Tag Archives: cooking

Super Simple Summer Pasta

Though summer thrives though September or October here in the southwest, the end of summer vacation is coming up fast for those of us in school. The past couple of years, I’ve been astounded by how fast the summer passes. When I was a child, summer vacation lasted forever. Or so it seemed. By the end of it, I wanted to be back in school just for the change of pace. This year in particular, though, I feel like I’m scrambling to do everything I set out to do at the beginning of the summer…before it’s too late. Once the semester begins, free time for crafts and reading for pleasure will be long forgotten. It’s just something most college students learn to accept.

On that uplifting note, I present to you this super simple pasta recipe, perfect for those Sunday nights when you need a short break from cramming information into your brain as well as the sustenance to continue to be able to do so. :D

A couple of weeks ago, a family friend started handing out extra veggies from his garden, and I ended up with at least four bags of cucumbers, zucchini, and summer squash. Needless to say, I’ve been constantly on the lookout for interesting new ways to eat them. For the cucumbers, I made raita a couple of weeks ago; I’ve been making tons of cucumber and banana smoothies (more on that later); they’re also awesome sliced with this spread or this one on toast. My new favorite way to eat the zucchini, though, is using this recipe from Super Natural Every Day. It’s more of a guideline than an actual set of instructions; more than likely, you can just wing it, and it’ll come out delicious.

This pasta, as well as everything else that I’ve tried from this cookbook, practically leaps into your mouth from the bowl. The ingredients are simple and the procedure is easy, but each of the flavors plays perfectly off of the others like a violin quartet inside your mouth. Just when you think the spice from the crushed red pepper might overwhelm you, the parmesan steps in with a hint of creaminess to comfort you. Perfectly timed.

Simple Summer Pasta

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated

Salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz dried pasta, I used sweet potato linguini from Whole Foods

½ cup parmesan, grated

1 tablespoon butter, optional

Fresh-ground black pepper

Toss the grated squash with the salt and set over the sink or a deep bowl to let the vegetables’ water drain away. Let sit for 10 minutes, then squeeze away as much excess water as you can.

Cook your pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve some of the cooking water.

Put the olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a cold pan, then turn on the heat to medium and let cook for 1-2 minutes, just until the garlic begins to brown. Add the drained zucchini and let cook for 2-5 minutes, until tender.

Add the pasta to the pan, as well as some of the reserved cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Evenly distribute the zucchini and pasta, and add the butter, if using, and parmesan. Toss with salt and pepper, to taste.

Now, get back to that list of textbooks.

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Spinach Lasagna with Squash

In the five years that I’ve eaten vegetarian, there have been a handful of people that have come to me seeking advice. These people have generally been my friends that were thinking about going vegetarian themselves, and they would ask me, “But what do you eat?”

In a lot of ways, it’s concerning that American culture fixates on meat and meat products so much that any other option is just beyond the scope of reason. I realize that there are a lot of people who just love meat so much that they can’t imagine life without it, and that’s fine. I get that. I feel the same way about vegetables. “You don’t like ANY vegetables? How do you liiiive??” But the people that inquire about my dietary choices as a sort of reconnaissance generally do so out of curiosity, determining whether or not they can do it because they probably weren’t that attached to meat in the first place.

Usually I’ll respond to the “what do you eat?” question with, “The same things you do, but without meat.” It’s not wholly accurate, but it can be frustrating when vegetarianism is thought of as alien. I’ll usually follow that with some sort of “Eat more beans and nuts when you’d be eating meat, and when you’re not filling up on animal flesh, there’s more room for the vitamins and nutrients that vegetables provide.”

One of my favorite opportunities to swap out meat for something vegetable-y in a recipe is in lasagna. When I was younger, my grandma regularly made lasagna for dinner and it was one of the few things I thought I would miss when I stopped eating meat. Fortunately for me, my mom found this recipe for vegetarian lasagna that uses zucchini in the place of meat in the sauce and spinach as one of the layers. These are two of my favorite vegetables, people! I love this recipe. It satisfies that need for comfort food from your childhood, but it also provides glorious glorious vegetables. Like all lasagnas, the layers provide complexity, especially with the surprising sauce. This stuff is seriously good and seriously filling. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, consider giving this recipe a shot!

Hand modeling by my mother :) Sauté these onion cubes!

Sauce pre-squash:

Sauce with grated squash stirred in:

Layers forming! In this photo you can see the sauce on top, with mozzarella and spinach underneath. Below that is a bit of ricotta and whole wheat noodles.

Ready to bake!

Look how pretty it comes out!

Vegetarian Lasagna with Italian Tomato Sauce

Source: Unknown

For the Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 14-oz. can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes

1 14-oz. can tomato sauce

6 oz. tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning, or any combination of herbs you like

black pepper to taste

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes. When it starts becoming translucent, add the garlic and sauté another 5 minutes.

Turn up the heat to high and add the cans of tomato and tomato paste. Stir well to incorporate. Add the optional sugar and bring to a boil.

Lower heat, add the herbs and pepper, cover and let simmer for at least 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Stir in the optional cheese, and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasonings. If sauce is too thick, add some water.

For the lasagna:

1 pound dry lasagna noodles

1 recipe Italian Sauce (see above)

2 small or 1 large zucchini, grated

1/2 pound ricotta cheese

at least 1 large bunch baby spinach

1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated or thinly sliced

1/2 pound provolone, grated or thinly sliced (optional)

Bring the tomato sauce to a boil, stir in the zucchini, and cook for about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ladle a bit of sauce into the baking dish and spread it around so the bottom of the dish is lightly coated.

Place lasagna noodles in the pan to form a single layer. If necessary, break noodles to fill the gaps.

Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese on the noodles, then lay out 1/3 of the spinach on top of that. Sprinkle or place 1/3 of the mozzarella (and provolone, if using) cheese on top of the spinach, then finish with 1/3 of remaining tomato sauce.

Repeat this process twice, saving a sprinkle of cheese for the top.

Bake for about 1 hour, until sauce is bubbly, cheese is melted, and noodles are tender. Let cool 10 minutes and serve.

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Nice to Meet You!

Food, books, and crafts? That’s a bit of a wide scope. It’s a bit odd, you may say.

Well, I would reply, life is random.

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I went back and forth on this one for a while. Should I do a cheesey introduction post? Or possibly just jump right into a recipe or book review without warning?

So, I made a bit of a compromise: a list of my obsessions!

That way, you get a little taste of my tastes. Sound good? Good.

Onward!

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1. Teal pagoda shelf!

I fell in love with this design as soon as I saw it in this book. Over winter break this year, I managed to convince my dad to help me make one. After incorrectly buying lumber, dropping the borrowed saw, and inhaling too much spray paint, we ended up with this! I am incredibly proud of it because it was my first attempt at carpentry, but mostly because I created it with my awesome papa.

 

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2. Cyclamens!

These flowers are called cyclamens, at least according to this label. I had never seen them before, until I bought them for my rad boyfriend. I almost wanted to keep them for myself. Look how vibrant they are! And the strange way they open! Love.

While I’m on the topic of flowers, I have to say, I’m highly obsessed with anything floral print. I’m on a quest for the perfect pair of floral pants. They would need my sister’s nod of approval because I’m blind to all sense of taste when it comes to floral prints.

So, expect plenty of floral!

 

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3. Nail polish!

This particular look was inspired by this post. I love that nails are a simple, yet bold way to add a pop of color or drama to any look at any time. I’m a big fan of strange colors like lime green and bright yellow, and -of course- anything with glitter. I obviously belong in the craft world- I can never get enough glitter.

I’m really into Essie brand nail polish, right now. The one in the picture is Rainbow in the S-Kylie from the Nicole by OPI collection.

 

4. Spinach Chop!

This spinach chop, from this book, knocks me on my butt every time I make it. Here’s the genius of this recipe: the ingredients aren’t from specialty stores, the preparation isn’t complex, there’s no reason why it should be THIS GOOD. But somehow, it just is. Heidi Swanson must just be brilliant. Only explanation.

 

5. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice!

I’m completely obsessed with this book. It’s everything you ever needed to know about how to make bread as close to in a professional kitchen as possible. It even teaches you how to think like a pro bread baker in terms of dough formulas. Awesome.

One thing in particular that this book says that I’ve never before seen in a bread recipe: wait 45 minutes after it comes out of the oven to break into it. There’s some on my cooling racks right now…staring at me…taunting me.

It’s going to be a long 45 minutes.

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So if you’ve made it this far without closing out of your browser, there you have it. 5 of my current obsessions. A couple of recipes and topics didn’t make the list, but there will be time for them later. For now, I hope you found something interesting or otherwise enjoyable.

Come back later this weekend for the first food post!

You know you want breakfast rolls in your future. I want them in your future, too.

— Mirandom

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