Vegetable Pesto and Pasta

Sometimes you just get tired of red sauce and alfredo is more cream and cheese than my arteries can handle.  So, what to do with the fettucine?  The answer is pesto.  Of course sometimes you start out in one direction and end up somewhere else.  At least that happens to me frequently.  Not all pesto has to be made with basil or parsley, which is good because I didn’t have either one.  So what follows is somewhere between pesto and sofrito and it’s amazing on pasta. You can use it as a sauce, a seasoning mix, spread it on bread or put it in the soup.  I love versatile foods, especially the ones that include lots of vegetables, plus it’s a fast weeknight supper.  I also get to use my food processor which is always fun.

Vegetable Pesto

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1-2 cups of greens (I used a combination of chard, beet greens and collard greens)

Chop and place all of the vegetables in the food processor and pulse several times until almost smooth.  Vegetable Pesto II




Pasta wit Veg PestoPour into a skillet with enough olive oil to coat the pan and sweat the mixture on medium heat for about 5-8 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the fettucine until al dente, drain (reserving some of the cooking liquid) and place in a large bowl or serving dish.  Spoon the pesto over the noodles, adding some of the cooking liquid if needed, and toss until the noodles are coated.  Pasta and Pesto 006Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!



Forget About it Until the Smell Makes You Crazy

Sometimes you find a dish that’s just so delicious you can’t believe it’s made from something as ordinary as lentils.  At my house, vegetarian lentil soup is a huge favorite, and since it’s one of those soups that’s great on Monday and just gets better and better by lunch time Thursday, I’m making plenty of it.  It’s also really easy and cheap so what’s not to love about that.   Best of all you can do something else while it cooks.

There are countless recipes for lentil soup, but this is my version and I encourage you to use whatever combination of ingredients suits your tastes.

Really Easy Vegetarian Lentil Soup

  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, rough chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, rough chopped
  • 2 cups fresh kale (any kind), rough chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 red pepper (jalapeno, anaheim), rough chopped
  • 2 cups dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves (mine are small, so I use two)
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper

Sometimes you just get tired of chopping vegetables, so I really like this dish because I get to use my food processor.

  1. Put the onion, carrots, celery, kale and red pepper into the food processor and pulse several times until you have a small chop mixture.
  2. Spray the bottom of a soup pot or dutch oven, and bring to a medium heat.  Add the vegetable mixture and sweat until the fragrance is unbearable.

Lentil Soup Veggie Base II




3.  Add the broth, lentils, herbs and salt and pepper.

Vegetable Broth

4.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, put the top on and wait.  Let everything simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, checking now and then to make sure it doesn’t boil dry.

The great thing about lentils is that they don’t get mushy (unless you mush them).  You can blend for a smooth soup, but I like the homey, rustic texture of the lentils.  Serve in bowls with a big chunk of fresh bread, or a dollop of sour cream.

Best Vegan Lentil Soup 001

Helpful Hint:  You can make extra of the veggie mixture. Put some in a zip lock and stick in the freezer for another soup day.




Simple Sandwiches

I was having one of those days when I just wanted something simple, something light, something between two slices of bread, you know, a sandwich.  Now there is an infinte variety of sandwiches using an almost infinite variety of ingredients, but the main determining factor in my house is what I have in the refrigerator, and I can make a sandwich with just about anything that won’t slide off the bread.  Here are a couple of standards that use ingredients that I almost always have on hand.

Avocado-Tomato and Onion Sandwich

  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado, roughly chopped and mashed
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 1 ripe roma tomato, sliced
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread

Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mash roughly with a fork.  I like mine a little lumpy but you can do yours any way you like.

Slice the onion thinly and then slice the tomato.

Sandwich I

Spread the avocado on both sides of the bread, and top with onion slices on one side and tomato slices on the other.  Sandwich I



Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a pickle on the side.

Sandwich V




Another favorite of mine:

Mushroom and Cheddar on Whole Wheat Bread

  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread

In a large pan, saute the mushrooms and shallot in olive oil until tender.

Mushroom & Shallot Sautee II




Lightly toast the bread and spread with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Cover one slice of bread with the mushrooms and shallot mixture and on the other place a slice of cheddar cheese.

Mushroom, shallot & cheese sandwich

Put the slices together and enjoy.   It’s pure mushroom bliss.

Cheddar & Mushrooms on Whole Wheat




These are just a couple of the possibilities for creative sandwich making.  About once a week I do refrigerator inventory and pull out anything that has sandwich potential.  It’s a great way to plan lunch.




Cabbage and Comfort Food

Well, it looks like I’ve been forgiven for making everyone eat sauerkraut last week.  They keep telling me they don’t like it and I keep trying to find a way to make it not taste like sauerkraut and it never works.  So this week I guess I’ll try a different approach to cabbage that’s more like comfort food.  Savory stuffed cabbage always feels homey and satisfying and it’s simple and inexpensive to make.  Here’s my most recent take on this really flexible dish.

Cabbage Stuffed with Quinoa and Brown Rice


Photo by E. Broughton
Photo by E. Broughton






Stuffing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced anaheim or poblano pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 8-oz package of microwavable quinoa and brown rice
  • 1 small head of green cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)


In a saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth or a

Cabbage rolls 010

tablespoon of olive oil and the onion, celery, red pepper and poblano pepper and simmer just until tender.

Add the quinoa and rice and a little more vegetable broth and return to a simmer.  Let simmer until the mixture is well heated, about 5-6 minutes and then remove from the heat and set aside.

Cabbage rolls 012

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, cut out and remove the cabbage core and remove any damaged outside leaves.  Add the cabbage and let it simmer, rolling it around so it cooks evenly.  After about 10-12 minutes the outer leaves will loosen and begin to peel away from the head.  Carefully remove them with tongs and place in an ice water bath.

Cabbage rolls 007

You’ll only need 12 leaves, so you can save the rest of the cabbage for another meal (I chop it up and freeze it to use in soup).

Drain the leaves and pat dry with a paper towel.   Lay out the leaves and place about a heaping tablespoon of stuffing near the base of the leaf. Roll the bottom of the leaf over the filling, folding in the sides like a burrito.  Stick a toothpick through each roll and place in a baking dish.  (Spread a couple of teaspoons of marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan to keep the rolls from sticking).  Cabbage rolls 015Arrange the rolls in a single layer and top with the rest of the marinara sauce.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

Serve with a dab of plain greek yogurt or sour cream and some fresh dill or chives.