Meat Free Monday Pasta

In an effort to save $ I planned to use half a head of Napa cabbage shredded with pasta, cheese, and leftover cream. Plus I was parsimoniously planning to turn stale bread into crusty crumbs. But that plan bit the dust as I unfurled leaf after mildewed cabbage leaf. Gross.

That left the cauliflower. While a fan of roasted veg, I couldn't bear it again. Thus “the way better than I have any right to expect it to be meat free Monday pasta” was born. And I still got to make crusty crumbs!


At least 4 inches baguette or some other loaf, ground in food processor

4 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1/2 head large, or a whole head of small cauliflower, cut into florets

12 ounces pasta of choice

1/4 cup cream (frankly 1/2 is better)

1/3 cup Italian cheese of choice

5 tablespoons olive oil


Nub of butter (optional and not needed if using 1/2 cup cream!)

Start pasta water with a big sprinkle of salt. When water boils, add pasta. Add cauliflower when there's about 4 minutes left of cooking time. Before draining save 3/4 cup of cooking water.

Meanwhile heat large skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add a teaspoon-ish chopped garlic. When it smells good (:30) add the crumbs, sprinkle with salt and stir occasionally until crunchy. Put in separate bowl and wipe skillet.

As pasta finishes cooking, add 3 tablespoons olive oil to skillet over medium heat, plus remaining garlic. When it smells good (:30) add drained pasta and cauliflower. Toss. Adding at least 1/2 cup cooking liquid – it will keep pasta and garlic from sticking to the pan. Plus it gets absorbed. Add cream and cheese. Stir. Top with crusty crumbs.

Eat – B

BTW – It really only takes 20 minutes despite the lengthy instruction.

BBTW – why over share ingredients. My non cheese lover couldn't tell you what was in the dish.


Salted Carmel Sauce (Bon Appetit 10/13)

So EZ it's worth repeating! And eating. I snapped the caramel sauce recipe from this month's edition of BA. The apple cake is still on my to-do list. As delicious as the sauce is when warm, it keeps pretty nicely in the fridge. A bit stiffer, but heck, it was the best ice cream topper we had in a while.

If you can't read ingredient amounts from the pic, it calls for 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup cream. Don't walk away from the sugar as it's doing its caramel thing – learned that lesson (again) when I decided to make another batch. 😉

Eat – B

Btw – I think this counts for meat free Monday





Breakfast salad for Meat-free Monday


Despite my sweet teeth, I mostly prefer savory for breakfast. If grains and veggies are not your daybreak cup of tea, try this salad for lunch or dinner. It tastes the same.I made this as a single serving but double or quadruple. It keeps well for a couple of days and travels nicely too! 

1/4 cup barley, cooked 
1 pickling cucumber, chopped 
Handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped 
1 tablespoon dill, chopped 
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon-ish red wine vinegar 
1 oz feta, crumbled 

Combine barley, pinch of salt & up to 1 cup water. Boil & reduce to simmer, cooking until it's just slightly chewy. Drain excess water if there is any. Cool slightly & combine all other ingredients. Adjust pepper, salt & vinegar to taste. I like to assemble it when it's warm. You could add red onion or chives, but even I don't indulge at breakfast. :)

 Eat - B


Veggie Zoup

In my house we call it zesty zoup, not necessarily because it's zesty (although it can be) but because we like saying zesty zoup. This vegan big batch recipe is a late summer staple. Mid winter veggies work just as well. The addition of barley gives a whole grain chewiness. Try adding quinoa if you'd prefer a hit of protein instead.

Non vegans feel free to sprinkle your fave grated Italian cheese. Even better cook this baby with that dried out rind of Parmesan lingering in your fridge 🙂

Use what veggies you have and feel free to sub. Making soup uses up pieces and bits you would otherwise toss. Feel free to use you processor for slicing, chopping & dicing – no judgement!


1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 carrots, sliced thin

1 larger zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced

1 larger yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced

2 ears of corn from cob or freezer

1/2 cup puréed tomatoes, fresh, boxed, jarred or canned

1/2 cup barley

Olive or veg oil

In large stockpot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil of choice. Cook onions 5-10 minutes until soft. Add garlic for last 2 minutes. Stirring and seasoning with salt & pepper. Add carrots, zucchini, yellow squash & corn. Add barley and toss the whole mess together. Combine with tomatoes & 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook 20-30 minutes, until barley is cooked through. Check seasonings. Eat.

Eat – B

*note: Zoup can be made zesty with red pepper flakes, fresh herbs or pistou (blended garlic, basil, olive oil). Beans can be added for a heartier dish – jarred, canned or previously hydrated.


Pop Tarts? (A meat free Monday entry)

My spoiled, ungrateful children will inform you these are not pop tarts. But they'll be happy to unload that information with their mouths full. The fact is, Alana Chernila doesn't call them pop tarts in her book, “The Homemade Pantry.” I do, because they're a delicious, hand held treat that pop tarts can only dream of replicating.

A couple of cooking notes:

1. I filled half with cinnamon sugar (2 T of sugar to 1 t of cinnamon). The other half I used puréed peach jam (see previous blog entry). This is not a requirement, but it was really delicious.

2. The dough has no sugar,but does have cider vinegar. This kept it pretty flexible. I think it also comes to room temperature more quickly than you might expect – work quickly! Or, pop in the fridge to firm layers. Plus without the sugar, fillings can be sweet or savory

3. The recipe calls for using the mixer for combining the dough – love this!

4. I was too lazy to cut out tops and bottoms, so I folded my tarts. And I forgot to poke the tops to release the steam which didn't seem to make a difference.

I poached a copy of the recipe from (Click here for the recipe)


Eat – B


Mixed Grill

Yes it was meat free Monday. No, I did not feel like going to the store. So we're going to consider this something like an Arnold Palmer, 1/2 lemonade and half iced tea. Except in this case it's a half vegan mixed grill (the other half is chicken).

Skinless boneless chicken can take on flavor in 30 minutes on the counter. I like to pound it thinner, which reduces cooking time and raises the chances of juicy chicken. I'm still working over charcoal. My best advice is don't rush the coals. Drink some wine if you must, in fact drink regardless.

The grilled veggies just have olive oil, but a big boost of flavor as well from a quick basil dressing.

Chicken marinade

1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken, your choice

Juice from a lemon

Whatever fresh herbs you have in whatever amount you want, chopped (thyme and oregano are great choices)

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil (or less)

2 big pinches of salt

Some grates of pepper

Marinate 1/2 hour countertop, or several hours in the fridge. If refrigerated, let come to room temp 15-20 minutes. Cook over coals or medium heat on the gas grill, flipped when edges turn opaque. Squeeze extra lemon.

Basil dressing

Large handful washed basil, no stems. Several pinches of salt and several grates of pepper. One garlic clove. Enough olive oil to make pourable dressing (about 1/3 of a cup). Blend in food processor. Add grated Italian cheese if you want.

Great on grilled veggies, bread, fish or chicken.


Super Flexible Vegetarian Supper (or world’s easiest appetizer)


It takes no time and very little dough, but flatbread pizzas make you look like a genius. I'll give you the benchmarks on the condition you don't tell anyone in my family.

That's what I was thinking in the aisles of Trader Joe's when I saw the whole wheat Naan. Naan in its best form is a flatter bread that is both puffy and light, perfect for curry dipping, but equally well suited to hold toppings. I came away with a super simple trio of “pizzas” that pair with a salad for meat free Mondays, Sundays, or in my case Fridays.

For the first pizza, I topped ricotta with pesto. There are great store made options, but pesto takes 10 minutes with a food processor or Ninja. Leftovers from this recipe can dress a sandwich, be tossed with pasta for another meal or frozen for a later date. I subbed baby arugula for the basil. It definitely tickled the tonsils, but danced beautifully with the bland ricotta cheese.

Sautéed baby portabello mushrooms with garlic, onions, and gruyere make pizza number two. If you double down on the mushrooms, you'll have enough left over to doll up scrambled eggs or toss into a quick marina.

Last but not least, a simple ricotta pizza topped with a spicy Italian herb mix and olive oil – assembled in two minutes. EZ!


Pesto (see recipe) or store bought

8-10 ounces Ricotta, part skim or whole (I bought 15 oz and ate some plain!)

10-ish oz. baby bello mushrooms or your fave

1/2 medium onion, sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

Fresh or dried thyme

Pecorino romano or Parmesan


Mixed dry Italian seasonings (oregano, basil, crushed red pepper)

Arugula Pesto

1 bag baby arugula (several cups)

1/3 cup whole or chopped walnuts, toast @ 375 for ten minutes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup grated pecorino romano, at least 🙂

Squirt a lemon half

Heat oven to 375. Cool nuts and grind or process. Add garlic, process. Add greens but you may have to scrape and start adding oil in a stream to get the greens going. Blend in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dash of lemon juice. Blend.

Sautéed mushrooms

In small heavy bottom pan, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sauté onions 5 minutes, add garlic and cook another minute. Combine with mushrooms, salt, pepper and several pinches of thyme. Cook until mushrooms are tender and liquid is gone.

Top 4 naan or any flatbread with ricotta. Top two with pesto, 2 with Italian spices and olive oil. Top remaining naan with mushroom mixture and thin slices of gruyere. Sprinkle all of them with pecorino romano. Bake about 10 minutes.

Cut, eat, enjoy – B