Crispy Eggplant Marsala (Vegan)

Crispy Eggplant Marsala

Crispy Eggplant Marsala

Rachel (the daughter)

Once upon a time, there was a girl who didn’t like mushrooms. She took much care to avoid them until one day, her restaurant manager made her taste Chicken Marsala. She tasted the chicken with the sauce and pushed the mushrooms to the side. The sauce was heavenly. On her lunch break, she craved that yummy rich sweet sauce, so she ordered the Chicken Marsala without the mushrooms. She was sad. The sauce was not the same. Maybe, she thought, I do like the taste of mushrooms but not mushrooms themselves. The next day, she ordered it again and ate around the mushrooms. The sauce was delightful once again. It seems mushrooms added a depth of flavor she loved. She often rewarded herself at the end of a long waitressing shift with her new favorite dish. As time went on, she got brave and occasionally tried a little bite of mushroom with the chicken. Maybe, she thought, I do like mushrooms … but only in this dish.

DSC_0602

Years later, the girl gave up meat and found that mushrooms were actually delicious in many dishes if you know how to cook them. Now that she loved mushrooms, she was sad that she missed out on the best part of chicken marsala for so long. So she decided to make a vegan ‘chicken’ marsala using crispy eggplant. It was everything she hoped it would be and more. And she was very happy.

A vegan twist on the dish that first made me swoon for mushrooms.

A vegan twist on the dish that first made me swoon for mushrooms.

Eggplant Marsala

Serves 4

Ingredients

16 oz whole wheat spaghetti or choice of pasta, cooked

Crispy Eggplant

1 small Eggplant (peeled and sliced into 12 quarter inch thick slices)
1 cup flour
1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
2 cups Panko bread crumbs seasoned with 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoing, 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, and a little salt & pepper)

Marsala Sauce

1/2 medium sized yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced or diced
16 oz mushrooms (any variety), sliced thin
2 tablespoons Earth Balance (vegan margarine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups Marsala Wine
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
salt & pepper to taste
parsley for garnish

Most of the ingredients. I modified a few things as I went though, like leaving out the milk and adding flour.

Most of the ingredients. I modified a few things as I went though, like leaving out the milk.

Directions

Place eggplant in colander or between paper towels and sprinkle it with salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to remove moisture. Pat dry with clean paper towels when done.

Salt the eggplant and let rest between paper towels or in a colander to remove excess moisture before frying. Makes it crispier!

Salt the eggplant and let rest between paper towels or in a colander to remove excess moisture before frying. Makes it crispier!

Heat a large skillet (preferably heavy stainless steel or iron) on medium high heat. Add Earth Balance and olive oil and let it heat up. Add mushrooms and cook until they’ve browned and shrunk quite a bit in size. Stir in onions and garlic, reduce heat if needed so garlic doesn’t burn, saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Pour in 1/2 cup of wine and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in one tablespoon of flour and slowly add the rest of the wine and veggie broth. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, remove lid and simmer until liquid is reduced to about half. If it’s not thick enough, stir in a little more flour and keep cooking down. Season to taste with salt & fresh cracked pepper. Stir in pasta noodles and cover to keep warm.

The sauce should be thick enough to cling to the noodles.

The sauce should be thick enough to cling to the noodles.

In another skillet, heat a thin layer of olive oil (or your choice of oil) on medium heat. Set up an assembly line with shallow bowls of flour, milk, and seasoned panko bread crumbs.  Dip eggplant slices in milk, then flour, then milk again, then bread crumbs. Put in single layer in the oil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until crispy and golden brown. Remove slices to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat in batches until all eggplant is cooked.

Dredging station.

Dredging station.

Serve the marsala pasta topped with crispy eggplant and sprinkled with parsley. Or serve the eggplant to the side of the pasta if you want to keep it crispy longer.

Toddler Approved.

Toddler Approved

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Crispy Eggplant Marsala (Vegan)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Uk
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

One of my friends, Shirley, who knows me well, posted this picture on her facebook page and said it reminded her of one special person, and wondered if that person might recognize herself. I saw it and immediately claimed it.

If you saw our first post on this blog, you know that I’m famous for burning food. I am a good cook, but I just get distracted easily. So the smoke alarm, for many years, was often our dinner bell. One day my eldest son Zach walked into the kitchen as it was billowing with smoke pouring out of the oven. “Mmm mmmm mmm,” he said, “Smells like mom’s home cooking!”

When my second born, Zeke, was about five-years old, I made him a perfectly browned piece of toast. He took it, walked to the trash can and started automatically scraping it with a knife. “Zeke, Honey,” I said, “You don’t have to scrape it today. I didn’t burn it this time!” He looked at me, his eyes wide, and said, “Oh, I thought we always have to whittle our toast.”

Once when my youngest son Gabe was about twelve, he was home from school, feeling sick. I decided to make him some breakfast and put a pan of bacon on the burner to cook. Then I promptly forgot about it and went to take a nice long bubble bath. If it were not for Gabe’s quick action with baking soda and a pan lid, my kitchen could have easily gone up in flames.

Having heard these stories, and seen enough of my absent-mindedness up close, my husband Greg now hovers near when I cook, constantly asking if I remembered to turn off the stove and oven, ready to spring into action at the slightest smell of smoke. My children would agree that I needed, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Especially in the kitchen. With Greg on the job, they all rest easier.

Today’s recipe is one that I created last week, and I am pleased to report that no kitchen cabinets were burned and no innocent food was scorched in the creation of this dish.

This easy vodka pasta sauce turned out creamy and delicious with lots of flavor layers going on, from the thin salty pieces of Italian salami to the nice bite of the tomatoes and artichokes, to the smoothness of the melted cheese. I learned to make a simple pasta sauce from a New York-Italian friend of mine: it was just lots of fresh grated garlic, a few chopped fresh tomatoes, and about ½ cup of creamy cheese, like a brie or soft Buffalo mozzarella or even cream or goat cheese (or a combination).  You simply melt it all together over low heat, and pour over pasta. This sauce springs from that basic idea, but I’ve fancied it up a bit.

Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ c. thin Italian style salami diced (any hard salami can be substituted)

1/2 c chopped artichoke hearts (mine were canned in water)

¼ c chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 c. soft white cheese (brie, fresh mozzerela, cream cheese or goat cheese — or a combination)

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ – 1/2  c. vodka (according to your taste)

1 c. crushed tomatoes or 1 c. fresh tomatoes whirled in blender until as chunky as you’d like in your sauce

1 t. dried oregano or Italian seasoning

1 cup chopped or shredded cooked or roasted chicken

Fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese  for garnish

Pasta of your choice, cooked al dente  (save some of the pasta water to add to the sauce) to serve four people

 Directions:

While the pasta is cooking (according to package directions), chop the salami and render out the fat in a skillet until it has crisped a little.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the chicken,  basil and Parmesan) and stir over medium heat until the cheese melts.

Sauce ingredients tossed in pan ready to be stirred and heated

Add pasta water until it is the sauce is at desired thickness. Finally, add chicken and stir until heated through. Serve over pasta, and garnish with Parmesan cheese and ribbons of fresh basil.

Vegetarian Option: Substitute roasted chick peas for meat and add 1 t. smoked paprika

Vegan Option: Sub roasted chick peas for meat, add 1 t. smoked paprika and sub vegan cream cheese like Tofutti for cheeses

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-AN
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Pasta Arrabiata with Roasted Garbanzos & Kale Chips

One of our staple vegan meals: Roasted Garbanzo Beans and Kale and a Spicy Arrabiata Sauce served over whole wheat pasta with a side of extra roasted veggies and whole wheat garlic toast. Satisfies every time.

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

My husband had a few hours off this afternoon, so as I wrote a post for my literary agency’s blog, The Wordserve Water Cooler, Jared kept an eye on Jackson and helped out around the house. He was folding a load of laundry at the kitchen table with Jackson at his feet, and though Jackson can barely reach the table, he managed to grab a corner of one of the piles and pulled half of the folded clothes onto the floor. Looking up from my laptop, I knowingly grinned and said “I’m so glad you get to experience a little piece of my life every now and then.”

The other day, Jared came home and, for what seemed like the 100th day in a row, I was rocking our crying teething baby in the same clothes I was wearing when he left for work, the house a total mess, and no dinner on the table. I told him “Just once, I’d like for you to come home and me to be bathed & dressed, the house to be clean, blogs to be finished, my word-count to be completed, and dinner to be ready. I can usually get a couple of those done on any given day, but I think it would be a miracle to fit it all into one day and be present for our son.”

Here’s what cooking with Jackson looks like on a good night. Veggies are chopped, every piece of tupperware is on the floor. Next up, Arrabiata sauce and emptying the pots and pans drawer.

Never trust a tupperware container from the house of a toddler. It surely has been discarded onto an unswept floor, then thrown back into the cabinet without so much as a rinse.

I know Jared works VERY hard. In fact, I would probably cry every day if I had his job of taming teenagers in the classroom, followed by practice and games most nights and weekends. But it’s nice to know he understands that being a work-at-home mom is not all tickles and giggles either.

On this night, my house was a wreck and the closest I got to showering was sticking my feet in the tub while Jackson bathed and dotting my neck and wrists with a little “perfume” of coconut oil while I cooked. But dinner was on the table and it was delicious. And my husband kindly overlooked the yoga pants and tank top I was trying to pass off as an outfit and the ponytail I was trying to pass off as an intentionally messy updo.

I like to put the kale chips on the side and then crumble them into a tasty crunchy kale dust between every few bites. Jared loves his as chips and just eats them on the side. To each his own.

Pasta Arrabiata with Roasted Garbanzos

This makes a lot of sauce, enough to fill about 2 pasta sauce jars. You can easily freeze leftovers or store them in your refrigerator for up to a week.

Arrabiata Sauce

Ingredients

3 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 t. salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. Tomato Paste
1 28 oz can of whole peeled San Marzano Tomatoes
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup red or white wine
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 T. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped & divided

Directions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add onions and salt and saute until translucent. Add garlic, saute for 2 more minutes. Add tomato paste and stir. Add the whole peeled tomatoes and break them up with a fork until nice and chunky. Add crushed tomatoes, wine, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes on low, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup of fresh parsley before serving.
Roasted Garbanzos & Kale Chips

Makes enough to top 3-4 bowls of pasta

Ingredients

1 cans of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2 c. kale, washed, dried very well, and torn into pieces
3-4 t. olive oil, divided
4 t. Italian seasoning, divided
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes, divided

Preheat oven to 325.  Coat a large cookie sheet with a little olive oil or cooking spray. In a bowl, toss garbanzos in half the olive olive oil until all are lightly coated. Add half of the Italian Seasoning & crushed red pepper flakes and toss again. Pour onto half the cookie sheet. Repeat same steps with the kale, making sure to massage the olive oil into the leaves. Bake for 20 minutes, shaking the pan half way through. They are done when the kale chips are light and crispy and the garbanzo beans have a slight crunch.

Serve Arriabiata sauce over pasta and top with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, chickpeas and kale. I actually like to put the kale chips on the side and crush them over the top as I eat them.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pasta Arrabiata with Roasted Garbanzos & Kale Chips
The URL: http://http://wp.me/p1UwM9-nm
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Seductive Puttanesca Sauce

Becky’s Seductive Puttanesca Meat Sauce over Lemon-Pepper Pappardelle

Now and then I get a hankering for something that tempts all the senses: salty/briny, sweet, garlicky, rich and tomato-y. And when I do there there’s nothing like Puttanesca sauce to satisfy.

There are hundreds of variations on Puttanesca, but basically, it is a rich marinara sauce with a touch of something salty and briny (capers, olives, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and or pepperocinis) to give it an extra tangy zip.  I also like to balance the zip with something sweet — chopped sun-dried tomatoes and/or brown sugar.

I recently served this dish, innocently, to a lovely group of female friends, many of them involved with some sort of Christian ministry.  They loved it, scraped the skillet clean!  In attendance that night was my good friend Lucille Zimmerman who is a writer and a therapist who loves to research little known facts with the passion of Curious George. She went right home and researched the meaning of the word, “Puttanesca.” She wrote to tell me that it means — oh, how shall I say this delicately? –“prostitute, whore, ladies of night, harlot,” just choose your favorite wanton woman term.  Probably not a “word of the day” you’d choose to teach your kids over pasta.

Apparently the potent aroma of this dish from Italy was so powerful that the scent lured in potential customers off the street, serving as an appetizer for, well, the other “desserts” on the menu.

Oh, well. There’s nothing I can do about the origin of this dish, but I can tell you there is something powerfully seductive about it!

Below is how I make my Puttanesca, but don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list: it is what I had on hand in the fridge. Just pull out whatever you have in your fridge or pantry — and as long as you have something salty & briny, and something sweet, to balance the basic marinara, you’ll probably love the results.

Becky’s Seductive Puttanesca Sauce Over Pappardelle Lemon-Pepper Pasta

puttenesca sauce 010

Becky’s Seductive Puttanesca Sauce

Into a medium high skillet (I love my cast iron for this) saute:

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 chopped onion in 2 T. olive oil

Throw in any mixture of the following that you have on hand, stirring after each addition. (I do highly recommend that you use the chopped artichoke hearts, to me they are the most essential ingredient!)

1/3 – 1/2 c. chopped marinated artichoke heart
1/2 c. to 1 cup, any roasted or left over vegies, diced.
1 T. capers
2 T. olives, chopped, any kind
2 T. pesto sauce (if you have it on hand… no worries if not)
2 T. chopped pepperocini peppers
2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, preferably)
1 – 2 T. brown sugar (this will depend on your taste and also how many “sour” ingredients that you put in your sauce that will need balanced by sweet)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I like the ones with basil and garlic)
1 t. Italian seasoning or oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste

Simmer until sauce is thick and chunky, then season with salt, pepper, and Italian spices to taste.

You can dress up the recipe from here and add some flavorful meat of your choice. It is delicious with ½ lb of ground beef sauteed with ½ pound Italian sausage (chicken or turkey sausage is great) tossed in.  Or you can go vegan and roast garbanzo beans (see recipe below) and serve over your favorite pasta,  or spaghetti squash (see instructions for this below as well).  My daughter and I made this vegan version together (she suggested we try it with roasted garbanzos),  and it was AWESOME.

I personally adore this sauce served over Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta (which is a wide ribbon-like pasta). I looked up the root meaning of “pappardelle” and to my great relief, it simply means “to gobble up.” Whew.  Much better  “Italian word of the day” for little ones.

A light sprinkle of Parmesan (Vegan Parm if you are going dairy-free) and it is ready to serve.  The aroma should draw hungry folks to your kitchen in no time.

puttenesca sauce 007

Roasted Garbanzo Beans ( Chick Peas )
Drain, rinse and pat dry a can of garbanzo beans. Pour them evenly on a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with olive oil, then roll them around. Sprinkle with salt or your favorite spiced salt. Roast at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are browned and crisped. (Shake them once or twice while baking so they can brown on two sides.)

Spaghetti Squash
Take a spaghetti squash and cut it in half length wise. Scoop out seeds. Put 1/2 cup water in the bottom of a big microwave proof bowl. Put one of the squash halves in the bowl, hole side up. (If it wobbles, trim a thin piece of the squash off the bottom so that it sits more level in the bowl.) Put the other squash half on top of the squash in the bowl. Don’t cover it. Just put in microwave for 10 minutes. Test done-ness by squeezing the top squash with a pot holder. If it squeezes easily, it is done. Take a fork and scrape “strings” of squash in spaghetti-like fashion.
Lightly salt, then top with sauce and roasted garbanzo beans. (You can also serve leftover spaghetti squash with butter and pepper and nutmeg for a side dish.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Seductive Puttanesca Sauce
The URL:http://wp.me/p1UwM9-ep


Creamy Artichoke Basil Sauce

Artichokes give this sauce its creamy factor without adding any fat.

Motherhood has changed me. We just spent an evening discussing life insurance and wills. I wake up before eight a.m. without an alarm. I no longer pee alone. I don’t shower until noon most days (if I shower at all). And I cook every meal while simultaneously pulling my child out of cabinets, trash cans, and the wash machine … or out from between my legs.

My mom snapped this picture of Jackson last time she was here. He pulls up on my pant legs right behind me and completely immobilizes me. I can’t turn around or squat down to get him or he’ll fall over. Cooking like this is challenging to say the least.

So I love a meal that is quick and easy, but tastes deliciously gourmet. This pasta sauce is exactly that. It takes about five minutes to make and if you pour it over hot pasta, you don’t even have to simmer it. As a bonus, Jackson likes it too, so I can give him little bites of my dinner without making a different meal for him. Mommy and baby approved!

Did I mention there is no cream in this creamy pasta? It’s almost guilt-free, minus the two tablespoons of olive oil. Another bonus for this post baby body!

Rachel’s
Creamy Artichoke Basil Sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 T. olive oil

1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, reserve liquid

1 1/2 roasted red bell peppers (jarred or make your own*)

A palm full of basil, roughly chopped

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/4 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1/2 t. Italian seasoning

8 oz pasta (I used whole wheat spiral pasta, but any kind you like would be fine)

Directions

In a small skillet, heat garlic and olive oil until garlic is just starting to brown. In a blender or food processor, blend all the ingredients including the sauteed garlic and olive oil. Add reserved liquid** from the artichokes (I think I used about a half a cup) to thin out sauce to desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Toss with pasta immediately out of the boiling water. Garnish with a little chopped basil if desired.

*Making your own roasted peppers is easy. Just placing them directly on on a gas burner flame rotating it a few times (like this) or on a pan under the broiler until charred. Then put it in a bowl tightly covered with plastic wrap for a about five minutes. Rub off most of the skin with a damp paper towel. Voila, roasted peppers!

**Pasta water would work great too if you accidentally forget to reserve the liquid from the artichokes. Yes, I speak from experience.

Variations

Stir in chickpeas, sauteed veggies, chicken or Italian sausage (or the vegan versions of these)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Creamy Artichoke Basil Sauce
The URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/17/creamy-artichoke-basil-sauce/

Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Bowtie Pasta

We are proud Texans in this household….

Hook 'Em Horns

Jackson cowboyed up for his first Halloween

…but if I weren’t Texan, I’d be Italian.

My mom would say the same about herself. In fact, I think she may be Italian at heart. She lives on Italian time meandering through the day, disregarding clocks and schedules, stopping for a daily afternoon siesta when she gets the yawns. Like a typical Italian mama, she cooks great big delicious meals for family and friends for any occasion that pops up.

I, on the other hand, may more accurately fit the description of the strong willed Italian. Just now as I was browsing for Italian quotes, I stopped on a t-shirt slogan that said “Always right, never wrong…I’m Italian.” Jared peaked over, and quicker than a stallion shot off, “Hey honey, maybe you are Italian!”

Italian food is as diverse as the people from there (or who wish they were). It can be crazy indulgent or mad healthy. Most dishes can be modified to satisfy a meat lover, vegetarian, or even vegan. A dish can have bright and fresh flavors from lemon and rosemary, deep rustic flavors from tomatoes and olives, or rich creamy flavors from cheeses and cream. Kids love it, adults love it. What’s not to love?

This bowtie pasta dish would be great to serve at your next big family gathering. Feel free to mix up the veggies with whatever you have on hand or toss in some chicken or Parmesan for the meat and cheese lovers at the table.

Rachel’s
Sun Dried Tomato Bowtie Pasta

Ingredients

16 oz of Whole Wheat Bowtie Pasta (The Delallo line of whole wheat pastas are my favorite)
1 can of quartered artichoke hearts
1 6oz  jar of Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in olive oil and herbs
1 small onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A couple handful of spinach
3 tbs of white cooking wine
Salt & Pepper
Chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

While prepping the veggies, boil the water and cook the pasta as directed on the box, salting the water liberally.

Chop the veggies and mince the garlic. Julienne cut the sun dried tomatoes, reserving the oil in the jar.

In a large pan, heat about a tbs of oil on med-high heat, add onions and a sprinkle of salt. Sautee until the onions are golden. Add zucchini, squash, and garlic and sautee until soft. Add artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and white cooking wine and sautee until spinach is just wilted. Gently toss the drained pasta in with the veggies. Pour in just enough of the oil and herbs from the sun dried tomatoes to lightly coat everything. Season with salt & pepper to taste and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Bowtie Pasta
The URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/sun-dried-tomato-artichoke-bowtie-pasta
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


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