Recipe: Modified Meatless Shepherd’s Pie

Recently I went to one of my book club meetings (yes, okay, I’m in two book clubs. I read…a lot.) and had this amazing modified shepherd’s pie. Modified because it was vegetarian! And also it incorporated some other changes like no potatoes and the addition of some feta cheese. It was so yum!

Can I just disgress for a moment to say how lucky I am to have such accommodating, generous friends who cook vegetarian meals because they know I’m coming over? I know that vegetarian meals aren’t always all about me, but, well, sometimes they are, in that uncomfortable way where I realize everyone else would prefer to be eating ribs or steak and they’re “stuck” with something veg. I’m rarely the only vegetarian in the room, which makes it a little easier, but still. Anyway, my friends never make me feel that way and I love them for it. Moving on.

One such friend is Kathy, who I have to credit with this creating this delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing this with me and for making such an elaborate book club meal!

Modified Meatless Shepherds Pie

1 pie bottom shell
1 pie crust topping (rolled-out dough or store-bought)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
2 tbsp. Herbes de Provence (or mix your own using thyme, basil, oregano and parsley to your taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb (package) Yves meatless ground round
1/2 cup tomato sauce (or more as needed)
2 cups diced carrots, peas, and corn (or mixed vegetables of your choice)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 egg beaten w/ 1 tsp water (egg wash for the pie crust)

To Make:
1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan and add the chopped onion and herbs. Cook until onions start to turn clear.
2. Add the meatless ground round and cook thoroughly, adding salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add the carrots, peas and corn (or other veggies) and stir. Cook for 5 minutes or until slightly softened.
4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375.
5. Lightly brush pie bottom shell with egg wash.
6. Spoon stuffing mix into pie shell. Add feta cheese to top of the mix.
7. Cover stuffing with pie crust topping and brush top crust with egg wash before putting it in oven. Cut the top of the pie crust like an X to allow steam to exit while baking.
8. Cook for 30 minutes or until crust is golden.

The meat eaters around the table could hardly tell that it was made using fake meat (or at least, that’s what they told me…)! It may depend on which brand of soy crumbles you use, I haven’t tried too many of them. If you have a favorite, let me know please! Also a good substitute would be lentils or finely chopped mushrooms, or both.

This recipe is perfect as we struggle through the last few chilly, rainy days before summer. Enjoy!


Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Taco Bowls

I’m what you’d call a lazy cook. If you haven’t realized that already about me by looking at Arlington Darling’s recipe collection, you’ll figure it out soon enough! I like recipes with few ingredients, short instructions lists, and that require little prep work. I do try to strike a balance between using prepackaged/processed food and putting a recipe together from scratch with 100% fresh food, but when push comes to shove I am just not the woman making her own yogurt with bacterial cultures or frying her own tortilla chips out of cut up tortillas, I’m just not.

So, when I see a recipe that calls for taco shells, I’m pretty likely to think “meh, I don’t want to make individual tacos I’ll just throw everything into a bowl. Taco shells sound complicated and hard to take with me for lunch.” And so this dish was born!

Laziness is delicious. Mmmmm.


Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Taco Bowls

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained and patted dry
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets
2 avocados, cubed
1/2 head of red/purple cabbage, shredded
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 limes, zest and juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

To Make:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine chickpeas, cauliflower, seasonings (you can even add a further shortcut and use your favorite taco seasoning instead), olive oil, and lime juice in a bowl. Toss, and then spread on baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring once, until crispy and browned at the edges.
2. Meanwhile, make the dressing (don’t be tempted to leave this step out, see above about how I’m lazy and trust me that this small extra effort is easy and worth it for the dish). Combine Greek yogurt, lime zest, cilantro, and a dash of salt and pepper. Let rest in the fridge.
3. When ready to serve, add portions of the cauliflower and chickpeas, shredded cabbage, and avocado to a bowl or shallow dish. Dress with the yogurt dressing.

A couple of substitutions that would work for this dish that I thought of: sub another leafy green for the cabbage, although I really appreciate the tang of it and the chance to eat a beautiful purple veggie. Or you could add a meat to the bowl instead or in addition to the cauliflower, if you eat meat.

Note. If you’re packing these into Tupperware for your lunches, as I do, keep the dressing in a separate container until that morning and cut up one avocado at a time, as needed.

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and their Pod.


Recipe: Spinach Quinoa Tomato Soup Bowl

This recipe is super simple and makes me really happy. It’s comfort food, but healthy and clean and light. Just the thing to warm you up as we leave winter behind (or try to! what’s up with the weather, DC?).

The quinoa leaves you feeling satisfied and full, the spinach adds some good nutrients, and the soup is a perfect base/soup/sauce combo that adds a punch of flavor. You can customize this dish by adding some grated parmesan cheese, using a different soup or broth of your choice, or mixing it up with a different grain or vegetable. It’s also really easy to make small servings of this dish if you’re feeding one or two people at a time — the quinoa/spinach mixture keeps in the fridge for a few days and so does the soup, so you can heat yourself a fresh bowl whenever you feel like it.

Arlington Darling | Spinach Quinoa Tomato Soup

4 c. fresh spinach, chopped
1 c. quinoa (2.5 cups cooked quinoa)
1 16oz. carton of Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

To Make:
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
2. While quinoa is cooking, roughly chop the spinach. Add the spinach to the quinoa when it is almost done cooking, in order to slightly wilt the spinach (you can chop it and leave it raw, but I prefer the texture slightly wilted for this dish).
3. Heat the soup in a medium saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.
4. Combine the soup and the quinoa/spinach mixture. If you are attempting a “pretty” presentation, heat soup separately in a bowl and add the quinoa/spinach to the bowl once heated. If you are not trying for “pretty points” here, combine all of the quinoa/spinach and soup together in the saucepan on the stove and serve from that. Tastes the same either way :).

Makes 4 servings.


Recipe: Spinach Quinoa Feta Cakes

It’s been a while since I’ve posted! But to be fair, it’s been a busy month. The weather is starting to warm up, and so is everyone’s social calendar. In the past few weeks alone, I’ve skied, attended a housing seminar, played hostess to my cousin and my parents, gone to countless happy hours, visited the Kreeger Museum and the Old Post Office Tower, and watched a rehearsal of the Shakespeare Theater Company’s Wallenstein. Whew! No wonder I haven’t had time to post.

And despite having a tiny kitchen all to myself, last night was one of the first nights I’d actually cooked anything beyond heating up some frozen dumplings. I’m really happy I christened my kitchen with these little spinach quinoa feta cakes – they were easy and quick. The hardest part (for me) was chopping the onion and resisting eating the feta cheese before it went into the mix :). Here’s how you make ’em:

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
5 oz. chopped fresh baby spinach
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 c. cooked quinoa
2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. bread crumbs
olive oil

Arlington Darling | Spinach Quinoa Feta cakes

To Make:
1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.
3. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, quinoa, feta, lemon zest, and black pepper and mix well. Mix in the bread crumbs and let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the bread crumbs to absorb some of the moisture.
5. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet.
6. Form quinoa patties about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Place the patties on the skillet in batches. Cook the patties, flipping once, until they’re cooked through and browned on the outside, about 4 to 5 minutes.
7. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Panini Happy. Enjoy!

Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Guess what, guess what!? I just cut, peeled, roasted, and mashed my very first butternut squash all by myself.

I’m very proud, if I say so myself.

It was not as hard as I thought it would be. And I sort of mean that literally – the squash was softer than I expected. It was still pretty solid, but I managed to get one of my crappy knives through it with a little bit of elbow grease. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to, but I was. Then I peeled it (again, took a little elbow grease because the skin is very thick), cubed it, and roasted it for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Easy peasy.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce | Arlington Darling

After that, in order to make the pasta sauce, I used a potato masher to mash up the squash. To the squash, I added some sauteed leeks and garlic and about 1 cup of pasta water. For flavor, I added some thyme, pepper, and salt.

My mom introduced me to the possibility of this dish – she made hers with some shrimp, and I don’t think she used leeks. I adapted my recipe from Skinny Taste but mine is vegan. Basically a lot of different sources inspired me to make this dish, and you should feel free to evolve it to your own taste – you can boil or sautee the squash instead of roasting it, add some nice sage if you have it, or mix in some heavy cream or parmesan cheese.

Just don’t be afraid of the butternut squash! Trust me on that one. If you’re still a little leery of them, Whole Foods sometimes sells them already cubed.

1-1.5 lbs. of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
0.5 lbs. of whole wheat pasta shells
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thoroughly cleaned and sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

To Make:
1. Roast the peeled and cubed butternut squash at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, seasoned with a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, clean and thinly slice the leek.
3. Sautee the leek and some garlic in a small saucepan with some olive oil.
4. After the leek is translucent and fragrant, remove it from the heat.
5. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water.
6. When the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.
7. When the squash are tender and beginning to brown, remove from the oven and transfer to a large glass or metal bowl. Mash with the potato masher. Add the leeks and reserved pasta water.
8. Mix together until you get your desired consistency for the sauce (I like mine somewhere between thick soup and mashed potato).
9. Combine with pasta and eat!

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce | Arlington Darling

Enjoy :).