Archive for category Vegetarian

Parmesan Lemon Spaghetti Squash

parmesan lemon spaghetti squash

I’m hopping on the “Spaghetti Squash as a pasta substitute” train. Many of my friends had parents that made spaghetti squash as a pasta alternative during their childhoods; but mine didn’t. I never actually ate spaghetti squash until I was well into my 20’s – closer to 30 actually. And it just so happened to be my mom who made it the very first time I enjoyed this squash. I can’t really recall what sauce she served over it (something tomato based I believe), but I do remember thinking it was extremely tasty. There was still a slight crunch left in the squash; and it was a delight to have some actual flavour in the “pasta” rather than solely relying on the sauce to make my taste buds dance. This was at least 2 years ago. The first time I prepared spaghetti squash on my own was later in 2012. Finally.

You would think that going gluten free would have meant that I would have cooked up this hearty vegetable sooner than I did; and often. What a great, healthy substitute to the semolina pasta I deeply missed. Nope. I was driven to explore other pasta substitutes instead. Only in the fall – with the abundance of squash in the stores – did I finally throw a spaghetti squash into my cart. I enjoyed the earthy and slightly sweet flavour of the squash when I had eaten it previously; so when I first made it at home, I wanted to serve it with a “sauce” that was subtle, and that would highlight the taste of the squash. Bright lemons and salty parmesan were the sidekicks I chose to pump up the nutty sweetness of the squash; and it’s become a hit in our home. The best part: everything comes together in just a little over 10 minutes.

Parmesan Lemon Spaghetti Squash

Sauce is adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis

1 3lb spaghetti squash
2 lemons
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Cut the spaghetti squash in half. Place enough water in a large microwave-safe dish so it comes up at least one centimetre. Place the squash, cut side down, into the dish. It doesn’t matter if all the sides aren’t touching the bottom; this is simply to steam the squash. Microwave for 10 minutes. Check the squash to see if it’s cooked through – if not, put back in the microwave 3-5 minutes at a time. The squash is cooked when it comes away from the rind easily with a fork. Once cooked, remove the squash from the dish and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, zest the lemons; you need approximately 1 Tbsp of zest – set aside. Then combine the olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper and the juice from the 2 lemons in a small bowl. Set aside while the squash continues to cook.

Using a fork, scrape out all the spaghetti squash into a bowl (careful, it may still be piping hot!). Pour the lemon sauce over the squash, toss together with the lemon zest and parsley.

Serves 4-6.

We ate this with Giada de Laurentiis’s Shrimp Fra Diavlo from Everyday Italian.


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Chickpea Tacos

I’m at it again. Another taco post. If these things weren’t so damn awesome I would think you’d be sick of me writing about them. But I know that you’re all admitting to yourselves that you just realized you’ve actually been anticipating this post. Waiting with dinner plates in hand for yet one more idea of spicy filling to stuff into a corn shell. This time we’re going with hard tacos; an adjustment from the growing list of taco recipes I’ve shared so far.

This recipe was born when Kyle and I were cleaning out the fridge and cupboards in our old apartment back in September. There were onions and garlic sitting in their basket waiting to be chopped; A half of a jalepeno leftover from a previous dish, lonely amongst the dwindling contents in the fridge; and a box of taco shells and a can of chickpeas, piled amongst the other canned and dried goods in the pantry. The experiment with this meaty legume was a success; and has henceforth become a regular on our dinner table.

Chickpea Tacos

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalepeno, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 plum tomato, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 cup vegetable broth
juice of 1/2 a lime
10-12 hard taco shells
any desired toppings: we used sour cream, salsa, sriracha, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar, red onions, & avocados

Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and jalepeno and saute for 5-8 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add all the spices (chili powder to oregano) to the pan and stir for 30seconds – 1 minute; until they become fragrant. Add the chickpeas, diced tomato, salt and 1/4 cup of vegetable broth to the pan, then reduce heat to medium-low. Allow the chickpeas to simmer for 5-15 minutes (they only need 5, but can simmer longer if you want time to prep the toppings); add more vegetable broth to the pan if it begins to dry out – you want a somewhat saucy consistency, but not runny or your tacos will be soggy. Have a taste and add more salt if necessary.

Makes enough filling for 10-12 tacos.

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Spicy Black Bean & Cheese Enchiladas

Kyle has been away again, and I thought that would mean I’d be on here posting up a storm; trying to keep myself busy. But this is the first post since he left – and he’s back tomorrow, so I guess those promises to myself didn’t quite pan out. Oh well. Instead I enjoyed some time spent with my family, as my aunt and uncle were in town from Sherwood Park, AB to help out with packing up my grandmother’s apartment for her upcoming move. It was a great week spent catching up.

It can be so hard to pack up your life for a move, and especially when family is involved. So I give kudos to my grandmother for being a trooper through the entire process. She looked exhausted every night; after a long days of people asking her what she was would give away and what she would be keeping to bring into her new, smaller digs. Luckily, her emotionally hard work was rewarded each night by a home-cooked meal and some quality time spent with family. And the bonus is that the rest of us got to enjoy the family time and great food as well!

But I suppose this has nothing to do with today’s recipe. On to the enchiladas! A tasty dish of filled and rolled corn tortillas, smothered in sauce and cheese. These were devoured by Kyle and I with frosty Mexican beers on a night that was just cool enough to crank up the heat on the oven. So we took full advantage of it to prepare this comforting meal. My easy interpretation involves zero meat (sorry carnivores), a prepared tomato sauce, some beans and chiles, and lots of cheesiness. Because we all need some cheesiness in our lives. Although I can’t wait for you to try this, part of me secretly hopes it’ll be a while still before the mercury dips back down – I’m digging the heat!

Spicy Black Bean & Cheese Enchiladas

Be careful not to walk away while you’re frying the corn tortillas; otherwise you will end up with a few crunchy ones – which aren’t as easy to roll. All you’re looking for is for the tortilla to cook and soften up – you don’t want taco chips. Is this step necessary? I would say yes. Corn tortillas need to be softened in order to curl them up around a filling, and the best way to accomplish this is by giving them a nice oil batch. Feel free to share your “healthier” methods if you prepare your tortillas in a different way. And please no flour tortillas. To make this a super simple dish to prepare, we cheated and used a canned enchilada sauce, but of course you can go ahead and make your own. 

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
10 – 12 6″ corn tortillas (whatever amount is in the pack you buy)
2 1/2 cups cheese, shredded (I used mix of cheddar and monterey jack cheese) – divided
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if from a can
1/2 cup white onion, shredded
1/2 cup sour cream (full fat to ensure it’s gluten-free)
1 4 oz can of green chilis
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup red enchilada sauce
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 red chili, sliced

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Cook one tortilla at a time in the oil for about 20-30 seconds per side or until softened. Drain on paper towel-lined plate.

Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of the cheese, plus the next 10 ingredients (black beans through pepper) in  large bowl – mix well. Spoon out about 1/4 cup of the black bean mixture onto each corn tortilla and roll up. Line the prepared baking dish with the rolled corn tortillas. If there is any left over black bean and cheese mixture, spread it out over the tortillas. Once all the tortillas are filled and rolled, pour over the enchilada sauce then top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Bake the enchiladas for 15 minutes in the prepared oven. Remove from oven, and sprinkle over the lime juice; let sit for 5 minutes. Top with the cilantro and sliced chili pepper. Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

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Grilled Portobello Mushroom & Veggie Stack

I hope all my fellow Canadians enjoyed their long weekends and Canada Day. We had a great few days off, enjoying the beautiful weather and extra time to spend with family and friends. But today – my first day back at work – was extremely busy; and I foolishly didn’t plan any meals for the week while I was soaking up the sun the past 3 days. My exhaustion ended up with us going out for a bite (and a drink) after work. Which I didn’t really mind – we ate at a restaurant with a sunny deck; and our own deck doesn’t welcome the sun except for late at night and during the early morning hours, so sunny al fresco dining is a treat for us.

This got me thinking that I should share another speedy recipe for everyone. One that is perfect for the summer grill, plus the ingredients are readily available at any grocery store (and gluten free!). A giant juicy portobello mushroom is grilled alongside some tasty veggies that get stacked on top – sort of like an open-face burger…or not…because there wasn’t any bun. Well, that’s not entirely true: Kyle did wedge his veggies between a thin, toasted bun. But I preferred mine just as is.

This whole dinner will only take about 20-30 minutes to get from grill to table – a perfect amount of time to throw on some quinoa to serve along side your veggies. Oh, and I found out some exciting Gluten Free news: the roasted chickens at our local Co-Op are Gluten Free! A bonus for speedy meals when my hunger overcomes my ability to think clearly.

Balsamic Grilled Portobello Mushroom & Veggie Stack

1 red pepper
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned & stem removed
2 – 3 thick slices of red onion (with all the rings still attached – does this make sense?)
2 – 4 thick tomato slices
3 – 4 Tbsp goat cheese
4 large basil leaves

Preheat grill to medium-high. (you can use this time to prepare your veggies)

When grill is heated, place the red pepper directly on it (no need for sliced or oiling). Grill the pepper for about 15-20 minutes, until the outside is blistered and charred, and the pepper is soft. Remove from grill and place in a bowl covered with a plate or plastic wrap. After a few minutes, you can peel the skin off, slice the pepper in half and discard the stem and seeds.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush the mushrooms, onion slices, and tomato slices with the vinegar mixture. Grill the mushrooms and onions for approximately 10 minutes; and grill the tomatoes for approximately 5 minutes. You want char marks on the veggies and for them to soften up slightly, but try not to overcook them.

When all the veggies are grilled, prepare your veggie stack: start with a portobello mushroom, top it with the goat cheese, a slice or two of tomato, some onion, 2 basil leaves, and half of the grilled (roasted) red pepper.

Serves 2.

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