Prettiest Pasta Ever? I Think So. {Spaghetti with Roasted Beet Pesto & Goat Cheese}

I’d like to say that I added this pasta onto my menu for the week because of how healthy it is. Or because it’s so simple to make. Or because I like beets a lot, and I love (love, love, love) goat cheese, and knew this would be super yummy (which it was).

But the real reason I decided to make this? That amazing color.

Spaghetti with Roasted Beet Pesto & Goat Cheese

1 bunch beets, about 1 lb.

Olive Oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup raw walnuts

2 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (13- to 16-oz.) package whole wheat spaghetti

1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Trim stalks from beets. Place beets on a large square of foil. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and rub each beet well with the oil. Fold the foil around the beets and close tightly. Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until fork tender. Remove from the oven, open the foil pouch, and allow to cool a bit.

2) Rub the skins off the beets using the foil or your hands. Chop into pieces. Process in a food processor with the walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

3) Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain, reserving up to 1 cup of the pasta water to add to the pesto — add some a little bit at a time to the food processor until the pesto is smooth (you may not need it all).

4) Toss the pesto with the pasta. Serve sprinkled with goat cheese.

*Adapted from Take a Megabite

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes with Apple Butter

Despite the summer-like weather we’ve been having here in LA, I am totally, completely in fall mode. Especially in the kitchen. Apples, pears, butternut squash. And pumpkin. Lots and lots of pumpkin.

I’ve been baking endlessly with pumpkin. Muffins, cookies, pie, even meringues. And then on Sunday I made these — moist, delicious pumpkin pie pancakes, served with a spiced apple butter to spread on top.

Fall, in the form of brunch.

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes with Apple Butter

For the Apple Butter:

1 (24 oz.) jar unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

For the Pancakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

4 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

1) To make the apple butter: Whisk the applesauce, granulated sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring every 20 minutes, until reduced to 1 cup, about 1 1/2 hours. Let cool to room temperature.

2) To make the pancakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the pumpkin puree, almond milk, eggs, and applesauce together in a medium bowl. Add to the flour mixture, using a rubber spatula to stir gently until just combined. the batter will be thick.

3) Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Make 3 pancakes, using 1/3 cup of batter for each. Cook until the outer edges firm up and the bottom is golden-brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden-brown, about another 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer the pancakes to a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Continue making pancakes, moving the to the baking sheet as they’re cooked.

4) Put the baking sheet into the oven and cook the pancakes for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar (if desired) and the apple butter.

Makes 6 servings

*Adapted from Pretty Delicious, by Candice Kumai

Stay-at-Home Birthday Celebration

While celebrating a birthday at a restaurant with just my husband is usually MY first choice (a nice dinner that I don’t have to cook or clean up after, and with no kids fighting or complaining? Yes, please!), for Chaim’s birthday yesterday we decided to do a family dinner at home.

I cooked up some rib-eye steaks on the grill pan (I just sprinkled them with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper), and made my favorite caramelized onions to top them with: I sliced 2 medium/large onions and caramelized them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous pinch of kosher salt over medium-low heat. When they were a deep golden brown, I turned the heat up to high and added 3/4 cup dry red wine and let that cook down for a few minutes (until the liquid was almost evaporated). I just love the contrast of the sweet onions with the salt and pepper on the meat!


I also made some other favorites to round out the meal – Marinated Spanish Olives, rosemary roasted potatoes, and roasted asparagus.


And then we finished off the meal with some chocolate-dipped strawberries (we had his cake the previous Sunday).



Marinara Sauce

Next week I am going to be making a few things that use marinara sauce, so today I threw together this super-simple recipe. I portioned it into zip-top bags to put in the freezer until I need to use it.

Marinara Sauce
Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 quarts (8 cups)

Island Bean Burgers with Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce

One of my favorite go-to cookbooks is Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano. It’s filled with delicious recipes that are healthy, inexpensive and easy to make. When I saw that she had a new cookbook out, The Tropical Vegan Kitchen, I immediately checked it out from the library.
Last night I tried my first recipe from it – Island Bean Burgers with Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce. Although I have tried many bean burger recipes before, and liked them, I never thought I’d classify one as an “Oh, my God!” recipe. But that is exactly what I exclaimed when I took my first bite of this. The burgers themselves were very good, but the sauce just took them over to fantastic! Seriously. I’m already looking forward to making them again.
I had them with roasted sweet potato wedges… which I dipped into the extra sauce, of course! Yum!

Island Bean Burgers with Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce
The Tropical Vegan Kitchen, Donna Klein

For a spicier burger, add a dash of hot pepper sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper to the bean mixture before cooking.

1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
1 cup cooked brown rice, preferably warm
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil (I used canola)
4 hamburger buns, preferably whole wheat
Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, mix together the beans, rice, onion, ketchup, chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper until well combined. Mash well with a potato masher. Divide mixture into 4 balls. With wet hands, form each ball into an even patty.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Place each patty inside a hamburger bun and serve at once, passing the Creole sauce separately.

4 servings

Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1 teaspoon molasses
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or more to taste (I used sriracha – Thai hot chili sauce)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add the parsley and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in the ketchup, water, vinegar, lime juice, molasses, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remover from heat and let cool to room temperature. Mixture can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Makes about 1 cup