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

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Take me to the recipe!

So, I have to confess something: I’m not sold on the pretend-cauliflower-is-the-same-as-carbs trend. I’ve had the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi and it’s good, but it’s not gnocchi. I’ve resisted cauliflower pizza crust because…I just…can’t. I like cauliflower rice, but only with other strong flavors.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

However, I do like cauliflower, especially when it’s covered in cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs.

Cacio e pepe purists may hate this recipe, but hear me out. The best part of cacio e pepe is the creamy sauce that’s achieved by mixing the starchy pasta water with cheese. But when you roast cauliflower, the stalks and larger pieces actually do get a little creamy.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

And my kiddo likes things with a crunch more than things that are soft and creamy, so throwing in a little panko is a nice textural counterpoint to the softer cheese and veggies.

Add a drained can of chickpeas and you have an actually filling vegetarian meal or a hearty side.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas

1 large head of cauliflower
1 can chick peas; drained, rinsed, and dried
3 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
5-6 grinds of freshly ground pepper
¾ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (3 oz)
2 large cloves garlic
¼ cup panko
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 425.

Drain and dry one can of chickpeas. Set aside.

Remove the leaves from your cauliflower, but leave the central core intact. Chop into 1-inch slices. You’ll probably get between 2 and 4 intact steaks and the rest will fall into florets, which is fine.

Place the cauliflower steaks and chickpeas onto your sheet pan and then fill in with cauliflower florets.

Brush the steaks, florets, and beans with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the steaks are just fork tender. (You don’t want mushy cauliflower, but this is the majority of the cooking the steaks will do, so use your best judgment about how cooked you like your veggies.)

While the veggies and beans are roasting, pulse the cheese in a food processor until it’s in coarse crumbles (if not using pre-grated). Add the garlic, panko, salt, and pepper and pulse until the garlic is minced and everything is mixed together. Set aside.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven. 

Spread a thin layer of mayo over the steaks and any of the larger florets of cauliflower. Top liberally with the cheese, panko, salt, and pepper mixture. Press lightly into the steaks to get the cheese to stick.

Return to the oven and roast for another 10-12 minutes until the cheese is brown and crunchy. Keep an eye out that the cheese doesn’t burn.

Yield: 4-6 side dishes, 2-3 main dishes

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Romesco hummus

Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes
Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes

It’s happening, people. The “new year, new anxiety” phase of January has begun.

Can we talk about having a second child? I have mixed thoughts about it. Sometimes it feels like a member of our family is missing. And both my husband and I have siblings and love it (both the idea of having a sibling and the actual people that our siblings are). AND being an aunt is one of my very favorite things. I don’t want M to miss out on any of that.

But it took so long for us to get pregnant with M, that I’ve been mentally preparing to have one child since he was born.

And the fact is, it took me a long time to feel like myself again both mentally and physically after having M and I’m scared to give that up. I wouldn’t necessarily claim that we’ve “hit our stride” as a family, but we’ve achieved a sort of equilibrium, so the idea of purposely throwing a HUGE wrench into the works with another baby is very scary.

I’m also scared about the change to M’s life. He’s actually cried a few times because he doesn’t have a sibling, but I know that his sadness is purely theoretical. When another little person actually takes up our time, he’ll be PISSED. I don’t want to ruin his life, you know?

But what about the joy a kid brings? And the funny family stories we’ll have in the future? And M will need someone to complain to about all of the mistakes we’ll inevitably make.

And here’s where the anxiety comes in: We are entering my 39th year of life, so my time to perseverate about having another child is swiftly coming to an end. UUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH.

What is your advice? Have any of you felt this way? How did you make the final decision? I NEED TO KNOW.

Anyhoo, I can’t think of a good segue, so HUMMUS.

Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes

Hummus was one of M’s favorite snacks until…it wasn’t. He actually told me one day that he was “done” with hummus and carrots. Rude.

So I combined plain hummus with the veggies and spices from Romesco sauce, had him measure the ingredients and press the food processor buttons, and HUZZAH he likes hummus again.

To anyone wondering why they should make hummus rather than buying it in the store, I say, it’s truly so easy that a small child can do it (and did). Unlike regular Romesco sauce, this hummus is nut-free, so you don’t have to toast or roast anything. You don’t even need to chop because, food processor.

A couple of notes:

  • There is a lot of smoked paprika in this recipe, so start with 1/2 tsp and add more to taste if you prefer milder flavors.

  • I use a brand of roasted red pepper that comes in a tall, thin jar, so the peppers are really big. If your peppers are smaller, use two.

Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes

Romesco hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 large roasted red pepper (or 2 smaller peppers)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 large garlic cloves
1/2-1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
3 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar

 Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Yield: 16 oz or 1.5 cups

Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes

Butternut squash shakshuka

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Is it technically a shakshuka if there aren't any tomatoes or peppers? I mean, if we can pretend that swiss chard is the base for shakshuka, then butternut squash is acceptable in my book. Yes? Yes. Moving on.

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This week has been a test of how good I am at compartmentalizing. The answer is: not very good. I mean, I'm not terrible at it, but I'm certainly not myself with my mom being sick in the hospital. I think M is reacting by not sleeping and tantruming over some truly insane things.

Being a parent is really freaking hard, especially when your mental tank isn't full.

I keep reminding myself that it's not M's job to take care of me emotionally. It's okay for me not to be 100% all the time, but I also can't get mad at him for not somehow divining that I don't have it all together and being on his best behavior. 

Anyway, M is fed and clothed and bathed and read to and sung to and danced with and we built the international space station out of blocks, so I think I'm doing okay. And he wolfed down this spicy lamb, chickpea, and butternut squash stew, so he's doing okay too.

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A couple of notes about this dish: Use harissa spice instead of harissa paste. Some recipes call for the paste, but it's too spicy for my toddler. Don't be intimidated by the harissa or ras al hanout. Both are spice mixes that combine many of the usual suspects like cayenne, garlic, ginger, coriander, and cumin.

Our harissa is somewhat old, so if you're concerned about the heat level for your family, taste the spice first and then decide how much to use. You can also skip the Aleppo pepper or substitute 1/4 tsp cayenne if you don't have any. I resisted buying Aleppo pepper for a while, but we live near a Penzey's so I finally caved and it's become a staple of our spice rack.

 

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Butternut squash shakshuka

1 large butternut squash (1.5-2 lbs)
2 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 large shallots
2 tsp smoked paprika, divided
1 tsp sea salt, divided
3/4 tsp ras al hanout
1 lb ground lamb
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fennel seeds
1-2 tsp harissa spice*
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper*
1 can chickpeas, drained
5 eggs
Lemon wedges
Feta cheese (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Naan or pita bread (optional, but not really)

Preheat oven to 400. Trim the top stem of the butternut squash (but not the bottom), split the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until the neck of the squash is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and remove the skin (it should slip off easily).

While the squash is roasting, slice and caramelize the onions and shallots in olive oil for about 20 minutes. Set aside half of the onions. To the remaining onions, add 1 tsp of smoked paprika, half of the salt, and the raz al hanout. Saute for 1 minute and add to the blender or food processor.

Add the cooked squash to the blender or food processor with the onions and spices and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.

Saute the ground lamb over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain the excess oil and liquid. Return to the heat and add the remaining smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, harissa, Aleppo pepper, and salt. Cook for one minute.

Add the drained chickpeas and pureed squash to the cooked lamb and stir to combine. Heat through over medium low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Make 5 holes in the squash and lamb mixture and crack the eggs into the holes. Turn the flame back to medium, cover, and cook until the egg whites are solid and there is just a bit of jiggle in the eggs when you shake the pan.

Garnish with fresh cilantro, feta cheese, the reserved caramelized onions, and a squeeze of lemon (all optional!)

Yield: 5 servings

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Roasted carrot hummus

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes

This is carrot hummus. I realize that the above photo might lead you to think that it's pumpkin hummus because there are pepitas in a photo of orange mush. I'm pretty tired.

Guys, M is about to transition to a toddler bed and I'm freaking out. In practical terms, I'm terrified that he's going to climb out of his crib and hurt himself. We've caught him several times with a leg over the railing and have stopped him before gravity could do its work. The toddler rail is on its way.

In theoretical terms, I'm not ready for him to be such a big boy. He was only born, like, a month ago, right? In addition to the impending toddler bed, he got "accepted" to preschool this week (in NYC, you have to apply to preschool with the essay writing, interviewing, and astronomical tuition that that implies), and together, those things are too much. 

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes

In my anxiety spirals, I worry that he's going to wake up in the middle of the night and climb a bookshelf or stick something into an outlet. We've bolted everything to the wall and covered the outlets, but he's crafty and good at circumventing our roadblocks. Ugh. How do you learn to trust a toddler? How do you have a rational conversation with an irrational being? How do you solve a problem like Maria?

I have no answers. (Accept about Maria: Make her a nanny to seven wealthy motherless children and set the Nazis after them. Things turn out okay.) All I can do is control what I can control. In this case, it's finding creative ways to add vegetables to M's diet. 

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes

This hummus is a spring-y delight. Roasting the carrots makes the hummus ever-so-slightly sweet and the little bit of ginger lightens the whole thing up and calls to mind Easter egg hunts, seders, hay fever, and daffodils--whatever your springtime ritual.

A couple of notes: When roasting, you want some color on the carrots, but are really looking for them to be slightly browned and fork tender. I also like to cut them into about 1/2-inch thick slices so that they cook fairly quickly, but don't get crispy. I like to toss the hot carrots with the spices once they've come out of the oven so that they don't burn during the cooking, but heat up a bit before going into the food processor. Use Hungarian or sweet paprika over smoked paprika and feel free to increase the amount of spice if you want more zing. The amounts I've used are rather mild because I wanted the ginger to star in this show. Don't be shy with the water in this recipe either. I learned by accident that a little extra doesn't hurt.

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes

Carrot and ginger hummus

1 lb carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp turmeric
1 15 oz can chickpeas
2 large cloves garlic
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½- 1 cup water
Salt

Preheat oven to 400. Peel and cut carrots into ½-inch thick slices. Combine with olive oil and plenty of salt and roast until fork tender, about 25 minutes. Once roasted, toss with the paprika and turmeric (and more salt if necessary).

Add the carrots and the rest of the ingredients (through the water) to your food processor and pulse until combined, adding water until you've reached your desired consistency.

Yield: 3 cups, 26 oz

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes