Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

So remember last week how I made a really healthy kale salad to try to detox a bit from my vacation? Let’s talk about what happened later that week…

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I set out to make a healthy pesto pasta sauce with roasted cauliflower. I succeeded, but then I decided it needed some cheddar, a dab o’ butter, and sliced burrata.

If you’re unfamiliar, you need to know thisveryinstant that burrata is the BEST THING EVER. It’s fresh mozzarella stuffed with shredded mozzarella that’s soaked in cream. Yes, cheese in cheese in cream, and yes, it is every bit as good and dreamy and laughably ridiculous as it sounds.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

The roasted cauliflower works really well with the nutty pesto (I used my pistachio pesto because it’s my favorite as-of-late), and adds extra depth to the sauce. I like making cream sauces with whole milk because, well, creamy, but 2% would be fine as well. The sharp white cheddar doesn’t overpower the pesto flavor, but gives the sauce a boost in tanginess and makes it feel more like a proper mac and cheese. Speaking of, I always like tomatoes in my mac-and-cheese-type meals, and especially these suuupah fresh local grape tomatoes that just burst with sweet, juicy flavor.

Then, friends, we top it all off with the burrata. Just yes. Just so much yes.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

Perhaps this doesn’t fit my detox week criteria…and by “criteria” I mean things that just “feel” healthy, because who has time to have actual criteria?…but it IS one of those meals that tastes super decadent despite being a (slightly?) better-for-you alternative to restaurant meals.

Let’s be real though – I’m not going to sit here and try to pretend burrata is super healthy. There are too many other types of praise that it deserves without resorting to outright lies.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

How did the rest of my detox week go, you ask? After eating burrata all week I went to a good friend’s wedding, had an awesome time, but had far too many whiskey gingers. I don’t really drink in excess, and hardly ever opt for hard alcohol when I do, so you can imagine how that turned out for me.

Except I hope you can’t imagine it, because I wouldn’t wish that pain on anybody. Eeeep.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

Eat your burrata and drink your whiskey. In excess and moderation, respectively. Life lessons, folks.

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Summer Squash and Pesto Ricotta Lasagna

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I know that turning on your oven for 50 minutes sounds like the worst thing ever in late July. I get it, but I’m hoping I can convince you otherwise.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I’ve been eating mostly salads, grilled veggies and veggie burgers, and other oven-free foods lately. I love raw veggies when it’s hot out, but this weekend I felt the need to switch things up and throw some of summer’s best produce into the oven.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

Being a Minnesotan, there’s only a small window of time when fresh, organic, local produce is available at the co-op. Since zucchini is starting to take over gardens around the state, I used that seasonal, beautiful squash in this summertime lasagna.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

When we started dating, Ryan would probably have been uninterested in vegetarian lasagna. He would assume it was bland, because lasagna was all about the meat to him. I assume most people feel this way, and I understand why, but I have to disagree.

These days, when we’re at a restaurant and he considers ordering lasagna, he says, “Well, I shouldn’t order that here, because you make really good lasagna at home.”

Such a sweet talker! That’s a man after my heart.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.comA vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.comA vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

To make vegetarian lasagna interesting, you need to layer in the flavors. Instead of plain ricotta, I swirled in some homemade basil pesto. Instead of canned marinara, I made my own with high-quality crushed tomatoes with basil, and dark brown sugar to give it a little smoky sweetness. The vegetable layer includes the fresh, seasonal zucchini and yellow squash I couldn’t resist at the co-op, as well as some super-flavorful sliced leeks. When I don’t know what to add to a dish to give it more flavor, I usually reach for leeks. They have a deep, savory flavor that takes dishes a step further than a regular old onion ever could.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I’ll admit that lasagna takes more time and effort than most of my meals, but I don’t mind putting in some extra elbow grease when the result feeds me for DAYS. I made this lasagna on Sunday, and enjoyed 3 slices before heading out of town to meet up with Ryan in northern MN. I gave half of the pan to my sister, and I still have another 3 slices waiting for me in the freezer when I return.
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Black Bean and Sweet Potato Fritters with Pistachio Pesto

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Fritters with Pistachio Pesto | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

Moderation? Psh, not really my thing.

Making 2 rounds of fritters, and watching 10 episodes of Orange is the New Black in one day? More my thing.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Fritters with Pistachio Pesto | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I recently made some curried carrot fritters, and in the process realized that I didn’t just “like” fritters…nope, I might just be a fritter freak.

FRITTER FREAK. What a label.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Fritters with Pistachio Pesto | veggieandthebeastfeast.comBlack Bean and Sweet Potato Fritters with Pistachio Pesto | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

Making the curried carrot fritters reminded me of a sandwich I order at Brasa, a restaurant in the Twin Cities, that makes a black bean fritter sandwich that haunts my dreams. I crave it ALL THE TIME, so I decided to make a slightly healthier version for at home.

(Quick note – if you live in the Twin Cities GO TO BRASA. GET THE FRITTER AND YUCCA FRIES. k? k.)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Fritters with Pistachio Pesto | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

Since I love black beans, sweet potatoes and chili powder together, I combined them in these little crispy patties. As you may know, I have fresh basil at my fingertips (thanks, Ry/Beast!!!), so the pistachio pesto was a no-brainer.

To make things a tad less indulgent, I like eating these fritters with some tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and pesto in a blanket of butter lettuce. Yes, the ciabatta bun that the restaurant version comes on is better than lettuce, because OMG CARBS, but if you want a tasty and healthier option, go for the butter, baby.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Fritters with Pistachio Pesto | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

This recipe, friends, uses chia eggs. I know, it might sound a bit strange to some of you, but they are an ah-mazing binder.

If you’re not into vegan binder options, feel free to substitute a chicken egg wherever you see me use an alternative.

Those who know me know I get food aversions sometimes, and currently eggs are one of them. It’s okay though, cause what I lack in egg enjoyment I make up for in fried fritter love.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Fritters with Pistachio Pesto | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

In related news, Ryan has started singing “Fat kid in a skinny body…” to me on the daily. #friedstuff
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Easy Vegetable Chow Mein

Easy Vegetable Chow Mein | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

It was 7:30 on a Monday, we were driving Teia home from her doggy obedience class (she’s in level II now, dontchaknow) and suddenly I needed chow mein. NEEDED it. It was a “gotta have it/can’t stop/won’t stop thinking about it until I get it” type thing. You know the drill.

That craving resulted in a recipe that has graced my kitchen multiple times over the past few weeks, and I’m sharing it over on Greens & Chocolate today! Get the recipe here.

Grilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes

Grilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

July is my favorite summer month. My friends think I’m crazy for it, but I live for the summer heat. I know this is strange coming from a Minnesota girl, but I love the humidity, even if it does make my hair look like it belongs to Weird Al.

It’s sunny, sweaty, bright, and perfect for cold beer and grilling. Sometimes I love grilling veggie burgers and making sweet potato fries, but sometimes I want to be fancy. When I’m being fancy, I grill galettes.

Grilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes | veggieandthebeastfeast.comGrilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes | veggieandthebeastfeast.comGrilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

In case you’re unfamiliar, galettes are simply free-form tarts. When I make savory galettes, I like to think of them as classy-lady pizzas.

Ryan may object to the “classy lady” label, because he LOVED these. I ate one right off the grill for lunch, and then Ryan ate the remaining 3 in 24 hours. When he finished the last one he asked if we had any more (this coming from a man who usually doesn’t eat unless I remind him).

Grilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I prefer making summer galettes on the grill because A) No extra heat in the house B) It’s July! Let’s grill things! C) More reason to be outside. Our gas grill has a temperature gauge, which made it easy to maintain a fairly steady temp. If your grill does not have a temperature gauge, and you don’t have a thermometer you can use, you will need to either watch the grill like a hawk, or just bake it on your pizza stone in the oven at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

Grilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

These galettes are wonderfully flaky, a little nutty from the whole wheat flour, and so darn pretty. The lemon mascarpone puffs up and hugs the juicy, roasted tomatoes. It’s just begging to be paired with a light arugula salad and a glass of chilled white wine.

Total classy lady (/dude) meal.

Grilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes | veggieandthebeastfeast.comGrilled Tomato and Lemon Mascarpone Galettes | veggieandthebeastfeast.com

There’s a fair amount of butter and cheese in this recipe, but the ingredients are simple and the crust is whole wheat, so I have no qualms with a little extra fat in my whole-foods goodness. Also, we’ll be eating kale later this week, and balance wins.

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