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

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon

Happy new year, all! Thanks for reading and cooking along with me this year. I hope you’ll stick around for 2019 too!

Are you all making resolutions this year?

There’s much talk about whether or not resolutions are a good move. I, personally, use my resolutions as a way to punish myself for everything I think is wrong with me. And that feels like a negative way to start the year, no?

So, instead of telling myself, “Eat healthier, you fatty,” I’m going to just make delicious food that happens to be healthy and see what happens. Staaarting….now!

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon
Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon

This sheet pan dinner is fast, easy, and requires minimal prep. You can also make it even simpler by using some store-prepped ingredients. I’ve used pre-cooked lentils that are available at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and other grocery stores in the refrigerated aisle.

I also opt for haricots vert over of straight green beans because you don’t have to trim the ends. Haricot vert are just a thinner and smaller variety of green beans. They can be more expensive, but if time is the priority, it may be worth the extra $1 or $2.

A couple of notes:

  • There are two cooking times here: The salmon and veggies will be done after about 15 minutes and it is totally acceptable to stop cooking here and enjoy green beans with a little snap leftover and softer, creamy lentils. However, I prefer it when you cook the green beans and lentils for another 10 minutes so that the beans are tender and the lentils are crunchy.

  • If using frozen salmon, thaw it before cooking. If cooking from frozen, the fish releases a lot of water, which affects the final texture of the vegetables and lentils.

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon

Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans

1.5 lbs salmon (about 4 medium fillets)
¾ lb haricot vert or green beans (if using green beans, trim the edges)
1 cup cooked lentils
2 large shallots (or 3-4 smaller ones) , cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp grainy mustard
Zest of 1 medium lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice (from ½ a lemon, reserve the leftover juice)
1 tsp coriander
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400.

On a large rimmed sheet pan (about 13x18), mix together the green beans, sliced shallots, and cooked lentils. Toss with olive oil and salt and push to the sides of the pan.

Place the salmon fillets skin-side down in the middle of the pan so that the skin is directly on the pan or parchment paper (if using).

In a separate bowl, mix together the mustards, lemon zest, 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, coriander, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Cover the flesh side of the fish fillets with 2 Tbsp of the mustard mixture and spread evenly. Reserve the rest of the mixture for later.

Roast the fish and veggies for 12-15 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

While the fish is roasting, finish the sauce. Add the yogurt and garlic to the remaining mustard mixture and stir well. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed.  

When the fish is done, increase the oven temperature to 450. Remove the fish, spread out the veggies and lentils, and return them to the oven. Cook until the beans begin to wrinkle slightly and the lentils begin to crisp, about 10-15 minutes more.

Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon
Sheet pan dinner: Mustard salmon with crispy lentils and green beans | Me & The Moose. This quick dinner is healthy, satisfying, and full of flavor. Supermarket shortcuts make it even easier. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #quickdinner #healthydinner #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #salmon

Corn dog fritters

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Hey all- it's July 4th, which means you may be feeling somewhat festive (or, at least, someone close to you is feeling festive enough to throw a BBQ. One of my favorite things when we lived in NYC was that Shake Shack would serve the most amazing corn dogs only on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.

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We've tried to recreate them at home and it's sort of a gross process. The smell of frying oil sticks around in my hair long after the dogs have been consumed. And, they require SO MUCH OIL. I mean, I was theoretically aware of how much was required to properly fry something, but doing it yourself is...jarring. 

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So instead, I tossed some hotdogs into my favorite corn fritter recipe, made a few tweaks, and called it a day. These guys are delicious and require a comparatively scant two tablespoons of oil. Use avocado oil and it's even a good fat! And since I've used corn flour instead of wheat flour, these fritters are naturally gluten-free.

 

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A couple of notes:
- Swap out the milk for almond or coconut milk to make these dairy-free.
- Cooking times on these fritters or patties vary widely. I made them once and they browned in less than 3 minutes. If I'm impatient about heating the oil, it takes up to 7 minutes for a golden crust to form.
- We've been getting our eggs from a local farm, so the sizes range from small to ostrich. Not really, but some of the eggs are gigantic. One of the giant ones is sufficient for this recipe, but if yours are a regular uniform size, use two.
- If you can, use fresh corn cut from the cob. It tastes so much better.

 

Corn dog fritters

½ cup corn flour
¼ cup fine corn meal
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp Aleppo pepper, cayenne pepper, or ½ tsp paprika
2 tsp honey
¼ cup milk
1 extra large egg (or 2 large eggs)
1 cup corn kernels (1 large ear)
1 cup chopped hotdogs (2 large)
2 Tbsp avocado oil for frying

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Let sit for about 5 minutes to let the baking soda activate- this is about the time it takes to get the oil hot.

Heat the oil over a medium-low flame until very hot. Add about ¼ cup of the corn mixture (for large patties) or 1/8 cup of corn mixture (for small fritters) and let them brown on one side before flipping, about 2-4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until deep golden brown, again about 2-4 minutes.

Serve with ketchup, mustard, and whatever other dipping sauces you might like.

Yield: 6-7 large patties or 14-16 small fritters

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Meatless Mondays: Spinach pasta

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After consuming roughly 10 lbs of sugar while making M's 3rd birthday sushi cake last week (in case you missed it), it was time for a reset. Feels like the 100th reset of the year already, no? Anyway, BALANCE.

So, I don't just like creamed spinach, I like, like creamed spinach. And I won't try to convince you that creamed spinach made without cream is the same thing. Hence, why I'm not calling this "creamed spinach pasta." But when I had the urge to make creamed spinach and mix in some pasta for a hearty and meatless dinner, I thought, maybe I can go one further and skip the cream altogether. Because, you know, the 10 lbs of sugar.

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I started out with the Food52 Cauliflower Carbonara that surfaced a few months ago. This sauce is also delicious in its own right, but I would not compare it to high octane carbonara (though it's an excellent way to get loads of vegetables into your child if you're into that sort of thing). I thought that the cauliflower flavor would be too strong to conceivably substitute for cream and I was right.

Then I gave this Bean-Creamed Spinach recipe on Epicurious a shot. A few tweaks later and we have a lively sauce that uses minimal dairy and even less meat. I used chicken broth because that's what we usually have on hand, but subbing in a vegetable broth would be perfectly fine.

I'm not sure you can really omit the cheese entirely because, to me, it rounds out the flavor. But if you use vegan cheese or nutritional yeast regularly, feel free to sub in some of those for the Asiago and Parmesan.

A note about pre-cooking the spinach: I find that when I cook spinach in whatever sauce it will eventually be covered with, I get a strange spinach-y film on my teeth that is wholly unappetizing. For whatever reason, wilting the spinach first and pressing out the excess water avoids the film and makes the dish taste much better. In my opinion, entirely worth the extra 10 minutes.

Sadly, this post was not sponsored by Whole Foods. I should really get on that.

Sadly, this post was not sponsored by Whole Foods. I should really get on that.

Creamed spinach pasta

1 lb baby spinach
2 large cloves garlic
½ large onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 can/box of white beans
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp Aleppo pepper or paprika
½ tsp mustard powder
1 tsp lemon juice (or the juice of ½ small lemon)
1 lb dry pasta
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup Asiago cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

If needed, give your spinach a quick rinse. Place all of the spinach in a second large pot and start to wilt over medium heat. Give the spinach a few stirs to make sure it wilts evenly. This usually takes me about 10 minutes.

While wilting your spinach, give the onions and garlic a rough chop. You’ll puree these later, so don’t worry about mincing. Open, rinse, and drain your can of beans and measure out your stock.

When all of the spinach is wilted, turn the greens out onto a dishtowel or a few paper towels. This spinach is hot and we want this meal to be done quickly, so I like to add another dishtowel or a few more paper towels on top of the spinach and then weigh it down with a kettle or heavy pot. While you cook everything else, the spinach drains.

Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to your now empty large pot. Over medium heat, sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the beans and give a few stirs. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper. Turn the flame to medium high and bring the stock to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

While the liquid is reducing, give your drained spinach a rough chop. Set aside. If you haven't already, start cooking your pasta.

When the stock has reduced by half, add the Aleppo pepper (or paprika) and the mustard powder. Puree the stock and white bean mixture with either a very strong immersion blender or in a regular blender. Return to the pan. Mix in the cooked spinach. Add the cooked and drained pasta and the cheeses and stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Yield: 9 cups

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Healthy hot chocolate blender pancakes

The toddler absolutely stuck his finger into this pancake right before this photo.

The toddler absolutely stuck his finger into this pancake right before this photo.

There were 500 reasons why I loved living in Manhattan, but the city in winter was not one of them. Pushing a stroller through mountains of dirty snow and then the huge puddles on every corner once they melted, was torture. And not for nothing, but New Yorkers stop picking up after their dogs when it snows. Like, do you think the snow renders your dog's poop harmless? Because the only thing grosser than frozen dog poop is melted dog poop. But I digress.

So now we're cozy in our house in the suburbs while arctic winds and snow howl outside (and the only frozen poop belongs to OUR dog).

And while we've amended our diets for the inevitable post-holidays detox, it's not as easy for M to swear off sweets (nor do we expect him to), so we're toning them down and transitioning away from indulgence and toward moderation.

Enter, hot chocolate pancakes. The name is enticing and fits with the frigidity of our current climate. BUT! The ingredients are more wholesome than the name implies.

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One thing I like about this recipe is that, unlike other recipes that use banana as a natural sweetener, they don't actually taste like banana. I mean, I love bananas, but I don't always want my baked goods to taste like them.

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I also think that the mixture of malt powder and cocoa powders tastes more like hot chocolate than cocoa powder alone. *If you don't have malt powder, use 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder total and add 1-2 Tbsp of maple syrup to the batter.

And while we're at it, let's talk about "blender pancakes" as a concept. As an admittedly lazy cook and housekeeper, I'm skeptical of getting out the blender when it's not strictly necessary. Maybe I'm scarred from not having a dishwasher for most of my adult life, but it seems so much more complicated to clean the blender than to wash out a bowl and spoon.

Anyway, the blender is totally justified here because the oats get chopped up nicely and incorporated more easily. Without blending, you'd either have chunky pancakes or you'd have to wash a food processor and a bowl and spoon. In conclusion, thank god for dishwashers.

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Hot Chocolate pancakes

1 large banana
1 cup quick oats
2 eggs
¼ cup milk (dairy, almond, soy, coconut, rice- anything will work)
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp malt powder (*See note above if omitting malt powder)
1.5 Tbsp cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, scraping the sides if necessary.

Heat a frying pan with the butter or oil of your choice over medium low heat. Pour out about 1/2 cup of batter (we're looking for about 4-inches in diameter) into the hot pan and let cook until 1 or 2 bubbles form on the raw side. (You won't get lots of bubbles as you would with regular pancakes.) 

Once a bubble or two form, carefully flip the pancakes over and cook for 4-5 minutes on the other side, until a crust forms and the pancake feels firm to the touch. 

Serve warm with berries, syrup, powdered sugar, nut butter, or honey.

Yield: 5-6 medium pancakes

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