Rice Noodles with Veggies, Tofu, and Green Curry

August 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love trying out new items from Trader Joe’s.  I guess I take it as personal challenge to try to find different ways to use their new products.  As I was wondering down the aisles of Culver City’s Trader Joe’s I stopped at the sauces section to take a quick look over the shelves.  I saw, to my amazement, a green curry simmer sauce.  This made me so excited. When I was in Hawaii, for my friend John and Bri’s wedding, I went out to a great Thai restaurant with a group of girl friends.  I was lucky enough to have ordered a delicious green curry dish.  This made me want to try to experiment with the green curry sauce from Trader Joe’s.  Here is the first of hopefully many experiments with this sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 small to medium-sized zucchini
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s rice noodles
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s green curry sauce
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Directions:

    1.  Heat up a wok to a medium high heat.  Add about 1 tbsp. of olive oil.  While the oil is heating up, cut the tofu into 1/2 inch thick rectangles.  Put the tofu in the wok and cook it until it is browned on both sides.  When the tofu is crispy, take the tofu out of the wok and put it on a plate.  We will put the tofu back into the wok later.

    2.  Next, put the sliced bell pepper into the wok.  Make sure you slice the peppers into thin pieces.  Cook the bell peppers for about 5 minutes.  Also start the water for the rice noodles.

    3.  While the bell peppers are cooking, cut up your zucchini.  Cut the zucchini into halves and then into 1/4 inch half rounds. Cut the onion into thin strips.  Put the zucchini and onion into the wok.  Add in the crushed red peppers as well.

    4.  While the zucchini is cooking, put the rice noodles into the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package’s directions.

    5.  When the zucchini is about half way through cooking, add the tofu back into the wok, and add the green curry simmer sauce to the wok and reduce the heat to medium.

    6.  When the veggies have cooked (make sure the peppers still have a little bit of crispness to them) add the rice noodles to the wok.  If you drain them make sure you do not rinse the noodles.  Toss the noodles with the veggies and tofu.  Let the curry sauce cover the noodles.

    This noodle dish is extra special when topped with chopped peanuts.  Make sure the peanuts are unsalted.  You could also omit the noodles and just put the veggie green curry mixture over white rice.  Try mixing in other veggies with the green curry sauce too.  Next time, I want to try adding some carrots and mushrooms.

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    Baked Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Asparagus, Spinach, Zucchini, and Peas

    August 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

    Ingredients:

    • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Rotelle whole wheat pasta
    • 1 container Trader Joe’s low-fat ricotta cheese
    • 3 medium zucchini (sliced into 1 inch thick strips)
    • 1 large head cauliflower
    • 1 bunch of asparagus
    • 1 bag of frozen spinach (defrosted and wrung out)
    • 1 cup of fresh peas or frozen peas defrosted
    • Olive oil
    • 3-4 pieces of Trader Joe’s cracked wheat sourdough bread
    • 3 large cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • Zest of lemon
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • Red pepper flakes
    • Homemade or home style ranch dressing (for serving)

    Directions:

    1.  Preheat your oven to 425º.  Cut the head of cauliflower into 1 inch florets.  Toss the florets with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread the florets out, in a single layer, on a rimmed baking pan.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until florets are tender and have browned in spots.

    2.  While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a grill pan and grill up the bunch of asparagus and zucchini.  When the asparagus and zucchini is cooked, be careful you still want them to be crisp, set them on a plate to cool.

    3.  Cook the pasta according to the packages directions.   Make sure you generously salt the pasta water to add flavor to the pasta.

    4.  While the pasta is cooking and the veggies are cooling off, make the crouton crust for the top of the pasta.  In a food processor, combine the bread (tear them into large pieces), chopped parsley, and lemon zest.  Pulse until you have medium sized crumbs.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and pulse 2-3 times to just incorporate the oil.

    5.  When the pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water for use later in this recipe.  Put the drained pasta back into the same pot you cooked the pasta in.

    6.  To the cooked pasta, add the roasted cauliflower, grilled asparagus and zucchini (cut it into bite sized pieces before adding it into the pot), spinach, peas, red pepper flakes, the reserved pasta water, and the container of low-fat ricotta cheese. Mix until combined.

    7.  Add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

    8.  Put the pasta in a large baking dish.  Top the pasta with the breadcrumb mixture, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake in a 350° oven until the pasta is heated all the way through and the crumb topping has browned (about 30-40 minutes).

    I serve ranch dressing on the side for this pasta dish.  If you aren’t obsessive about counting calories, a drizzle of cold ranch dressing on top of this warm summer pasta is heavenly.

    Veggie Shush Kabobs

    July 28, 2010 § 2 Comments

    Since I eat vegetables all of the time, I try to spruce them up by putting a variety of fresh vegetables in a soup, or in baked pasta, or in enchiladas, the list can go one forever.  The point is, I forgot just how good fresh veggies can be on their own.  These veggie kabobs make a great dinner and only needed some rice (I made coconut pineapple rice) to make a full meal.  So if you want to enjoy summer, use your grill,  and have a light dinner (one that doesn’t leave you comatose on the couch afterward) these kabobs are perfect!

    Ingredients:

    • Various vegetables (I used peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, and sweet onion.)
    • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp. Ancho chili powder
    • 1 tsp. chili sesame oil (you can use regular sesame oil, if your don’t like spicy foods)
    • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Soyaki
    • 2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes (less or more depending on your spice level)
    • Zest of 2 limes
    • Juice of 2 limes
    • Toasted sesame seeds to sprinkle

    Directions:

    1.  Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Then add in the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.  Let all of the flavors in your homemade marinade mix together while you chop up your fresh vegetables and start your grill.

    2.  Cut your vegetables into chunks.  You want all of the veggies to be roughly the same size, so they finish cooking at the same time.  Make     sure to cut your onions and peppers into large chunks because they will be the veggies that finish cooking first.

    3.  Once you have cut all of the vegetables, arrange them on the skewers in whatever order you want.  I usually use a pattern because it looks great on the plate.

      4.  Put all of the vegetable skewers in a baking dish.  Brush each skewer with the homemade marinade.  If you have leftover marinade, pour it onto the skewers.  Let the skewers soak in the marinade for about 15 minutes.

      5.  Put the skewers on the grill.  Rotate and baste the kabobs every 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked all the way through.  The timing on the vegetables depend on which veggies you used, so just check up on them and make sure they don’t burn to a crisp.  When the veggies are done, use a basting brush to brush the kabobs with the marinade again.  To finish them off, sprinkle them with toasted sesame seeds.  Serve immediately.

        Essence of Summer Salad

        July 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

        This salad fully encapsulates the essence of summer: sweet, savory, and refreshing!  Perfect to pack for a summer beach day or to enjoy at the next BBQ.  The ingredients include watermelon and green onions, so if you love the sweet / savory combo, this one is for you!

        Ingredients:

        1/4 of a medium size watermelon

        1 bunch of radishes or 1 large cool cucumber

        1/2 cup green onions

        1 bunch of fresh mint

        Olive oil

        Salt

        *Optional for non-vegetarians: 3 slices of crisped prosciutto cut into small pieces for sprinkling (this is optional and could be eliminated for a vegetarian salad)

        Directions:

        I can’t make this one easier.  Chop all ingredients, mix together in a bowl, add olive oil and salt.  [Optional for non-vegetarians: Sprinkle with cut up prosciutto.]

        Enjoy!!!

        Baked Eggplant

        May 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

        Eggplant is such a great vegetable to grow in your garden.  The plants are easy to grow (like a squash) and they give you eggplants all summer long.  It is best to plant eggplants in the shade and to water them in the morning, to prevent mold from growing on the leaves.  If you aren’t growing your own eggplants this summer, pick up some from your local farmers’ market.  Make sure you allow an extra hour to salt your eggplants, before cooking them.

        Ingredients:

        • 3 eggplants (about 4 lbs.), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
        • coarse salt
        • olive oil
        • 12 oz. spinach, chopped
        • 12 oz. package of Yves veggie ground round
        • 1 package whole wheat spaghetti
        • 2 large eggs
        • 1/2 onion, chopped
        • 15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
        • 1  1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
        • 1 tsp. pepper
        • 32 0z. jar spaghetti sauce (or your own homemade sauce)
        • 1  8 oz. ball of fresh-water packed mozzarella, drained and sliced

        Directions:

        1.  Slice eggplants length wise.  Place the eggplant on a paper towel, in a single layer, and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.  Let sit for 1 hour.  After an hour, rinse off the salt, and dry thoroughly.

        2.  Set oven to broil.   position oven rack 6 inches from the broiler.  Place the eggplant on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Brush both sides of the  eggplant with olive oil.  Broil the eggplant for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Repeat this process until all of the eggplant has been cooked.

        3.  While the eggplant is cooling, sweat the chopped onions in a saute pan with about 1 tbsp. olive oil.  When onions are translucent, add the veggie ground round and cook until browned.  Let cool to room temperature.

        4.  While onion mixture is cooling, mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, chopped spinach, and eggs in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the cooled veggie ground round and onion mixture.  Mix until combined.

        5.  Spread part of the spaghetti sauce onto a 15x10x2 baking dish (you want to cover the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of sauce).

        6.  Put a single layer of the broiled eggplant onto the sauce at the bottom of the pan.  Make sure the eggplant covers the whole pan.  Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the single layer of eggplants.  Repeat this step with two more layers of eggplant and the ricotta mixture.  After you are done you should have a layer of eggplant (on the bottom), ricotta, eggplant, ricotta, eggplant, and ricotta (on the top).

        7.  Top the ricotta mixture with the rest of the spaghetti sauce.  Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

        8.  Put foil over the baking dish and place it in the oven for 40 minutes.  Once heated all the way through, uncover the eggplant and bake until the mozzarella cheese is golden (about another 15- 20 minutes).  While the eggplant is baking, cook the whole wheat spaghetti according to the directions on its packaging.

        Spinach Artichoke Orzo Salad All Week

        May 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

        Ingredients:

        • 1/2 a bag of store-bought fresh spinach
        • 32 oz. artichokes (jar or canned)
        • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
        • 1/4 cup lite Italian dressing, plus more to taste
        • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
        • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
        • 2 cups cheery tomatoes, sliced in half or quartered
        • 1 box orzo
        • Pepper to taste

        Directions:

        1.  Combine artichokes, spinach, Parmesan cheese, and Italian dressing in a Ziploc bag and marinate for 1-2 hours.

        2.  Meanwhile, cook orzo according to the directions on packaging.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Let cool to room temperature.

        3.  Cut the tomatoes and chop the bell pepper.  Put them into a large bowl.  Stir in the cooled orzo pasta.

        4.  Chop the  artichoke and spinach (try to keep all of the dressing in the bag).  Add them to the pasta.  Add the dressing and Parmesan cheese from the marinated artichokes (inside the Ziploc bag) to the bowl.  Toss everything together.  Add pepper and more dressing to taste.

        Veggie Loaf on Monday

        May 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

        As a kid I never could chime in about the horror of my mom making meat loaf (because she never did).  I always see meatloaf available as a dinner or sandwich in great dinner type restaurants.  As a vegetarian, I always felt a little left out.  Who was going to make a meatless version of the meat loaf for us veggies?  Well, I am happy to announce that I have.  Oh, I guess I should add that my meat loving husband enjoyed it!

        Ingredients:

        • 3 Tbsp. plain dried breadcrumbs
        • 1/8 cup milk
        • 1/4 cup ketchup
        • 1/4 plus 1/8 cup  grated cheddar
        • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
        • 1 and 1/2 carrots, finely grated
        • sea salt and pepper
        • 12 oz. package of Yves veggie ground round

        Directions:

        1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  In a medium-sized bowl, grate the carrots.

        2.  Add breadcrumbs, milk, ketchup, cheese, scallions, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and veggie ground round to the bowl with the carrots.  Gently stir to combine

        3.  Pour and form mixture into a 2 1/2 x 4 inch loaf pan.  Bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes.

        This meal goes well with the roasted potatoes, green beans, and tomatoes side dish.

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