well. I also think a bit of spinach would be a tasty addition.
Aside from slicing a carrot and a couple of shallots, chopping and seeding a roma tomato, cubing a package of firm tofu, and tearing some basil leaves, the meal came together with frozen green beans, frozen peas, and a can of coconut milk. To cut down on time I decided to forgo the brown rice and use brown rice noodles instead. They cook quite a bit quicker and offer a pleasant change of pace.
Thai Curry with Vegetables and Tofu
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 -14 ounce can light coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen red curry paste (this is quite spicy, so adjust for personal taste!)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons soya sauce
1 block firm tofu, cubed
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped
2 medium carrots (cut into thirds and thinly sliced lengthwise)
1 cup of frozen green beans
1/4 cup of frozen green peas
10 basil leaves, shredded
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet add tofu cubes and cook until golden. You will need to turn the tofu half-way through cooking.
- Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside. In the same pan gently fry the scallions for 3 minutes and then add the curry paste, stirring until fragrant.
- Add the coconut milk, soy sauce and sugar and stir to mix well
- Add the carrots, tomato, green beans,peas and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes)
- Add the tofu and basil and cook until heated through
- Add water if sauce is too thick.
Click to print