I was looking for a dish to bring over to my friend, Melissa, who just had a baby. This recipe immediately popped out at me - one dish, easy to transport, easy to reheat, and lot's of veggies (plus cheese and pasta, of course). There's a reason people are always bringing casseroles! I also liked that it uses a lot of frozen veggies, making it budget friendly and easy to make year-round.
I also may have used it as an excuse to buy this thing, which I have been wanting for a long time - so cute!
So, we start out with ALL THE VEGETABLES. Ever. Just kidding... kind of. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, then add frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. When those have thawed, add in shredded carrot and zucchini.
I saw this and thought to myself, "not enough vegetables," so I added some frozen peas to the boiling pasta for the last 30 seconds. You can use whatever shape of pasta you like, I thought bowties would be fun and cute. I used Barilla protein plus pasta, because it boasts 17g of protein per 3.5oz serving and veggie dishes can always use some extra protein. I also rinsed the pasta (and peas) in cold water to stop the cooking and get rid of the extra starch (something I only do for pasta salads, and pasta that is going to be cooked again in the oven).
I have made this salad multiple times in the past two years, but never managed to photograph it or blog about it - until now! Which is a shame, because it is so delicious and satisfying, and you could have been making it, too. I'm so sorry! But I'm sharing it with you now, and I hope that you know how serious I am about loving this salad, because I rarely ever make things more than once. I even bought pomegranate molasses for my parents so that I could make this for them!
Special thanks to Melissa at Smells Like Brownies, for making it with me again two years after our first time making it together so that we could photograph it.
First thing is first, you must cook some lentils! I use French lentils for pretty much everything because they retain their shape and texture. Plus, they are a pretty green.
Meanwhile - prep your other ingredients. Chop your vegetables: onion, garlic, bell peppers. I love how colorful the bell peppers are, and how pretty they make the salad. So buy one of those 3 packs that has red, yellow, and orange. It will make you so happy. We also had a little bit of a green pepper left over, so we threw that in.
Also use this time to rehydrate some sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water. The water will become infused with tomato flavor, and will later become part of the dressing - neat! Not pictured - toast some walnuts. It releases the oils and makes them so much more flavorful.
As promised - what to do with leftover quiche base, if you have any. Make mini quiches! So easy and totally portable - once these are cool, you can just pick one up and eat it on the go.
All you do is thaw some frozen spinach, squeeze the liquid out of it, and split it between mini tart pans or ramekins. Then sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese, pour the quiche base over it, and bake until set. Voila! A healthy little snack or breakfast and no wasted custard.
Mini Spinach Crustless Quiches
a Well Dined original
makes 4 mini quiches
1 cup leftover quiche base (from this recipe, for example), or 1 egg mixed with 3/4 cup cream and seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg
10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
Divide the spinach between four mini tart pans or ramekins. Sprinkle with the cheese, then pour the custard over the top. Bake at 375 deg F until set, about 15 minutes.
I'm really trying to be better at waking up early enough to get to the Farmer's Market. I love the scene with all the booths and crowds of people, all the adorable puppies and babies. The Mosaic Market even has live music and food trucks. But I am not very good at cooking by the seat of my pants, so after I pick out some yummy looking veg, it usually ends up getting tossed into a pasta. Even more so when the market offers amazing artisan pasta from Pappardelle's Pasta. C'est la vie!
My first batch of veggies (asparagus, tomato, and leek) went into a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce with the garlic chive artisan pappardelle. I cooked the leek down in butter and olive oil, then added some white wine, lemon juice, and pasta water along with chopped tomatoes. When that had cooked to a good sauce consistency, I tossed in blanched asparagus and the cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente). I finished it off with lemon zest, Parmesan, and black pepper and served it with salmon.
I still had tomatoes and a random eggplant that I picked up for no reason, so I decided to do a riff on this pasta. I really should have used a whole wheat pasta, but I just love gemelli and I can't find it in whole wheat anywhere. It's the perfect short shape because it has good structural integrity (meaning it cooks evenly and doesn't get mushy edges).
Anyway, I roasted the eggplant while I caramelized an onion (I really wish I had a red onion, but I didn't). After adding garlic, a splash of sherry, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, I added some chopped tomato and a pat of butter (trying to get the essence of the Marcella Hazan sauce without cooking it for 45 minutes). Then I added in the eggplant, cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente), and a splash of pasta water and let it come together. Then I topped it with fresh basil and black pepper and served it with some hanger steak from the market (one of the few places where I can find it - there's only 1 per cow and they sell fast).
You know that cheesy broccoli and rice casserole that makes it's way to every potluck ever? That is so bad for you, but so yummy, that you eat heaps of it and you tell yourself that it's got broccoli so it's okay? Well here's your chance to pig out, because this version (made with quinoa instead of rice) is a lot better for you.
Of course, to convince my husband to eat it (and because I wanted more protein without having to make a separate dish), I threw some shredded rotisserie chicken in there. You can see in the photo that I just threw big florets of steamed broccoli in there. I ended up wishing that the broccoli was more evenly spread throughout, so I will recommend chopping it first.
This is hearty, and creamy, and just plain awesome. Kids (and big kids) will gobble it up.
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.
Chicken Parmesan without the guilt? I saw a really yummy looking recipe for Chicken Parmesan Meatballs that I wanted to try, but didn't want to eat all the carbs involved in pasta. I had also been seeing cheesy spaghetti squash casseroles that looked really good, so I had the idea to combine them.
Ground chicken, onion, Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, garlic, and egg are combined to make the meatballs, which are basted with tomato sauce and cooked in the oven.
Spaghetti squash goes into a casserole dish (I cook mine in the microwave). This is from two medium squashes.
Place the cooked meatballs on top, then the tomato sauce. I forgot to season the squash, oops! So I added more salt and pepper here.
Remember last week when I posted about the Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza? And I told you that I had leftover kale? Well, here's what became of it. I massaged with raw kale with a homemade dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper) and let it sit for 15 minutes to break down and lose the bitterness. Then I topped it with some burrata cheese, more olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Simple and delicious.
I served the salad as an appetizer, and for dinner we had steak (here's my method) and orzo with broccoli pesto. I actually like this version of broccoli pasta sauce better than the other version I've made, and it has a lot less fat!