Posts Tagged ‘ PASTA ’

Veggie Lasagna

Let me start by telling you that I made a 9′ x 13′ tray of this lasagna Thursday night and it’s already almost finished.  This lasagna is so good it’s simply disappearing.  It’s a favorite recipe of mine because everyone in my house loves it including my husband who is still a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

This is a very forgiving recipe.  I tend to use a few specific veggies and then whatever is on hand.  Zucchini, onion, and broccoli are must have ingredients and then I alternate for the rest of them.  I love to use mushrooms but they were a little too costly this week so I left them out.  I seriously doubt anyone noticed.  I did add some carrot and yellow pepper which gave it great color!

The vegetables get saute’d in a pan and then roughly chopped in the food processor.  It creates a nice texture. Once assembled it’s quite weighty.  I make it with 4 thick layers of each lasagna noodles and filling.  It’s a pretty solid meal.

I served it with some home-made garlic knots which were really quick to assemble.  I purchased some pre-made pizza dough (not the kind in a tube) and sectioned it off.  I then made each piece a cord and knotted it.  I covered each knot with some fresh garlic and olive oil, baked it for 10 minutes at 350, brushed on more garlic oil and cooked another 10 minutes.  They were a great accompaniment to the lasagna.


1 lb box of lasagna noodles cooked according to directions

1 large container of ricotta

1 lb mozzarella (fresh if possible)

1 jar quality tomato sauce or home-made

1/2 cup veggie parmesan cheese

1 egg lightly beaten

At least 1 lb of fresh vegetables roughly chopped including broccoli florets, 1-2 zucchini, 1 large onion, 1 large pepper,mushrooms, carrots, or cauliflower

Salt, pepper and italian seasoning to taste


Take ricotta cheese and beaten egg and mix well, add in 1/4 cup parmesan, season well

Saute the vegetables in a pan until cooked but still crisp, season and then place in food processor and pulse until small pieces but not mushy

Spray a 9′ x 13′ inch pan with non stick spray and then place a little sauce on the pan

Place 3-4 sheets of lasagna on the pan

Add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture spreading evenly and top with 1/2 of the vegetables, top with just a little mozzarella

Add another layer of pasta and top with sauce and mozzarella

Repeat the with another layer of ricotta and vegetables, cover with another layer of pasta, mozzarella and cheese, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, allow to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before serving.

Peace love & greens, Lin


Primo Pasta

This recipe actually came from the most recent copy of  Vegetarian Times although I’ve made a few changes to it.  It’s photo was the magazine cover and looked really good.  As I read the recipe I realized that it was listed under an article for meals with 5 ingredietns or less.  I love that type of recipe but I always end up adding extras.  It’s still a really simple recipe and has a lemony creamy taste.

Now I’ve got to be honest and tell you that I’ve made much better recipes and when we ate it for dinner we thought it was a good weekday meal but nothing fabulous.  Sunday I took a container of it to work for lunch and was pleasantly surprised at how well it lasted and reheated.  It made me like this even more.  Following the recipe as written it was a little to thick and sticky.  I fixed this by adding a little fat free half and half until it was a creamier consistency.  I also added some veggies making it a convenient 1 dish meal.  Feel free to add in or remove whatever veggies you like.  I had considered adding some cannellini beans but last minute changed my mind.  They would have worked fine.


8 oz dry linguine cooked according to directions

1/2 cup light cream cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon zested

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Approximately 1/2 cup fat free half and half  or milk

Parsley, basil, salt and pepper to taste

12 oz bag of veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower florets


Cook pasta according to directions, during the last minute or two of cooking toss veggies into the boiling water

Drain pasta and veggies well, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water

In a large saucepan warm cream cheese, olive oil, lemon juice and zest until melted, add seasoning and pasta water

Stir in pasta and veggies and add half and half or milk until desired consistency, add additional seasoning if needed

Cold Sesame Noodles

Yesterday I was good and planned ahead.  I made this recipe for cold sesame noodles in preparation for my work day lunches this week.  This is the first time I’ve made this dish in ages and I’m not sure why.  Sometimes we simply forget out old time favorites.  Today’s recipe is both gluten-free and vegan.  While I’ve given up the G-free diet I’m still trying to cut down on my consumption of gluten.  Much easier said than done.  Today I used rice noodles which is appropriate for a dish like this.  If you have regular semolina pasta go for it, it’s fine.  One of the best things about this besides the taste is that it’s served cold so I don’t have to waste time standing around the microwave waiting for it to cook.

My Sunday work day is 9:30am-8pm which pretty much covers breakfast lunch and dinner.  The cafeteria is closed on Sunday’s which isn’t much of an issue for me.  I rarely purchase anything there, although one day next week they’re going to serve rice with black beans and plantains.  That sounds pretty tempting.  Of course the true main dish is some kind of pork sandwich.  I really can’t fathom why anyone would want that when the side dish is so much healthier than the main dish.  I’m grateful that for the simple fact that there is a small salad bar that I can always take advantage of if need be.  For the most part I prefer to pack my lunch bag and know exactly what I’m eating.  What is your typical work or school day lunch?  Are cafeteria’s getting any better with their selections?

  • 1/2 pound rice pasta cooked according to directions
  • 1/4 cup Tamari dark soy, perhaps a little more to thin sauce
  • 1/4 rounded cup smooth peanut butter, soften it in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (cider vinegar if you don’t have rice)
  • 1-2  tablespoon dark sesame oil, more or less depending on consistency
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I use Sriracha)
  • 2 cups shredded veggies such as carrots and cabbage
  • 3 scallions, chopped on an angle
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts or cashews for topping (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions or personal taste and drain well

Whisk together soy, warm peanut butter, vinegar, oil, sesame oil,pepper flakes, and hot sauce in a large bowl

Add noodles and veggies and toss well to combine and coat them evenly with sauce

Allow to cool for awhile and sprinkle scallions and sesame seeds throughout the salad saving a little of the scallion greens to top the dish

Peace, love, & greens, Lin
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Grilled Veggies and Pasta

This evening I was craving baked pasta but the last thing I wanted to do is turn on my oven.  With the heat index Central Florida is close to 105 degrees.  In reality the temperature is in the mid 90’s.  From what I understand much of the country is feeling the summer heat as bad or worse than Florida.  I’m sure it’s not that different in many other countries either.

So the question is, how to have a baked pasta dish without turning on the oven?  The answer is easy, use your grill!  I’ve been doing this for years using glass bake-ware and the lowest setting for the grill.  I don’t actually think it’s recommended so please do so at your own risk.  I actually use the grill 2x for this recipe.  First to roast the veggies on a high heat and then again to bake the completed pasta dish.  The only indoor heat I used was to cook the pasta.

The recipe requires very little work.  I bought sliced mushrooms and broccoli florets and used jarred sauce.  I forgot the onion so that was one less thing to slice, however I suggest remembering that part, onions do enhance the overall flavor!

I actually  made 2 trays, one with a whole wheat pasta for the men and a quinoa pasta for myself.  It seems like an awful lot for 3 people but we’ll eat the leftovers for a few days so it’s fine.  I can also freeze a couple of servings in individual portion sized bags for future use.


1 lb cooked penne pasta (whole wheat or regular)

12 oz broccoli florets

12 oz baby bella mushrooms sliced

1 onion diced

1 cup frozen peas

1 large zucchini

1 large bell pepper or several small sweet peppers

1- 1.5 large jars of quality pasta sauce (I used a spicy variety)

8 oz cubed mozzarella

8 oz provolone or gruyère cheese chopped or shredded

4 oz vegetarian parmesan cheese

salt pepper and italian seasonings (I use the kind in the grinder)


Preheat grill to medium high, slice zucchini lengthwise and lightly brush both sides with oil and season, place that and the peppers directly on the grill

Slice onions and toss with the broccoli and mushrooms in a little olive oil, season and add to a grill appropriate pan, place this on the grill

Cook the veggies for about 10 minutes and turn all, remove from heat when the appear to be cooked, slice the zucchini and add to the other veggies adding in the frozen peas

When the pepper is cooled peal off the blackened layer of skin and chop coarsely add to the veggies

Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, add the veggies and sauce, mixing well

Add all the cheeses and mix again, turn into a prepared baking dish and cover with foil, bake on medium low heat for approximately 2o minutes until the cheese is nicely melted

Have a peaceful day, Lin

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Have you ever tried finding a recipe for a decent vegetarian pad thai? The results are dismal at best.  Several recipes call for the traditional fish sauce.  Fish is not a vegetable, it is not vegetarian, nor is their sauce.  I saw a recipe that was considered veg but had shrimp in it.  There we go again.  Another recipe called for 1.5 cups of peanut butter!  I don’t think I use that much when making cold sesame noodles and peanut butter is the main ingredient for that!  Another called for the juice of several limes and got great reviews.  I tried a similar version awhile ago thinking it odd but figuring my family enjoys lime so how bad could it be?  We all dumped our plates down the disposal and ordered pizza that night.

With all that failure I pretty much gave up on pad thai but recently found myself really craving it.  I googled it and reviewed several recipes and as always came up with my own version.  This one had quite a bit of heat and good overall flavor.  It is certainly the first recipe I’ve made that I would share with anyone.  My one mistake I knew in advance.  I couldn’t get the appropriate rice noodles for pad thai and used rice spaghetti instead.  I haven’t cooked that particular pasta in a while and realized too late that it tends to be either too chewy or overcooked with no happy medium.  The right pasta does make all the difference.

I cooked the pasta in advance, made a bowl of wet ingredients and a bowl of chopped ingredients.  This way I was able to have everything at hand and toss them into the pan quickly as needed.  Once again I messed up my attempts at being gluten-free.  I used gf tamari instead of soy sauce but the hoisin sauce contains wheat products.  Oh well, I do the best I can.   My version was vegan but feel free to scramble an egg or 2 and cook it in the pan flat like a pancake.    Once removed from heat slice the egg and add it to the finished recipe.  For my husband I grilled a piece of tilapia in an Asian sauce.

Don’t let the amount of ingredients scare you away.  This was pretty simple to cook and took no time at all.  I bought sliced mushrooms and julienned carrots to make it go quickly.  This recipe is pretty true to how I cooked it and found the heat level to be just right for me.  My only descriptive is to say that it was the hot enough to affect my sinuses and almost gave me a runny nose but not quite.  Please adjust the heat to your personal taste.


8 oz thin flat rice pasta often called pad thai pasta

1 vegetable bouillon in 1/2 cup hot water

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

up to 1/3 cup peanut oil

1 block extra firm tofu cubed and blotted to remove water

8 oz sliced mushrooms

4 scallions sliced, greens separated from whites

1/2 cup julienned carrots

1/2 cup julienned pepper jalapeno for more heat (I used small sweet peppers, it’s what I had)

2-3 minced garlic cloves

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)

1/2 cup chopped peanuts


Cook pasta according to directions, drain and put aside,

Mix all wet ingredients  except peanut oil in a bowl adding the brown sugar

Place peanuts and scallion greens in a bowl and set aside for garnish

In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil and add tofu and vegetables except garlic and scallion whites, saute for several minutes letting the tofu start to brown a little but don’t over cook the veggies, when they look almost done add garlic and scallion whites, saute another minute

Add the wet ingredients and then the pasta, mix until everything is well coated, top with peanuts and scallion greens.

Have a peacful day, Lin

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Pasta with Mushroom & Pistachio

What is it about comfort food that just hits the spot after an emotional day?  For the record after a fattening lunch out with friends I figured I’d make a really light, healthy salad for dinner.  First, due to an unexpectedly busy afternoon I never got to the store for basic ingredients like lettuce so the salad was out.  I really wanted some pasta but also wanted a recipe that was somewhat healthy.  I came up with the Pasta with Mushroom and Pistashio recipe.

To explain my hectic day, it began with just running some errands and meeting friends which sounds easy enough.  Then mom called asking to have her hair done and one thing led to another.  Later my son who is backpacking through Europe called.  My day was not so simple anymore.  Every parent knows that certain tone to their child’s voice when they want to tell us something and they don’t know how.

Fortunately, it was all good news, for him anyway.  It seems my son loves the city of Prague and has decided to extend his stay.  The original plan was for him to come home early August but now he will get an apartment and stay until December.  He has a lot of planning to do.  He will have to figure out how to get a work visa and then find a job.  There seems to be several opportunities for English speaking people so he doesn’t think this will be a problem.  I am so excited for him but sad for me, I was looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks.  Thank goodness for Skype, as it will be easy to stay in touch.

Back to my comfort food.  This recipe is truly one of those throw it together recipes.  The most time consuming part was shelling the pistachios.  It would have gone faster if my dogs weren’t so eager to taste test for me.  The flavors melded really well together and I managed to have a rich, creamy tasting dinner that wasn’t overly heavy.

Pasta with Mushroom & Pistachio

1/2 cup shelled pistachios

10 oz mushrooms- I used Baby Bella’s, a mix of exotics would be great

1 large onion sliced thin- I used Vidalia

8 oz thin spaghetti

2 tbsp butter

4 tbsp olive oil

1 cup fat free half & half (use full fat if you like)

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste


Cook pasta according to directions

Place pistachios in food processor and blender and grind until fine pieces, remove from processor

In a saucepan melt butter and saute onion until lightly browned, add olive oil and mushrooms and 2 teaspoons of olive oil cook a few minutes then add balsamic vinegar and garlic cooking for 1 more minute

Take 1/2 cup of half and half and place in food processor with approximately 1/2 cup of mushroom mixture, pulse about 5 times until mushrooms are in fine pieces and add back to the pan with the sliced mushrooms and onions

Add second 1/2 cup of half and half to pan and up to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir well on low heat adding 2/3’s of pistachios, salt and pepper to taste

Mix pasta in with the sauce and serve topped with remaining nuts

Fresh Tomato Sauce

We arrived home from vacation after a ridiculously long drive.  It’s good to be home but there is quite a bit of post vacation work to be done.  A day of relaxation was not to be had, at least today anyway.  There was the usual laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping as well as helping my son finish his preparations for his trip to Europe.  He’s leaving Monday and I was really happy to help him complete his shopping and just enjoyed time spent with him.  We had lunch at Acropolis, a favorite of ours.  I had a grape salad that I believe is my new favorite salad.  It has spinach leaves, grapes (of course!) gorgonzola, walnuts and other veggies with a delicious home made dressing.  After a week of eating poorly I really enjoyed it.

With such a busy day, dinner needed to be quick and easy.  My husband suggested an old standby Fresh Tomato Sauce which is a chopped fresh tomato sauce served raw.  My husband likes this topped with some grilled or boiled shrimp and I like it plain or possibly with some grilled corn or chick peas mixed in.  I make it a couple of hours prior to eating and let it just sit on the counter until dinner.  The flavors get a chance to meld together which is all it needs.  There have been times when I’ve added it to a saute pan for just a few minutes to slightly warm it on a cool evening.  The recipe itself has no exact measurements and is based upon an average appetite.  Feel free to add or subtract any ingredient to your personal liking.


3 average sized roma tomato’s per person chopped

Chopped vidalia or red onion

Garlic- less if raw, more if roasted, either way to your taste

Fresh herbs such as thyme and basil just a little rosemary

Salt and pepper

Olive oil- enough to come to the top of the chopped tomato’s in a bowl but not to drown them

A little red or white wine vinegar, again to taste

Any choice of pasta, I prefer think spaghetti with this

Bread crumbs or parmesan cheese to top if desired

possible add ins: roasted corn, walnuts, pine nuts, chickpeas, white beans


Chop tomato’s place in bowl, finely chop onion and garlic add to tomato.  Chop fresh herbs and add to bowl with seasoning and liquid ingredients.  Stir well and sit on counter for a couple of hours stirring occasionally.  Cook pasta according to directions, drain and serve topped with sauce