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Pasta Mains (Vegetarian)

Pasta with Shitakes and Shredded Dijon Brussels Sprouts

Pasta with Shitakes and Shredded Dijon Brussels Sprouts

Okay, so I lied. I said I wasn’t going to do any food blogging this week given the first week of actual spring-like weather. I had a packed schedule of tennis, running club, concert photography, yoga teaching, and wedding photo meetings, in addition to some First Friday festivities I’m headed to tonight. Not to mention my regular full-time job. Whew, just listing all that out is starting to make me feel the soreness from my first tennis match a bit more.

Somehow, however, I still managed to get in the kitchen. With my camera, too! That’s true love, ladies and gents.

But it’s also a result of the weather, the same reason I thought I wouldn’t be doing much cooking. Oh spring, how I love thee.

Pasta with Shitakes and Shredded Dijon Brussels Sprouts How many of you also feel a sudden onslaught of energy once springtime arrives? Maybe it’s the extended hours of daylight. Maybe it’s because my body isn’t working so hard to stay warm. Maybe it’s just because I’m all around happier. Whatever it is, spring gives me pep. And I’m all about it. Ya feel me? No complaints here. Even if my shins are killing me, and my shoulders are a bit sore. And my friday night might be cut a bit short because I really probably could use some sleep. It’s spring so none of that matters.

Pasta with Shitakes and Shredded Dijon Brussels Sprouts

My brother just moved to L.A. I’m visiting him this summer, and after I do, my mom thinks I’ll never come back. If this trip were in the winter, she’d probably be right. I’m pretty sure one day I will unite with a warm weathered locale, and never turn my back on it again. Will it be L.A.? Who knows. I have my doubts, though I’ve yet to ever go there, so I can’t say for sure.

What I can say for sure is I could gush about springtime forever. If that makes me a boring weather-conversationalist, so be it. Me and spring, and summer too, have a deep connection. If you’re in on that, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, well, sorry.

Brussels Sprouts

I’ve also got a deep connection with mushrooms. I love ’em. Chewy and full of flavor, there is not a shitake I wouldn’t want in my pasta. Here, they team up with some shredded sprouts, which get coated in a light olive oil, garlic and Dijon sauce. Tossed with parsley, salt and pepper, this feels like the perfect early springtime dish before the abundance of other seasonal veggies start to shower my kitchen. It’s light and fresh, but not too delicate on flavor. The sauce can certainly hold its own to a hearty whole wheat pasta, so make sure to go that route when you make this.

Alright, I’m off to brave a few April showers. Enjoy!

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Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula

Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula

As a kid, I preferred blue to pink. This fared quite nicely for my parents, who loved to dress me in my brother’s hand-me-downs.

But these days, my heart melts for magenta — especially when we’re talking food. And one small beet makes it easy to bring that color to life

arugula

Here, grated beets sweep in to keep pesto from turning that ugly shade of green that normally happens when basil oxidizes. It adds a slight earthiness to the pesto, but is far from the prominent flavor.

Pair with arugula for an added pop of color and goat cheese for a delightful creamy finish.

Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula

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Coconut Curry Cabbage Stir-Fry with Pasta

Coconut Curry Cabbage Stir-Fry with Pasta

Sometimes I get the weirdest cravings. Like for iced coffee in the middle of a February snowstorm. Or for bubble baths (likely a result of said iced coffee). Or for cabbage, a vegetable I think of little outside of those lone, random lustings.

Generally, cabbage comes into my mind mainly in the summer, when its heads are running rampant in the garden. It comes to mind when I’m dining outside, veg. or fish tacos in hand, and a few shreds of crunch lace the top. I can get down with some cole slaw, too, but I can’t say I’m dreaming of it all year. It’s definitely not something I seek out. (This recipe excluded.)

Cabbage, however, seized my mind this past cold, wintry week. (Along with thoughts of California. And beaches. And everything else warm-related, to the extent I started writing about it in my music journalism…)

Cabbage

As per usual, while working at a coffee shop shifted to daydreaming of dinner at a coffee shop, as per not usual, my mind drifted to cabbage. And so was born this recipe.

Cowabunga.

Coconut Curry Cabbage Stir-Fry with Pasta

Coconut curry’s something I daydream of on the regular, so no surprises here. It gives this pasta a vegan sauciness that feels creamy but not overly rich. It pairs perfectly with the crunch from the cabbage, and the peanuts thrown on top. Feel free to swirl in a little peanut butter if you do want to take it to the richer side, or if you simply don’t have any peanuts on hand. Just don’t skip out on the nutty element all together.

A little cabbage, yes cabbage, to brighten up a winter day. Who would’ve dreamed? Me.

Green cabbage

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Vegan Beet Almond Pesto

Vegan Beet Almond Pesto

I’ve never utilized beets as much as I have in this past year. I told you in my last recipe post, beets and I have this whole love-hate relationship going on. And it’s not just a consequence of their stain power.

Their taste is simply not something I crave, at least in large doses. I do enjoy a few roasted beets now and then, and a little grated raw on top of my salads. I find though that a little goes a long way.

What I like most about beets is their color. And here, too, a little goes a long way. (Hello gorgeous pink tabbouleh!) Just one beet was needed to create that vibrant bowl above.

Basil

I make a ton of pesto in the summer, both to eat and to freeze. It’s always so beautiful while spinning away in the food processor. And smells so good, too.

Slow it down, however, and it’ll undress itself from its vibrant green outfit faster than you can get it into a bowl. The air cuts right to the chase. Brownish or not, it still tastes great, but I always find it to be a slightly disappointing sight.

With many recent beet successes, I decided to keep running with the ingredient. Slowly, I’m discovering, perhaps I do love beets after all. How can you not love the site of that pesto up above? Rather than swapping out the basil, I simply added a beet to a variation of my traditional vegan pesto recipe. It by no means becomes the main flavor dominator in this pesto. It will, however, add a small hint of sweet earthiness, and a large dose of stunning, disappointment-free color.

The following makes enough for just over 1 box of pasta. I like to always have a little extra to store in the fridge for sandwich spreads and other various uses.

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Spring Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus Pesto

One of my favorite things about spring is the abundance of fresh asparagus.  It’s clearly the supermodel of its season, able to grow as much as 10 inches in a 24-hour period. Too bad (thank god?) my legs never grew that fast.

When I used to work at a CSA, picking baskets of the veggie was part of my daily morning routine. Given its constant growth spurts, a regular harvesting schedule is a necessity. Lucky for you and I, this should mean plenty of cheap asparagus at the farmer’s market stands every spring. Or a constant source of produce if you’re growing your own garden.

Asparagus Pesto

The first few times I take it to my kitchen, whether from my family’s garden or a local farmer, I always give my asparagus a simple steam with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, or a quick saute with garlic, EVOO and lemon. Spring is of course the best time to eat the vibrant stalks, and its natural flavor should suffice. However, as every asparagus grower knows, if you’re endlessly harvesting your own, there’s only so much steamed asparagus one can eat before you fear your pee will smell horrible forever.

Luckily, I’ve always been able to get over the whole smelly pee things as long as I keep finding new and creative ways to make the veggie exciting. There’s definitely a ton you can do with it – Tacos, tartineswrapssoups, you name it.  One of my favorites is to dress it up with a simple Soy Asian Vinaigrette.

This is the first year I’ve ever tried to do an asparagus pesto, and I was pleasantly blown away with the results. This makes for a perfect sandwich spread, and would also go great with pasta – though I’d recommend drizzling in a little more olive oil before tossing it with your noodles. For sandwich material, keep it vegan and add it to other roasted veggies or a pressed and baked tofu, or add in some mozzarella and tomato.