Mediterranean Rice

November 24, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

You can make plain rice any day of the week, but with a few extra items (many you probably already have in your pantry) you can take an ordinary side-dish and turn it into something a bit more interesting.

Cooking the rice in tomato juice adds a deep flavor to the base of this recipe. Add to that the salty capers and robust sun-dried tomatoes so it takes on a lighter note. And, finally, who can resist the taste of an artichoke heart, which rounds out this dish.


Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Chilled Pasta Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Chickpeas, Olives & Feta Cheese

June 17, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Salads, Side Dishes

I start of my Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles Challenge swinging for the wall with The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Diana Shaw. My edition is from 1997. This 612 page tome covers everything you need to know about vegetarian cooking but were afraid to ask. The subtitle says it all “Your Guide to the Best Goods on Earth: What to eat, where to get it, how to prepare it.” That pretty much covers it.

This cookbook focuses on creating a balanced and nourishing vegetarian diet, features menu plans as well as great advice.  There are also guides to herbs, spices, rice, grains, soy, flours, kitchenware and more.

The presentation is a little ho-hum as its presented in one color – green.  It does have some hand drawn illustrations to punctuate ingredients but none of the illustrations reflect finished products or cooking techniques.

But, who needs glossy pictures when the recipes are very in depth and also very easy to follow. (In fact, the author takes two pages on how to make the humble pancake, and she’s passionate about how to make it right.) Each recipe has a description or introduction and specifics on nutrition. You also see total time but also “time to prepare” and “total cooking time”. Which I find informative – am I going to spend five minutes in preparation and 18 hours cooking, or 18 hours preparation with 5 minutes of cooking? I also find the “do ahead” options and how to store the finish product hints helpful, too.

Finally, the index is presented both by recipe and ingredient which helps when you’re not quite sure what to make…but you know what you have.

This cookbook is chock full of hints, stories and suggestions. I probably need to curl up on the couch and read through it from cover to cover sometime. In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and present you with this recipe.

I was looking for a fast, easy and tasty option for a cookout I was having. Most importantly, it had to store overnight so I didn’t have to rush to prepare it. This pasta salad worked out really well and it made plenty to feed a crowd.

Chilled Pasta Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Chickpeas, Olives & Feta Cheese
from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, Diane Shaw, 1997

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 minced fresh basil
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (Note: the cookbook goes into nice detail on how to peel and seed the tomato, I did not peel the tomatoes in this preparation, but I did seed them.)
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped oil-cured black Greek or nicoise-style olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 teaspoons capers
6 cups cooked short pasta, such as penne rigate, farfalle, or radiator (Note: I used a rather cute mini farfalle pasta)

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and swish it through the oil until it starts to color, about 3 minutes. Remove and discard it. Add the basil and stir well to flavor the oil. Remove the skillet from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, feta cheese, and capers.

Add the pasta and the basil oil, and toss well. Chill for at least 3 hours. Toss again before serving.

Total time: About 3 hours, 30 minutes, including time to chill, but not including time to cook the chickpeas (Note: I used canned chickpeas which saved some time…)
Time to prepare: About 25 minutes
Cooking Time: Included in time to prepare
Do Ahead: You can make this up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate until ready to use
Refrigeration/Freezing: Refrigerate up to 2 days. Do not freeze.

Broccoli and Ricotta Manicotti

February 07, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Broccoli and Ricotta Manicotti

Nothing says comfort food more than a plate of pasta that’s steaming hot and right out of the oven. This broccoli and ricotta stuffed manicotti is kicked up a notch by a flavorful, yet oh so easy to make, homemade tomato sauce. The filling is so creamy that it’s hard to believe that it’s made with skim milk and fat-free ricotta.

Broccoli and Ricotta Manicotti
adapted from The Best Ever Vegetarian Cookbook

2 teaspoons olive oil
12 dried manicotti (or cannelloni) tubes, 3 inches long
4 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups panko (or breadcrumbs)
2/3 cup skim milk
4 Tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 cup no-fat ricotta cheese
pinch of grated nutmeg
6 Tablespoons Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, grated
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds (or pine nuts)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 28oz can organic crushed tomatoes with basil
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons black olives, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking. Cook 8-9 minutes until pasta is completely cooked. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking and set aside. (When working on the rest of the steps, check to make sure the pasta isn’t drying out. Brush a little water on the pasta if it is…)

While pasta is cooking, steam the broccoli for 10 minutes until tender (not mushy).  After steaming the broccoli let it cool a bit, then put into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine panko and milk and oil. Stir until the panko is softened. Add the ricotta, broccoli, nutmeg and 4 Tablespoons for the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, black olives and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.

Spoon the broccoli and cheese mixture into a pastry bag or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped. (A tip – an easy method for spooning the mixture in the bag is to  put the bag in a wide mouthed container and fold the top over the sides. This will hold the bag open.) Open the pasta tubes and squeeze the mixture into each. Make sure to not overfill the pasta.

Pour the simmered sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking pan. Place the filled pasta tubes into the baking pan. Brush the tops of the pasta with a little olive oil. Then sprinkle the remaining cheese and almonds on top.

Place in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes – until golden.

Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip

June 01, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Snacks/Appetizers

I learned the hard way that this is not a make ahead dish. More specifically, by making this dip the night before it was going to be consumed meant that while in the refrigerator the tomatoes and greek yogurt exuded a lot of liquid. As a result, this dip ended up being a little juicy albeit it was still delicious. However, if you are going to just make and serve it, it’s actually pretty durn good.

Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip
From Healthy and Green Living

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (I used fat-free)
2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
1 cup hummus
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup oil-cured or Greek-style olives, sliced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup green onions, white and green parts, chopped
Fresh or dried oregano, for garnish

Mix the yogurt and chives together and spread in a 10-inch glass pie-plate.

Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip

Spread the hummus evenly over the yogurt.

Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip

Sprinkle with cucumber…

Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip

then with tomatoes…

Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip


Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip


Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip

and green onions.

Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip

Sprinkle top with oregano. Serve with pita chips. May also be used in wraps or pita pockets as a sandwich, or served with grilled eggplant.

Mediterranean Layered Veggie Dip

Serves 4 to 6.

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