Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Pasta with Zucchini and Basil

July 17, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Main Dishes

Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone seems to peek out on many a vegetarian, and non-vegetarian, cookbook shelf. It is probably so ubiquitous because it’s one of the best vegetarian cookbooks out there featuring great recipes that are not overly fussy and taste great. My edition is from 1997.

This is definitely a cookbook that you can curl up on the couch and be lost in it for hours. There are sections about knives, kitchen equipment, seasonings, wines, menu planning and cutting and illustrated chopping techniques.

I like that the information about purchasing and preparing the vegetables are not in the front section but rather in with the recipes that are divided by the ingredient. So, all the chard recipes are introduced with a page about types of chard, what to look for, how to store, how to use, etc. I like this because as I’m perusing what to cook with a particular ingredient, I can take a look at information about the ingredient without having to remember to flip to the front or back of the book.

There are three sections of color photo panels inserted into the book.

Although I’m a fan of photos, I’m ok with few in this cookbook because Deborah Madison is able to pack in more information and more recipes. Some pages have as many as four recipes or serving suggestions listed meaning no wasted space at all – you definitely get your money’s worth.

The descriptions included with the recipe are written as if Deborah is in the kitchen with you.  She is also a fan of suggesting simple and alternative ways of preparing the recipes and adapting them to the ingredients you have on hand. That’s why I didn’t think twice when adjusting the Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil recipe to Pasta with Zucchini and Basil. I still had the spirit of her recipe but instead used a large pearl couscous. I also used a 2% milk rather than cream.

We have been fortunate to be the beneficiary of a friend’s zucchini bumper crop in her garden and this recipe honored the freshness of the ingredients. This dish was creamy and filling with the basil bringing a brightness to the dish.

Pasta with Zucchini and Basil (Originally: Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil)
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1 1/2 pounds small or medium zucchini
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil to taste
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup mixed freshly grated Parmesan and Romano
Handful basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup half-and-half or milk (Note: I used 2% milk.)

Start heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Warm the oil with the garlic in a wide skillet. Add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the squash is soft and browned in places, about 20 minutes.

Add the half-and-half and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring more frequently.

Meanwhile, add salt to the boil water and cook the pasta. Drain and toss it with the zucchini, cheeses, and basil. Taste for salt and season with pepper.

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

January 17, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Roasting grape tomatoes brings out their brightness and creates a vibrant flavor that pops in your mouth. It does take more than an hour to roast them in a low tempurature oven, so, if you’re hungry you’re going to have to wait a bit.

If you’re too hungry to wait, you could have your in-house taste tester, if they arrive home before you do, take care of the prep work and pop the tomatoes in the oven before you get home. Now that I think about it, this meal is actually so easy to make, that the in-house taste testers out there could probably even be able to handle this one completely on their own.

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil
by Megabeth

1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt (sea salt or kosher)
1 8.8 ounce box Israeli/Pearl couscous
10 – 15 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes and sprinkle with salt.

Bake in over for about 1 1/2 hours or until the tomatoes are dried around the edges but still moist.

About 15 minutes before serving, cook the couscous according to package directions. (For added flavor, use vegetable broth instead of water when cooking the couscous.)

Add tomatoes, basil, garlic and black pepper to cooked couscous in the pot, stir to combine.

Serve warm.

34 Simple (Vegetarian) Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less

October 05, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Main Dishes


In 2007, the New York Times wrote an article called Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. I’ve held on to the article (yes, from the actual newspaper) and just came across it again in a massive desk clean-up. So, rather than hiding it back into a deep dark drawer, I figured I’d list some of the ideas here.

In the original, the majority of the dishes included meat (mostly fish), but there were many on there that are vegetarian or vegan. I’ve also included several that were easy to substitute with a faux meat. Many of these dishes can be prepared if you are good about keeping the basics in your pantry. (For a refresher check out my list of what every vegetarian should have in their kitchen.)

So, without further ado, here are 34 simple vegetarian meals ready in 10 minutes or less.

1. Make six-minute eggs: Simmer gently, run under cold water until cool, then peel. Serve over steamed asparagus.
2. Toss a cup of chopped mixed herbs with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan. Serve over angel-hair pasta, diluting the sauce if necessary with pasta cooking water.
3. Make pesto: put a couple of cups of basil leaves, a garlic clove, salt, pepper and olive oil as necessary in a blender (walnuts and Parmesan are optional). Serve over pasta (dilute with oil or water as necessary).

IMG_89184. Gazpacho: Combine one pound tomatoes cut into chunks, a cucumber peeled and cut into chunks, two or three slices stale bread torn into pieces, a quarter-cup olive oil, two tablespoons sherry vinegar and a clove of garlic in a blender with one cup water and couple of ice cubes. Process until smooth, adding water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, then serve or refrigerate, garnished with a little more olive oil.
5. Soak couscous in boiling water to cover until tender; top with tomatoes, parsley, olive oil and black pepper.
6. Chinese tomato and eggs: Cook minced garlic in peanut oil until blond; add chopped tomatoes then, a minute later, beaten eggs, along with salt and pepper. Scramble with a little soy sauce.
7. Cut eggplant into half-inch slices. Broil with lots of olive oil, turning once, until tender and browned. Top with crumbled goat or feta cheese and broil another 20 seconds.

IMG_35388. While pasta cooks, combine a couple cups chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon or more minced garlic, olive oil and 20 to 30 basil leaves. Toss with pasta, salt, pepper and Parmesan.


9. Egg in a hole, glorified: Tear a hole in a piece of bread and fry in butter. Crack an egg into the hole. Deglaze pan with a little sherry vinegar mixed with water, and more butter; pour over egg.
10. Quesadilla: Use a combination of cheeses, like Fontina mixed with grated pecorino. Put on half of a large flour tortilla with pickled jalapenos, chopped onion, shallot or scallion, chopped tomatoes and grated radish. Fold tortilla over and brown on both sides in butter or oil, until cheese is melted.
11. Fast chile rellenos: Drained canned whole green chilies. Make a slit in each and insert a piece of cheese. Dredge in flour and fry in skillet slit side up, until cheese melts.
12. Saute 10 whole peeled garlic cloves in olive oil. Meanwhile, grate pecorino, grind lots of black pepper, chop parsley and cook pasta. Toss all together, along with crushed dried chili flakes and salt.
13. Cold soba with dipping sauce: Cook soba noodles, then rinse in cold water until cool. Serve with a sauce of soy sauce and minced ginger diluted with mirin and/or dry sake.

IMG_099514. Fried rice: Soften vegetables with oil in a skillet. Add cold take-out rice, chopped onion, garlic, ginger, peas and two beaten eggs. Toss until hot and cooked through. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil.
15. Taco salad: Toss together greens, chopped tomato, chopped red onion, sliced avocado, a small can of black beans and kernels from a couple of ears of corn. Toss with crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheese. Dress with olive oil, lime and chopped cilantro leaves.


16. Migas, with egg: Saute chopped stale bread with olive oil, mushrooms, onions and spinach. Stir in a couple of eggs.
17. Saute shredded (or sliced) zucchini in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. Serve over pasta.


18. Not takeout: Stir-fry onions with cut-up broccoli. Add cubed tofu along with a tablespoon each minced garlic and ginger. When almost done, add half cup of water, two tablespoons soy sauce and plenty of black pepper. Heat through and serve over fresh Chinese noodles.


19. The Waldorf: Toast a handful of walnuts in a skillet. Chop an apple or pear; toss with greens, walnuts and a dressing made with olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard and shallot. Top if you like, with crumbled goat or blue cheese.
20. Put a stick of butter and a handful of pine nuts in a skillet. Cook over medium heat until both are brown. Toss with cooked pasted, grated Parmesan and black pepper.
21. Put a tablespoon of cream and a slice of tomato in each of several small ramekins. Top with an egg, then salt, pepper, ad grated Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees until the eggs set. Serve with toast.
22. Make a fast tomato sauce of olive oil, chopped tomatoes and garlic. Poach eggs in the sauce, then top with Parmesan.


23. Peel and thinly slice raw beets; cook in butter or oil with garlic; do not overcook. Finish with parsley, lemon juice and coarse salt; serve over toast.
24. Rich vegetable soup: Cook asparagus tips and peeled stalks or most any other green vegetable in [vegetable] stock with a little tarragon until tender; reserve a few tips and puree the rest with a little butter (cream or yogurt, too, if you like) adding enough stock to thin the puree. Garnish with the reserved tips. Serve hot or cold.
25. Brush portobello caps with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil until tender. Briefly sweat chopped onions, then scramble eggs with them. Put eggs in mushrooms.
26. Near instant mezze: Combine hummus on plate with yogurt laced with chopped cucumbers and a bit of garlic, plus tomato, feta, white beans with olive oil and pita bread.
27. Sear corn kernels in olive oil with minced jalapenos and chopped onions; toss with cilantro, black beans, chopped tomatoes, chopped bell pepper and lime.


28. Pit and chop a cup or more of mixed olives. Combine with olive oil, a little minced garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped basil or parsley. Serve over pasta.
29. Grated carrots topped with six-minute eggs (run under cold water until cool before peeling), olive oil and lemon juice.
30. Cut off the top of four big tomatoes; scoop out the interior and mix them with toasted stale baguette or pita, olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs (basil, tarragon, and/or parsley). Stuff into tomatoes and serve with salad.
31. Pasta frittata: Turn cooked pasta and a little garlic into an oiled or buttered skillet. Brown, pressing to create a cake. Flip, then top with three or four beaten eggs and loads of Parmesan. Brown other side and serve.
32. Ketchup-braised tofu: Dredge large tofu cubes in flour. [Megabeth note: press and drain tofu to get excess liquid out before using.] Brown in oil; remove from skillet and wipe skillet clean. Add a little more oil, then a tablespoon minced garlic; 30 seconds later, add one and a half cups ketchup and the tofu. Cook until sauce bubbles and tofu is hot.
33. Veggie burger: Drain and pour a 14-ounce can of beans into a food processor with an onion, half a cup of rolled oats, a tablespoon chili powder or other spice mix, an egg, salt and pepper. Process until mushy, then shape into burgers, adding a little liquid or oats as necessary. Cook in oil about three minutes a side and serve.
34. So-called Fettuccine Alfredo: Heat several tablespoons of butter and about half a cup of cream in a large skillet just until the cream starts to simmer. Add slightly undercooked fresh pasta to the skillets, along with plentuy of grated Parmesan. Cook over low heat, tossing, until pasta is tender and hot.

Couscous with Plums, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Mint

July 14, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

We received a plethora of plums this week in our CSA delivery. I’m not really a dessert person, so I wanted to make something more savory with them. Enter Prevention Magazine for the solution.

Couscous with Plums, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Mint
Prevention Magazine

1 1/2 cup water
1 cup whole wheat couscous
3 ripe plums, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 oz aged goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
3 Tablespoons honey
3 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the couscous, stir, and turn off the heat. Cover the saucepan, and let the couscous rest for 10 minutes. (I followed the instructions on the couscous box to make sure it was prepared appropriately, it’s probably best to to this depending on the type of couscous used.)

2. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and transfer it to a medium bowl. When it’s cool, add the plums, scallions, cheese, and mint.

3. Whisk the honey and vinegar in a small bowl until the honey has dissolved. Pour the mixture over the couscous, and gently toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wow. What a unique way to eat plums. The mint, onions, honey and vinegar created a really interesting taste combination. I feared that it would be too sweet because of the honey, but I was wrong.

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