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beachbike_summerMemorial Day weekend kicks off Summer. For the next three glorious months, we can enjoy warm weather, beach trips and laxy evenings catching up with friends and family under the stars. It’s time to celebrate with a picnic. We’ve spent all winter inside, let’s get outdoors and enjoy a vegetarian cookout this weekend. Here are a few recipes to get you started on your start of summer celebration.

Vegetarian Hotdog Chili

Vegetarians don’t have to deprive themselves of delicious chili on their veg dogs.

1 cup ground veggie burger

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. onion, chopped fine

1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt & pepper

1) Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté about 5 minutes, maybe a little longer, until translucent.

2) Add ground veggie burger and spices. Stir together and cook in the pan about another 5 minutes.

3) Add to your veggie dog.

Makes plenty of chili for two hot dogs. A nice topping of chili for four dogs.

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Sara’s Veggie Kebabs

Perfect for Summer grilling.

Choose 3 or 4 of the following:

1 pepper, your choice of color

1 onion

8 button mushrooms

½ package extra firm tofu

1 Quorn “naked” vegetarian chicken

1 Yellow squash

1 Zucchini squash

1 Eggplant

Marinade:

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup olive oil

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. basil

Salt & pepper

1Barbecue) Cut chosen ingredients into about 1 inch pieces.

2) Mix together marinade ingredients and pour into large ziplock bag.

3) Add vegetables to bag and shake. Let sit in refrigerator 30 minutes or up to a couple of hours.

4) Place on skewers alternating vegetables

5) Grill

Makes 4 kebabs

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Susie’s Baked Beans

Essential side dish for your Summer cookout.

2 cans (15 oz.) vegetarian baked beans

l can fat-free navy or great northern beans (drained)

1 can fat-free pinto beans (drained)

1 small onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

Sauce

2/3 cup catsup

1 tsp. prepared mustard

1/3 cup brown sugar (more if you like it sweeter)

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 tsp. Worstershire sauce

2 tbsp. barbecue sauce (Such as Sauers or Jack Daniel’s)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1) Mix first five ingredients together in large oven-safe pot.

2) Add sauce ingredients and stir together.

3) Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce heat in oven to 250 degrees. Bake uncovered for an additional one hour. Cover dish with foil and bake another 30 minutes.

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Easy Pasta Salad

When you need to bring a dish to your Summer party, this pasta salad is a good choice. You probably already have the ingredients on hand and it pulls together in minutes. Also, it’s great for tailgate parties and picnics because it’s mayo free.

2 ½ cups uncooked tri-colored Rotini pasta

¼ red bell pepper, chopped

¼ green bell pepper, chopped

¼ broccoli crown (just the florets), chopped

8 radishes, chopped

1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing

¼ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

1)

pasta salad

pasta salad

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Don’t overcook. Drain.

2) Wash and prepare vegetables.

3) Combine drained pasta, chopped vegetables and dressing in a medium-large bowl. Stir everything together.

4) Stir in Parmesan cheese, if desired.

5) Serve right away or refrigerate for about an hour before serving. Keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator. Okay to serve at room temperature.

Note: These are the veggies I used, but feel free to substitute your favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand.

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Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This salad may sound unusual but it is a hit at our family gatherings. It combines sweet and salty and everyone loves it.

2 cups pretzels, crushed

½ cup sugar

¾ cup butter or butter substitute, melted

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

¾ cup sugar

10 ounces whipped topping

6 ounces vegetarian gelatin* substitute, preferably strawberry flavored

2 cups boiling water

20 ounces frozen strawberries, sliced, with juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1) Mix pretzels, ½ cup sugar and butter and spread in a 9 X 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool.

2) Mix cream cheese, ¾ cup sugar and whipped topping together. Spread on top of cooled pretzel layer.

3) Dissolve vegetarian gelatin in boiling water and add strawberries. Let it partially set. When gelatin mixture is partially firm, spread it on top of the cream cheese layer.

4) Chill thoroughly.

5) Cut into slices and serve.

*Jello is not vegetarian.

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Berry Peach Crisp

Berry Crisp

Berry Crisp

Healthy, light, delicious way to enjoy fresh peaches and berries

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, sliced peaches or a mixture of these

1¼ cup oatmeal- quick cooking works well, don’t use instant

3 tbsp. Smart Balance, softened

2 tbsp. Canola oil

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. sugar (omit or reduce if limiting sugar)

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Add berries with white sugar and stir. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

2) Mix together Smart Balance, Canola oil, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add oatmeal and stir together.

3) Pour berries, peaches or berry and peach mixture into a medium casserole dish that you have greased with Canola oil. Top evenly with oatmeal mixture.

4) Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

5) Serve hot with vanilla soy ice cream.

Six servings

Celebrate Summer!

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It’s easy to make a delicious and hearty meat-free bolognese sauce. In celebration of national nutrition month, try this healthy sauce with your favorite pasta.

Meat free spaghetti bolognese

Meat free spaghetti bolognese

Easy Meat-free Spaghetti Bolognese    

6 oz. Lightlife Smart Ground original (1/2 of a 12 oz. package)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
½ cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil (or 1/2 cup chopped fresh)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. ground pepper
1 24 oz. jar your favorite marinara sauce
Olive oil

1)      Add 1 or 2 tbsp. olive oil to  deep saucepan on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté about 7 minutes. Then add green pepper and sauté about another 5 minutes. Veggies should be tender. Stir in all spices.

2)      Add mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes.

3)      Add minced garlic and stir in. Add smart ground and sauté an additional 5 minutes or so.

4)      Pour in marinara sauce. Bring to a quick boil , then reduce heat to simmer and simmer about 10 minutes.

5)      Serve over your favorite pasta. I used half-whole wheat/half regular spaghetti.

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This weekend I went to the Farmer’s Market, and my favorite farmer had greens on sale. I bought a bag of mixed greens, a bag of spinach and a bag of arugula (3 bags was the deal). But then he threw in a fourth bag of spinach for free! So I had a lot of greens and needed to figure out ways to fix them.

I also purchased some pumpkin linguine from a fresh pasta stand (Bombolini). The pumpkin variety is seasonal for Fall, in case you didn’t figure that out. Anyway, the pasta lady advised not to serve the pumpkin linguine with a tomato based sauce. Since I had all those greens, I figured it might be a winning combination, and it was! I have made it twice already. It’s delicious, inexpensive, and so good-for-you too.  And did I mention it’s easy to make? Really simple!

Greens and Garlic...yum!

Greens and Garlic...yum!

Pumpkin Linguine with Greens, Garlic and Olive Oil

Fresh pumpkin linguine, enough for two (you can use any pasta you have, but the greens go well with pumpkin)

6 to 8 cups of greens (choose spinach, baby mustard greens, arugula, or a mixture), wash and remove stems. Chop larger leaves.

6 to 8 cloves of garlic, diced

1 cup of your choice of mushrooms, sliced (optional)

¼ cup of olive oil (add extra if you like)

1 ½ tsp. Oregano

1 ½ tsp. Basil

½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)

Reduced sodium salt (to taste)

Cooking up some greens!

Cooking up some greens!

1)    Cook pasta according to instructions.

2)    Meanwhile, heat part of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add diced garlic. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. You only need to sauté it a minute. Add the spices to the garlic while it’s sautéing.

3)    If including mushrooms, add them next. Saute with the garlic a couple more minutes.

4)    Add in the greens. Take a ladle or two of boiling water from the cooking pasta and pour right over the greens. It won’t take long for the greens to wilt. The quantity will appear to reduce greatly.

5)    Add in the rest of the olive oil and toss with the hot, drained pasta.

6)    Serve with a little parmesan cheese, if you like. Or forego the cheese and have a delicious vegan pasta meal.

Serve with a green salad and crusty whole grain bread. Delicious healthy meal for two.

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Pumpkin Linguine with Greens, Garlic and Olive Oil

Pumpkin Linguine with Greens, Garlic and Olive Oil

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Mushrooms: an ingredient in Mock Chicken TetrazziniRecently I remembered a favorite comfort food dish from childhood: chicken tetrazzini. It was one of the only entrees that actually tasted good that was served at the school cafeteria. Yummy thin noodles, mushrooms and chicken, tossed together with a delectable creamy sauce.

I don’t really hear much about chicken or turkey tetrazzini these days, let alone the vegetarian kind, but I had a craving for this childhood favorite comfort food and thought I would try my hand at making a version that was both light and healthy and vegetarian. It turned out pretty tasty. Makes good leftovers too.

Mock Chicken Tetrazzini

 1 16 oz. package of vermicelli
½ onion, chopped
2 cups cubed mock chicken (I used Quorn brand)
1 cup fresh mushrooms, quartered
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used organic)
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/3 cup Sherry
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. of chopped pimentos
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. Smart Balance
1 tbsp. Canola oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1)    Break vermicelli into halves or thirds. Cook vermicelli a minute less than package directions instruct. Drain.

2)    Meanwhile, in deep skillet on medium-high heat, add Smart balance and onion and sauté about 5 minutes.

3)    Add mushrooms and canola oil. Saute a few minutes. Then add mock chicken. Saute about 5 additional minutes.

4)    Remove vegetables from pan to a large mixing bowl. To skillet add mushroom soup, vegetable broth, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, garlic powder and salt & pepper. Bring to quick boil, then reduce heat to simmer and simmer about 5 minutes.

5)    Pour the sauce into the large mixing bowl with the vegetables and stir together. Add the pimentos and ½ cup Parmesan cheese and stir. Add in the vermicelli and mix all ingredients together.

6)    Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add the Tetrazzini to the casserole dish and top with the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan cheese.

7)    Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

 Makes 5-6 servings.

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Vegan Mock Chicken Divan Casserole

Vegan Mock Chicken Divan Casserole

I really needed to go to the grocery store, but didn’t feel like it….hhhmmm, what to make? I had broccoli, mock chicken….I had the makings for Mock “Chicken” Divan. I didn’t have any mushrooms, or cream of mushroom soup though – both of which were ingredients in some of the recipes I saw online. So I improvised, and the sauce I made turned out rich and delicious. It didn’t need cheese or cream or anything else that would make it less healthy.

Here’s how I made it:

Vegan “Chicken” Divan Casserole

The rich sauce in this healthy dish of broccoli and mock chicken really satisfies.

2 ½ cups mock chicken tenders, thawed and cubed (I used Quorn brand)
3 cups chopped broccoli (one very large broccoli head)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, sliced wafer thin
7 or 8 button mushrooms, sliced thin (optional)
Olive, grapeseed or canola oil, as needed for sauté
About 3 cups of uncooked pasta (I used rotini)

Sauce

Sauce for Vegan Chicken Divan Casserole

Sauce for Vegan Chicken Divan Casserole

2 ½ tbsp.. smart balance
2 ½ tbsp.. white whole wheat flour
1 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth
2 tbsp. sherry
½ cup Vegenaise (Vegan mayo)
½ tsp. lemon juice
Olive, grapeseed or canola oil, as needed for sauté
Pepper

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1)    Pour about a tbsp.. of oil in a wok and also in a sauce pan. Turn heat to medium.

2)    Thinly slice onion and place 2/3 of it in the wok and ½ of it in the sauce pan. Saute for about 5 minutes.

3)    Meanwhile, fill large pot with water and place on high heat. When it boils, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Take off heat and drain about a minute early since you will be baking it also (to avoid overcooking).

A wok works well to saute the broccoli and mock chicken

Broccoli and mock chicken: 2 main ingredients

4)    Add chopped broccoli to the onion in the wok and continue sautéing on medium heat.

5)    In the sauce pan, add the vegetable broth and smart balance and then stir in the flour.

6)    Add sherry, lemon juice and pepper. Add Vegenaise last. Reduce heat to simmer and stir.

7)    Add mock chicken tenders, and mushrooms (mushrooms are optional) to wok with broccoli and sauté a few minutes.

8)    Grease medium-sized baking dish with olive oil or non-stick spray. Add ½ of the pasta to the bottom of the dish. Then add ½ of the broccoli and mock chicken mixture. Pour half the sauce on top. Repeat for a second layer.

9)    Cover with foil and bake at 350 degree for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.

Makes four servings.

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Introducing the Vegetarian Light Cookbook!

Vegetarian Light Cooking (the Cookbook!) After being repeatedly asked when I was going to put together a cookbook with recipes from the website, I decided to do it. And here, at last, I present to you Vegetarian Light Cooking!

Vegetarian Light Cooking contains 133 easy-to-follow, delicious, low-fat recipes that feature ingredients vital to physical wellness and energy, along with information about their unique health benefits.

What you eat plays a significant role in creating energy, preventing and managing diseases, and enjoying mental and physical stamina. If Spinach Lasagna, Roasted Red Peppers in a Tomato Cream Sauce, and Jambalaya sound good to you, you will have no trouble incorporating these recipes into your healthy lifestyle.

Click here for more information and to order Vegetarian Light Cooking.

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Pasta Salad

Easy Pasta Salad

Today it was in the 80s in Virginia. Flowers are blooming and the grass is green. After a long, cold winter, I want to be outside as much as possible. Plus there are a lot of events going on that require a picnic–horse races, car races, beach day trips. With that in mind, I thought I would share a perfect recipe for a picnic. This pasta salad can be part of a larger spread or it can be the whole picnic itself, if time or money make additional dishes difficult.  And it’s mayo free, so won’t spoil in ths sunshine.

Easy Pasta Salad

2 ½ cups uncooked tri-colored Rotini pasta
¼ red bell pepper, chopped
¼ green bell pepper, chopped
¼ broccoli crown (just the florets), chopped
8 radishes, chopped (optional)
1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing
¼ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

1) Cook the pasta according to package directions. Don’t overcook. Drain.
2) Wash and prepare vegetables.
3) Combine drained pasta, chopped vegetables and dressing in a medium-large bowl. Stir everything together.
4) Stir in Parmesan cheese, if desired.
5) Serve right away or refrigerate for about an hour before serving. Keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator. Okay to serve at room temperature.

Note: These are the veggies I used, but feel free to substitute your favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand.

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If you like to cook, you probably always have different types of veggies in your refrigerator, in varying states of freshness. I am one of these people. The other day, I got home from work and hadn’t been to the grocery store in a while. Fortunately, there were veggies in the fridge, veggies that actually needed to be consumed sooner rather than later or they would be going in the trash.

Pasta and vegetables

Pasta and vegetables: the sauce

In addition to always having some kind of vegetables in the fridge, I also always have pasta in my pantry. Pasta and veggies can easily be combined to make a tasty dinner for one or many.

Use this recipe as a guide — feel free to change it to use the vegetables, fresh or canned, that you already have on-hand.

Pasta and Vegetables

1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced (I used a garlic press)
½ bell pepper, your choice of color, chopped (I used green and orange)
5 mushrooms, sliced
5 asparagus spears, cut in 1 inch pieces, with tough ends removed
½ of a 15 oz. can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
Couple of handfuls of baby spinach or arugula
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ tbsp. dried basil
1 ½ tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. parsley, dried or fresh
½ tsp. crushed red pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, torn, if available
½ cup water
Salt & pepper

Pasta and vegetables

Pasta and vegetables

1) In large saucepan on medium high heat, add ½ of oil and onion. Saute about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and sauté a few more minutes. Add all spices except fresh basil. Add diced garlic.

2) Add remaining ingredients except fresh basil and spinach. Bring to boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer while pasta cooks (choose your favorite pasta or whatever is handy in your pantry).

3) Add spinach and fresh basil and simmer a minute or two more.

4) Serve with your pasta (I used angel hair for this dish). Top with grated mozzarella or other Italian cheese, if desired.

Two servings.

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