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Let’s talk about Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.  First, in case you weren’t sure, rather than “brussel sprouts,” which is a common misspelling, these veggies are called “Brussels sprouts” because they are named after the city of Brussels.  As cauliflower season ends with the end of summer, Brussels sprouts come into season with the arrival of fall, so this recipe is a great transitional recipe to try as the seasons change.  But I must admit that I never was a big fan of Brussels sprouts as a kid, and I preferred cauliflower raw and crunchy rather than cooked.  Then as an adult, I learned that Brussels sprouts don’t have to be bitter and cooked cauliflower can be tasty.

But, if you are still skeptical, you may want to give this recipe for Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin a try because preparing veggies au gratin style makes almost any veggie better, and bacon makes everything better!  That means this scrumptious recipe, which combines both, has to be a winner, right?!  🙂

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To start, you need the florets from about 1/2 a head of cauliflower.  If you made the Roasted Cauliflower Steaks, then use the leftover florets.  (Click here for the Roasted Cauliflower Steak recipe.)
Cut the florets into small pieces so that each can be eaten in one or two bites.  Then quarter 6 Brussels sprouts.

To make sure the veggies are tender after they are baked, you need to pre-cook them a little.  Just bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil and add the veggies to the boiling water for 4-5 minutes.  (You can cut back on the cooking time if you want to keep the veggies a little crunchy.) Then thoroughly drain them.

While the veggies are boiling, cook 1 slice of bacon and chop it into pieces.  The microwave is great for cooking the bacon!

While the veggies are draining and cooling a little, you can make the creamy cheese sauce.  To save on dirty dishes, use the same pot that you cooked the veggies in.  Just dry it out.  Add a tablespoon of butter and melt it over medium heat.  Then whisk in 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour.  Keep whisking for a minute or two to cook out the raw flour flavor.   Then whisk in a cup of milk.  (You can use skim milk or 1% milk if you want to save some calories.  It will still taste great.)  Heat the milk mixture until it thickens and add salt and pepper to taste.  I also like to add a dash of freshly grated nutmeg!  It will add extra flavor and make everyone wonder exactly what made the sauce so special.

When the milk mixture is thickened, turn down the heat and stir in an ounce of Havarti cheese and an ounce of sharp cheddar.  (If you don’t have any Havarti, you can just double the amount of cheddar.) When the cheese is melted, gently mix in the cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and bacon.  Transfer the veggies to a buttered baking dish.

Now for the crunchy topping.  Melt a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet over low heat.  Then add 1/2 a cup of Panko breadcrumbs.  Stir the breadcrumbs until they just start to brown.  Watch them carefully or they will burn!  Then sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

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Bake the veggies in a 375 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes.  If the top is not brown enough after 30 minutes, then place the veggies under the broiler for a minute or two.  But watch them carefully to make sure that they don’t burn.

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Now it is time to enjoy your luscious, cheese-coated veggies!

Thanks to Ina Garten for inspiring this recipe with her Cauliflower Gratin Recipe. You can find the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe here.

Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin (Bacon Optional)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ a head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 6 brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 slice bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1½ Tbsp. flour
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 oz. Havarti cheese
  • 1 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower florets into small pieces so that each piece can be eaten in one or two bites.
  3. Quarter 6 Brussels sprouts.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil and add the veggies to the boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Then thoroughly drain them.
  5. Cook 1 slice bacon and chop it into small pieces. The microwave is great for cooking the bacon!
  6. While the veggies are draining and cooling a little, make the creamy cheese sauce. To save on dirty dishes, you can use the same pot that you cooked the veggies in. Just dry it out. Add a tablespoon of butter and melt it over medium heat.
  7. Whisk in 1½ tablespoons of flour. Keep whisking for a minute or two to cook out the raw flour flavor.
  8. Whisk in a cup of milk. (You can use skim milk or 1% milk if you want to save some calories.)
  9. Heat the milk mixture until it thickens
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a dash of freshly grated nutmeg!
  11. When the milk mixture is thickened, turn down the head and stir in an ounce of Havarti cheese and an ounce of grated sharp cheddar.
  12. When the cheese is melted, gently mix in the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bacon.
  13. Transfer the veggies to a buttered baking dish.
  14. For the crunchy topping, melt a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet over low heat.
  15. Add ½ a cup of Panko breadcrumbs.
  16. Stir the breadcrumbs until they just start to brown. Watch them carefully or they will burn!
  17. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the cauliflower and broccoli.
  18. Bake the veggies for 25-30 minutes.
  19. If the topping is not brown enough, put the veggies under the broiler for a minute or two. Watch them carefully to prevent burning.

© 2016 FoodieOasis

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I seem to crave fruits and veggies during the summer months, and I bet you do too!  With cauliflower currently in season, nothing could be easier than Roasted Cauliflower Steaks.  They make a satisfying and hearty side dish and can even serve as the centerpiece of a meal.  Think of them as vegetarian steaks!

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Each head of cauliflower will make two or three “steaks,” depending on the size of the head.  To cut the steaks, first peel away the green leaves, rinse the cauliflower, and cut a little off the bottom stem/stalk of the cauliflower.  Be sure to leave the stem/stalk intact because it will hold the florets together!

The goal is to cut steaks from the middle part of the cauliflower.  You can lay the cauliflower on its side and with one cut, take off the florets to the right of the stem.  Then cut the first steak about 1/2 inch thick by cutting a slice through the florets and stem.  Gently lay the steak on a parchment-covered baking sheet.  Repeat.  You should be able to cut one or two more steaks.  Save the extra florets for the Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin recipe coming up on FoodieOasis or your favorite cauliflower side dish!

It is time to season and roast the cauliflower.  Brush each steak with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  We all need a little extra spice in our life, right?  Right!  So add a little kick with some crushed red pepper flakes.   Roast for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees F.   Then place them under the broiler (watching constantly) for a minute or two to add some color.

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These are great just like this or herbify them with a little gremolata (click here for a gremolata recipe ) or pesto.  (I know, herbify isn’t really a word, but it describes what came to mind when I made this version.) Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Peel away any green leaves, rinse the cauliflower, and trim the stems.
  3. Leave the stems intact.
  4. The goal is to cut steaks from the middle part of the cauliflower. Lay the cauliflower on its side and with one cut, take off the florets to the right of the stem.
  5. Cut the first steak about ½ inch thick by cutting a slice through the florets and stem.
  6. Gently lay the steak on a parchment-covered baking sheet.
  7. Repeat. You should be able to cut one or two more steaks.
  8. Brush each steak with olive oil.
  9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  10. (Optional) Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.
  11. Roast for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees F until barely tender.
  12. Then place under them under the broiler (watching constantly) for a minute or two to add some color.
  13. For added flavor, serve with gremolata or pesto.
Notes
Save the extra florets for another cauliflower side dish!

 

© 2016 FoodieOasis

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Confetti Salad is my favorite pasta salad and is perfect for summer parties.  This recipe combines orzo pasta, colorful fresh veggies, and a vinaigrette to create a bowlful of scrumptious, edible confetti.   For a gluten-free version, just substitute rice for the orzo.  This Confetti Salad is a great main dish or side dish!

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To get started, cook 1 cup of dry orzo pasta or rice.  This will make at least 3 cups of cooked pasta or rice.  If you are using pasta, drain it.  Let the pasta/rice cool.  While the pasta/rice cooks, it is time to get the veggie add-ins ready.  I like to have a variety of textures—some crunchy and some soft and creamy.  To achieve this, leave some of the veggies raw (radishes, green onions and bell peppers), slice the carrots and cook them in lightly-salted water until they are just tender, and blanch the whole snap peas in salted, boiling water for a minute.   Dice the yellow and red bell peppers and slice the green onions and radishes.  I like to use a mandolin to slice the radishes so they are all the same thickness.  If the radishes are large, slice the rounds in half (see photo below).

Confetti-Pasta-Salad-20160704-01

Slice the snap peas at an angle to add a pretty touch to the salad.  The goal is to add about 1/2 a cup of each of the veggies, except I only use about 1/4 cup of the sliced green onions.

Now it is time to assemble.  You will need 1/4 cup of your favorite Italian dressing or vinaigrette.  Don’t tell, but if you are in a hurry you can even use a store-bought dressing and it will still be great! 🙂  Add the dressing to the cooked pasta and gently stir to coat each grain of the orzo with the silky liquid.

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Then add each of the veggies to the pasta, except for the green onions.

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Now sprinkle on some salt and pepper.  You can even add a few red pepper flakes if you want to give the salad a little kick.

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Then gently stir the mixture until all of the ingredients are evenly spread throughout.  At this point, I can’t resist tasting it, but it needs to be refrigerated to let the flavors come together.  (Don’t forget to put the green onions in the refrigerator too.)  This salad just gets better with time.  When you are ready to serve it, stir in the green onions and place this edible confetti on a serving platter or just serve it right out of the bowl.

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This will be a festive addition to your next summer party.  As with many recipes, this one was inspired by my mom.  She used to make a version of this with rice instead of pasta, a creamy Italian dressing instead of the vinaigrette, and a slightly different combination of veggies, so feel free to experiment.  But, as always, enjoy!

Confetti Salad with Pasta or Rice
 
This is my favorite pasta salad and is perfect for summer parties. Substitute rice for a gluten-free version.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 5-6 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta or rice
  • ½ cup blanched and sliced, fresh snap peas
  • ½ cup sliced, cooked carrots
  • ½ cup thinly sliced radishes
  • ¼ cup diced red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup diced yellow bell peppers
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup Italian dressing/vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook the orzo pasta or rice according to package directions. Do not overcook it. Let the pasta/rice cool.
  2. Blanch the whole snap peas. Blanch them by bringing lightly-salted water to a boil. Add the whole snap peas to the boiling water and let them boil for 1 minute. Remove the snap peas and immediately put them in a bowl of ice water to instantly stop the cooking.
  3. When the snap peas are cool, drain them completely and slice them at an angle to create 3 or 4 pieces from each snap pea.
  4. Peel and slice one or two carrots, depending on size. Place the sliced carrots in enough salted water to just cover them. Simmer then until they are just tender. Remove them from the water and let them cool.
  5. Add the dressing/vinaigrette to the cooled pasta/rice. Gently stir to coat the pasta/rice with the dressing/vinaigrette.
  6. Add all of the vegetables, except for the green onions, to the pasta/rice.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you are using red pepper flakes, add them now.
  8. Gently stir the mixture to combine.
  9. Refrigerate the mixture and the green onions until chilled.
  10. When you are ready to serve it, gently stir in the green onions.

 

© 2016 FoodieOasis

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Spaghetti Squash StroganoffWhile roasted spaghetti squash may not taste just like pasta, it is a wonderful, blank slate for delicious sauces just like pasta but with fewer calories.  That got me to thinking that I could replace the egg noodles with spaghetti squash in my easy, ground beef stroganoff recipe.  This stroganoff recipe is an updated version of the one my mom made when I was growing up.  To update the recipe, I replaced the canned mushrooms with fresh cremini mushrooms and made a homemade sauce in place of using canned cream soups.  You can also turn this into a hearty vegetarian dish by replacing the ground beef with more mushrooms.  Yummy!

 

The first step is to roast your spaghetti squash.  I prefer the slightly larger ones with a nice golden color.  They will be more tender and have longer “spaghetti strands.”  Click here for instructions on how to roast spaghetti squash.

Now for the creamy, yummy stroganoff sauce.  This is an easy version that either uses lean ground beef and mushrooms or just mushrooms.  Start by sautéing sliced cremini mushrooms and chopped onion in a little butter and olive oil.  If you are using ground beef, use 8 oz. of mushrooms.  If not, use 1 lb., 8 oz. of mushrooms.  Hold off on the salt and pepper until the mushrooms and onions are tender.

Beef Stroganoff

When the mushrooms and onions are tender, add a clove or two of minced garlic and sauté until the garlic fragrance fills the air.  This will not take long!  Don’t let the garlic brown or it will turn bitter.

Beef Stroganoff

If you are using ground beef, select a lean version.  I like to buy chuck roasts when they are on sale, cut off the extra fat and grind the meat using the grinding attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer.  The quality of meat you grind yourself is so much better, and you can remove the extra fat and membranes so you know what is in the ground beef.  Add the ground beef to the mushrooms and onions and use a spatula to break it up.

Beef Stroganoff

Continue cooking until the meat is browned.

Beef Stroganoff

Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour over the mixture.

Beef Stroganoff

Use a spatula to mix the flour into the meat and cook it for two or three minutes.  This will prevent the final sauce from having a raw flour flavor.

Beef Stroganoff

Add a cup of milk or cream.  Cream is richer, but milk, such as 2% milk, will keep the fat content and calories lower.  I leave that choice to you.

Beef Stroganoff

Add salt and pepper.  Let the mixture cook over medium or medium-low heat until it bubbles and thickens.

Beef Stroganoff

Turn the heat down to low and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sour cream depending on how tart you like your sauces.  I like to add 1/4 cup and then taste it.  Then I decide whether to add more.  Mix in the sour cream and let the mixture heat through.  Do not let it boil.  If it is too thick, add more milk or cream for the desired consistency.

Beef Stroganoff

Mix in two tablespoons of fresh, chopped parsley.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Beef Stroganoff

Place a portion of the roasted spaghetti squash on a plate.  Top with the stroganoff sauce and some fresh parsley.  Whether you choose the beef or vegetarian version, this is a hearty, satisfying meal.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Stroganoff

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Stroganoff (Beef or Vegetarian)
 
Omit the ground beef and add more mushrooms for a vegetarian version of this hearty meal.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 roasted spaghetti squash
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced (if using ground beef) or 1 lb., 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced (for the vegetarian version)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 to 1½ cups milk or cream (I like to use 2% milk)
  • ¼ to ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp., fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil (3 Tbsp. for the vegetarian version)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Roast the spaghetti squash.
  2. Sauté the sliced cremini mushrooms and chopped onion in the butter and olive oil over medium low heat until tender (about 7 minutes).
  3. When the mushrooms and onions are tender, add the minced garlic and sauté until the garlic fragrance fills the air. This will not take long! Don't let the garlic brown or it will turn bitter.
  4. If you are using ground beef, add it to the mushrooms and onions. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Use a spatula to break it up and cook until the ground beef over medium heat until it is browned (about 10 minutes).
  5. Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour over the mixture.
  6. Use a spatula to mix the flour into the meat and cook it over medium low heat for two or three minutes.
  7. Add a cup of milk or cream and salt and pepper.
  8. Let the mixture cook over medium heat until it bubbles and thickens.
  9. Turn the heat down to low and add ¼ of sour cream. Mix in the sour cream and let the mixture heat through. Do not let it boil. Taste it and decide whether you want to add more sour cream. If so, I recommend adding one tablespoon at a time.
  10. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk or cream until it reaches the desired consistency..
  11. Mix in two tablespoons of fresh, chopped parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  12. Place a portion of the roasted spaghetti squash on each plate. Top with the stroganoff sauce and some fresh parsley.

© 2016 FoodieOasis

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Jeff’s mom used to bring this cheesy, soufflé-like corn and zucchini to family gatherings when we were first married.  When I thought of it recently, I realized that I didn’t have the recipe, but fortunately, my sister-in-law Debbie did.  I couldn’t wait to make it to see if it lived up to my memories—it did!  Jeff loved it too and decided we should call it Baked CornZini. 🙂

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It is easy to make, great for groups, and a hearty vegetarian option.  Just start by cutting the zucchini into 1 inch thick slices. Place the zucchini in a sauce pan with water and a little salt.  Then cook it for about 15 minutes over medium heat until the zucchini is just tender.  It is ready when a fork can be easily inserted into it.

The next step is important if you don’t want a soupy mess, so don’t skip it.  You need to thoroughly drain the squash to get rid of the water and then gently mash it with a fork or potato masher.  After mashing the squash, drain it again to make sure there is no excess water remaining.  I just left the mashed zucchini in a mesh strainer sitting over a bowl while I sautéed chopped onions in a tablespoon of butter.

When the onions were tender, but not browned, I gently combined the eggs, zucchini, chopped onions, corn, cheddar cheese and a little salt and poured the mixture into a buttered baking dish.

Now for the crunchy, parmesan topping!  Combine melted butter with Panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.  Then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the corn and zucchini mixture.  After about 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree F oven, it should be ready.  You can test it by inserting a knife into the middle.  If the knife comes out clean, then it is ready.

From the crunchy parmesan, breadcrumb topping to the cheesy corn and zucchini filling, it has the perfect combination of crunchy and fluffy textures.  You will definitely be going back for seconds, so think about making a double recipe!

Baked Corn and Zucchini (CornZini)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable Side Dish
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. zucchini
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups fresh corn or 10 oz. frozen corn (thawed and drained)
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs (or other dry breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ tsp. salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Use 1 Tbsp. of butter a baking dish.
  3. Cut zucchini into 1 inch thick slices.
  4. Place zucchini in a sauce pan. Add ½ cup water and ½ tsp. salt.
  5. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Drain the zucchini and place it in a bowl. Using a fork or potato masher, gently mash the zucchini.
  7. Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp. butter until tender but not browned.
  8. Gently combine eggs, zucchini, onion, corn, cheddar cheese and ¼ tsp. salt.
  9. Pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish.
  10. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter.
  11. Combine the melted butter with the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the zucchini mixture.
  12. Bake zucchini until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. About 35-40 minutes.
  13. Let the zucchini rest for 5-10 minutes before serving so it will set up.

© 2016 FoodieOasis

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I know it has been awhile since I was able to post.  Work has been crazy, but this is a healthy vegetarian meal that was easy to put together on one of my busy days.  And remember, no apologies are necessary if you take my shortcut and buy the marinara sauce 🙂

Start by selecting a 3 1/2 to 4 lb. spaghetti squash that has an even golden yellow color.  In the photo below, the left squash is almost 4 lbs., whereas one on the right is under 3 lb.  The larger squash yields longer “spaghetti” strands and in my experience is more tender when roasted, so I prefer the larger versions.  At only 42 calories per cup, instead of the typical 220 calories in a cup of cooked spaghetti, this is a low calorie alternative to pasta that gives you room to add a yummy sauce or that slice of garlic bread you are craving!

Spaghetti Squash

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice the squash in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds.  If you have trouble slicing the squash, you can microwave the whole squash for 3-5 minutes.  That should soften the squash enough for you to slice it in half.

Spaghetti Squash

Brush the cut sides with a little olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper.

Spaghetti Squash

Place the seasoned squash cut side down on a baking sheet.

Spaghetti Squash

Roast the squash until tender.  It will take about 50-60 minutes but could be a little longer.  A fork will easily pierce the skin and go through the flesh of the squash when it is done.  Then use a fork to gently separate the “spaghetti” strands as shown in the right half of the photo below.

Spaghetti Squash

Heat some of your favorite marinara sauce as an easy topping.  Remember how busy I said work had been?  That meant that I just picked up some marinara sauce from the grocery store aisle where you find the fresh pasta, but you can use a jar of pasta sauce or make your own.   Then top your warm spaghetti squash with the marinara sauce, a little chopped basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Time to enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash

 © 2015 FoodieOasis

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