For better or worse, 2016 is coming to an end. I know I’ve been feeling all the feels lately, but I’ll keep things nice and cozy here with some pasta featuring the year’s most popular vegetable, cauliflower– which has been everywhere and everything. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I haven’t tried cauliflower in any of its more trendy, experimental forms, but plan to remedy that soon with these buffalo wings, this pizza, and these steaks with romesco sauce. Yep, cauliflower is one intriguing, can-do brassica oleracea. Here, its mellow sweetness is complemented by garlic, kalamata olives, toasted almonds, and aromatic fresh oregano.
*I’ve been so excited that my local nataural foods store started carrying gluten free farfalle. If you buy/eat gluten free pasta with any frequency you know that gluten free bowties are something of a unicorn. Jovial also makes gluten free casarecce and manicotti (!). Get it.
12 oz pasta (farfalle, penne, fusilli, etc.)
4-5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed, cored, and cut into bite size chunks
1 cup vegetable broth
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves only, chopped
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a large pan/wok. Add garlic and a pinch of red pepper and cook over medium heat, agitating frequently, for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
- Stir in cauliflower and then the broth. Cover, turn up heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until “crips tender.” Stir in oregano and olives.
- Add pasta to the pan, season with salt and pepper and, if desired, drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Sprinkle on toasted almonds and serve.
Yield: About 5 servings
Fresh cabbage is not something I typically buy. For me, it usually conjures images of sad plops of diner coleslaw and The Kids in the Hall. When shopping I pass right by those pale green heads (and even the purple ones) in favor of darker leafy things like kale and chard, or more exciting things like tatsoi and romanesco. Still, the beautiful varieties at the farmer’s market piqued my interest and made me reconsider. Stir-fried with ginger, garlic, peanuts, tofu, and hot sesame oil, cabbage is totally delicious– and not at all reminiscent of coleslaw. I’m craving some right now.
*I thought this was spicy! Not too spicy with rice, though. And perfect if your head gets extra stuffy this time of year like mine does. Of course Philip added hot sauce anyway. If you prefer a less spicy dish, reduce the amount of hot sesame oil or cut with some toasted sesame oil. For a totally mild dish, replace completely with toasted sesame oil.
1 block extra-firm tofu
½ tbsp grapeseed or other hot cooking oil (peanut, canola, refined coconut, etc.)
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp coconut sugar
½ tbsp tamari
For everything else:
1-1½ tsp grapeseed or other hot cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 medium head of cabbage, trimmed of outer leaves and core, cut into thin shreds
1 tbsp tamari
½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
½ tsp hot sesame oil
¼ cup peanuts (I used roasted and salted)
Rice, for serving
- Pat tofu with a clean tea towel or paper towel. Cut into 1” cubes, then pat again to soak up extra moisture.
- Heat ½ tbsp grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes, sprinkle with garlic powder and coconut sugar, and stir gently to distribute seasonings. Then let cook—without touching– for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden and a bit crispy. Carefully flip over (turn down the heat while you do this) and splash with ½ tbsp tamari. Cook for 3-4 minutes more. Turn off burner and transfer tofu to another dish. Let the pan cool a bit and then give it a wipe to remove any blackened bits.
- Heat 1-1½ tsp grapeseed (or other) oil in pan over medium heat, and add the garlic and ginger. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
- Stir in cabbage. Splash with a tiny bit of water and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring as needed. Add tamari and rice wine vinegar and cook for a couple minutes more.
- Add the tofu, peanuts, and hot sesame oil, and cook for another minute or two. Taste for seasonings and serve with rice.
Yield: About 3-4 servings
When I made this for dinner a few nights ago, Phil told me it was “very fall.” While cooking, I had thought I had been making a very summery meal–eggplants! peppers! fresh basil and mint!– yet had to agree that my hot bowl of pasta full of roasted things was pretty damn cozy. Even the fact that I had turned the oven on at all was evidence of the seasonal shift. To be sure, this is a transitional dish, showcasing late summer’s abundant harvest while gently easing us into fall’s rhythms and encouraging us to slow down– even if for just a bit.
*To smash the garlic, peel each clove and pressed down gently but firmly (and very carefully!) with the side of a chef’s knife, taking care not to break the clove completely.
13 or so fairytale eggplants, stemmed and halved
2-3 red peppers (I used 3 not too big frying ones), cut into 1-1½” pieces
1 small red onion, diced medium
2 garlic cloves, gently smashed
1½-2 tbsp olive oil (enough to evenly coat vegetables)
1 12 oz package of pasta
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread evenly on a roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once half way through, until vegetables are tender and browning around the edges. Remove from oven.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Just before draining, reserve about a ¼ cup of the pasta water (use a mug with a handle to scoop directly from the pot). Drain pasta.
- To the pasta, add the tomato paste, vinegar, and pasta water and stir to combine. Then mix in the roasted vegetables, breaking the garlic with your spoon. Season with salt and pepper, and top with basil and mint.
Yield: About 4 servings
Like most people, I like my lunches to be as effortless as possible. This usually means left-overs from last night’s dinner, some sort of sandwich or rice cake creation, or– especially as the weather gets warmer– grabbing whatever items I have in the fridge and throwing them into a bowl. One of my favorite bases for the “grain” element of the bowl lunch is quinoa, which tastes great at any temperature and is easy to cook a big batch of to have throughout the week. The same goes for lentils, or feel free to substitute canned (BPA-free and rinsed, please). Of course with any bowl dish it’s the toppings that make it shine. Here I used sliced almonds, radish microgreens, olives, and avocado, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon, and a little harissa. It’s hippie food in the best sense possible. Delicious, delicious hippie food.
¾ cup cooked and cooled quinoa
½ cup cooked and cooled lentils
squeeze or two of lemon
a little hot sauce (I like something thick here, like harissa or sriracha)
handful of microgreens, pea shoots, sprouts, etc.
handful of sliced almonds
Combine quinoa and lentils in a bowl and toss with a little olive oil, squeeze of lemon, and sea salt. Top with everything else, then, if desired, finish with another small drizzle of oil and squeeze of lemon.
Yield: 1 serving
Lightly adapted from Mario Batali’s Farfalle with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Arugula
This is one of those dishes that is so simple and easy to throw together yet somehow feels sophisticated. Simultaneously fresh and comforting, it’s a bit like a lighter, updated version of that 90’s Italian American restaurant staple, the pasta primavera. Pasta, peas, and wilted arugula are coated in a silky, garlicky, almost creamy sauce, though there’s no actual cream or cheese here (or cashews or nut milk for that matter; this is a vegan blog after all). Instead olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, vegetable broth, and nutritional yeast combine to make a sort of a magic– a small glittering sea of umami richness.
*I prefer the more flavorful oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes here, but you can certainly substitute the dry kind. Just be sure to rehydrate first by covering in hot water and soaking for about ten minutes, then draining.
12 oz pasta
1 cup frozen peas, preferably petite
EV olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, preferably the oil-packed kind, cut into slivers
1 cup vegetable broth, divided
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
4 cups arugula
sea salt and black pepper
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; set a timer for cooking time. When there is one minute left on the timer, add the peas. Cook pasta and peas together for remaining minute and then drain.
- Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil into a large pan and cook garlic and red pepper flakes over medium low heat for a few minutes, watching closely and agitating frequently, until fragrant.
- Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, a ¼ cup of the vegetable broth, and nutritional yeast. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring now and then, til thickened.
- Stir in the arugula and the rest of the broth. Cook for another couple minutes, letting arugula wilt. Combine with pasta and serve.
Yield: About 4 servings