Category Archives: Vegetarian Main Dishes

Easy Cheesy Spinach Lasagna: Semi-Hidden Nutrition for the Picky Eaters in Your Life

Looks like spinach, tastes like cheese! In other words, perfect for the picky eater in your life.

I made a scalloped potato and broccoli dish earlier this week, and the cheese sauce that the veggies were covered in was so good that I knew I had to make a veggie lasagna with it. And I did!

This iron and protein-rich dish is easy to make, with an ooey-gooey cheesy top and layers of cheesy spinach and pasta, all layered with a garlicky cheese sauce. Mmm…what’s not to love?

Easily pulled together, you can freeze this dish before or after baking, or prep it in advance and then just set it aside to be baked just before dinner (or lunch! Or both, because yum!).

Let’s get to making it, yes?

Mixing up the (3-ingredient) filling!

Easy Cheesy Spinach Lasagna

Pasta

  • 9 lasagna noodles

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 c. aged white cheddar, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/3 c. butter

Spinach and Ricotta Filling

  • 1 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed (to get rid of excess liquid)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 containers of ricotta cheese

Cook pasta, drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking, mix spinach, ricotta cheese, and eggs together, and set aside.

Make cheese sauce: melt butter and fry onions in the butter until translucent. Add in chopped garlic and fry until fragrant, about two minutes. Add flour, salt, and pepper, stir, and cook for two minutes (to cook the flour). Slowly (and in three separate stages) add in milk. Whisk with each addition of milk. The sauce will be all clumpy at first as it absorbs the milk, but keep whisking and it will smooth out. Once smooth, add in grated cheese, reserving 1 c. of the cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Set aside.

Now it’s time to layer the lasagna! Spread several large spoons of the cheese sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan. Layer 3 noodles on top. Top with 1/2 of spinach mixture, 1/3 of cheese sauce, and a sprinkle of grated cheese. Repeat the layers. Then place the final 3 noodles on top, spread the last of the cheese sauce on top of that, and sprinkle all the remaining grated cheese on the very top.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for half an hour, or until the dish is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Serve with a crisp green salad, and enjoy your delicious meal!

Layers of golden crusted cheesy goodness!

To a beginner cook (or even a not so beginner one!), lasagna can be intimidating. But really, it’s rather easy! For this dish, you make the 3-ingredient filling, the cheese sauce, and boil the noodles, and then layer it all up. That’s rather easy, yes? Especially for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal that is great for potlucks, family dinners, or frozen for work lunches!

Next Post: Apple Spice Pancakes and The Birth of A Recipe!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Happiness is Homemade!

Three-Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta, And When Not to Freak Out

Pasta + cheese = want!

As the name implies, blue cheese is the star of this pasta dish. One pot, three ingredients, super-easy and super-quick to make…what’s not to love?

Unless you don’t love blue cheese. Then, move along lil’ doggie (to another recipe! Such as this one). Otherwise, make this dish and you’ll be in blue cheese heaven!

I first had this dish when I went snow-shoeing with some friends this winter. A bunch of us had rented a cabin and we ate communal-style, with lots of laughter and joking, and with some very good food! One of our friends made this blue cheese pasta, and told us that she developed the recipe when backpacking across South America recently. I’ve modified the amounts of the ingredients to make it more to my taste, as I like a saucier dish as opposed to a stickier one, but the outcome is the same — blue cheese yumminess!

Basically, you toss the pasta with a two-ingredient sauce, stir in some more cheese, and then sprinkle a tad more on top. And voila, done! It’s very quick to make; cooking the pasta is what takes the longest.

Let’s do this, boyo!

All you need!

Three-Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta (serves two)

  • 3 cups cooked pasta (I used cavatappi, but you do you, boo)
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. plus two tbsp. blue cheese, crumbled

Cook pasta, and set aside. In the same pot, whisk the milk and 1/2 c. blue cheese together, until a thin sauce forms. Stir in pasta, and 1 tbsp. blue cheese. Plate and sprinkle remaining tbsp. of blue cheese on top. Et voila, tu es fini!

By the way, don’t freak out when you’re making the sauce and it starts to look a little…blue. That’s ok! It IS blue cheese, after all, and but it does look more appetizing when you’ve stirred in the crumbled cheese and sprinkled a tad more on top.

I will say, if you don’t like blue cheese, you won’t like this dish, as it’s the central theme, obviously. And it’s best to serve the dish with a nice side salad in order to balance out the strong flavour of the cheese. I served this dish alongside my broccoli slaw, and the DH loved it!

Next Post: I have the BEST cake recipe that I developed to celebrate the DH’s recent milestone birthday, and I’m going to be sharing it with you all! What kind of cake is it? Delicious, obviously, but stay tuned and find out the flavour shortly!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday and at Happiness is Homemade!

Salads I Have Known & Loved: Eat-the-Rainbow Roast Veggie Salad, with Asian Flair

Good enough to eat all day!

I had a hard time coming up with a title for this salad recipe, as I couldn’t decide to showcase the roast veggies in the name or to emphasize the (very mildly) Asian aspect of it. It’s a riff on a salad available from Panera, which is a soup-and-sandwich joint in my neck of the woods. A co-worker bought a salad from there for lunch one day, and it smelled so good that I had to replicate it on my own.

The salad base (as I re-envisioned it) is a mixture of romaine lettuce and spinach, which is then tossed with oven-roasted veggies, shavings of real parmesan, mandarin segments, and sesame seeds, and then finished with a homemade Italian dressing.

The roast veggies are what take this salad to the next level — ever had eggplant, zucchini, baby tomatoes, all oven-roasted and tossed with slightly charred roast peppers? Oh, so good! If you’re thinking blech, roast veggies, then you DEFINITELY need to try this dish, as it will change your mind and make you a roast veggie convert for life! The roasting of the veggies caramelizes them and makes them soft and crispy and sweet and savoury all at the same time. I could happily eat roast veggies on toast with a dash of salt for many a meal (and have done so).

But aside from tasting really, truly yummy, the dish is obviously healthy and a great way to get a whole lot of veggies packed into a single plate. So let’s make some!

Eat-The-Rainbow Roast Veggie Salad, with Asian Flair

(serves 4)

  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 pint baby tomatoes
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 bunch baby spinach
  • 2 red peppers, halved
  • shavings of (real) parmesan to taste
  • 1 can mandarin segments
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil, plus two tbsp. oil
  • dressing of choice (Panera uses a sweet onion dressing, but I used a homemade Italian dressing)

The first (and very important) step is to slice the eggplant into thin slices and salt them liberally. Stack on a plate and wait for an hour or so for the salt to draw out all the bitter juices. Then rinse off the salt and bitter juices.

Place all the vegetables (except the lettuce and spinach) on two cookie trays, and put 1/4 c. of the oil on each tray. Toss veggies to coat. Bake in a 400 degree oven until crispy and golden, about 30-40 minutes, making sure to flip the veggies with a spatula halfway through the cooking. When you flip the veggies, brush the remaining two tbsp. of oil on the veggies. When fully roasted, the eggplant and zucchini will look golden and caramelized, the peppers will be slightly charred, and the tomatoes will look shrunken. Let cool.

While veggies are cooling, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over medium high heat until golden brown (very quick). Let cool.

Slice romaine and toss with baby spinach and mandarin segments. Divide over four plates and divide veggies and place on top. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and top with parmesan shavings. Add dressing of choice.

Close-up, sans dressing.

This salad is SOOOOO good! I served it for dinner this weekend, and while it looks all healthy and light (and is!), it was also enough to keep my taste buds happy and my stomach full.

I imagine it would taste even better with a sweet onion dressing, and plan to try that next time. I honestly didn’t think roast veggies would go well with mandarin segments, but it really, truly does. Plus, the vitamin C in the mandarin segments helps your body absorb the iron from the spinach, so win-win! If the health benefits of this salad don’t convince you to try it, do it because it just tastes so darn good! You’ll thank me, you’ll see!

Next Post: Three-Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta…or Strawberry Custard and Cream Cake? I’m leaning towards the cake because of my sweet tooth, but…I do like my carbs, so it’s a toss-up! Any preferences? Let me know in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, and at Happiness is Homemade!

Spinach Salad w/ Faro & Roasted Grapes: Memories of Meals Past + Salads I Have Known & Loved MASHUP

Lunchtime at my workplace! Salad, with a side of soup.

Know what time it is? It’s time for a Memories of Meals Past Post! (Also know as a ‘What-I-Ate-And-You-Can-Too’ post.)

As much as I love baked goods, I also like being healthy. As such, I like to balance my sugar/baked good intake with lots of whole grains and veggies. (And fruit, because my sweet tooth has a say even when I’m menu-planning healthily.)

So, that’s whole grains, veggies, and fruit. What can I make with those ingredients? And ideally it has to incorporate salad, since a) healthy and b) salad helps keep my IBS symptoms at bay. Hmm…oooh, ooh, I know!

Spinach Salad with Faro, Caramelized Onions, & Oven-Roasted Grapes! In other words, I took a Martha recipe and modified it slightly (Queen of Substitutions style) and voila! Lunch is served!

How did this recipe come together?

  • I boiled the faro (a type of whole wheat kernel, essentially) with a bunch of dried rosemary (this gave it a lovely flavour)
  • I caramelized the onions in a pan
  • I roasted the grapes (with a bit of salt)
  • I mixed it all together with some baby spinach
  • I added Martha’s vinaigrette
  • I ate it, dear reader. Actually I packed it for lunches for several days, and it was yum.

What did I switch up? I didn’t use concord grapes because it’s the wrong season for that and I’m not going to fork out an arm and a leg for imported concord grapes. Plus, I used spinach because arugula wouldn’t stay fresh once mixed with the vinaigrette. The spinach wilted a little, which was fine by me, as wilted spinach is still considered all foodie, and anyway, Martha’s specified arugula wouldn’t have held up to being packed in a lunch container.

The verdict? Nice. Nicer than the individual ingredients make it sound. But not uber-spectacular. Nice enough to make again? Yeeeees, but the biggest take-away for me from this recipe was that boiling faro with rosemary makes it AWESOME! And slightly chewy and better than rice, both in health benefits and taste. So, up with healthy grains! And salad. Because, really, health is precious. (As is sugar. Cue…*my precioussssss*)

Next Post: Sugary goodness in the form of easy yet delectable Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread? Or Three Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta? That’s right, it’s time for some carb-y goodness!

Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It Fattoush Salad, & Boosting Nutrition Profiles

Salad looking lovely! (Was promptly eaten, fyi)

Salad looking lovely! (Was promptly eaten, fyi)

The days after Christmas are always filled with delicious foods, and oftentimes, with self-recriminations over eating all those delicious foods (not that I speak from personal experience or anything). So I developed this recipe to be a) delicious and b) healthy! And I made it using only what I had in the house, hence the name: Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It Fattoush Salad!

Fattoush is a Mediterranean salad, made with crunchy bits of pita. I suspect that it originated as a way to use up stale pita — toss it with olive oil, vinegar, a few herbs, and some veggies! These days it’s made with fresh pita, usually dabbed with oil and baked until crispy. I didn’t have any pita in the house, but whipped some up myself using this recipe. (Who knew it was so easy?)

My dad, who is of Mediterranean origin, will shake his head if he reads this post, because fattoush usually contains some dried sumac as a seasoning. Do I have it in the house? No! Am I the Queen of Substitutions? Yes! So I just mixed up a dressing that seemed vaguely Mediterranean-ish (heavy on the olive oil and garlic), sprinkled on some pomegranate seeds, and called it good. The DH called it delicious!

Make some fattoush yourself, and modify the ingredients to match what you have in the house! Then feel virtuously healthy and enjoy another Christmas sweet! (Hey, it’s all about the balance, is it not?)

Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It Fattoush Salad

Serves 2

  • 8 baby tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cubed
  • 1 pita
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. pomegranate seeds

Dressing

  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. high quality olive oil, plus extra to drizzle over the finished salad
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • dash of dried thyme
  • pinch of dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar

Split pita in half, spread 1 tbsp. oil on each half, and toast in oven on high heat until it starts to get crispy. Let cool, and break into bite-sized pieces.

Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the vegetables together, add in the pita pieces, pour the dressing over it all, and toss to mix. Plate immediately, and drizzle with more olive oil.

Enjoy!

Pita from scratch! (So cool to see it puff up in the oven when baking!)

Pita from scratch! (So cool to see it puff up in the oven when baking!)

But…didn’t I write something about a nutrition profile in the title of this post? Indeed I did! While salad for a meal is in and of itself healthy, why not bump up the nutrition level? Which is exactly what I did! I used blackstrap molasses in the dressing instead of regular molasses, because it’s higher in iron and lower in sugar.

Plus, when I was making the pita breads, I sprinkled either side of the pita with freshly ground flax seeds (omega fatty acids, baby!) as well as ground psyllium husk (up with fibre!). Ideally, the pita would have been whole wheat, but again, I was working with what I had in the house.

Had I had more time, I probably would have made some lentil sprinkles to add to the salad as well, just to make sure there was some protein in the dish, but hey, one does one’s best. When I make this dish again though, those lentil sprinkles are IN! (Totally picturing my culinary purist father throwing his hands in the air at the addition of lentils to fattoush. Tee hee hee!)

Next Post: Those peppermint chocolate candy cane cupcakes that I mentioned last time! Probably. Unless I make some chocolate whoopie pies with peppermint buttercream. Hmm. Any strong feelings either way? Let me know in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Clever Chicks Blog Hop!