Pasta Primavera

28 03 2012

I have become a gym rat. Not an over-committed, beefed-up zoomba nutzo, but I frequent the gym 3-4 times a week, in my first real attempt to get in shape. I have finally realized that you cannot eat your way to good health. You actually have to move sometimes. Ugghhhhhh.

So with some encouragement from my boyfriend, who just ran his first 5k this weekend, I went for a run. I’ve used an elliptical and a treadmill, but I have never put foot to pavement and gone for a real run. It started off…weird. Am I running towards something? Is someone chasing me? I became extremely self-conscious that every car that drove by knew I was an out-of-shape ass going on her first jog. Hands over mouths, stifling laughter, pointing, confident in their perfect physique.

I ran on. A mile and a half. Felt great afterwards. Alive, even. Day after, dead. I feel like I’m in the initial stages of Lou Gehrigs disease. Like literally, I cannot lift my legs.

UPDATE: Day after running and not being able to move legs, I wake up in the middle of the night with a 100 degree fever and an awesome case of night terrors/violent shivers.

Conclusion: Running is either terrible for the body or it purged some sort of demon inside of me. If I feel great tomorrow, then the latter is true. If I don’t feel better, then I give up and it’s donuts for breakfast because apparently exercise is pure evil.

I suppose I should talk about food now. This cookbook was a Christmas present from my parents during my first year of vegetarianism. Though it’s all pretty simple stuff, it’s still one of my favorites, mainly for the pictures. I love this primavera because it is packed full of veggies and doesn’t make you feel too guilty about eating a bowl full of pasta with cream sauce.

Pasta Primavera
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Dummies

1 tb. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed & cut into 3-in. pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced and halved
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 tbs. fresh basil, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. hot cooked fettuccine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.

Add the asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms, cover and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and tender.

Add the milk, broth, and basil and cook over high heat until the liquid boils. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add the peas and scallions. Simmer for 1 minute.

Add the salt and pepper, and then add the pasta and cheese, tossing until the ingredients are well mixed. Serve immediately topped with a little more Parmesan.

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Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Avocado Toasts

18 03 2012

I thought I was going to hate this soup. It reminded me of the stuff that I was eating during my detox, and I didn’t think I was ready to go back to eating all plant-based ingredients. But both me and my boyfriend ended up really enjoying it. The soup is light and really fresh-tasting, and the addition of tahini and parmesan add a bit of creaminess and tang.

My favorite part though were the little avocado toasts. They match the style of the soup perfectly. The lemon juice spritzed over everything really brings out the flavors.

I wish I could make this post a bit more interesting, but my mind is elsewhere. Boyfriend is gone for the weekend. I have a giant bed to myself and Game of Thrones all loaded up on the iPad. awyeah.

Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Avocado Toasts
Adapted from Whole Living magazine

1 tb. olive oil
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
6 oz baby spinach
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbs. tahini
Salt and pepper
4 slices rustic bread, toasted
2 avocados, sliced
1/4 cup sprouts
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leek and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook, covered, until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in the spinach, Parmesan, and tahini. Let cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Or use an immersion blender.

Top the toasted bread with slices of avocado and sprouts. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze with lemon and give it a drizzle of olive oil.





Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto

7 03 2012

I don’t get how some food bloggers update so frequently. Really, a post every day/every other day?? Is the Internet the only occupation you have in life? And you know what also pisses me off, food bloggers who update a lot with posts about baked goods. Where are all these baked goods going, you fat pig? If I want to blog about a cake, I have friggin’ cake sitting around all week. I don’t eat cake every day, unlike these people, these unemployed, cake-faced bastards.

So to all the other workin’-class food bloggers, I salute you for updating bi-weekly at best. We work a lot, and sometimes the last thing we want to do is cook, let alone take pictures of it, savor the complex flavors, and then write about it online. Especially if you work all damn day in a restaurant, like myself.

But yesterday, I was able to summon the energy to cook after work and made this luscious little risotto. It’s earthy and creamy; the perfect side to a winter meal, or a meal in itself, paired with a salad. I recommend using fresh sage, but if you don’t have it, a teaspoon of dried works too.

Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

5 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red onion, cut into thin half moons
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 2 cm. pieces
2 cups risotto rice (Arborio rice)
3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnishing
3 tbs. shredded sage
Salt and pepper

Pour the stock into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and keep at a gentle simmer.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the sweet potatoes and rice and stir until well-coated.

Add 1/2 cup of hot stock, stirring constantly over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding more stock, half cup at a time, stirring all the while for about 25 minutes, or until all the stock is absorbed, the sweet potato is cooked and the rice is tender and creamy.

Stir in the Parmesan and most of the sage. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with the remaining sage and some shaved Parmesan.





Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chili Sauce

4 03 2012

This blog has been seriously lacking for posts lately. But I can explain! For me, February was winter detox month. Well, winter detox two weeks. And you know what was weird, the second you mention the word ‘detox’ to a person, their jaw drops and they’re on their knees begging you to reconsider, wondering why you would ever put your body through such hell. Um, when did detoxing become synonymous with insane fad diets such as The Master Cleanse? That is what almost every person assumed I was doing. No, I did not, nor would I ever, master cleanse, or do some sort of wacked out liquid-only diet. Those things withhold every essential nutrient from your body and straight-up starve you. F-that.

My detox was basically eliminating caffeine, alcohol, added sugars, processed foods, dairy, and wheat. Replacing those things with whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables and simple grains and proteins. No harm in that.

Here are some of the things that I was eating:

Steamed Squash & Broccoli with Tahini Dressing

Roasted Beet & Leek Soup with Sauteed Beet Greens

Roasted Peppers, Cauliflower and Walnuts

Cinnamon Poached Apples with Toasted Walnuts

First week was yummy, but hell. It made me realize how much of my diet consists of cheese and bread. Pizza and blue cheese are part of my food pyramid. It also made me realize that throughout my day, I’m pretty much in a constant state of snacking. Rarely do I let my body get full before I start stuffing it with something else that catches my eye. “Handful of feta, why sure!”

Though I was pretty much in a body-shaking craving mode for most of the time, and I don’t think that I’ve ever been as much of an angry bitch than I was during those two weeks, my body felt great. I felt clean and energized in a natural-sort of way. I stopped feeling sluggish, my sleep was improved and things like my digestion and lungs felt a lot better after eliminating many allergens and just body-clogging stuff.

I’m back to eating crap now. Well, not crap, but I will never deny myself a cup of coffee in the morning or a beer or ten in the evening for at least another year. It just ain’t me.

These vegan enchiladas are acting as a suitable in-between meal. They’re not carrot sticks, but they are also not frosting-filled crêpes. Mmm..frosting.

The enchilada sauce has a mellow and roasty spiciness to it, while the filling is tangy and stick-to-your-ribs filling.

Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chili Sauce
Adapted from Veganomicon

Enchilada Chili Sauce:
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 large chilis, roasted, seeded, peeled, and chopped (Notes on roasting: Heat up your oven to 425, cut your peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stems and seeds. Coat with some olive oil and place on a lightly greased baking sheet and roast for about 20-25 minutes. When done, throw the peps in a paper bag the second they come out of the oven. Close it up and steam them. Once they have cooled down, the skins should come right off)
3 tsps. chili powder (ancho, if possible)
1 1/2 tsps. cumin
1 tsp. marjoram
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsps. salt

Potato and Kale Filling:
1 pound red potatoes
1/2 lb. kale, washed, trimmed and chopped
3 tbs. olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup water (or veggie broth if you have an open container on hand)
3 tbs. lime juice (plus some extra wedges for serving)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
12-14 corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 375 and have ready a large casserole dish.

Prepare the enchilada sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions in oil for 4-7 minutes, until softened…you know the procedure. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, bring to a simmer and remove from the heat. When it has cooled enough, taste for seasoning then puree with an immersion or regular blender until smooth.

Prepare the filling: Peel and dice the potatoes, then boil them until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cook the oil and minced garlic in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is sizzling and slightly browned. Add the kale, sprinkle with a little salt, and raise the heat to medium, stirring constantly to cover the kale with oil and garlic. Partially cover the pot to steam the kale until it has wilted, about 5 minutes. You can add a little bit of water too to help along the steaming process and to prevent any scorching.

Make the enchiladas: Have ready a pie plate filled with about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, your casserole dish, a stack of corn tortillas, a lightly-greased and heated skillet (for softening the tortillas), and the potato/kale mixture.

Ladle a little bit of the enchilada sauce into the casserole dish and spread it around. Take a corn tortilla, place it on the heated skillet for 30 seconds, flip it over and heat until it has become soft. Drop the tortilla into the pie plate filled with sauce, allow it to get totally soaked, flip it over and coat the other side.

Place the tortilla in the casserole dish and then layer it with another heated, sauce-covered tortilla. Run the potato filling down the middle and roll it up. Continue with the rest of the tortillas, tightly packing the enchiladas next to each other.

Pour about a cup of the sauce over the top (saving some for later), cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Top individual servings with the remaining enchilada sauce, a dollop of sour cream and a squirt of lime juice.