Cheers to Veggies!

My sister and I began purchasing our produce from a locally owned Reno company called Basket Case Organics that delivers fresh, organic, mostly local produce to our doorstep every two weeks. It is really reasonably priced ($20 for the basic basket) and generally comes with more produce then we know what to do with. Needless to say, we have become quite the herbivores lately. This recipe is a little ditty we came up with the other night after a good session of AcroYoga when we wanted something light, but filling.

Pasta with Sautéed Veggies
Makes 3 - 4 servings depending on how hungry you are...

1 16 oz box of pasta
1 shallot (I love their rich savory flavor)
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1 small red bell pepper
1 cup broccoli
1/2 zucchini
1 cup mushrooms
1 roma tomato
2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Add to taste preference: oregano, salt, pepper


Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large sauce pan, when water boils add pasta and cook as directed on the box. (See
My Favorite Pantry Staples for my thoughts on pasta.)

Chop all produce into bite-sized pieces. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, cover, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Continue to cook all ingredients with the lid on the skillet, this helps trap steam and flavor. Add garlic sauté for another minute. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan. Add bell pepper and broccoli, sauté for 3 – 5 min. Add a bit more olive oil as needed so the vegetables don’t stick to the pan. As the bell pepper and broccoli begin to soften, add the zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes. Let everything cook together until the zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes are tender. Add the final tablespoon of butter and continue to cook. The medley is done when everything is tender. The tomatoes should down a bit and the mushrooms should have released all of their beautiful juices, creating a bit of liquid in the pan.

When pasta and veggies are done, mix in the large sauce pan and serve! I like to add a bit of fresh parmesan or asiago cheese on top.


I like to try and time my pasta and veggies to be done around the same time. Generally I’ll chop my veggies first, then start the water for the pasta around the same time I begin warming the butter for the shallots. Don’t be afraid of fats like butter and olive oil, they help your body digest the great vegetables that you eat.

Finally, for the oregano, salt and pepper: I like to add these ingredients throughout the cooking process, so I’ll add a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and oregano with each round of veggies to sauté, starting with the shallots and following though till I add the final round of zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes. I think this helps the vegetables absorb the maximum amount of flavor. The salt helps everything release their juices and become extra tender.


The Simplest Vinaigrette Ever!

Personally, I am not a fan of bottled salad dressing. I find the cost friendly brands to be full of ingredients I can't pronounce and the organic brands to be outrageously priced, so I like to make my own. It can seem daunting to prepare a homemade vinaigrette at 6:30 a.m. when chopping veggies for your lunchtime salad seems like a good way to lose a finger. This simple and delicious recipe, hailing from a friend of a friend in Spain, will make creating a healthy dressing the easiest part of your morning routine.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes enough for a single serving of salad.

1/4 teaspoon of honey  

1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (less or more depending on salad size and taste preference)  
1/2 teaspoon of olive or grapeseed oil

Put balsamic vinegar and honey in a microwave safe container. Heat in the microwave for 10 -15 seconds. Add olive oil. Shake or whisk to emulsify. Pour on salad and enjoy!

I like to put the balsamic and honey in a small Tupperware in the morning. I keep a small jar of oil at work. I heat the vinegar and add the oil at work, right before I'm ready to eat the salad so it is fresh and warm.


My Favorite Pantry Staples

I have very little time for reading magazines in my busy life, but I've been on vacation so I took advantage of the opportunity to curl up with one of my favorites, Real Simple. I love this magazine because the recipes are always, well, simple.

In this months issue the question to their readers was, "
What is your favorite pantry staple?" I want to share some of my favorite pantry staples that help me create innovate meals from simple basics. Here they are...

Pasta - I'm never without a few styles of pasta. I look for pasta that is organic if possible, but definitely free of enriched flour. Enriched flour is highly processed and full of ingredients that don't occur naturally. The most common form of pasta people eat is durum semolina. Durum is a hardy flour. Semolina is a texture. This is all your pasta really needs. If there are other words in your ingredient list that you don't understand, keep looking.

Canned Beans - Useful in so many situations. I like to keep a good variety on-hand; black, pinto, pinquintos, kidney, and garbanzo. They can be used in a main course such as tacos, quesadillas, rice and beans. They can also make a great addition to a meal as a hummus, dip or spread.

Canned Tomatoes
- Mix a can of Mexican blend tomatoes with a can of black beans on the stove, simmer for 20 min., and, presto, you have a great meal! You can also simmer a can of tomatoes with some sauteed vegetables to make a great sauce for pasta. I heard once on the Food Network that it is best to buy whole canned tomatoes because that means they have been less processed by chopping or dicing. I try to generally stick to this rule of thumb.

Rice - When I am out of food and going grocery shopping is just out of the questions, rice is my fall back. It is a healthy and fiber rich substance that is easy to spice up! It is the perfect compliment to meat, vegetables and, of course, beans. Brown rice is heartier and less processed than its white counterpart, but it is a bit heavy. I say go with what you like!

Couscous - This super versatile grain can be served with almost anything; red meat, fish, vegetables, even nothing at all. It is delicious all on its own and easy to make.