A month ago, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) asked for my help coming up with toppings for these gorgeous beet, quinoa, and black bean burgers. How could I refuse?! Before I tell you what we decided on, let me tell you about the burgers themselves.
The are firm, full of flavor, have great texture, and are a little bit smoky. Everyone always says this, but they do taste very meaty. I swear.
Veggie burgers rely on many ingredients to make a good product. They can be notoriously mushy and fall apart. This recipe seems to hit all the right notes to make a great burger. Mushrooms, onions, and beets give moisture and flavor; quinoa gives texture; and black beans and ground nuts hold it all together.
These started off as peanut butter and jelly, I'm not even kidding. Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I had been having a bit of a rough week and hadn't planned anything for our weekly get together. So that morning we just wanted to keep things simple and focus on getting our cats to be friends (long story). We were thinking - let's just make PB&J or store-bought ravioli.
But then - she said she was craving salmon, and I said smoked salmon and goat cheese with crackers was easy and good, she said what about nice bread and an egg. Then there were herbs and kale and shallot and good lord we can't keep it simple! And I wouldn't have it any other way. Fresh, gorgeous ingredients (including some from Mel's garden) turned into a lovely lunch for us, even while wrangling a baby, a toddler, and 2 kitties in an un-childproofed house (mine).
I have been really busy and traveling a lot lately, I haven't really been cooking much. When I do, it is usually a quick throw together of some type of pasta, vegetable, and protein. This particular version consisted of tri-color cheese tortellini, heirloom tomato, yellow zucchini, spinach, turkey meatballs, goat cheese, and fresh herbs.
While the water for the pasta was boiling, I sliced the zucchini and chopped the tomato and an onion. I sauteed the onion and zucchini in some goat butter, then added the spinach and let it wilt. I added the cooked tortellini on top with a little pit of pasta water (which helped with the wilting), then threw in the fresh tomatoes and took it off the heat.
Lastly I added some frozen turkey meatballs that I had heated in the microwave (I know, I know - I was in a hurry okay?), some crumbled goat cheese, and some fresh basil and parsley. This was super easy and came together in less than 30 minutes. Plus there was enough other stuff going on to distract my husband from the vegetables - score!
Who would stuff a mushroom with more mushrooms? Melissa from Smells Like Brownies and I, that's who, for our weekly vegetarian lunch get together. Melissa had a ton of farro given to her by a neighbor that she needed to start using, and she was craving mushrooms. So she found a recipe for balsamic roasted mushrooms with goat cheese to mix with the farro, yum. You know how much we love goat cheese. But then she thought, what if we put that inside of a portabella and grilled it? And I said, why the heck not! Mushrooms inside of mushrooms, people - it's inception with fungi.
Mix up some baby bellas and tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic, thyme, garlic, and red pepper. Careful there - we thought we just added a pinch, but it turned out spiiiiiiiiicy. Thank goodness for goat cheese, amirite? Then roast those babies up.
Once they are roasted, mix them together with cooked farro, spinach,and goat cheese and spoon the mixture into portobello caps. The baby bellas are going inside the mamma bella! No? No one else finds that funny? Just me? Fine.
Happy Pi/Pie Day! I know that most people are probably celebrating with desserts, but what about a savory pie? Or rather a savory dish with pie in the name that isn't actually a pie? Whatever, don't judge me. It's time for another vegetarian lunch with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies. Be sure to check out her delicious Pi Day Coconut Cream Pie, it is sooooooo good!
This vegetarian version shepard's pie is packed with veggies, topped with creamy goat cheese, and perfect for St Paddy's Day (which is never St Patty's by the way). I mean, just look at that gorgeous green topping.
The base is made with roasted beets, eggplant, sundried tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes simmered in vegetable stock with thyme, caraway seeds, and fennel seeds. I was a little scared that the fennel and caraway would be really strong and take over, but they added just the right amount of depth and a real Irish flavor.
Here's a quick little semi-homemade cold weather meal, perfect for weeknights. I took some store-bought fresh spinach fettuccine and thick sliced roasted turkey from the deli counter, and tossed them with a homemade pumpkin goat cheese alfredo. It's interesting enough to not be boring, but it's easy enough to not cause a headache.
The homemade part is the decadent sauce, which involves butter, garlic, cream, pumpkin, goat cheese, sage, and pumpkin pie spice. I wanted to do something a little different, which is why I went with turkey, but chicken would work just as well. And I like how the spinach pasta brought a little color to the table.
Pumpkin Goat Cheese Alfredo
adapted from Closet Kitchen
8 oz pasta of choice (I used fresh spinach fettuccine from the refrigerated section), cooked
8 oz cooked turkey or chicken, diced or shredded
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp sage, sliced thinly (or dried)
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the cream, pumpkin puree, goat cheese, Parmesan, sage, and pumpkin pie spice and simmer until the cheese has melted.
Add in the poultry and allow to warm through. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
Toss with pasta and serve immediately.
It's been a while since I've posted a Smells Like Brownies & Well Dined vegetarian lunch team-up recipe, what with holidays and traveling and all. Now I return to you with this delicious flatbread made with hearty whole-wheat dough, tender brussels sprouts sauteed in brown butter, creamy goat cheese, and salty Parmesan and capers. So good.
We called it a flatbread instead of a pizza simply because the toppings seemed more along those lines, and they were a bit loose and not glued down by cheese. But it doesn't really matter what it is called.
I think brussels sprouts got a bad rap in the 80's when everybody was boiling them to death, gross. But when they are roasted until they caramelize or shaved thin and served raw - yum. Here we saute them quickly in some brown butter and toss them with goat cheese and capers - double yum.
Lots of freshly grated Parmesan goes on top (plus more when it comes out of the oven). It's just beautiful.
So I got this combination of ingredients into my head and couldn't stop thinking about all the ways I could use them. Pasta, pizza, tarts - the list goes on. I decided to caramelize a big batch of onions, roast a big squash, and use them all week in a few different dishes.
First off, I peeled and cut up a large (4 lb) butternut squash and laid the cubes out on a baking sheet. I drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Then I roasted them at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
For the onions, I bought one of those bags that has about 5 onions in it, sliced them all, and threw them in a large pan with olive oil. After they turned translucent and soft, I turned the heat down from med-hi to med-lo and let them caramelize. This will take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. About halfway through, I added a few sprigs of thyme. Once they were really brown, I added a splash of sherry to de-glaze the pan and removed the thyme stems. Again, I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
I don't know if you've noticed yet, but warm quinoa salads are kind of the go-to for my friend, Melissa, and I (like this one, and this one, and this one). So when we didn't really have a lunch plan a couple of weeks ago, we decided to throw some her CSA veg into, you guessed it, a warm quinoa salad. I would apologize for the repetition, but these salads are healthy and filling and delicious, so I'm not sorry!
This time around, Melissa was drowning in fall squash. So we diced up a butternut and threw it in the oven with a sliced onion.
Meanwhile, we cooked up our pretty tri-color quinoa and tossed in some toasted pine nuts. You could easily sub walnuts or pecans instead.
In went the roasted veg and some arugula, along with some fresh thyme. Again, you could easily sub another type of green (I do love peppery arugula, though) and whatever herbs you have on hand.
Lastly, and certainly not least, we added in some goat cheese. We both seriously love goat cheese. We mixed half of the cheese into the salad to get it melty, and crumbled the rest on top so there would be nice pockets of it.
Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese
original recipe, click here for Melissa's post
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small onion, sliced in half-moons
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups baby arugula
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the squash and onion in olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper.
Spread the veggies in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet covered in foil. Roast for 25–30 minutes, turning the veggies over halfway through. When the squash is tender, remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until the water is absorbed and the curlicues pop out. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir the pine nuts, roasted veggies, thyme, arugula, and half the goat cheese into the quinoa; crumble the rest of the cheese over top. Serve warm.
Ugh - sorry folks, I've been bad about posting this last week! And this post is going to be pretty short, too. We are finally on our way into Fall, but the transition has been slow and there is still some stone fruit to be had. I am still really into tartines at the moment, so I paired sliced nectarine with goat cheese, prosciutto, and basil for a quick lunch.
Then the store finally had some burrata in (this is a seriously random occurrence, you never know), so I paired that with some ripe peach, basil, EVOO, balsamic, and sea salt.