Lunchington. Mini Meal.

Turkeys in a blanket, with a fresh pasta salad. Lunchtime. Answered.

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Eggplant Bolognese (Vegan)

This makes divine leftovers…

1 large Eggplant, peeled and cubed if using large eggplant, cover cubes in few tbsp. of salt for 30 min and then strain under water. This removes the bitterness

1 large onion red, white or yellow

2 stems of Rosemary

2 stems of Thyme

5 Medjool dates

1 handful of Red Currants

4 cloves of fresh garlic

extra virgin olive oil

2 boxes of Pomi diced tomatoes use fresh tomatoes if you can’t find Pomi

3 c. of water use as needed to achieve desired consistency

  • 3 Tbsp each oregano and basil, dried
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes
  • 1 Tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper

Whiz all the ingredients EXCEPT for the Pomi (or fresh) tomatoes in a food processor until the mixture has a finely diced consistency.

Cook the eggplant mixture over medium high heat in extra virgin olive oil until it is soft and golden brown. Add the tomatoes to the eggplant mixture and continue to cook until the oil separates from the tomatoes, season to taste. 

If the sauce is too thick for you, add water in 1/2 c increments until you achieve the desired consistency.

Serve with whole wheat pasta or whole grain rice. Serves 6

REAL Lunch: Gemelli Pasta w. Garlic Marinara

Gemelli Pasta

4 c. Gemelli Pasta
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp basil, shredded fresh or dry
3 c. of fresh Marinara
1 TBsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp salt
Mozzarella Cheese *optional

Set a pot of salted water to boil on high heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, quickly saute (1 min) the minced garlic and basil in Olive Oil over medium-low heat – taking care not to burn or brown the garlic, that will make it bitter. Add the Marinara to the garlic, oil and basil and lower the heat to low.  Stir well and cook for 12 – 15 minutes.

Check your salted water — when you have a rolling boil, add the Gemelli, stir to prevent sticking and cook until al dente (about 15 mins).

Drain the cooked pasta,

For packing to-go, scoop about 1 c. of pasta per container and top with 3-4 TBsp of Marinara, a few shreds of cheese or fresh herbs.

For dining-in, plate pasta and sauce — serve with crusty Italian Bread, that you can make ahead of time (like, the Sunday before) and a quick Romaine, Carrot and Tomato salad.

Delicious,

AND p.s. – you just got 4 servings of Vegetables in one meal!

Easy Potato Gnocchi

I had always watched fancy cooking shows where recipes like this were made, but when I realized how easy it was to make them, how much the kids liked them, how versatile they were to use – well, I had to.

I made a batch of dough and prepared them two ways.

Caramelized Portabella and Sweet Onion and Basil Pesto – so very good.

Gnocchi

//Ingredients//

5 large potatoes, gold are my favorite

1 egg,  lightly beaten

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup of flour (more for dusting your work surface)

1 tsp fresh nutmeg

//Optional//

1 medium onionplus 2 cloves of garlic and 8 baby bella mushrooms

pesto (fresh or store bought, Sam’s Club brand is great)

//Method//

Peel all of the potatoes. Fill a large pot with cold water. Salt the water, then cut potatoes in half and place them in the pot. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender throughout, this takes about 30 minutes.

Remove the potatoes from the water one at a time with a slotted spoon and place into a large bowl.  Work quickly with the potatoes, so that you can mash them when they are still hot. Process the potatoes through a ricer, pulse them in a food processor or mash them with the tines of a fork – no need to make things more complicated eh? The end result is that you have an even consistency and no big lumps.

Let the potato mash cool in the bowl – about ten minutes. When you are ready, drizzle the potatoes with the beaten egg and sprinkle 3/4 cup of the flour across the top. Incorporate the flour and eggs into the potatoes with the egg incorporated throughout – use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to make quick work of it. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and fold the ingredients together, until the mixture is a light crumble. Then knead the dough with your hands, very gently.

Here, you can add more flour (a sprinkle at a time) if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be still be moist, but it should be fairly easy to handle; not tacky. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Now gently roll each 1/8th of dough into a snake-shaped log, roughly the thickness of your thumb. Use a knife to cut pieces every 3/4-inch. Dust with a bit more flour.

To shape the gnocchi hold a fork in one hand and place a gnocchi pillow against the tines of the fork, cut ends out.

Gnocchi Fork

Lightly, use your thumb and press in and down the length of the fork. The gnocchi should curl into a slight “C” shape, the back will have ridge marks from the tines of the fork. Set each gnocchi aside, dust with a bit more flour if needed, until you are ready to boil them. This step takes some practice, don’t get frustrated – sometimes I just cut them and don’t bother with the tines and ridges; they’re just as good in the shapes of little square plain pillows.

Bring a fresh pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the gnocchi about ten at a time. They will float to the top of the pot when they are ready. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon, and place them on a waiting platter.

Combine with your sauce or accompanying ingredients of choice – fresh sauteed garlic spinach, pesto, caramelized mushrooms and onions, fresh grated parmesan and a splash of cream with fresh cracked black pepper — the options are endless!

Serves ~ 8

Leek, Spinach and Tomato Pasta with Home-made Ricotta

Home-made Ricotta is  so easy, I had no idea. This recipe makes 4 cups. For a tasty vegan variation using Firm Tofu and italian spices, click here.

1 gallon whole milk ($3.49)

1/4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon, $.25)

kosher salt, to taste ($1.19)

Over medium heat, warm the milk and lemon juice in a stainless-steel pot until the curds separate and steam begins to rise from the pot and you see the mixture coming to a  gentle simmer (Do NOT boil).

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth. Gently ladle the mixture onto the cheesecloth. Tie the cheesecloth around your kitchen faucet.  Let hang for 3 hours. Remove from cheesecloth, and season with salt to taste.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or use immediately in your favorite pasta recipe.

Homemade Ricotta

This was a quick weekend dinner idea, well except for the 3 hours it took to make the fresh Ricotta (if you make a batch ahead of time, you’ll have it on hand to use):

pasta shells ($1.00)

2 whole tomatoes (from Larriland $.87)

1 leek (also from the farm $.50)

1 onion ($.27)

1/4 cup of frozen spinach ($.29)

3 cloves of garlic, minced ($.07)

1 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil ($.15)

a splash of balsamic vinegar ($.09) – optional

Boil the pasta on medium high heat for ~10 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Sautee in olive oil over medium high heat, the onion, garlic, leeks spinach and tomatoes – cook until all of the ingredients have caramelized ~12 minutes.

Add the balsamic vingear to the pan, stir and using the spoon – scrape the brown caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan – add the cooked pasta shells and mix well to incorporate all of the vegetables in with the pasta.

Serves ~7

Pasta

Little Hands and Eggplant Parm

Two beautiful eggplants from Larriland Farm ($1.49), 1 can of whole tomato in juice ($.87), freshly grated Parmesan cheese ($2.17), a can of breadcrumbs ($1.18), a box of linguine pasta and 30 minutes in a 375 F degree oven give you this yum-tastic creation.  Serves ~ 8 

Eggplant Parm

Eggplant Parm