One-Pan Farro & Cauliflower Parmesan

I love vegetable-loaded comfort food. 🙂 This casserole dish also has farro, a favorite, and cheese, of course. My husband said he would have loved it even without the fresh mozzarella on top! Absolutely delicious.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah DiGregorio. I doubled the amount of cauliflower, omitted the olives, used Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro, and modified the method and proportions.

We ate the casserole as a main course with garlic bread and green salad. It could also be served as a hearty side dish. The recipe is very adaptable and could be easily modified to incorporate other vegetables.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Farro and Cauliflower:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, florets and tender stems cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • 8.8 oz bag Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro
  • 1 (28 to 32-ounce) jar good-quality marinara sauce (I used Rao’s)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or black olives, roughly chopped, optional (I omitted them)
  • 10 large garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 3 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano (about 3/4 cup finely grated)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano or dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic or sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup stock (can substitute water)
  • 2/3 cup water

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (about 1/2 cup finely grated)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 to 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into rounds (I used 12 slices)
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9-by-13-inch pan, combine the cauliflower, farro, marinara sauce, olive oil, olives (if using), garlic, grated cheese, onion powder, oregano or basil, vinegar and red-pepper flakes. Season with the salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
  3. Pour in 1 cup stock and 2/3 cups water and stir well to combine. (can substitute with 1 2/3 cups water)
  4. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make the topping: Stir together the panko, grated cheese and olive oil.
  6. Uncover the pan and stir.
  7. Evenly cover the top with the panko topping.
  8. Top with the fresh mozzarella rounds.
  9. Continue baking uncovered until the farro is tender and chewy, the sauce is thick, the topping is browned, and the mozzarella has melted, about 10 to 15 minutes more. (I baked it for an additional 12 minutes on convection roast.) (I also put my garlic bread in the same oven at this point!)

Mixed Vegetable Curry (Mix Sabji)

This dish could be made with any assortment of leftover vegetables in the refrigerator. It was healthy and flavorful.

The recipe was adapted from Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian: Quick and Easy Everyday Meals by Chetna Makan. I must mention that prepping all of the vegetables was not taken into account when including this dish in a 30-minute meal cookbook! I did double the recipe though. It was worth the extra time.

I served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Topping it with cucumber raita was also suggested in the original recipe.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 T canola or sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, if desired
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp amchur (mango powder) or tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 200 ml (7 oz) boiling water

For the Vegetables:

  • 4 T canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 12 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

To Serve: (as desired)

  • brown Basmati rice
  • warm flatbread such as naan
  • cucumber raita or whole milk plain yogurt
  1. If desired, mince the jalapeños and garlic in a food processor; remove and set aside. Chop the onions in a food processor; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan (with a lid available) and add the cumin and mustard seeds as well as the bay leaves.
  3. Once the spices start to sizzle, add the chopped onions with the jalapeños and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until golden.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oil for the vegetables in a large frying pan.
  6. Add all of the vegetables and cook them over medium to high heat for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly colored.
  7. Stir the salt, ground spices and sugar into the onions with the tomatoes and cook for a minute.
  8. Add the vegetables and pour in the boiling water.
  9. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
  10. Serve with rice and/or flatbread, as desired. Top with yogurt or raita, if desired.

Chickpea, Quinoa & White Bean Chili

This dish was a fun, delicious, and healthy dinner. Everyone in my house loves a meal that involves assorted toppings! 🙂

The recipe was adapted from Antoni Let’s Do Dinner by Antoni Porowski of Queer Eye. The chili published in his last book is one of our absolute favorites, so I knew that we had to try his vegan version (vegetarian with the optional sour cream and cheese toppings).

We ate it with cornbread muffins on the side. Wonderful.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Chili:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water or a combination of stock and water
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 T finely chopped chipotle chilies in adobo, plus more to taste (about 1 medium chile)
  • 2 tsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup tricolor quinoa, rinsed

For the Toppings:

  • coarsely crushed or broken tortilla chips
  • sour cream
  • shredded Mexican cheese blend, cheddar, or pepper Jack cheese
  • sliced or cubed avocado
  • chopped red onion or sliced scallions
  • canned mild green chilies or sliced fresh or pickled jalapeños
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, dissolve the tomato paste in 2 1/2 cups water or in a combination of stock and water. (I used 1 cup stock and 1 1/2 cups water.)
  4. Stir the chili powder, cumin, and oregano into the onion mixture and cook, stirring, until the spices begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, beans, chickpeas, chipotles, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and the tomato paste mixture. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a low boil.
  6. Add the rinsed quinoa, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is tender, about 25 to 35 minutes.
  7. Remove the chili from the heat and adjust the seasonings and chipotle to taste.
  8. Add the water to thin, if desired.
  9. Serve with assorted toppings (and cornbread, if desired).

Cheesy & Crunchy Baked Pasta with Cauliflower

I loved that this cheesy comfort food baked pasta dish incorporated an entire head of cauliflower. The lemon zest and capers also added brightness which had a nice balance with the cheese.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ina Garten. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 8

  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried pasta, such as medium shells (I used Cascatelli)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds cauliflower (1 large head cut into small florets) 
  • 3 tablespoons sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 15 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups Fontina cheese, lightly packed (10 oz with rind)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves, minced fresh
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection.)
  2. Fill a large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes less than al dente, according to the instructions on the package. (Since it will be baked later, don’t overcook it! Drain and pour into a very large bowl.)
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 to 14-inch) skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and tender. Season with salt.
  4. Pour the cauliflower, including the small bits, into the bowl with the pasta.
  5. Add 3 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan, add the remaining cauliflower, cook until browned and tender and add to the bowl.
  6. Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl and stir carefully.
  7. Stir in the Fontina.
  8. Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 x 2–inch rectangular baking dish.
  9. Spoon 12 rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  10. Combine the panko, grated Pecorino, minced parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top.
  11. Bake for 22 minutes on convection, or 25 to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot.

Note: The dish can be assembled ahead of time. Assemble the dish, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake before serving.

Oven-Baked Pearl Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Feta

I have served this flavorful dish as a vegetarian main dish served over baby spinach and as a side dish with rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower and green salad. So versatile! I also love that it is made in one pan.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with Couscous with Quinoa, Orzo, and Garbanzo Beans and modified the proportions and method. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved (or a combination grape & small Campari- quartered)
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish (about 2 large)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 3 oregano, rosemary or sage sprigs
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, dill or parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces pearl couscous (1 1/2 cups)(I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Brain blend)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups feta, crumbled (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)( I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, cake pan or gratin dish (I used a ceramic 9×13 baking dish), toss together tomatoes, shallot, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and rosemary, oregano, or sage sprigs. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. While tomatoes roast, heat the stock (or stock and water) until it boils, then stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, adding more to taste. (You want a well-seasoned broth here to flavor the couscous.)
  4. Stir in cilantro, lemon zest and cumin.
  5. Remove tomatoes from oven and fold in couscous, chickpeas and hot stock mixture. Cover pan tightly with foil, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and fold in the Parmesan and about 3/4ths of the feta (save the rest for garnish). Bake uncovered until feta starts to melt, another 5 minutes.
  7. To serve, pull out and discard herb sprigs if you like, and spoon couscous into bowls. (I served it in the baking dish as a side dish.)
  8. Top with remaining feta, more Parmesan, scallions, more herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as desired.

Simple Sunday Soups

This first soup, Italian Bean Soup with Pappardelle, was hearty and delicious. It was inspired by a soup from Trattoria dai Mugnai in Monteveglio, a village outside of Bologna. The second soup, Spanish Garlic Soup, was inspired by an “end of the month” meal, a “meal to make quickly with whatever is on hand and money is tight,” from JosĂ© AndrĂ©s.

The recipes for these simple soups were adapted from Milk Street, the Italian bean and pasta soup from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Rebecca Richmond, and the Spanish garlic soup from Milk Street TV, contributed by Christopher Kimball and Matthew Card.

Italian Bean Soup with Pappardelle

Yield: Serves 4

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 to 4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 15.5 oz cans Roman (borlotti), cranberry, or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or sage
  • 1 piece Parmesan rind, plus finely grated Parmesan, to serve
  • 8 to 9 oz fresh or dried pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettucine, cut or broken into 2-inch lengths (see Note)
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste darkens slightly and begins to stick to the pan, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the beans, rosemary, Parmesan rind (use if you have it!), 5 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft enough to be easily mashed with a fork, about 10 minutes.
  4. Off heat, remove and discard the Parmesan rind. Using an immersion blender, pulse the bean mixture until creamy but not completely smooth. (see Note) (Alternatively, if transferring to a blender, let cool for 10 minutes and purée in 2 batches before returning to the pot.)
  5. Bring to a simmer over medium. Add the pasta and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente (refer to the package for cooking times, but begin checking for doneness a minute or two sooner than the directions indicate). (I used dried pappardelle, broken into 2-inch lengths, and cooked it for 6 to 7 minutes.)
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste.
  7. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with oil and top with grated Parmesan and additional pepper, as desired.

Notes:

  • If you can find sheets of fresh pasta, they work nicely, too—simply cut them into rough 2-inch squares.
  • Don’t puree the beans until completely smooth; leave them with some texture.

Spanish Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo)

Yield: Serves 4

  • 6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra
  • 4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6 oz sourdough or other rustic bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups), divided
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 T chicken bouillion (I used Better Than Boullion)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 T sherry vinegar
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low, combine the scallion whites, garlic and 3 tablespoons of the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to color, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add both paprikas and cook, stirring, until fragrant and darkened, 30 seconds.
  3. Add 1 cup of the bread cubes and stir well.
  4. Whisk in the water and bouillon, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally to break up bread, for 15 minutes. Whisk vigorously to ensure bread is thoroughly broken up.
  5. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, the remaining 3 cups bread, the scallion greens, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the hot broth. (It is important to do this step to prevent the yolks from curdling when added to the pot.)
  7. Remove the soup from the heat. Off heat, vigorously whisk the egg yolks into the soup, then whisk in the vinegar.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  9. To serve, fill individual bowls with the crouton mixture, then ladle the soup over them. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired.

Pasta with Pestocado (Avocado Pesto) & Broccoli

According to America’s Test Kitchen, Pestocado is the “hottest new ‘it’ sauce.” Avocado replaces the cheese in this full-flavored pesto. It was creamy and delicious.

The recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, More Mediterranean, via americastestkitchen.com. I modified the method and used linguine fini, Meyer lemon, walnuts, and two garlic cloves. Easy and great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T table salt, for cooking broccoli and pasta
  • 12 to 16 ounces broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound spaghettini, or spaghetti
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios or walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat an oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon table salt and broccoli stalks and cook for 1 minute. Add florets and cook until stalks and florets are tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to colander set over bowl (do not discard boiling water). Let broccoli drain and cool slightly, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add pasta to reserved boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Process 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, avocado, basil, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, anchovies, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and coarse salt in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  7. Add pesto to pasta in pot and toss until sauce evenly coats pasta, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed.
  8. Stir in remaining broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios. Garnish with fresh basil and drizzle with extra oil, as desired. Serve.

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