Vegetable Lasagne with Polenta

 Vegetable polenta

 

A few weeks ago while in London with my family we grabbed a quick bite to eat at the restaurant, Jamie Oliver Italian. I’m a big fan of Chef Oliver’s “better food” education efforts because it was sorely needed.  However, I really had no intention of making his restaurant a destination while in the UK. I thought it would be difficult for a ‘chain’ restaurant (there are 37 locations in London) to maintain his personal stamp and I really wanted to explore other dining options (given the chance I would’ve eaten Indian food everyday!). We were in the midst of sightseeing between attractions and the children were suddenly starving.  If you have children you know you need to resolve that right away!  Chef Oliver has four children of his own and is known to have great kid friendly dishes. With 37 restaurant locations the opportunity easily presented itself to see what Jamie Oliver Italian had to offer.

There were a decent amount of vegetarian pasta options on the menu and I chose the Vegetable Rotolo Al Forno that is a dish comprised of seasonal pumpkin, squash & spinach. ‘Rotolo Al Forno’ seems to translate to ‘Baked Roll’ and there were pinwheels of pasta (about half the width of a lasagna noodle) filled with the pumpkin combination and topped with tomatoes, ricotta and a little parmesan cheese. The description also had ‘herby breadcrumbs’ which seemed to be Chef Oliver’s topping on several dishes. I couldn’t foresee how breadcrumbs would help the dish so I asked for the pasta without it and they obliged.

I really enjoyed this savory blend! The combination of the vegetables and cheese really worked for me and I immediately thought of incorporating it in a dish when I returned stateside. So I did! I made some changes using polenta instead of pasta, butternut squash only with no pumpkin, in addition to spinach I added collard greens, and lastly instead of using parmesan cheese I used parrano cheese. I’m really pleased with the flavors and I hope you are too!

 

Vegetable Lasagne with Polenta

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Chopped Collards
  • 12 oz Baby Spinach
  • 20 oz Butternut Squash, cubed
  • 2-24 oz tubes Polenta
  • 8 oz San Marzano Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup Rao’s Marinara Sauce
  • 64 oz Vegetable Stock
  • 24 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Basil
  • Shaved Parrano Cheese
  • Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put collards in a large pot with enough vegetable stock to just cover the collards about 1/4 inch.
  3. Season with the onion powder, garlic powder and 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning.
  4. Bring to a boil then turn to low and cook for 1.5 hours.
  5. Add spinach and sea salt to taste.
  6. Cook until the spinach is the same dark green color as the collards. The spinach should not be just wilted and bright green. It should be soft and dark. This may take approximately 30 minutes. The collards and spinach should be very soft and the same consistency.
  7. Drain the liquid and set aside.
  8. In another pot, cook the butternut squash similarly; cover with just enough vegetable stock and cook for about 20 minutes or until they are soft. No seasoning is added. Mash them to a soft consistency and put in a strainer to release the liquid.
  9. Slice your polenta (I like the Sun of Italy brand) in even ‘disk’ sizes. You should have at least 20 slices but you should not have more than 2 rows and 2 layers of polenta when it is all assembled.
  10. Mix your ricotta cheese with the dried basil and a dash of sea salt to taste.
  11. In a baking dish (I use size 9x13), pour the marinara sauce to cover and coat the bottom of the dish.
  12. Add a layer of polenta (about 8 - 10 slices).
  13. Top with the butternut squash and spread evenly.
  14. Add the collards and spinach and spread evenly on top of the butternut squash.
  15. Top the butternut squash with the ricotta and spread evenly.
  16. Top the ricotta with the remaining polenta slices.
  17. Add the San Marzano tomatoes evenly on top of the polenta.
  18. Bake for 40 minutes.
  19. Add Parrano Cheese and serve.
https://eatlikeavegetarian.com/vegetable-lasagne-with-polenta/

 Vegetable Polenta1I prefer Parrano cheese but you can use Parmesan or Pecorino Romano also.  All of them are delish!

Roasted Vegetables with Whole Wheat Linguine

What I love most about this dish is that you can use any vegetable that you like in the pasta – Broccoli, Squash, Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts – just use what you enjoy! 

Roasted Vegetables and Whole Wheat LInguine

Roasted Vegetables with Whole Wheat Linguine

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Asparagus Tips
  • 6 - 8 cups Broccoli and Cauliflower florets
  • 4 Mini Red Sweet Peppers, sliced in strips
  • 8 Campari Tomatoes, Sliced in Quarters
  • 64 oz Vegetable Stock
  • 1 box Whole Wheat Linguine
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Feta Cheese
  • Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Capers
  • Kosher Salt
  • Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower in equal chunks.
  3. Wash and drain all vegetables thoroughly. The vegetables should be completely dry.
  4. Put your broccoli and cauliflower in a large bowl.
  5. Toss the vegetables in olive oil so that they're coated (but not heavily oily!).
  6. Sprinkle ground sea salt on the vegetables and place on a baking sheet so they are lying flat. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes. Midway you want to check to see if the bottom of the vegetables are lightly brown and turn them over.
  7. Once you place the broccoli and cauliflower in the oven, you want to prep your asparagus and red peppers to get roasted. These vegetables are not cooked at the same time as the other vegetables because their roasting time differs.
  8. Place the asparagus and red peppers on a baking sheet; sprinkle olive oil and sea salt as done with the other vegetables.
  9. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  10. Test and taste your vegetables to make sure they are firm but cooked, and have a nice roasted flavor.
  11. After roasting is complete, place all the vegetables in a large bowl.
  12. Add the diced tomatoes and pull the leaves from 3-4 sprigs of thyme and toss in the vegetables. Cover until ready to use.
  13. Cook your pasta al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Look on the box for exact instructions for al dente preparation.
  14. In a 10-12 inch pan simmer ¾ of a cup of vegetable stock.
  15. Once your pasta is cooked, you will prepare each serving separately then serve.
  16. Transfer enough pasta for one serving into the vegetable stock.
  17. Add a balanced serving of vegetables.
  18. Add one teaspoon of capers, one tablespoon of feta cheese and mix well.
  19. Transfer to plate and top with grated parmesan cheese.
  20. Serve immediately.
https://eatlikeavegetarian.com/roasted-vegetables-with-whole-wheat-linguine/

Broccoli with Shallots, Chickpeas and Figs

Tired of the same old broccoli? This is a sweet and piquant twist on this nutrient-rich vegetable.

Broccoli with shallots1

 

Broccoli with Shallots, Chickpeas and Figs

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serving Size: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bag Broccoli
  • 8 oz can Chickpeas
  • 1 - 2 Medium sized shallots, sliced
  • ½ cup Black mission figs, halved
  • 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
  • ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Chop the broccoli in even chunks, wash thoroughly and drain.
  2. In a large pan, sauté the shallots on medium heat in the olive oil until translucent.
  3. Use 1-2 shallots depending on your liking. I love the mild flavor of shallots so I use closer to 2 shallots.
  4. Add your broccoli, balsamic vinegar and onion powder and cook for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add your chickpeas and cook for 20 minutes on a low heat. I like my broccoli fairly firm but cook until you reach your desired texture.
  6. Add the figs when broccoli is done and leave covered for 5 minutes.
https://eatlikeavegetarian.com/broccoli-with-shallots-chickpeas-and-figs/

What’s wonderful about this dish is that there aren’t many ingredients!  The balsamic vinegar and figs provide such a nice balance.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

This can be made quickly and is so flavorful.  It’s a big hit whenever served!

Kung Pao Brussel Sprouts

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Sliced and Halved Brussel Sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Hoisin Sauce
  • 1/8 cup Soy Ginger Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Peanut Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/8 cup Chopped Peanuts

Instructions

  1. Wash the brussels sprouts thoroughly and drain well.
  2. In a 10 inch frying pan sauté the brussels sprouts in olive oil for 5 minutes then add the minced ginger.
  3. Toss the brussels sprouts with the ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, soy ginger sauce, sweet chili sauce and peanut sauce.
  5. Stir well and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.
  6. The brussels sprouts should be firm but easy to stick a fork in.
  7. After 15 minutes, put the whole pan in the oven and broil until the top of the brussels sprouts are slightly charred.
  8. Remove and top with chopped peanuts.
  9. Serve immediately.
https://eatlikeavegetarian.com/kung-pao-brussels-sprouts-2/

Natasha’s Lab Essentials

avocado

You’re on your way home from work, the gym, or picking up the kids from school and you realize that you have nothing to prepare for dinner. Or for breakfast the next day. Let’s not even talk about the children’s meals! The last thing you want to do is go to the grocery store.  It’s important to always have some good basics in the kitchen so you’re in a position to make something quickly that’s also healthy.

“If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food”  Erick McAdams

So here are my “Lab” Essentials. Not my kitchen essentials, not my pantry essentials, these are my LAB essentials. My kitchen is my lab; it’s where I experiment, create, analyze, and produce my results. This list gives me the comforting in knowing I can prepare something quickly when I didn’t plan a meal.

Here are my top items:

    1. Vegetable Stock – the basis of soup or cooking grains.
    2. Pasta and Grains – this makes up a big part of the vegetarian diet so I always keep whole grain pasta, brown rice, flat bread.
    3. Vegetables – of course this is an essential but at a minimum, I keep spinach and broccoli on hand at all times for a side dish, toss in pasta, or to add to a flat bread pizza.
    4. Dried or canned beans – for side dishes, soups or to toss in a salad it’s great to keep a variety. My go to beans are chick peas and lentils. Dried beans are preferred but if you get canned beans, be mindful of the sodium.
    5. Jarred goods – fresh is always best but San Marzano tomatoes and Artichokes are great additions to making sure you have something on hand for an easy pasta.  My favorite brand of marinara sauce is Rao’s.
    6. Fruit – If I was stranded on a deserted island, I pray that I have avocados and berries (blueberry, blackberry and raspberry). I eat them every day.
    7. Spices – a wide variety is essential to any meal so I’ve always had a well-stocked spice list. My favs are onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, curry, basil, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme. BUT I have two shelves and a spice holder full that I pull from and replace regularly.
    8. Oil and Sauces – Balsamic Vinegar, Bragg’s Aminos, Hoisin, Sriracha, Oyster Sauce, Rice Wine, Sesame Oil, Olive Oil.

Buy Organic as often as possible – less processed food is best.

Let the magic begin!