Creamy Sundried Tomato & Spinach Pasta

This is one of those recipes that I had on Pinterest for ages before I tried it, but after I did, it quickly became part of our regular vegetarian meals since the kids love it and it literally takes 10 minutes to make. Because I have to cook for a big family though, I’ve obviously had to adapt it from the original recipe in order for it to feed us all.

First, on a back burner, prepare 500 grams of wholemeal pasta according to the instructions (I use spirals because they cook in 6 minutes). While that’s happening, in a large skillet, heat up a little olive oil and brown 1 diced onion and 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic.

Then add 1 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes and 1/4 cup of tomato paste.

Add 2 tins of diced tomatoes and stir to combine.

Add 3/4 cup of light sour cream mixed with 3/4 cup of light Greek yogurt and stir to combine.

Add roughly 3 cups of baby spinach (I just guesstimate – 2 big handfuls) and season with salt & pepper.

Leave that to wilt while you drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, then stir everything together and voila! You are ready to dish up dinner.

We like to top ours with grated parmesan (and lots of red chilli flakes for the adults).

Meatless Mexican

I was so excited to see that you can now buy canned pinto beans in Woolworths that I couldn’t wait to have bean burritos for dinner. (We seriously bought 12 cans of them and also 12 cans of black beans because they were super cheap this week!) This is a meal we do quite often that I’ve adapted from several recipes to easily accomodate vegans, but you can also easily add an animal protein for the meat lovers (or if there’s a crowd to feed). But on Mondays, this is often what it looks like.

Mexican corn cake

It started with this recipe, but my method is much simpler, and instead of butter and milk, I use canola oil so vegans can enjoy it too.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Cook 1 1/2 cups frozen corn with 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. While this is happening, chuck the following ingredients into a small casserole dish: 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup masa, 1/4 cup polenta, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tspn baking powder and 1/4 tspn salt. Then add the corn and water and use a stick immersion blender to mix it all together and to break up the corn kernels. Bake in a water bath, covered, for about an hour. I use a large ice cream scoop to serve like you’d see in many Mexican restaurants in the US.

Mexican rice

I got the original recipe here, but I’ve changed it so I can make it in my rice cooker.

Place 2 cups long grain white rice, 1 diced onion, 1 diced green chilli, 1 can chopped tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable stock, 1 Tbspn cumin, 1 tspn minced garlic, and 1/2 tspn salt in your rice cooker and stir together. Let it cook and then devour!

(If you have lemon or lime juice on hand, or fresh coriander, throw some of that on before serving. Usually we make guacamole, but alas there were no avocados at the store, so today we served it plain.)

“Refried” beans

I’m not sure where this recipe originated anymore, but basically it’s another throw everything in and give it a stir recipe. Drain and rinse 1 can of pinto beans and 1 can of black beans and place in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, 1 small diced onion, 1 tspn garlic, 1 diced green chilli and some salt to taste. Cook on high until the stock has reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Mash with a potato masher or use your stick immersion blender (this helps break up the onion and chilli). If it’s too watery continue to cook until desired consistency.

From here I just set out other staples (chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, tortillas, taco shells and corn chips if I have them) on the table and everyone does what they want. I made myself a bean burrito with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream in a wholemeal tortilla and then had rice and corn cake on the side (sadly our salsa was moldy and we’re out of hot sauce – clearly I’m in holiday mode still). If we’d had guacamole, I would’ve made a cheese quesadilla and had everything else as sides to dip them in. Aaron and my oldest two like to chuck everything into a tortilla as part of their burritos. Or if we have corn chips they like to make nachos and throw everything on top of corn chips and cheese that they’ve warmed together in the microwave.

The only things that make this meal vegetarian rather than vegan are the dairy products that accompany it (ie sour cream and cheese). If we were to serve this meal to vegans I’d simply make sure to have guacamole as a creamy condiment for them and wouldn’t sprinkle cheese on the refried beans like I did tonight.

Pasta with Zucchini and Vegetarian Sausages in Butternut Pumpkin Sauce

So what happens when it’s 5 pm and you realize you forgot to grocery shop over the weekend and you need to come up with dinner quickly? You look through the freezer and fridge and pantry and see what you can conjure up that might go together…

Zucchinis from a friend’s garden which we diced up, seasoned and fried off in a bit of olive oil in a large non stick frypan…

Field Roast Smoked Apple and Sage Vegetarian Sausages which we also diced up and added to the pan to cook with the zucchini…

…and Butternut Pumpkin pasta sauce which we poured over the top and simmered until the spiral pasta (not pictured) was cooked. Then we drained the pasta and stirred it through the sauce and served it all up into bowls with grated parmesan and red chilli flakes on the side for those who were game.

A meatless dinner that I never would have planned, but now that we’ve had it, I’d totally plan to make again!

 

Potato salad

Today’s Meatless Monday post is a guest post by my husband, Aaron. It is a family recipe for potato salad, which was my dad’s recipe, but my mom taught Aaron how to make it after my dad died more than a decade ago. It is one of our summer staples.

Potato salad

G’day! This is one of my favourite things to have in summer – Jen’s dad’s potato salad. Aussie potato salad is usually heavy on the dressing (Aussie mayo which is usually too vinegary), and the potatoes are usually diced to, literally, the size of a die, and  only just cooked through, then run under cold water to stop the cooking process. And bacon. Aussies love a good bit of bacon in their…well, in anything, really. This recipe throws a lot of those things out of the window, but it makes the potato the star, which it should be. And there’s no bacon, which makes it perfect for Meatless Monday!

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 kg washed potatoes, DO NOT PEEL, diced in about 1 inch cubes  (we usually just get the cheapest ones)

6 hard-boiled eggs (that’s too expensive)

1 celery stick (well, probably only half of one), very finely diced

1/2 – 1 cup mayonnaise (try to get American mayo!)

1 Tbspn American mustard

celery seed

salt and pepper

Method

Boil the potatoes (or cook in a pressure cooker for about 20 mins once the cooker is pressurized, then allow to cool naturally) until a fork easily goes into them.

Potatoes in pressure cooker

Slice the eggs with an egg slicer (I usually slice the egg, rotate it 90 degrees in the slicer, then slice it again) and add to a large bowl with the celery, a few shakes of celery seed, the mustard and mayo.

All ingredients except potatoes

Mix these together, then add the drained potatoes and mix (carefully, as the potatoes should be very soft and warm) until well combined, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving (or don’t…).

And there you go. This recipe goes great with anything BBQed, or even just by itself.

Wholemeal cheesy pasta with garden salad

Went into my sadly neglected kitchen today and turfed a whole bunch of food that had gone off or was past its use by date and had to resign myself to the fact that Christmas is over and leftovers are all but gone now. Time to get back into the kitchen and actually cook, and not just pull out containers from the fridge and dish out onto plates and at the very most zap them individually in the microwave. So our first Meatless Monday meal of the year was something very simple and ultra comforting – wholemeal cheesy pasta and a ‘whatever is in the fridge that needs using’ garden salad.

The recipe is dead simple and it was on the dinner table in 30 minutes.

Firstly the ingredients: 500 grams wholemeal penne pasta, ¼ cup unsalted butter, ¼ c plain flour, 2 ½ cups milk, 1 tspn each paprika and dry mustard, 450 grams grated or cubed cheese (I used Monterey jack), salt and pepper to taste, bread crumbs (optional)

Put a large saucepan of water over high heat until it comes to a boil, add salt and pasta, then cook according to packet instructions (mine said 9 minutes). Meanwhile in a slightly smaller saucepan make a cheese sauce. Melt the butter and the add the flour and whisk until a roux is formed over medium high heat. Slowly add the milk and whisk constantly until it thickens. Then stir in the paprika and mustard and add the cheese and leave to melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.

Drain the pasta and put into a large casserole dish and stir through the cheese sauce.

Top with breadcrumbs and toast for 15 minutes in a hot oven. While this is toasting, throw together a salad.

In our salad bowl tonight: cos lettuce, 2 diced tomatoes, 2 peeled and sliced cucumbers from a friend’s garden, ¼ of a finely diced red onion and store bought ranch dressing.

Serve and enjoy!