Tag Archives: zucchini

Lentil Ragu with Zucchini ‘Noodles’

28 Jul

Recipe Source: Adapted from stonesoup

Over the past couple of years, my love for vegetables has grown significantly, and I’ve started trying to cut down on my meat consumption whenever possible. But at times, I find it difficult to find vegetarian dishes that don’t feel like sides and/or take a ton of time to prepare (oh veggie lasagna, how I love you). This recipe combines the best of both worlds – it’s a great one-dish weeknight meal, and it’s hearty even for those who are used to eating meat. I love homemade spaghetti bolognese, but realized while eating this that I didn’t miss the meat – or pasta – at all! So this is also a great recipe for those watching carbs or gluten.

zucchini ribbons: beforebeautiful zucchini sliced on the mandoline – before

I modified the original recipe only slightly, by adding garlic and onions – must-haves, in my opinion! Since I tend to be pretty heavy-handed with ingredients, these little embellishments to Jules’ minimalist five-ingredient recipes still save me time during busy weeknights.

zucchini ribbons: afterzucchini after baking – slightly shrivelly!

To make this recipe vegan, simply omit the butter and parmesan, or use substitutions. A light sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs or pine nuts would be nice as well. If you’re feeling creative, you can add other goodies to the sauce – herbs, fennel, chili powder, etc. This concept might also translate well to a bechamel or cream-based sauce… if you experiment with it, I’d love to hear your stories!

lentil ragu with zucchini noodles

RECIPE – Lentil Ragu with Zucchini ‘Noodles’

2 zucchini, thinly sliced, long-ways
2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 (14 oz) can lentils
4 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated parmesan, to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200C).

Layer zucchini ribbons over a baking tray a few layers deep. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until the zucchini is no longer crunchy.

Heat 3-4 tablespoons olive oil and/or butter in a medium saucepan. Saute onion and garlic for about 10 minutes, then add lentils and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until hot.

Taste and season lentils, adding a little more olive oil or some butter if the tomato is too sharp.

Divide zucchini between two plates and top with lentils.

Serve with parmesan on the side and a green salad.


“Magic” Fruit & Veggie Muffins

30 Apr

Recipe source: Food Network

I pride myself on having a well-stocked kitchen. Especially when it comes to baking, I can make any number of recipes on a moment’s notice with just what is stocked in my pantry. I have all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, corn flour, cake flour, garbanzo flour and gluten-free flour. But oh, noooo. THAT wasn’t ENOUGH for Miss d’Arabian, who came along with her crazy 17-ingredient recipe for “Magic Fruit & Veggie Muffins” that might be a nutritionist’s dream, but are a minimalist’s nightmare. Well, I’m not a minimalist, I’m pretty adventurous in the kitchen and a little bit stubborn. So that means I had to try this, and promptly went out to buy the soy flour and wheat germ I was lacking. Because HEAVEN FORBID I go without those in my house!!

17 ingredients

And I have to say, I was glad I did. This recipe makes stellar breakfast muffins, and not the “cake for grown-ups” kind of muffins, but really yummy, relatively low-sugar, nutrition-packed bready goodness. I only made two changes to the recipe, swapping out olive oil for coconut and whole milk for almond. I liked the idea of using two fruits and two vegetables, so I chose bananas and dried dates (plus the raisins I was too lazy to pick out of my raisin bran cereal), and carrots and zucchini. It will be fun to try different combinations of this recipe in the future, but I’d highly recommend sticking with bananas as they made the muffins wonderfully moist.

muffin tray
I was also happy to discover that the recipe yielded much more than it said it would – about 26 full-size muffins as opposed to 24 mini muffins. This would not be worth the work for less. Try them today!

RECIPE – Magic Fruit & Veggie Muffins

Cooking spray (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons soy flour
4 tablespoons wheat germ
1 cup bran flakes cereal or old-fashioned oats (or a combination)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, plus more for topping (optional)
4 tablespoons safflower or coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1 1/2 cups grated or finely chopped vegetables (carrots, zucchini and/or spinach)
1 1/2 cups grated or finely chopped fresh or dried fruit (apples, pears, pineapple and/or raisins)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners or mist with cooking spray.

Whisk the flours, wheat germ, bran flakes, flax seeds, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Beat the egg and brown sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the oil, vanilla, milk, vegetables, and fruit, and mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and stir just until blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup about three-quarters of the way. Sprinkle the tops with brown sugar, if desired. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

Makes ~24 muffins

Saffron, Zucchini and Herb Couscous

4 May

Recipe source: Ina Garten of Food Network

The second dish I made for the aforementioned winery picnic was Ina Garten’s couscous. It’s pretty simple to make and a nice side dish with subtle flavors. I think it would be best paired with fish or a mild grilled chicken. I halved the amount of herbs based on complaints from reviewers on foodnetwork.com, but otherwise followed the recipe to a tee.

Here’s a pic!

RECIPE – Saffron, Zucchini and Herb Couscous

1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 zucchini, large dice
1 1/2 cups couscous (10 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan, and turn off the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, and saffron threads and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a sauté pan. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Bring the chicken stock just back to a boil. Place the couscous in a large bowl and add the cooked zucchini. Pour the hot chicken stock over them. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Add the basil and parsley. Toss the couscous and herbs with a fork, and serve warm or at room temperature.

[indigo] Vegetarian Moussaka, Spiced Roasted Plums

16 Apr

Well. Yesterday was fun. A few ingredients in the blender and bzzz, done. Now I’m back to my uber-involved recipes, as well as facing my childhood nemesis: moussaka.

Today’s chakra: Ajna – Wisdom Center (Brow)
Color: Indigo: inspiration & peace of mind
Location: Three fingers behind the center of the brow
Associated body organs: Brain, eyes, pituitary gland
Controlled emotions: Perception, knowledge and understanding

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]


I think the traditional moussaka is made with ground beef, but I found a vegetarian version and decided to try it instead. To start off, slice and salt the eggplant, and let it sit for 30 minutes to release water. Rinse, then pat them dry. Slice zucchinis as well.

The original recipe called for browning the eggplant and zucchini in oil, but due to my recent learning experience of eggplant soaking up copious amounts of oil, I decided roasting the veggies would be lighter. Potatoes, on the other hand, I did brown in oil.

after roasting

Next, sauté onion and garlic, then add in white vinegar, canned tomatoes, canned lentils with half their liquid, dried oregano and fresh parsley. Let it all simmer for 15 minutes.

In a 9×13 baking dish, layer the veggies, sauce and feta cheese, ending with veggies. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make a béchamel sauce. You might think that with a French boyfriend, I’d be a pro at béchamel. Mais non. I have never made it. I don’t have to. I’m spoiled. So I figured it was high time I learned. (BTW I feel so Southern belle saying “it’s high time I __.” Must use this expression more often.)

You will begin by melting butter in a saucepan, then whisking in flour until well blended to make a roux. In a separate saucepan or the microwave, heat milk, then incorporate gradually into the roux, whisking vigorously. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. This is a classic béchamel. In this recipe, you will let it cool for 5 minutes off the heat, then add in a beaten egg. I think Julia Child called this an “enrichment” to the sauce. If very thick, add more warm milk in increments.

When 25 minutes are up, remove moussaka from oven, top with béchamel and grated parmesan, and return to the oven to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes.

2 eggplants, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large zucchinis, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can lentils, drained, juice reserved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Béchamel Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
black pepper to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brown eggplant and zucchini slices on both sides; drain. Adding more oil if necessary, brown potato slices; drain.

Sauté onion and garlic until lightly browned. Pour in vinegar and reduce. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, 1/2 the juice from lentils, oregano and parsley. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes.

In a 9×13 inch casserole dish, layer eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and feta. Pour tomato-onion mixture over vegetables; repeat layering, finishing with a layer of eggplant and zucchini. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine butter, flour and milk. Bring to a slow boil, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Season with pepper and add nutmeg. Remove from heat, cool for 5 minutes, and stir in beaten egg.

Pour sauce over vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes.


For dessert, I found a recipe for spicy oven-roasted plums on allrecipes.com. I scanned the ingredients list… plums, ok, orange juice, ok, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and… cumin?

So of course you know now why I had to try this recipe. I must try all manner of bizarro flavor combinations.

Plus, it’s easy. You just mix the juice, brown sugar and spices to make a sauce, halve and pit the plums, and pour the sauce over them in a baking dish with sides. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly.

This would be awesome combined with vanilla ice cream, maybe with the plums cut a little smaller, but alas, we didn’t have any ice cream. The cumin aroma is strong, but I couldn’t really taste it over the other spices when combined with the plum. Even if it grosses you out though, this would still be a yummy recipe without it.

4 plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the plums, cut-side up, in a single layer in the baking dish.

Whisk together the orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, and cardamom in a bowl; drizzle over the plums.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until plums are hot and the sauce is bubbly.