Pasta con ceci (and white beans)

Pasta con ceci (and white beans) | Me & the Moose. This one-pot, 30-minute, vegan-optional meal is healthy, simple, cheap, and uses pantry staples that you likely already have. #meandthemoose #healthydinnerrecipes #30minutemeals #pastarecipes #veganrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

A one-pot, healthy, vegan optional pasta dinner full of beans and veggies that comes together in less than 30 minutes? Oh, and it’s made with things you likely have in your pantry right now (or could easily get on the cheap)? Yes and yes.

Take me to the recipe!

This dish started with Victoria Granoff’s wonderful Pasta con ceci from Food52. It’s easy, fast, inexpensive, and shockingly complex considering the petite ingredient list and short cooking time.

However, that quick cook left the chickpeas a little too raw, in my opinion. And while I love a healthy fat, the original recipe calls for lots of olive oil and I wanted to lighten it up a bit. I suspect that the larger amount of oil masks the chickpea taste a bit, but I like the idea of replacing fat with fiber and not the other way around.

Pasta con ceci (and white beans) | Me & the Moose. This one-pot, 30-minute, vegan-optional meal is healthy, simple, cheap, and uses pantry staples that you likely already have. #meandthemoose #healthydinnerrecipes #30minutemeals #pastarecipes #veganrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

I tried to swap in white beans for the chickpeas entirely, but they cooked down too much. Half and half white beans and chickpeas, though, proved the winning combination: Some bite from the chickpeas and some creaminess from the white beans marries perfectly.

Use whole wheat pasta and throw in some julienned kale at the end and you have a rounded, healthy dish full of fiber and protein.

Even M, who’s been in an extended picky phase, gobbled this up and we didn’t even need to put other “safe’ foods on the table.

All that to say, MAKE THIS FOR DINNER TONIGHT!

Pasta con ceci (and white beans) | Me & the Moose. This one-pot, 30-minute, vegan-optional meal is healthy, simple, cheap, and uses pantry staples that you likely already have. #meandthemoose #healthydinnerrecipes #30minutemeals #pastarecipes #veganrecipes #vegetarianrecipes


Pasta con Ceci (and white beans)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/3 cup tomato paste
1½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed  
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1½ cup uncooked orecchiete pasta (or another small shape)
3½ cups stock or water
1 parmesan rind (optional)
½ bushel Tuscan (also called Lacinto or Dinosaur) kale, julienned (about 1½-2 cups) 

For serving: red pepper flakes, more parmesan,

Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium-low flame, until hot, but not crackling.

Add the smashed garlic (it should sizzle in the pan right away) and cook until it’s deeply tanned, but not dark brown. Adjust the temperature as needed to avoid burning.

Add the tomato paste. It should also sizzle when it hits the pan. If not, increase the temperature. Cook, stirring and hearing the sizzle, for 30 seconds to a minute.

Add the white beans, pasta, water or stock, and salt. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese rind, if using. Let simmer uncovered (you should have a decent simmer going and see bubbles popping throughout the cooking. If not, increase the temperature) for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking and the pasta is cooked.

Turn off the heat and toss in your kale. Stir a few times to let the residual heat wilt the greens.

Serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Pasta con ceci (and white beans) | Me & the Moose. This one-pot, 30-minute, vegan-optional meal is healthy, simple, cheap, and uses pantry staples that you likely already have. #meandthemoose #healthydinnerrecipes #30minutemeals #pastarecipes #veganrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

Dumpling lettuce wraps

Dumpling lettuce wraps | Me & The Moose. This dish is so simple, is ready in under 30 minutes, and will make everyone at your table happy one way or another. #meandthemoose #dinner #thirtyminutemeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dumplings #pork

This dish is a so simple and ready in less than 30 minutes, so basically the easiest route to a delicious dinner. AND it can be customized to suit different tastes, which usually makes for a less stressful dinner time in our house.

Take me to the recipe!

For example, we served the pork in lettuce wraps to lighten it up for the adults and used it to top brown rice for M who’s in a “rice bowl” phase. Don’t ask.

Dumpling lettuce wraps | Me & The Moose. This dish is so simple, is ready in under 30 minutes, and will make everyone at your table happy one way or another. #meandthemoose #dinner #thirtyminutemeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dumplings #pork

M has been obsessed with dumplings since time immemorial, so, obviously, we made our own a few weeks ago for Lunar New Year. I, obviously, got lazy half way through the giant stack of dumpling wrappers and decided to saute the rest of the filling and call it a day.

Dumpling lettuce wraps | Me & The Moose. This dish is so simple, is ready in under 30 minutes, and will make everyone at your table happy one way or another. #meandthemoose #dinner #thirtyminutemeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dumplings #pork
Dumpling lettuce wraps | Me & The Moose. This dish is so simple, is ready in under 30 minutes, and will make everyone at your table happy one way or another. #meandthemoose #dinner #thirtyminutemeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dumplings #pork

The saltyness from the soy sauce as well as the garlic and scallions cut through the fatty pork. There’s also a lot of cabbage in there that M doesn’t even realize he’s eating. You could probably throw in a host of other veggies too if that’s your bag.

Dumpling lettuce wraps | Me & The Moose. This dish is so simple, is ready in under 30 minutes, and will make everyone at your table happy one way or another. #meandthemoose #dinner #thirtyminutemeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dumplings #pork

One could also swap out half or all of the pork for a less fatty ground meat or shrimp to lighten this up a bit too.

Dumpling lettuce wraps | Me & The Moose. This dish is so simple, is ready in under 30 minutes, and will make everyone at your table happy one way or another. #meandthemoose #dinner #thirtyminutemeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dumplings #pork

Seriously, there are a lot of dinners out there that claim to be ready in less than 30 minutes, but aren’t really done that fast. This is sincerely one of the quickest dinners in our repertoire.

Dumpling lettuce wraps

1 lb ground pork
3 cups green cabbage, finely chopped (about ½ of a small Napa cabbage)
6 scallions, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch cilantro, minced (stems and all)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten

For serving:
Thinly sliced radishes
Sliced cucumbers
Sriracha
Spicy mayo
Raw cabbage
Cilantro
Pickled onions
Kimchi

Chop the cabbage, scallions, garlic, cilantro, sauces, pork, and beaten egg to a large bowl and mix well tom combine.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Turn the flame to medium low.

Add the meat mixture to the skillet and cook until no pink remains, about 10-12 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.

There may be a lot of liquid that comes out in the cooking. If so, turn up the heat to medium high and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the meat has browned underneath.

Serve in lettuce leaves, wraps, tortillas, or over rice, cauliflower rice, or anything else.

Yield: about 3.5 cups of filling, or about 3-4 servings with toppings.

Dumpling lettuce wraps | Me & The Moose. This dish is so simple, is ready in under 30 minutes, and will make everyone at your table happy one way or another. #meandthemoose #dinner #thirtyminutemeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dumplings #pork

Cranberry bars

Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

Cranberry bars! Have you guys seen To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix? It’s a DELIGHT and I’ve watched it like 6 times. How does this relate to holiday desserts, you may ask? Well, there’s a part in the movie where one character pretends that making cupcakes for a school bake sale is her top priority and two other characters point out that the easiest way to bake for groups is to make something that can be cut into pieces. This is good advice!

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So this year, we’re only making bars that can be baked in one go and cut into pieces. You’re welcome.

But one place where bars fall short is in their appearance. I love a brownie or blondie (recipe coming at you next week, actually), but they’re not the most attractive dessert. Instead, make these simple cranberry bars and you have a holiday showstopper without much fuss.

Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking
Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

These bars have the same sweet/tart profile of a lemon bar, but in a more festive color. I’ve also simplified the recipe so that you can reuse the same kitchen tools for the crust and the filling. And unlike most cranberry curd or bar recipes, I recommend not straining the cranberries after they’re pureed. It doesn’t make enough difference to justify the extra time, effort, and dishes.

Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

A couple of notes:

  • I fiddled with the amounts of sugar in the filling because I like the bars a little bit tarter and Ethan likes them a little sweeter. If you like tart, use 3/4 cup. If you like sweet, add the remaining 2 Tbsp.

  • I listed a huge range in the cook time for the tart because it has cooked at wildly varying speeds for me. When I pour the filling directly into the hot shell, it cooked faster, but when my timing was off and I left the crust out to cool while I made the filling, it was a little slower. Also, when I used super fresh cranberries, there was more liquid in the filling and it took longer. Anyway, you get it. Check the tart at about 15 minutes knowing that there is a chance it will take much longer.

Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

Cranberry bars

Shortbread base
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
10 Tbsp cold butter (1 stick + 2 Tbsp), cut into ½-inch cubes
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
Heaping ¼ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x9 tart pan or a 10x10 brownie pan. Set aside.

Combine all of the shortbread ingredients in a food processor and pulse 15-20 times until the mixture looks like coarse sand.

Dump the mixture into your tart pan or brownie pan. If using a tart pan, start by pressing the mixture into a medium-thin layer up the sides of the pan. Then press the remaining shortbread mixture into the bottom of the pan in an even layer. If using a brownie pan, just press the mixture onto the bottom of the pan and don’t worry about the sides.

Bake in the middle of the oven until blondish-brown, about 17-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep your filling.

 

Filling
10 oz of fresh cranberries (a scant 3 cups; save the rest of the berries for decoration)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup sugar + 2 Tbsp
3 Tbsp flour
3 large eggs  

In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Heat over a medium flame until bubbling and the cranberries can be squished with a spatula without any give, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Wipe out your food processor and puree the cranberries until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Add the sugar and flour and puree for another few seconds until combined and the mixture looks like liquid.

Add the eggs and puree again until combined, about 10 seconds.

Turn the oven temperature down to 300.

Remove the tart shell from the oven (if you haven’t already) and fill with the cranberry mixture until right at the top of the tart. You may have some filling left over.

Bake for 18-34 minutes, until there is no wobble left in the middle when the tart is shaken and the filling feels firm, but springy when lightly touched.

Let cool completely before decorating.


Decoration

2 oz cranberries (whatever is left in the bag)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a small sauce pan, combine 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar and heat over a medium low flame. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Don’t let the sugar water get too hot; you’re just trying to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Add the cranberries and cover well with syrup. Remove from the syrup with a fork or slotted spoon to remove most of the liquid. Add to a bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Roll the berries around to cover with sugar and remove to a plate. Let harden for 20-30 minutes.

When bars are cool, cover with powdered sugar. Add the cranberries in whatever pattern you like.


Yield: 16 medium squares or slices


Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking
Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

Healthy-ish pizza rolls

Healthy-ish pizza rolls | Me & The Moose. Whole wheat pizza crust, kale pesto, and turkey salami make these lunchbox friendly pizza rolls (just swap the walnuts in the kale pesto for sunflower or pumpkin seeds or leave them out entirely) a healthier pizza option. #meandthemoose #pizzarolls #healthypizzarecipes #healthypizza #lunchboxideas #lunchboxrecipes #lunch #pizza

Today is Pi day and Friday is St. Patrick's Day and the closest we're getting to a themed meal here at M&TM headquarters is kale pesto pizza rollups which are just barely a pizza "pie" and just barely green. Needs must.

We love pizza around these parts, but pizza doesn't always love us. First of all, it's bad for you. Second, it's a mess. A toddler with pizza grease and tomato sauce all over him is just a prelude to an APARTMENT with pizza grease and tomato sauce all over it. These rolls solve these problems: They're a bit healthier, using whole wheat pizza dough (pre-made from Whole Foods because my laziness is well documented on this blog), turkey salami, part-skim mozzarella, and kale pesto. But they really don't skimp on flavor. These rolls also keep well in the fridge or freezer as long as they're re-crisped well in the toaster or the oven before being eaten. 

Healthy-ish pizza rolls | Me & The Moose. Whole wheat pizza crust, kale pesto, and turkey salami make these lunchbox friendly pizza rolls (just swap the walnuts in the kale pesto for sunflower or pumpkin seeds or leave them out entirely) a healthier pizza option. #meandthemoose #pizzarolls #healthypizzarecipes #healthypizza #lunchboxideas #lunchboxrecipes #lunch #pizza

To get this cleaner, healthier version of pizza, you have to do a tiny bit more work than just slapping some sauce and cheese on a rolled out dough and popping it into the oven, though not much more. First, you have to roll the dough into a rectangle, which can take a bit of doing. Make sure your sauce layer is thin since overfilling the middles can cause the rolls to fall apart. You also want to be stingy with the cheese and salami (if using) for the same reason. But the rolling up means that you'll still get tons of cheese and toppings in each bite. 

I took Sally from Sally's Baking Addiction's advice about refrigerating the dough and fillings for 30 minutes after rolling them into a log, but before cutting and cooking them, but I'm not completely sure it was necessary as I've made these without that extra step and found the rolls similarly loose. A few pieces of advice: Try to make this roll as tight as possible. Use your sharpest knife to cut the rolls and don't make them more than 1-inch wide. Also, feel free to tighten and crimp the outside layer of the dough as you transfer the cut pieces to the baking sheet. 

Healthy-ish pizza rolls | Me & The Moose. Whole wheat pizza crust, kale pesto, and turkey salami make these lunchbox friendly pizza rolls (just swap the walnuts in the kale pesto for sunflower or pumpkin seeds or leave them out entirely) a healthier pizza option. #meandthemoose #pizzarolls #healthypizzarecipes #healthypizza #lunchboxideas #lunchboxrecipes #lunch #pizza

Pizza rolls

1 store-bought or homemade whole wheat pizza dough
½ cup kale pesto (scant)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
4-5 oz Turkey salami or pepperoni
1/8 cup corn meal
Tomato sauce for dipping

Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Roll or press out the pizza dough on a separate piece of lightly floured parchment paper until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Spread a very thin layer of the kale pesto over top and make sure to get all the way to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Add salami or pepperoni if using.

Along the longer side, start rolling the dough as tightly as you can. Continue rolling until the dough and fillings form a log. Transfer the log and parchment paper to a baking pan and chill for 30 minutes (or not, see above note).

After chilling, cut 1-inch pieces from the roll and dip one cut side into the corn meal to prevent sticking. Place the cornmeal crusted side on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all the pieces are cut, sprinkle lightly with parmesan and bake for 15-18 minutes until the outsides are golden brown.

Yield: about 15 rolls

Healthy-ish pizza rolls | Me & The Moose. Whole wheat pizza crust, kale pesto, and turkey salami make these lunchbox friendly pizza rolls (just swap the walnuts in the kale pesto for sunflower or pumpkin seeds or leave them out entirely) a healthier pizza option. #meandthemoose #pizzarolls #healthypizzarecipes #healthypizza #lunchboxideas #lunchboxrecipes #lunch #pizza