Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash Bake
When I started brainstorming this recipe, it came from a combination of laziness (I'm not ashamed) and a desire to cut my own work load. Cooking a spaghetti squash, shredding it, and then warming up spaghetti sauce, chopping up tomatoes and basil from our garden, stirring, and serving....well, it just seems like a lot! And the dishes it produces- far too many, if you ask me. I knew I could make it easier on myself. How exactly? Well, think of this as a 'one pot' meal, where all you really need is a squash. And maybe a baking sheet.
The beauty of this is that you really do just throw all the ingredients into your hollowed squash halves and bake for about an hour- easy peasy! Once its ready just remove it from the oven, shred the squash with a fork, and serve. Your guests will love the taste, and you'll love the easy clean-up. Its healthy, light. and full of fresh (from our garden, in this case) veggies. So lets give three cheers for a lack of dishes and more time to eat, 'cause thats the ultimate goal. Lets do it!
1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup basil, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the stem off the top of your squash, then turn on it side and slice it in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and innards, and toss in the compost. Drizzle each half with olive oil, a little over a tablespoon each, and sprinkle each side evenly with minced garlic. Pour about 1/4 cup of sauce into each half, then top each side evenly with sliced cherry tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper. Cover in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet to catch any drippings. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until mixture is bubbling and squash is fork tender.
Once ready, remove from oven and use a fork to separate squash strands. If you want, you can scoop mixture into a bowl and stir, if you like more room to work. Otherwise, use a fork to toss the squash pasta and tomato basil mixture together right in the squash halves, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with fresh basil and nutritional yeast to garnish. Makes 6-8 servings. Saves well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!
Triple-Decker Caprese Grilled Cheeze Panini
It's been warm and sunny here in Southern California (surprise, surprise), and our tomato plants are EXPLODING! We're growing 4 different varieties and picking anywhere from 4 to 20 tomatoes a day. It's a good thing we like 'em! We've been making bruschetta, soup, and eating 'em raw with a little olive oil and salt, but this sandwich may be my new favorite way. The best part? You can spread it with your very own, super simple, homemade vegan cheeze! And now you'll have a quick recipe anytime you want spreadable vegan cheese. Don't have cashews? Use any nut you have on hand; fun flavors abound from brazil nuts, macadamias, and pine nuts as well! Keep it gluten-free with gluten-free bread or sub in hearty portobellos for a bread-less alternative. But use three slices anyway- the triple-decker-ness is the best part!
1 cup cashews, soaked
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2-4 tablespoons water
1 medium sized tomato, sliced OR 12ish cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
3 slices of bread (GF is that's your jam)
To make the cheeze, combine cashews, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and water in a food processor and mix until smooth. Scoop out, set aside.
Cut your tomatoes and basil, and set aside. Warm up your panini press (or just a greased pan on the stove). Assemble sandwich beginning with a slice of bread, a generous layer of your homemade cheeze, tomato slices, basil, and a sprinkle of pepper. Top with the next slice of bread, and repeat. Spread the final slice of bread with another thin layer of cheeze before topping the sandwich. Place in panini press until golden lines form and cheeze is melty, or grill until golden and crispy on both sides. If you prefer a crunchier sandwich (Alex does), consider toasting your middle slice before adding it to the sandwich. Enjoy immediately with a frosty bev. (Leftover cheezy spread can be stored in the fridge up to a week.)
Spinach & Wild Mushroom Lasagna with Basil Almond Cream
On weeks I work a lot, I like to make giant pots full of something to bring for lunch all week. I like it full of protein to keep me from snacking, be easy to reheat if I get the chance, and if not- taste good enough cold to enjoy. After weeks of chili and potato based soups, I was craving something a little different. With plenty of dehydrated mushrooms from late summer gathering and lots of fresh spinach in the fridge, I got to work using up those GF lasagna noodles I picked up so long ago. We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of flavor in this dish, and loved the almost meaty texture of the mushrooms. Topped with a little homemade parmesan cheeze, it was a serious treat as leftovers for three days before we'd gobbled up the whole pan. And don't worry- we give instructions for regular 'boil' noodles and the often criticized (but equally delicious in our opinion) 'no-boil' noodles. Let's eat!
Basil Almond Cream Sauce:
1 cup soaked almonds
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons dried basil OR a heaping 1/2 cup fresh basil
1 cup water
Soak 1 cup almonds in warm water for at least an hour. Drain the almonds, set aside, and save 1 cup of the soaking water for blending.
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor until a creamy consistency is reached, about 30 seconds to a minute. Scoop into a bowl and set aside to use later in the lasagna.
Spinach & Wild Mushroom Lasagna:
1 box (about 9 ounces) gluten-free no-boil lasagna noodles*
25-30 ounces of pasta sauce (about 3+ cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 ounces of dried, wild mushrooms OR 8 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, roughly chopped**
4 packed cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 recipe vegan parmesan cheeze OR about 1/2 cup of your favorite parmesan substitute
*If using noodles that require boiling, cook to instructions on package, drain, and use in place of the noodles in our recipe. Also, remove about 10-15 minutes earlier than the total cook time of about 45 minutes that ours requires.
**You can use your favorite mushrooms from the grocery store, too. Button, cremini, and chanterelles would all be great here.
If you haven't already made the Basil Almond Cream Sauce, do that (recipe above.) If you have, start here:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a 9 x 13 in. baking dish.
Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet and toss in onions and garlic, and cook until onions are softened and turning slightly translucent. Add mushrooms, water, and spinach by the handful, stirring to wilt spinach and help mushrooms absorb the water. Cover with a lid and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes or until spinach is wilted and mushrooms have absorbed all the liquid and onions are beginning to caramelize. Add in spices and simmer one more minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Now, pull out that lightly greased casserole dish and spread about 1 cup of pasta sauce across the bottom. Top with noodles, about 4 per layer, spread evenly across and covering the sauce. Next spread about 1/2 of the Basil Almond Cream across the noodles, top with half of the spinach & mushroom mixture, sauce, and more noodles. Do another round of Basil Almond Cream, cooked veggies, and noodles, saving the last of the sauce to cover the top layer of noodles and prevent them from burning. Finally, sprinkle the top with your parmesan cheese, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and cheese is slightly browned. Let cool, slice, and enjoy! Saves well in the fridge for about a week.
Simple Tomato Bruschetta
Bruschetta has become one of our absolute go-to meals lately. Its simple and quick to make and is awesome as a snack or a meal. Plus, its a great recipe to have in the case of social emergencies: when your friends just show up to hang out, before a party you forgot to make an appetizer for, or even just when you have some basics but not enough food for a really impressive spread.
We used fresh basil from our garden in this one; it is so rewarding being able to use an herb you have grown yourself!
We also made a Goodwill run yesterday to grab some new serving dishes, including the sea foam green one above. Though we never have matching sets, the dishes we find are always so funky and cute!
1 sourdough baguette
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (about 3 medium tomatoes)
2 teaspoons freshly chopped basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, finely chopped & 1 clove cut in half for rubbing
2 sprinkles of salt
3 turns of the pepper grinder
In a medium sized bowl, toss together onion, tomato, fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, garlic, salt and pepper. Set in refrigerator until ready to be served.
Slice baguette into slices about 1/2-3/4 inches thick.
Place slices onto a cookie sheet and under the 'broiler' setting on the oven for about 5 minutes on each side, or until both sides are golden and a little crispy. Remove bread from oven and cut the remaining clove of garlic in half. Rub raw garlic onto the toasted bread, to give it some extra flavor.
Top with bruschetta mixture and enjoy!
Like in the second picture shown, you can also just pile some cripsy baguette slices into a basket with bruschetta on the side for an easy appetizer at a party or event!