Meal Plan Day 4: Broccolini & Brussels Sprout Orecchiette

Meal Plan Day 4: Broccoli & Brussels Sprout Orecchiette

Happy Saturday and welcome to Day 4 of my meal plan week! In case you haven’t been following, here are Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. Once again, I’m trying something new this week where I’m posting easy real-life meals where one meal leads into the next, making cook/prep time a breeze. This is the way I love to cook – it’s fun, it’s flexible, and I hope this helps inspire your own meal planning. And speaking of meal planning, here’s a shameless plug for our new meal journal, The Love & Lemons Meal Record & Market List which is a handy tool to help you organize your meals.

Now that we’re later in the week… pasta!! Why? Because pasta is fun and it’s the perfect vehicle to use up bits and bobs of leftover vegetables. I also saved a trip to the store because I always have pasta in the pantry. BUT a humble, back-of-the-pantry pasta becomes less ordinary with an awesome green sauce – the creamy kale pepita pesto that I had on hand from the beginning of the week! A fancy sauce really makes any meal more fun.

Meal Plan Day 4: Broccoli & Brussels Sprout Orecchiette

So here’s what I had at this point in the week that went into this pasta:

1. Awesome green sauce (a.k.a. the star)

2. A few big handfuls of Brussels sprouts

3. Leftover kale stems from the kale salad that I made the other night

4. A half bunch of broccolini

5. A few leftover chickpeas which helps bulk this up

6. In my pantry: orecchiette pasta (which I chose because it mimics the shape of the sprouts)

7. In my fridge: a few shavings of pecorino cheese (totally optional)

Meal Plan Day 4: Broccoli & Brussels Sprout Orecchiette

So that’s it! Another dinner, made in less than 20 minutes. Of course, this is super flexible based on the vegetables you might have on hand. It can be made vegan by skipping the bit of cheese. It can be made gluten free if you use gluten free pasta.

Check back tomorrow for the LAST meal in this meal planning (er… backwards meal planning) series 🙂

Crispy Butternut Squash & Poblano Tacos

Crispy Butternut Squash & Poblano Tacos

Even though we all officially celebrated the first day of fall a few weeks ago, my season starts the day I roast a butternut squash. I love love love roasted butternut squash. First off, it makes my kitchen smell so warm and cozy. Second, it’s such a delicious and versatile squash that works in so many of my favorite comfort food recipes like soups, risotto, and pastas. But I’m saving comfort for another day because today is taco day! I’m so obsessed over these tacos with crispy baked butternut squash.

This recipe starts with a pretty darn awesome sauce, if I do say so myself. Roasted poblanos, onions, and garlic get mixed with lime juice, cilantro, and the best mayo on the planet – Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know how much I love Sir Kensington’s condiments (see here, here, and here). They source the best ingredients and their ketchups, mustards, and mayos just taste so darn good because of it. I could eat this mayo straight from the jar, but since this blog is about recipes, I whipped it up into this spicy, tangy sauce to go with the tacos. Btw, if you’re vegan, go ahead and make this with Sir K’s Fabanaise.

Part two of this recipe is the baked crispy squash. There’s no need to fry anything here because this spiced panko & hempseed “breading” makes the squash cubes crispy and delicious in the oven. The hemp seeds might seem like a strange addition, but they offer a lovely nutty flavor (as well as some nutritional benefits).

As the squash roasts in the oven, make a quick slaw with a scoop of the poblano sauce.

Pro tip: once the squashed is baked, try not to stand at the kitchen counter dipping and snacking on the crispy cubes like I did! Assemble the tacos with the slaw, the remaining roasted poblanos & onions, the crispy squash, avocado (optional), and generous scoops of the sauce.

Zucchini Lasagna with Zucchini “Ricotta”

Zucchini Lasagna with Zucchini "Ricotta"

Well, hello September! How did that happen?

It’s back to school season and even though no one in our family is going back to school (although how cute would doggie lunchboxes be!?), I still wanted to share an easy recipe that would be great for a busy weeknight.

Everyone loves lasagna, so I put iton my “to make for September” list. My plan was to use the last-surviving summer vegetables, particularly zucchini since it’s still growing rampant. Instead of using regular ricotta as the filling, I would make a healthier non-dairy ricotta. Maybe I’d even blend a vegetable to make the ricotta filling. And then I realized – oh wait, I have this Zucchini Lasagna in THE COOKBOOK that is already my favorite zucchini lasagna. So instead of reinventing the wheel, here’s the wheel!

Zucchini Lasagna with Zucchini "Ricotta"

This is no ordinary lasagna recipe. What I love about this recipe is that it uses up a BUNCH of zucchini.

Zucchini Lasagna with Zucchini "Ricotta"

Planks of zucchini layer in to replace half of the noodles that you would normally need. That’s the obvious move. But there is also zucchini blended up INTO the “ricotta” filling itself. You’ll never notice it there, but the zucchini, along with blended walnuts, tofu, lemon juice, and spices creates a thick, creamy ricotta-like filling without using ricotta.

Zucchini Lasagna with Zucchini "Ricotta"

Yes, I put cheese on top of the lasagna, but I believe life is all about balance. Sub vegan cheese on top if you like!

Zucchini Lasagna with Zucchini "Ricotta"

And a shameless plug – check out The Love & Lemons Cookbook for more awesome veggie recipes 🙂

Mix & Match Veggie Quesadillas

Mix & Match Veggie Quesadillas

We’ve been overloaded with decisions lately. “Where to live?” has been the question of the year, but I’m happy to say that we’re finally in the process of buying a new home (more on that later!). Now the decisions at hand are things like “which barstools match the new countertop? which sofas are free of VOC’s?” and “is a white sofa a really bad idea?”

Suffice it to say, when I got around to this recipe, I couldn’t make up my mind on just one option so… Mix & Match quesadillas it is! A no-brainer. Hallelujah.

Mix & Match Veggie Quesadillas

Here’s how they go:

First, the binders. Yes, you could just bind your quesadillas with melted cheese, but refried beans, mashed sweet potato, and mashed avocado are fun, healthy, vegan-friendly alternatives. Spread a thin layer onto your tortilla before adding the fillings (see the photos below).

Next, the veggie fillings! Fresh sweet corn, sauteed spinach, red onion, diced avocado, sliced serrano peppers, and sliced cherry tomatoes are all good seasonal choices.

Salsas by Gaby Dalkin of What's Gaby Cooking

Next, make your quesadilla really flavorful by adding a few dollops of salsa inside before you fold them up. My dear friend Gaby of the blog What’s Gaby Cooking just launched her own line of salsas – they’re SO delicious in these! Her Tomatillo Salsa is bright and tangy, and her Chipotle Tomato Salsa is rich and smoky. I haven’t tried her Guacamole Starter yet, but I pictured it here anyway because you can buy these 3 as a set at Williams Sonoma. So good, (way to go Gaby!)

Mix & Match Veggie Quesadillas

Fold your filled tortillas in half and grill on each side. Slice the finished quesadillas into wedges (as pictured at the top of this post). Serve hot with more salsa on the side 🙂

Mix & Match Veggie Quesadillas

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

Lately, Jack and I have been spending a lot of time with my family in Chicago. One thing my husband especially loves about this area is the plethora of meaty things between bread. People always ask me “is your husband vegetarian?” The answer is… nope, he’s not. He eats what he wants even though the food I cook at home is primarily plant-y. I call him an everything-eater. He loves a Chicago Italian beef sandwich just as much as he loves a macrobiotic meal… as long as you keep olives out of his food, he’s the least picky eater I know.

He’s also really honest with me. I tend to shy away from the “fake meat” types of things, but when I do make something that is inspired by a meat dish, he’s the first to tell me if it’s great or if I’ve missed the mark. Well, I fed these subs to him and my family last night, and not only did Jack wolf his down with approval, in a surprise move, my dad was the first to ask if there was any extra.

This recipe is a riff on the Eggplant Mushroom & “Meatball” recipe from our cookbook that we both love. I messed with it a bit, replacing the out-of-season eggplant with black beans, switching up the spices, and of course putting them between bread. I think even your pickiest eater will love this one, because even the mushroom flavor isn’t very pronounced after you smother these with marinara sauce.

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

The meatballs are not difficult to make but they do take a little bit of time. Start by sautéing onions, garlic, mushrooms in the pan and then adding balsamic, tamari, and black beans. I use my non-stick non-chemical GreenPanthis super pretty set that I showed you last week – because I hate when mushrooms stick to the bottom of the pan and love knowing the surface they’re cooking on is completely toxic-free.”

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

The mushroom mixture gets pulsed in the food processor with walnuts and black beans. Then mix it in a bowl with brown rice and spices. Finally, use panko to form them into balls. This is what they look like before you bake them – they will brown nicely in the oven. If you want to make these in advance (say, for your Memorial Day gatherings this week) store the uncooked meatballs in the fridge overnight and bake them when you’re ready to eat. They firm up a bit in the fridge so this is a terrific make-ahead meal.

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

Once baked, heat up marinara sauce, add the meatballs, and then assemble them in buns with basil and (optionally) grated parmesan cheese. Note: this recipe is best when served in soft buns or baguette – nothing too crusty; these little veggie balls are more smush-able than a regular meaty meatball.

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

Also, since so many of you asked about the cookware that I used last week, GreenPan is offering 20% off the Padova 10-pc cookware set, in both available colors: grey & light blue. Use the code LOVEANDLEMONS20 at checkout. They also offer free shipping for orders over $50. This offer expires May 31st and cannot be combined with other offers.