I’ve done some amount of regular batch cooking for a long time: since I started my dietetics program and even intermittently during my post-bacc, though I was much less organized about food prep back then. I’ve always tried to weave variety into the routine, but I’ve also relied heavily on the same set of dishes to make in advance: soup, stew, curries of various sorts, roasted vegetables, grains and beans.
Meal prep has become such a significant part of my life that I’m starting, little by little, to expand the list of things I regularly deem batch-cooking-friendly. I started making baked oatmeal in muffin tins this year, which has been a total win for portable breakfasts. I’ve found fun new ways to use my slow cooker. I used to think rice didn’t freeze very well, but I’ve learned that it depends on the rice (short grain freezes perfectly, though I’m still figuring out whether I like the texture of defrosted long-grain rice).
To these realizations I can add the fact that I’m learning to love batch cooked pasta dishes, including my new favorite winter balsamic roasted vegetable pasta.
This dish isn’t quite pasta salad, and it isn’t quite a traditional pasta, either: it’s something in between. The vegetables get roasted as you’d roast any baking sheet of winter roots. The pasta is boiled and drained, and everything gets a flash in a hot pan with some balsamic vinegar, oil and/or broth, and arugula, which wilts partially but not entirely into the dish.
The vegetables can be roasted ahead of time—that can be your batch cooking—or you can prepare everything in advance and enjoy your leftovers as the week goes by. Because it’s sort of a pasta/pasta salad hybrid, it’s very nice either hot or cold.
I used a combination of butternut squash, turnip, parsnip, and carrots for roasting, along with brussels sprouts and red onion. You can use these, or any of your favorite winter root vegetables. Their sweetness gets picked up nicely by the sweetness of the vinegar, but shallot and garlic and bitter arugula keep everything balanced.
It’s a no-fuss, no frills pasta that still hits the spot—and oh-so-perfect for this time of year.
|Favorite Winter Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Pasta||
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free option, soy free, tree nut free, no oil option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
- 1½ tablespoons neutral flavored vegetable oil (such as grapeseed or refined avocado)
- 2½ lb root vegetables and/or brussels sprouts, chopped into evenly sized (about ¾”) pieces (I used a combination of: parsnip, carrot, turnip, butternut squash, and brussels sprouts)
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 8 ounces pasta of choice (I used cavatappi)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil*
- 1 small shallot, very thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to taste)
- 2 big handfuls arugula
- Salt and pepper as needed
- Vegan parmesan, if desired
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Toss the root vegetables and red onion with the vegetable oil and arrange them on two parchment or foil-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 35-40 minutes, or until browning gently and tender.
- Meanwhile, boil the pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
- When the vegetables are ready, heat the olive oil in a very large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, till the shallot is clear and tender (about 4-5 minutes). Add the pasta, roasted vegetables, broth, and vinegar. Warm everything through in the pan, stirring as you go. Stir in the arugula and allow it took until it’s gently wilted. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, along with an extra splash of vinegar if desired. Serve right away, with parmesan if you like.
You can substitute a few tablespoons of vegetable broth if you wish, and/or roast the veggies without oil.
Nothing fancy here, but roasted roots make everything better, if you ask me. And pasta doesn’t need much improving on in the first place. If the combination sounds tasty to you, too, I hope you’ll give it a try! And keep in mind that it’s 4-6 generous portions, so feel free to cut the recipe in half if you’re not batch cooking.
It’s my last week at the hospital, with tons of loose ends to tie up and work to get done. But the holidays are on my mind anyway, and I’ve got an easy, holiday-friendly vegan side coming to you later this week. For now, happy Monday to you.
Lemon Dill Zucchini & Chickpea Rice
This is one of the quickest dinners I’ve made in a while, and it was well-timed with this last, busy week of my internship. Somehow, in spite of the speed and the fact that I didn’t think very much about it as it came together, it’s one of my favorite meals I’ve had in a while, probably because it would be very hard indeed for me to dislike any combination of the ingredients here. (Dill alone is a selling point.)
The reason it came together so fast is my unabashed reliance on frozen rice these days. I get bags of it at Whole Foods (it’s the 365 brand) and am always so grateful when I remember that it’s sitting in my freezer. It’s no big deal to cook rice, I know, and whenever I mention this little hack (or whatever you want to call it) I feel sheepish. But rice doesn’t exactly cook instantaneously—it’s not quinoa, after all!—and it’s an ingredient I use a lot in last-minute bowls and tacos, or as a base for curries.
If you have pre-cooked rice of any kind and a can of chickpeas (or some frozen, cooked ones that you can defrost ahead of time), this meal is so simple; popping a tray of zucchini in the oven to roast is the biggest step, and that cooking is totally inactive. I came home from work last Friday, roasted the zucchini, and got some work done; by the time the vegetables were ready I had everything else lined up to heat and serve. Dinner was on the table in no time.
Here’s the oh-so-simple recipe. It speaks for itself, which is a nice thing, since I’m too tired to speak for it 🙂
Lemon Dill Zucchini & Chickpea Rice
Servings: 4 servings
- 1 lb zucchini (about two medium/large), diced
- 1 tablespoon neutral-tasting vegetable cooking oil (such as grapeseed or refined avocado)
- 1 cup short grain brown rice or 3 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or a few tablespoons vegetable broth
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley or chives
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Toss the zucchini with the vegetable oil and transfer to the sheet. Roast for 35 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender and browning.
If using dry rice, cook rice according to package instructions while zucchini roasts.
Heat the olive oil or broth in a roomy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the shallot is clear and soft. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Stir in the cooked rice, chickpeas, and roasted zucchini. Add the lemon juice, dill, and parsley; stir well. When everything is warmed through, taste and add salt and pepper to your preference. Serve.
I hope you might turn to it on a busy night, like I did, and find that it’s as filling and flavorful as you need it to be.
I’ve got one more day to go, and the fact that my DI is over still hasn’t really hit me. But I’m sure that, at this point tomorrow evening, I’ll be feeling very differently . . . and, I hope, very relieved.
I’ll “see” you this weekend—have a peaceful end to your weeks, friends.
Pizza Cauliflower Bake | The Full Helping
This past Saturday was admittedly a crazy day to have my oven on; it was scorching and humid in NYC, and it would have been a perfect night for leftovers or a dinner salad.
But that isn’t what happened. Instead, I had my oven on to create the cheesy, melty, altogether delicious vegan cauliflower pizza bake you see above. And I have no regrets at all.
This recipe was inspired by EmilyC. If any of you read Food52 regularly, then you probably recognize Emily’s moniker. She’s a longtime reader, commenter, and super talented recipe submitter on the site. She became such a trusted member of the community that she collaborated with Food52 on their salad cookbook, which is a gem (and fun to veganize). She’s also got a lovely Instagram feed, covered with images of easy sheet pan meals and salads and pastas that I also like to veganize, or use as inspiration for my own reinventions.
Emily posted a sheet pan of roasted cauliflower, pepperoni, and tomatoes not too long ago, and it caught my eye. I’m typically not a huge fan of using cauliflower in place of a starch, which is why I don’t tend to make cauliflower rice or cauliflower pizza crust (same with zoodles—if I eat them, they’re usually folded in with regular spaghetti so that I can get my energy-fueling carbs on).
But to feature cauliflower as a vegetable centerpiece, smothered in pizza fixings and seasonings? Somehow this idea spoke to me, big time. And I made a note to try it with vegan sausage or pepperoni slices sometime. This past weekend, after a long week of full of ups and downs, seemed like the perfect time for this comfort food inspired dish.
The vegan sausage I ended up adding to the recipe is a homemade version, loosely based on the tempeh sausage crumbles from Power Plates but even simpler (simple being the guiding principle lately). The tempeh is crumbled, then simmered in a vegan “chicken” or vegetable broth with Italian seasoning for 10 minutes, just to impart flavor. It’s added directly to the dish after that. If you wanted to skip a step, you could use a sliced vegan sausage of choice (I love Field Roast) or a vegan beefy crumble (like Beyond Meat beefy crumbles).
Before going into the oven, cauliflower florets are mixed with the sausage, diced plum tomatoes, some tomato sauce, and a shredded vegan cheese of choice. I was thrilled to have fresh, local tomatoes to use here, but you could dice canned san marzano tomatoes in the winter instead.
The cauliflower and sausage taste wonderful on their own. I’d opt to serve them over a whole grain or pasta; farro, as you can see above, was perfect for me. It’s especially good when it’s bubbly and fresh from the oven, but I can attest to the fact that the leftovers are great, too, since I’ve been eating them for going on three nights straight 🙂 Here’s the recipe.
Pizza Cauliflower Bake
- 1 8-ounce package tempeh, crumbled
- 1 cup low-sodium vegan no-chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoons tamari
large head cauliflower, cut into florets and pieces (about 20-24 ounces)
- 1 lb roma tomatoes, chopped (about 4 large tomatoes)
- 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce (or 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce)
- 2 cups mozzarella style shredded vegan cheese
Preheat your oven to 375F and line one or two baking sheets with parchment (I have a small oven and used 2 quarter sized sheet pans).
Place the tempeh, broth, tamari, and Italian season in a small pot or small frying pan. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the tempeh for 10 minutes, or until the broth has been absorbed. Set the tempeh aside.
Place the cauliflower florets and pieces and chopped tomatoes onto your lined baking sheet(s). Sprinkle the tempeh sausage over them. Follow with the tomato sauce and your vegan cheese. Transfer to the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cauliflower is completely tender, the tomatoes are bubbly, and the cheese is melted. Serve with a whole grain or pasta of choice.
This is, really and truly, a delicious little dish: the flavor and spirit of a gooey baked casserole, but with the ease of a sheet pan supper. I’m excited to make it again, and I’d love to try it with broccoli at some point, too.
Hope you’ll enjoy it, and if you make any fabulous additions or tweaks—different types of sausage or protein, fun toppings or seasonings—I hope you’ll tell me about it 🙂
It’s now Tuesday of my second-to-last week of the internship, and I have about seven proper 9-6 office days left. I can hardly believe it, and I probably won’t believe it till it’s over, but I’m getting a taste of the finish line. It tastes good. Have a great week, friends, and I’ll be back this weekend.
Chili Roasted Cauliflower, Brown Rice & Kimchi Bowls
When I was testing recipes for Power Plates, I feasted on bowls for weeks at a time. Bowls were one of the main recipe categories in the book, so for a while I ate them for lunch, dinner, and sometimes breakfast, too.
I still make a lot of lunch bowls on the weekend, but since my internship started I’ve eaten less bowls than I was accustomed to doing a couple years ago. Bowls work most easily when one has components and a fridge and little counter space to compose them. For take-to-work meals, it’s been easier for me to pack up grain salads, sandwiches, or leftovers.
It’s hard to believe, but a mere two and half weeks from now my internship will officially be behind me. I can’t wait to have some cooking time back—not only weekends, but weekdays and weeknights, too. I suspect that diving back into a steady habit of bowl-making will be one of my first orders of business. These chili-roasted cauliflower, brown rice, and kimchi bowls are a sneak peek.
I know, I know—here we are at the start of summer, with salad recipes abounding, and I’m posting a hearty grain bowl. But the honest truth is that I crave grounding food like this in any and every season, the warm months included. It’s not hard for me to find cauliflower at any time of year, and roasting it with gochujang is a delicious, new (to me) preparation method, one that I’ll make again soon. In the meantime, steamed snow peas give the dish some sweet freshness and a pop of green color.
The real star of this dish, though, is the wonderfully flavorful kimchi from Nasoya. Nasoya is already my favorite brand for tofu and creative soy foods, and I was delighted to learn that it now offers four flavors of kimchi, all of which are vegan. As many of you probably know already, many varieties of kimchi contain fish sauce. It’s a rewarding dish to make at home, but when time is short—which it is for me lately, and for so many of us in general—it’s nice to have a store-bought option that is authentic and 100% plant-based.
Nasoya is offering four flavors of kimchi: spicy, mild, white (made with napa cabbage and radish, and without chili), and radish, which is also mild. I’ve tried and loved all of them, but I’m sensitive to heat, so the three mild varieties are my favorites so far.
In this recipe, I liked balancing the mild kimchi—which still has plenty of kick, thanks to umami and acidity—with spicy roasted cauliflower, sweet snap peas, earthy brown rice, and savory baked tofu. (I used Nasoya’s sesame ginger TofuBaked, which is an easy, ready-to-eat protein.) To make the dish at home, you could use your favorite homemade, baked tofu recipe or any store-bought option you like. You could also substitute beans as a protein instead.
Thanks to some semi-homemade components, the dish comes together quickly and easily, despite having lots of variety of texture and taste. You can head on over to the Nasoya website to get the instructions!
And in the meantime, I can’t vouch highly enough for this spicy roasted cauliflower. I tend to prefer gochujang to sriracha—the former is a little sweeter and less garlicky—but sriracha would be a perfectly good substitute here. For me, the spicy roasted cauliflower and the super flavorful kimchi is enough to give the bowls all the flavor they need. But you can add an optional topping or two—toasted sesame seeds, vinegar, sesame oil—or add a drizzle of a dressing that you like (this one would work well).
Thank you all for the kind wishes to my mom this week. She’s home, recuperating, and the positive energy I got in this space was felt and appreciated. You have my gratitude and hers!
I hope that those of you who were busy celebrating the 4th yesterday had a fun time, and I’ll see you on Sunday.
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