For those of you that may have noticed a missing Meatless Monday with Mindy post this week, let me just fill you in. I actually created a Meatless Meal on Sunday. I knew my Monday was going to be packed full and IF I made it home at a decent hour to create a meal, get the pictures taken, processed and posted before midnight, it would be a very long, tiresome day. Plus, I've been wanting to start processing my Meatless posts on the weekend anyway, so that I can have them up for anyone who just may want to actually make a Meatless Monday meal on ....well, Monday.
Needless to say one thing led to another and Meatless Monday with Mindy didn't get posted Sunday night. Then, Monday was just as expected...very busy. I didn't get home until late. But I did eat that wonderful meatless meal as a left-over. Tuesday was a repeat of Monday, but busier.
So that leads me to today. The only plan I had today was to have lunch with a friend at Mustard Seed and do a little shopping while there. Our lunch outing lasted almost 4 hours! (in our defense, it has been 3 months since we've seen each other). So now, here it is, after the dinner hour and I'm just now getting around to working on this Meatless post.
This Meatless main dish inspiration came from Dr. Neal D Barnard's 21-Day Weight Loss Kick Start. (which, by the way, has ton's of great meatless recipes). I, as always, made this my own, but only due to the fact that I was missing some ingredients, otherwise I would have made it exactly as printed. The full recipe can be found online, but do yourself a favor and buy the book. You won't regret the purchase. (And no, I don't get any kick backs from saying that).
So, our Sunday meatless meal consisted of Shells al Forno (because I didn't have penne pasta) and I served it with kale salad, garlic bread and some olives on the side. I will share the salad a little later in this post. I hope you enjoy this recipe. I know we did.
Penne al Forno
8-10 fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
16 oz brown rice penne pasta (I used shell, cuz that's all I had)
2 full cups of your favorite marinara
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Black olives, chopped , tomato, sliced and extra basil for garnish (all optional)
This dish in the book also gives you a recipe for red sauce that can be used, but I used my favorite marinara sauce. 1. because I like it and 2. I didn't want to take the time to make a sauce. Now don't be gettin' all Iron Chef on me. Admit it, you take shortcuts too.
So, here we go!
Prep and chop all your veggies and set out all your ingredients first. This allows you to seriously whiz through making this meal once that's done. And for anyone who doesn't know what chiffonade is, just roll your leaves, in this case basil, tightly and slice them into ribbons.
Preheat your oven to 350°F
Bring a big pot of water to boil for the pasta.
Over medium heat, sauté the carrots, celery, zucchini and onion for about 3-5 minutes.
I add just a little water to my pan to sauté my veggies in.
First to go in.... Onion! I love the smell of cooking onions.
Then I add the rest of my veggies.
Sautéing the veggies will ensure they are soft enough by the time they are done baking and will help all the flavors to meld.
Now you want to grab your pasta. Brown rice pasta is a good and nutritious alternative to regular white or wheat pasta and makes this dish gluten-free.
Here's a tip, cook your pasta after you are done preparing your veggies. This way your pasta doesn't sit too long and get mushy in water, or sticky if drained.
Add your pasta to boiling water and cook just until it's almost done. You want this a little underdone as it will finish cooking in the oven.
Once you drain your pasta, immediately add the veggies and the red sauce (marinara) to a bowl, along with the basil and mix all this up.
Dump all these goodies into a deep baking dish, cover and bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.
While the pasta is in the oven, make your kale salad. Start with a bunch of kale and cut into ribbons, yep, chiffonade is the way to go with the kale too. As it's a tougher leaf, the ribbons make eating this raw green much more enjoyable.
Make a balsamic dressing by whisking together:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 dash Worcestershire sauce ( there is vegan sauce too I've discovered!)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Drizzle just enough of this dressing over the shredded kale to be able to coat all the kale. Save the rest to be used again later with more kale, or try it on your favorite potato salad in place of the traditional mayonnaise laden dressing.
Toss the dressing together with the kale.
By now, your pasta should be ready to pull out of the oven.
Once this comes out of the oven, stir the cannellini beans into the pasta.
The heat from the pasta will heat the beans up, so no need to worry about cold beans.
Sprinkle some chopped black olives over the top, add sliced tomato and fresh basil for garnish. Then plate this up with your kale salad, a slice of your favorite garlic bread and some more olives on the side.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you make it, I'd love to hear what you thought of this dish, or what you did to make it your own.
Don't be shy, please leave a comment.