Tag Archives: recipe

White Bean “Meat”balls with Creamy Lemon Pasta

24 Sep

Becoming vegetarian has made me soooo much more creative. Without meat as a crutch, I’m forced to devise other sources of proteins, and make them tasty and appealing to not only me, but my meat-eating boyfriend, family and friends. And that’s not always easy.

Sometimes you’re just plain lazy. It would be way easier to throw together a patty of beef, than it is to make a veggie and grain burger. It would be simple to roast some chicken in the oven, rather than a flavorful variety of beans and vegetables. And it’s certainly more of a hassle when you go out to eat – most restaurants that I’ve encountered don’t realize that “vegetarian” does not mean “must love mushroom caps.” (pssst, I HATE mushrooms – go ahead, try to find just one in an ingredient list on my blog!)

BUT this is not a complaint! I love being challenged, tested, forced into creativity. It awakens another part of the brain entirely. You have to think differently, react quickly, and learn what your options are.

White Bean "Meat"balls with Creamy Lemon Pasta | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Forgive the poor lighting and thus bad color. They’re really golden brown!

And that’s exactly how this recipe came about. Uncertain of what dinner would be, I happened to see Epicurious post a recipe for grilled chicken meatballs atop lemony pasta. “Well,” I thought, “I could easily replace the chicken with a mix of beans, and roast them in the oven instead of on a grill.” And alas! That’s what I did. And in a strange twist, I made this gluten free, too. For the first time ever I tried GF pasta. Honestly, it wasn’t great. It certainly didn’t ruin the dish, and I’ll gladly eat the leftovers, but I’m happy not to be forced to forgo gluten. I think I’ll stick with whole wheat pasta from now on. But at least I tried it!

What’s great about this recipe is that in addition to being vegetarian (with a vegan option), gluten free, and healthy, they’re SO FREAKING TASTY. Had I not been full from my first serving, I could’ve scarfed down 3 more after that. The flavor is well-packed into these “meat”balls, and are sure to impress vegetarians and carnivores alike.

After all, food is meant to be shared, and it’s even better when said food complies with everyone’s diets! Get to your kitchen, and get cooking. You’ll be happy you did 🙂

White Bean “Meat”balls with Creamy Pasta, adapted from Epicurious

Serves 4 with leftovers

  • 1/4 C chia seeds
  • 1/2 C water
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats, (use gluten free oats if gf)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/3 C plus 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, grated (or use nutritional yeast to make this vegan)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 ounces whole grain linguine or spaghetti (use gluten free if gf)
  • 3/4 C pasta water
  • 1/3 C milk or yogurt (use a dairy-free variety if vegan)
  • Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 tbsp dried basil (or use fresh!)

For the “meat”balls:

In a small bowl, combine chia seeds with water. Stir well and let sit at least 20 minutes. This will create a thick gel, to replace eggs that are normally in meatballs.

Preheat oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, spray with PAM, and set aside.

In a food processor, combine chia gel, oats, chopped onion, 1/4 C cheese (you can just cut a few chunks off your block of Parmesan), 2 tbsp olive oil, parsley, oregano, minced garlic, half the salt, half the pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Process until completely combined. You may need to pulse several times to blend fully. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl.

Now process the beans together. Use the “puree” setting and pulse until most of the beans are broken down – some whole beans are ok! Add this to the mixture in the bowl. Stir everything together to combine completely.

Using a spoon, make golf-ball sized balls of the mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet. You should get about 14 of them. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Remove and let sit while the pasta finishes.

For the pasta:

White Bean "Meat"balls with Creamy Lemon Pasta | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.comWhile your “meat”balls are in the oven, start your pasta! Bring a big pot of water to bowl, and cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Reserve 3/4 C of the pasta water before draining.

In a large saucepan, bring the reserved pasta water, one tbsp olive oil, and the milk or yogurt to a bowl. Add the drained pasta and toss to combine. Add the lemon zest and juice, basil, and the rest of the salt, pepper, and 1/3 C Parmesan. Toss again to combine.

Serve pasta onto bowls or plates. Top with 2 “meat”balls each. Enjoy while it’s hot!

You’ll undoubtedly have leftover “meat”balls. I would suggest you pan-fry these the next day, to make a marvelous meatball sandwich, with some tomato sauce.

Corn Pasta Sauce with Marinated Fresh Veggies

3 Sep

Summer might be “over” with September here, but gardens and markets still have much to offer in the way of summer produce! And this dish is perfect for using up some of your collection.

Corn Pasta Sauce with Marinated Fresh Veggies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

A vegan pasta sauce made from corn and dairy free soy milk, delicately coats whole wheat spaghetti, and acts as a tasty bed for a medley of marinated fresh vegetables. This meal is packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins…and flavor! You’ll have your family gobbling it down in no time. And it’s super easy to prepare. Embrace the end of summer and get to it!

Corn Pasta Sauce with Marinated Fresh Veggies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Corn Pasta Sauce with Marinated Fresh Veggies, adapted from Scaling Back

Serves 6

Corn Pasta Sauce

  • 3 ears fresh corn, shaved off
  • 1.5 C plain soymilk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp each of sea salt and black pepper

Marinated Veggies

  • 1 C cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced (or use half, if spicy isn’t for you)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 C fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp each of sea salt and black pepper

Pasta Dish

  • 10 oz whole wheat spaghetti (or use a GF variety)
  • 1 C corn pasta sauce
  • 1/2 C pasta water
  • 1 ear fresh corn, shaved off

Begin by making the corn pasta sauce. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Chop veggies and combine all of the marinade ingredients with the veggies into a bowl. Set aside.

Bring pasta to a boil in a large pot. Cook to al dente.

Before draining the cooked pasta, reserve a half cup of the pasta water. Let the rest drain.

Heat a large pan over medium-high. Pour in one cup of the corn pasta sauce, the extra shaved corn, and the cooked pasta. Mix together and heat through. Add pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.

Keep remaining corn pasta sauce in a container in the fridge for later use – perhaps to blend with mashed potatoes?

Serve pasta into bowls. Top with the marinated veggies. Enjoy with a nice cold beer 🙂

Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 Sep

Hi, I’m Christina and I’m a Gooner. For those who don’t know, that means I’m a fan of Arsenal Football Club – a London football (soccer) team in the Premier League. The season started a few weeks ago, and now we’re in full swing with weekly games! And it’s SO MUCH FUN. There are a few “soccer” bars in my city, and my boyfriend and I have chosen The Highbury Pub as our go-to. And this past weekend, we got to meet a bunch of Gooners from all over the Midwest!

We had a meet-up at a local Milwaukee brew-pub, got to know each other, then watched the Arsenal game the next morning at the pub. And yes,  I do mean morning – the game began at 10am! Well, 10am our time. So that of course meant bringing snacks to munch on as we cheered, chanted, screamed and all-out shouted. Not one to miss an opportunity to feed new friends, I woke up extra early to bake a huge pan of cookie bars. They were still warm when we arrived at the pub! Which meant melty chocolate, and who doesn’t love that?

Sadly, I forgot to snap photos of the cookies, but for your viewing pleasure, enjoy some of the photos of us in our Arsenal gear!

#SanchezShorts – it’s a thing.

Next time you want to feed a crowd, make these cookies – they’re sweet, and have a slight twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. But warning: unlike most of my posted recipes, these are NOT healthy! Nor should they be…I mean, I was drinking at 9:30am. So who cares 🙂

Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, adapted from The Lemon Bowl

Makes 60 1″ squares

  • 4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C butter, softened (not melted!)
  • 2/3 C molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a standard-sized cookie sheet and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, powder, soda and salt.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add brown sugar and butter and cream together at medium speed. Add in the molasses and eggs and mix well. You’ll have to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.

Reduce the speed and slowly add in the flour mixture. Continue until all flour is incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie dough onto your greased cookie sheet. Use a flat spatula to spread the dough evenly onto the sheet, reaching the edges and corners.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars – I got about 60 bars total. If you’re under a time crunch, throw the warm sheet into your freezer, with an oven pad underneath it. Worked really well!

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