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Farmer’s Market Veggie Lasagna

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Posted by Mariah | Posted in Main Dishes, Meal Ideas, Uncategorized | Posted on 09-05-2010

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The Cedar Falls Farmers Market opened last week, loaded with lots of fresh veggies, herbs and flowers. Leafy greens were the main attraction — the perfect inspiration for an Italian meal featuring veggie lasagna, a real spring mix salad and fresh-baked bread.

I try to go the Farmer’s Market every Saturday, for a multitude of reasons. The biggest one is to support our local farmers. They are nothing short of amazing in their skill, knowledge and dedication. The farmer from whom I bought my spring greens took about 10 minutes of his time to help me plan my herb garden. As I watched him explain the different ways the plants would need to be cared for, with hands permanently etched with dirt, he actually talked me OUT of planting much more than a few pots of herbs. (He probably realized his precious plants might not fair too well in my hands! I love to cook with fresh vegetables, but I’ve literally killed every single plant I’ve ever owned, with the exception of two cacti.)

The second reason I shop regularly at the farmer’s market is because buying locally is better for the planet. There’s less transportation involved in moving your food from point A to point B. There’s less packaging, and thus, less waste, especially if you re-use your produce and grocery bags!

The third reason is that the food simply tastes better. Lettuce that was recently plucked from the ground is crisper and has that almost indescribably fresh, earthy flavor. Bread that was recently made by hand and plucked from an oven that morning is soft and fragrant, with a distinctly homey flavor.

OK, enough preaching about the farmer’s market. I give you the recipe — plus ideas for a salad and the name of the wonderful baker who made my bread. I can tell you that the whole meal was a big hit with my kids and their friends — they ate almost every bite and virtually devoured the bread!

Ingredients:

1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (I like Muir Glen organic)
1 can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil — fresh is a farmer’s market ingredient
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1 tbsp. fresh) — fresh is a farmer’s market ingredient
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup water
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped — farmer’s market ingredient
1/2 package veggie crumbles (I like Morningstar Farms)
1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups grated mozzarella (not the fresh kind)
1 package lasagna noodles (uncooked)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Saute onions and peppers in a saucepan over medium-high heat for about five minutes.
  3. Add garlic and saute one to two more minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add tomatoes, oregano, basil, pepper flakes, veggie crumbles and water. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. While sauce is cooking, stir cheeses together.
  6. When sauce has simmered, ladle about one cup on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan.
  7. Layer uncooked noodles over the sauce.
  8. Cover with another cup of sauce.
  9. Cover sauce with 2 cups spinach.
  10. Cover spinach with 1/2 of the cheese.
  11. Repeat the steps, starting with another layer of noodles, then sauce and so forth.
  12. You will finish the layering with the cheese on top.
  13. Sprinkle additional pepper flakes and rosemary on top for a prettier dish.
  14. Bake for 45 minutes.
  15. Allow lasagna to cool, then serve with the spring greens salad below and the Sandwich Loaf made by Lorna Martin at Wild Wood farms.

Spring Green Salad Ingredients:

2 cups spinach
1 head romaine lettuce
1 sprig fresh dill, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced

Directions:

Toss the above together and serve it with your favorite dressing. Mine is Goddess Dressing by Annie’s Naturals.

Cook Once, Eat Twice Pasta Dishes: Mac n' Cheese and Spicy Peanut Pasta Salad

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Posted by Mariah | Posted in Salads | Posted on 04-10-2009

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DSC02207With school back in full swing and a fall full of festivals, weddings and showers, I’m always looking for ways to save time. These pasta dishes are the perfect things to cook once and eat twice. The mac n’ cheese recipe is so easy and yummy, I guarantee you will never eat boxed again! And the spicy peanut pasta salad is a great dish to bring to parties or serve on the side of this fantastic grilled portobello mushroom burger recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.

These recipes also feature some of my favorite tips for getting kids to eat their veggies, and some cooking techniques and time savers. For example, the mac n’ cheese is served over blanched broccoli, which I’ve found pleases kids’ palates much better than the over-cooked mushy steamed broccoli. It also features Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta, which is enriched with fibre, protein and calcium.

I also share a way to blanch the broccoli without a lot of extra steps, and a new-found secret to taking the bite out of onions by “deflaming” them. Finally, I sneak some brussels sprouts into the pasta salad for good measure. Note that all veggies in the following recipes were bought at the Cedar Falls farmer’s market. NOTE: you can make these recipes individually, just cook half the pasta.

Shredding cheddar cheese.

Shredding cheddar cheese.

Ingredients for Broccoli Mac n’ Cheese:

3 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. flour

1/2 cup half and half

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets

1 box Ronzoni Smart Taste Elbow Noodles

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cut up all of your veggies, keeping broccoli separate and in a strainer.

2. Cook one package of Ronzoni Smart Taste elbow noodles to al dente, according to package instructions. You will use half of the pasta in your mac n’ cheese and half in the pasta salad. (Use this tool to find Ronzoni pasta in a store near you).

3. Blanch broccoli by pouring the pasta water over the broccoli in the strainer. Cover strainer with pot lid and let steam for five minutes.

4. Drain pasta in a separate strainer. You can use half now for the mac n’ cheese and store the other half in a container to make the pasta salad later, if you’d like.

5. Melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan overĀ  medium-low heat.

6. When butter is melted, add flour one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly. Whisk for about three minutes or until the “roux” is foamy.

7. Slowly add milk and half and half, whisking constantly until the sauce becomes smooth (this should look, feel and taste like a cream sauce).

8. Turn down heat to low and add cheese. Continue to whisk slowly until cheese is melted.

9. Add 1/2 of the cooked pasta to your cheese sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

10. Put desired amount of blanched broccoli in individual soup bowls or plates, then top with mac n’ cheese and serve.

Tip: We serve this dish at our house this time of year with sliced apples and a mixed greens salad.

Spicy Peanut Pasta SaladIngredients for Spicy Peanut Pasta Salad:

3/4 cup chopped brussels sprouts

1 cup baby carrots

1/2 small red onion, diced and deflamed*

3 tbsp. organic natural peanut butter (use this tool to find Smuckers Natural or Organic Peanut Butter at a store near you)

2 tbsp. Nayonaise

2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

1/2 small green pepper

1 red chile

3 tbsp. cilantro sprigs

1 tbsp. honey

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Deflaming an OnionDirections for Spicy Peanut Pasta:

1. Chop veggies.

2. Deflame your onion. To “deflame an onion,” I follow the Rick Bayless method. Put onions in a strainer, then place the strainer in a bowl of cold water with a splash or two of vinegar. Soak while prepping everything else.

3. Put all other ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

4. Mix dressing, veggies and pasta well. Chill for at least one hour before serving.