Category Archives: Mains

Pasta with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Roasted Red Peppers

pasta with spinach, chickpeas, roasted red peppers

Some time off from work recently meant more time to play in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, most of my experimentation yielded disappointing results.  First, there was the smoothie that just wasn’t good (it involved cocoa butter).  Then there was the kuri dip that never came to be.  The recipe sounded so great in my head and I was eager to finally roast the beautiful red squash that had been sitting around in my kitchen for the last few weeks or months.  But apparently winter squash does not actually last forever.  After I cut it up and roasted in in olive oil and tasted it, I realized that no amount of spices would mask the bitterness.  So into the compost bin it went.  Then the next day, Saturday, I screwed up toffee cinnamon oatmeal cookie bars.  I still want to try them again, but next time I’ll use almond flour like the recipe calls for and not ground almonds (too coarse).  I should also probably get an oven thermometer.  Anyway, that night, after a mini adventure of climbing over snow banks and trudging through blizzard winds to check on the car, I decided to keep dinner simple.  And it was just right.
*To toast the pine nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes, watching closely, just until lightly browned and fragrant.

pasta with spinach, chickpeas, roasted red peppers

12 oz pasta
olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
5 oz spinach, thawed if frozen
1/3 cup chopped marinated roasted red peppers, drained
1 cup cooked/14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
handful of toasted pine nuts, optional
sea salt and black pepper
squeeze of lemon

  • Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
  • 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 roasted red peppers and spinach, turn up the heat.  Cover and cook for about a minute or two to let spinach wilt.
  • Remove lid, lower heat, and stir in chickpeas.  Cook for another couple of minutes.  Season with salt and black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Combine with pasta, drizzle with a bit more olive oil, and top with pine nuts (if using).

Yield: About 4 servings

cat looking through snowy window   cat looking through snowy window


Pasta with Roasted Sunchokes, Lemon, & Parsley

pasta with roasted sunchokes

I first tried sunchokes at a restaurant.  They were in a salad: raw, sliced thin, with escarole and lots of lemon and salt and pepper.  I don’t remember much else about the salad– I think it was pretty straightforward– other than that it was delicious, and that I was bummed when it was taken off the menu.  I sort of forgot about sunchokes until recently, when I tried them again at the farmers’ market.  A seller was offering samples of the vegetable– small chunks sautéed with fresh turmeric and some kind of herb which I forget (sage maybe?).  I decided to buy a bag and bring it home to the fridge, where it sat and sat.  And sat.  Weeks later–after the holiday madness– I pulled out the bag and hesitantly inspected the tubers, which, to my surprise and delight, looked exactly the same as when I had bought them.  Which is to say, like funky little ginger potato hybrids.  I wasn’t entirely sure as to how to prep them and while I remembered that the sunchoke I had sampled at the market was unpeeled, I decided I should probably do a little research.  I’m glad I did.  Yes, the skin is indeed technically edible, however, when I learned that the sunchoke, or Jerusalem artichoke, is also known as the “fartichoke,” I figured it best to err on the side of caution.  After scrubbing the sunchokes, I peeled off the skin, rinsed them again (to remove even more excess starch– or at least that was the idea), then patted them dry.  I roasted them until they were browned and a little crispy yet also meltingly tender.  Served over pasta with lemon and parsley, they made for a very tasty, very gratifying dinner.

pasta with roasted sunchokessunchokes, jerusalem artichokes

1 lb sunchokes, peeled, rinsed, and dried, cut into ¼” slices
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed with a chef’s knife handle
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
salt and pepper, to taste
½ lemon, the juice and zest
½ cup parsley, chopped
12 oz pasta (fusili, bowties, and gemelli are all good choices)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, toss sunchoke slices with 1 tbsp olive oil, some salt and pepper, and garlic. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet.
  • Let sunchokes roast for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until lightly browned. Then remove from oven and drizzle with the lemon juice.
  • While sunchokes are roasting, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
  • Combine the pasta and sunchokes, drizzle with a bit more olive oil, and sprinkle on the parsley and lemon zest.  Taste for seasonings.

Yield: About 4 servings

pasta with roasted sunchokes

Sweet Potato with Tahini, Sauerkraut, & Olives

sweet potato sauerkraut tahini

This is some real deal everyday eats right here. I love having sweet potatoes on hand because they’re cheap, nutritious, tasty, and cook up easily (my preferred cooking method: the microwave). In fact I almost titled this post “Lazy Girl Sweet Potato Lunch.” Then I thought the better of it, realizing that wanting a quick meal didn’t necessarily make me lazy, and that perhaps “Busy Lady Sweet Potato Lunch” would be more appropriate. But then I also didn’t want to exclude anyone, because this is a sweet potato for the masses. Or at least for people who like tahini and olives and sauerkraut. Be sure to use sauerkraut with live cultures so that you’re getting in on that good bacteria action. Your gut will thank you.
*To cook the sweet potato in the microwave: wash and scrub sweet potato, pat dry, and poke holes in it with a fork. Microwave for 5-5½ minutes, or until cooked through.
*Or bake in the oven, perhaps in batches.
*The aleppo pepper is not actually necessary here, but it’s an ingredient I definitely recommend checking out. It’s not as spicy as pizzeria style crushed red pepper flakes but very flavorful, and adds a delicious kick to all sorts of foods. It’s especially fab on avocado toast.

sweet potato sauerkraut tahini

1 baked/microwaved sweet potato
a few spoonfuls of tahini
some sauerkraut
handful of kalamata olives, pitted and halved
black pepper
aleppo pepper, optional

Cut open cooked sweet potato and add the tahini, mashing it into the flesh to disperse. Top with saurkraut, olives, and pepper(s).

Yield: 1 serving

Chickpeas & Chard with Quinoa

chickpeas with swiss chard and quinoa

Chickpeas and chard were pretty much made for each other.  Here they’re prepared simply: the chard is braised in garlic and oil and broth, then the chickpeas are tossed in, then everything’s spooned over savory quinoa, also cooked in broth.  It’s juicy and toothsome and really hits the spot.  Of course if you don’t want to use quinoa, pasta would be just as delicious.  In any case, it makes for one cozy meal– something I think we could all go for.
*Because the stalks of the chard are tougher than the leaves, they need a longer cooking time.  First cut off and discard the very ends of the stalks.  Then cut the stalks from the leaves, and chop into 1” pieces. In a separate pile, chop the leaves.
*Feel free to use already prepared vegetable broth (homemade or bought) in place of the bouillon/water combo.  I just happen to find bouillon cubes very convenient and economical. This kind is my go-to.
*If you’re using canned chickpeas (or anything canned for that matter), I urge you to seek out brands whose linings are labeled BPA free.  I recommend Bioitalia.

swiss chard

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
olive oil
1 bouillon cube, split: half mixed in 1½ cups water, half in 1 cup water
3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 big bunch of swiss chard, leaves and stalks chopped separately
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked/14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
lemon and/or hot sauce for serving, optional

  • In a small saucepan, toast quinoa in a teeny bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes, stirring somewhat frequently, just until fragrant and the water (from rinsing) has more or less evaporated. Stir in 1½ cups bouillon mixture/broth , bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 15 minutes more. Then uncover and fluff with a fork.
  • 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 chard stalk pieces and sauté for about 30 seconds, then add ¼ cup of broth, cover pan with lid, and cook over medium high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add chard leaves and the rest of the broth. Cook, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes more, stirring every now and then, until cooked through.
  • Remove lid, lower heat, and stir in chickpeas. Cook for another minute or two, then taste for seasonings. Let sit a few minutes for best flavor. Serve over quinoa, with lemon and/or hot sauce if desired.

Yield: 3-4 servings

chickpeas with swiss chard and quinoaMica the cat

Summer Squash, Green Bean, & Tofu Stir-fry


Is anyone else feeling totally stuffy-headed?  Between the shifting weather and all around bustle that autumn brings, it’s easy to feel run-down.  And yeah, sure I want cappuccinos and roasted butternut squash and stews– but I also want to eat things that are refreshing and keep me feeling energized.  I love a good stir-fry because it’s warm and nourishing yet still light.  This one is verdant and a little fruity thanks to the apricot spread, with lots of garlic and ginger to help keep immune systems strong and heads clear.

For the tofu:
½ tbsp coconut (or other) oil
1 tsp nutritional yeast
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 package firm or extra firm tofu
1½ tsp tamari

For the rest:
heaped ½ tbsp coconut (or other) oil
heaped 1 tbsp minced ginger
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 smallish bell pepper, cut into ¼” thick strips
2 cups green beans, trimmed of ends
2-3 smallish summer squash, cut into ¼” thick half-moons
1½ tbsp tamari, divided
2 tbsp apricot (or peach) fruit spread/not too sweet jam, divided
¼ cup water
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Rice for serving, optional

  • Pat tofu with a couple paper towels. Cut into 1” cubes, then pat again to soak up extra moisture.
  • Mix nutritional yeast and garlic powder in a small dish.
  • Heat ½ tbsp oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add tofu cubes, sprinkle with nutritional yeast-garlic powder mixture, and stir gently to distribute seasonings. Then let cook– without touching, so it can crisp up– for about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat (just for your own safety), carefully flip over the tofu, and splash with 1½ tsp of tamari. Turn heat back up, and cook (without touching) for a few minutes more. Turn off burner and transfer tofu to another dish. Let the pan cool a little bit, then give it a gentle wipe with a paper towel to remove any blackened bits.
  • Heat the rest of the oil in the pan over medium heat, and add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
  • Stir in bell pepper, green beans, 1 tbsp tamari, and 1 tbsp fruit spread. Add ¼ cup of water, cover, turn the heat up a bit, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove lid, add squash and another 1 tbsp fruit spread and ½ tbsp tamari. Cook for about another minute.
  • Stir in the tofu and cook one more minute, then turn off the heat and drizzle in the sesame oil. Let sit for a few minutes for best flavor, and adjust seasonings as desired.  Serve.

Yield: About 4 servings