Easy Vegan Fall Pasta Even Carnivores Will Crave

Lately, I’ve been really inspired by this thing called carbs. Luckily, when they come accompanied by loads of wholesome goodness and veggies, you don’t have to serve ’em with a side order of guilt. Behold: Last week’s Meatless Monday’s (erm, two Thursday agos…) Pasta extravaganza at Bob & Su’s.
Su and I tossed together this simple pasta salad, while Bob eagerly eyed the prime rib defrosting on the counter. Luckily, by the end of this hearty feasty, all parties had lost interest in steak. Heck, all we could even manage for dessert was raspberries (okay, drizzled with balsamic. and chocolate. lots of chocolate-covered stuff).
As it turned out, the meal was completely vegan (also pictured: simple roasted squash, a beet-studded salad, and caramelized Brussels sprouts), but I don’t think anybody noticed. 
Pasta
1 box mini shells
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bunch bok choi
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
Whatever vegetables you have and want to add
olive oil, lots of
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Add oil to hot pan and saute onion until brown.
2. Add peppers and bok choi to mixture.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on box.
4. Add canned tomatoes to pan’s mixture and continue simmering for fifteen minutes or so. Drizzle in more oil. And then probably some more.
5. Season as desired. Pour mixture over pasta and mix thoroughly.
*Note: You don’t have to use pasta shells for this recipe, but as Su wisely pointed out to me, the sauce clings nicely to the pliable shells, likely better than it would to ziti or spaghetti. If you’re lucky, some onion-y bits and tomato-y goodness will hide in the  shells’ nooks for some of the tastiest bites.”

Spicy Paprika-Dusted Spaghetti Squash Seeds

The above is just a fancy way of saying I roasted spaghetti squash seeds and threw a bunch of good spices on them. Consider it your reward for the nuisance that is figuring out how the hell to cut a squash in half without slicing your hand off, pulling your tricep (Life-changing tip: You can roast it whole, or throw it in the oven for 10 minutes to soften up, and then cut it in half), or both.

It’s so easy, and the result is a real treat. Eat them as a snack (you’ll never pay $4 for over-salted, under-seasoned sunflower seeds again) or toss them into salads as a crunchy topper or sprinkle over warm dishes as a seasonal garnish.

The ugly before…

The prettier after…

Ingredients
Seeds of one spaghetti squash, scraped out
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Whatever other seasonings you want slash have on hand
1. Line tinfoil with spaghetti squash seeds. Pour olive oil and spices over and toss with hands until evenly coated.
2. Roast in 200° oven for 20 minutes, or until seeds have reached desired crispy-ness. 
Feel free to add to main dish, like I did below in this eggplant-onion saute, but make sure you don’t try one before stirring into the mix (because once you pop one, they’ll probably all be gone before you make it to this step)

Chocolate-Cranberry Bark That Will Make Your Fall Heart Melt

Right now, the three things that make me happiest are as follows (in no particular order):
1) Beer-soaked bro-country (yes, I said it)
2) My guilty pleasure obsession with 19 Kids and Counting/ 90 Day Fiance (yes, I know)
3) Eating dessert first…and second…and third…

And with no further ado, the dessert I can’t stop eating: Dark Chocolate Covered Crack. Erm, Dark Chocolate Bark spiked with Cranberries and Almonds and Other Goodness. Picked up the recipe at Food Fete last week, and have subsisted on a steady stream of this healthy chocolate bark (Yes, it’s superfoods-loaded) from the folks at Nature’s Path ever since for breakfast, lunch, and that yes-I-deserve-a-snack-while-cooking-dinner treat. Enjoy!

 


Serves 12 
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cook Time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients
12 ounces good quality organic dark chocolate, finely chopped  (at least 70% dark chocolate)
3/4 cup Nature’s Path Qi’a – Cranberry Vanilla, divided
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper so it overhangs the ends. Reserve 2 tbsp Qi’a for sprinkling on top of the bark. Place the chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in the remaining Qi’a and almonds. Pour onto the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the reserved Qi’a and sea salt (if using). Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate is set.

Remove from pan and peel off the parchment paper. Break the bark into pieces. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Fall Sips: Because It’s Still Summer…Somewhere?

…which means it’s totally acceptable to drink on a Monday night, right? Right! (or Tuesday, or Wednesday, and goes-without-saying Thursday)

If you’ve spoken to me in the past, uh, month, you’ve probably heard me complain about (among many, many other things) the lack of seasonal sense you get living in Manhattan. Though I wouldn’t trade my home sweet home for anything (well, excepts Nashville…), you really can’t appreciate the gorgeous fall foliage and shift in the seasons here in NYC. You can however, sip it. And sip I did when mixing up these killer cocktails from Jay Zimmerman of the Sekend Sun. You’ll be in safe hands at a bar helmed by Mr.Zimmerman, industry vet, come early November when this gem of a cocktail bar opens up, and best of all, you’ll have another reason to beat yourself up for not heading to Astoria more often.

Black Baby Grand by Jay Zimmerman of Sekend Sun
1 1/2 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey
3/4 oz China China Amer
2 drops orange flower water
2 dash barrel aged angostura bitters
Sugar cube
In a rocks glass muddle sugar cube, bitters and orange flower water. 
Add Whiskey, Amer and ice cubes. 
Stir 20-30 times. 
Garnish with grapefruit twist.

Remember Dead River by Jay Zimmerman of Sekend Sun
2 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
3/4 oz Cocchi Di Torino sweet vermouth
1/4 oz Lapsang Souchong Cherry Heering
Dash absinthe
2 dash Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to mixing glass with ice and stir 20-30 times.
Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with lemon twist.

                                        

Aunt Su’s Fall Roasted Vegetable Medley

This “forget about it” while you cook (ahem, drink wine and chat while you chop more veggies), is one of my favorites from Aunt Su’s roster of no-effort but coup de delectable dishes. Certainly didn’t hurt that this recipe came to existence under the roof of a lovely waterfront house in Quogue surrounded by people whose company I cherish.

Ingredients
Serves 4-6 people
2 pounds brussel sprouts
3 leeks, trimmed-ish
2 bulbs fennel
2 garlic bulbs, peeled
1/4 cup or so olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh dill to garnish

1. Cube vegetables and place in large mixing bowl.
2. Toss vegetables with olive oil until evenly coated. Add salt, pepper and other desired seasonings.
3. Roast in oven for an hour at 400 degrees. Add generous amount of chopped fresh dill and stir into vegetable medley. Let cool a bit before eating.
To serve: Oceanside view is preferable but not a necessary vegetable-deliciousness enhancer.

                                      

(I don’t know why but I thought these lanterns were really wonderful and loved the dancing shadows they cast on the ceiling)