Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Dinners in Review

Friday al Fresco
Fridays are farmers' market day in our neighborhood, which means lots of fresh produce to cook with over the weekend.

We ate al fresco and had Pasta with Citrusy Cherry Tomatoes on a Bed of Very Lightly Steamed Green and Purple beans with Green Salad from the garden. The recipe is from

I veganized the pasta recipe using Earth Balance instead of butter and nutritional yeast in lieu of cheese. I also added patty pan squash... any summer squash would work well. The recipe is a keeper for us; the citrus zest pairs very nicely with the tomatoes.

Salad with lettuce, radish, and cucumber from the garden. And for dessert...locally grown organic blueberries and golden raspberries.

Saturday Stew

Saturday's fare was a Lentil and Aubergine Stew with Onion Bhajis and Wild Rice, Drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction.

In spite of the warm weather, I was hankering for some hearty food. The aubergine and lentil stew is a recipe from Jo Stepaniak's book, Vegan Vittles.

Vegan Vittles is a great cookbook for "vegan-beginners." In addition to a good spectrum of straightforward recipes, it includes extras like a synopsis of buying conventional vs. organic produce, Farm Sanctuary rescue stories, a guide to vegan alternatives to non-vegan ingredients, and animal-friendly sayings to use in lieu of the traditional. For example, instead of: "Stubborn as a mule." (mules are lovely!) say: "Stubborn as a stain."

You can find the onion bhaji recipe here.

Spaghetti Sauce Sunday

When I was growing up, Sundays meant spaghetti in our house. My mom put on a pot of sauce religiously every Sunday morning after breakfast...the smell of her delicious sauce wafted through the house all day. Hence, even now, Sundays are synonymous to pasta sauce for me. Just like my mom, I put on a pot of sauce after breakfast.

So, with the sauce I made Tofu Kale Lasagna. I used a Tofu Basil Ricotta recipe from PPK and added chopped, steamed kale to it. We ate it with broccoli and a fava bean and avocado salad.

Family Pasta Sauce Recipe

Everyone in our family makes it a little differently, but here is my version of mom's Sunday sauce:

(This is a small batch, serving 2-4, depending on portion size)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 onion, finely chopped
red pepper flakes to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
28 oz canned tomatoes (or fresh equivalent, blanched and peeled)
1 teaspoon oregano (or more to taste)
good-sized handful of fresh parsley, chopped, stems and all (~ 1 cup)
28 oz water + more to add as necessary
1/3 cup red wine (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil (optional)


Saute the garlic cloves, onions, and red pepper flakes in the olive oil until the onion and garlic begin to become tender. Add oregano, and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir into the garlic and onion mixture. Let this saute for several minutes, stirring frequently, but letting the paste brown a little on the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomatoes and bring the sauce to a simmer. (If the tomatoes are store-bought canned tomatoes, I add a small dash of sugar, depending on how acidic they are.) Add in the water and bring to a simmer again. Toss in the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn down the heat and let the sauce cook on low for several hours ( the longer the better) stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary to maintain the desired consistency. About halfway through, add the red wine.

A few minutes before serving, stir in the fresh basil. Sauce is even better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld. Mushrooms also make a nice addition.

And after getting some beds ready for mid-summer planting, I ended up with a rather lovely bouquet of cilantro and arugula blossoms. (my bad photography does it no really is quite pretty)

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