March 27, 2014

Thai Curry Vegetable Pot Pie

I struggled with whether or not to make this recipe.  It sounded so good but the recipe was written a tad poorly and I wondered if it would end up soupy.  In the end I decided that it's the thought that counts and I made quite a few adjustments to make it my own masterpiece.  Not to mention that I'll take just about any chance to roll out a piece of pie dough.  It's so therapeutic and rewarding when it comes together and I always get a thrill when I get it right.  It's easy for this one to get her kicks these days, mmkay?

Also this is a great recipe to make in this weird in between spring time because it's lighter than your traditional pot pie but still is hearty enough to chase away the rainy blues.  I made some changes not only to the vegetables I put in to the mix but also I always opt to make my own crust even though I know it's so much easier to use store bought.  But if you're not feeling it and don't get your kicks the same way I get mine then use that pre-made pie dough! If you do, this recipe is easy as pie.....pot pie.

Also if you aren't into the tofu thing, which I know lots who aren't, chicken would be a perfect meat to substitute in place of that.  After all chicken and pot pie go together like birds of a feather.  Below is the recipe as I made it. 

Thai Curry Vegetable Pot Pie
adapted from here

2 sheets of pre-made whole wheat pie crust (or here is the homemade recipe I use)
12 oz. drained extra firm tofu
2 tbl olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 bunch kale, center stems removed and chopped thin
1 small head broccoli, stem removed and chopped into small pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 tbl soy sauce 
1/2 cup broth of your choice
1/2 can lite coconut milk
2 tsp green curry paste
1 tsp flour
2 tsp fresh herbs of your choice (I used thyme and parsley)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. First prepare your pie dough.  If you're making homemade get that prepared and chilling in the fridge.  If using premade there's usually a thaw period to abide by.
  2. Drain tofu by sandwiching between two plates and put a weight on top for about 10-15 minutes or until most of the liquid has drained out.  Then cut into 1 inch pieces.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large wok or skillet. Throw in tofu and cook until golden brown on all sides.  Remove from pan into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in same skillet or wok.  Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent.  Add celery, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes.  Saute until potatoes are tender.
  6. Add soy sauce and mix with veggies.  Remove veggies and put into the same mixing bowl with tofu.
  7. In the same wok or skillet add green curry paste and allow to heat until aromatic.  Add coconut milk and broth.  Then add the flour and allow to thicken on low heat for about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat.
  8. Prepare your baking pan with the pie dough.  If using pre-made use a 9" pie plate.  I used a larger casserole dish for mine as my homemade recipe made enough dough.
  9. Line the bottom of the pie dough with chopped kale.  Pour the tofu and veggies on top of the kale.  Then add the curry sauce from the pan on top of the veggies.
  10. Place the second pie dough over the top and seal the sides up as decoratively as you please.  Put a few vents by poking fork holes or something decorative as well.
  11. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.  Let sit 5 minutes before serving.  Goes great with a green salad!

March 18, 2014

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese

I should have posted this last week before I went on vacation, but I was so excited and trying to get as much done at work as possible before I left that it sort of slipped my mind. Likewise, I forgot to take an actual photo of anything, because I was too anxious to eat, and all I have to show for this feast is a Vine video and the oohs and aahs of the friends who ate it.

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes to make because it is hearty and rich and feels like a special treat, but it has no meat and makes me feel a little better about myself when I eat seconds.  Next time I am going to toss in some kale or chard at the end to really amp up the veg factor. 

This recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis, who I love, and her cookbook was the first I bought, a very long time ago when I barely had any interest in cooking. She makes things look so simple and delicious, she convinced me that I could do it!  This is definitely not the first recipe I have made from Giada, and it won't be the last, but so far, it is my favorite and the one I have made the most frequently.  You could just as easily have this sauce with polenta or some other type of noodle, or use it in a lasagna or any way you would use a regular meat bolognese! 

One note:  definitely do not skip the dried mushrooms, and get the best ones you can find. These mushrooms really amp up the flavor and add a richness to the sauce that is missing if you don't use the dried mushrooms plus their liquid.

Vegetable Bolognese
Slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 carrots, peeled and diced 
1 onion, peeled and diced 
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves 

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, cremini, and brown), stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften.
Remove the thyme and oregano from their stems, chop them up a bit, and set them aside.

Dice the carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic to a fairly small consistency. You want them to be a little chunky but not a regular dice. I think of it as small dice.  Alternately, you can chop them up with a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped but still chunky.

Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 6 - 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, destem and chop your mushrooms into small chunks. 

Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the porcini mushroom liquid. Chop the now softened porcini mushrooms to small chunks.

Add the porcini mushrooms, fresh diced mushrooms, and tomato paste to the pot and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the porcini mushroom liquid and red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

While the mushrooms are cooking away, boil a pot of water for the pasta.  Cook the pasta until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Once the liquid in the vegetable mixture has reduced by half and is looking and s melling extra delicious, add the mascarpone cheese and stir until the cheese is incorporated.  This adds a really amazing creaminess that makes this sauce feel so decadent!

If the sauce seems to thick, add a bit of the pasta liquid to thin it out a bit. I did not do this, as I like a thicker sauce.

Toss the pasta with the sauce, top with parmesan and serve!