Spaghetti Bolognese with Pan-Fried Zucchini

This is another classic Italian dish that has been veganized. I was also going to take credit for veggitizing the sauce, until I found out that traditional bolognese sauce already has veggies in it. However, I might be able to take credit for “re-veggitizing” the sauce, because I added my own mix of veggies other than the traditional variety. By veggitizing something, my goal is to add veggies to every meal, even meals that don’t usually have veggies associated with them. This dish may not fall into that category, but give me a meal and I’ll find a way to add veggies to it. Tofu scram? Add veggies. Lasagna? Veggie lasagna. Strawberry shortcake? Strawberry shortcake with broccoli! Okay, this system may not be perfected just yet.

spaghetti bolognese closeup

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 1/2 cups Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles (1 bag)
  • 1 box of spaghetti, use about 1/2 the box of noodles (I used Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Spaghetti)
  • 1 large zucchini squash (I mixed half yellow and half green)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 2-3 tsp salt
  • about 1/2 tsp of additional salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


What to Do:

  1. Slice a little more than 1/2 of the zucchini into thin slices. Set aside. Cut the remaining squash into small cubed pieces. This will be used in the sauce. Set aside.
  2. Bring approximately 2-3 cups water to a boil in a medium-sized pot.
  3. Add spaghetti to pot and let boil for several minutes, according to the instructions of the type of pasta you’re using (less time for al dente, more time for softer noodles). Remove noodles from heat, drain and set aside.
  4. In a medium to large-sized skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.
  5. Once hot, add chopped onion and saute for approximately 1-2 minutes. Add chopped garlic, stir to mix with onion, and continue to saute for another minute or so.
  6. Add entire bag of beefy crumbles and stir into onion and garlic mixture. Heat crumbles for about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Lower heat to a simmer and add sauce to skillet.
  8. Let sauce simmer over low heat for approximately 5-7 minutes, until sauce and beefy crumbles are fully heated through.
  9. Add cubed zucchini, fresh basil and salt to sauce and stir. Let simmer for another minute, then remove from heat.
  10. In a separate skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  11. Once hot, place zucchini slice in oil in one even layer, and pan-fry the slices until they are golden brown on each side (as pictured); approximately 2-4 minutes per side.
  12. Remove the zucchini slices from the oil and place them on a paper towel or cloth to drain excess oil. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  13. Transfer a serving of pasta to a serving dish and place a serving of the bolognese sauce on top of the pasta.
  14. Add side of zucchini on dish and serve.


Date Posted on Instagram: 9/28/18

Warm Pasta Primavera with Charred Tomatoes and Almond Ricotta

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s kinda hard to ever go wrong with pasta. With so many ways to prepare it, not to mention how delicious it is, I can never turn it down. Eating involves not only tasting the food, but the visuals make a big deal too, as does smell — it truly is a full sensory experience. And this dish delivers in that area, with the fresh, vibrant, sweet smell of the tomatoes, the hearty, flavorful taste of the pasta, cherry tomatoes and mild cheese, and the beautiful colors that abound throughout the dish. This one is kinda like an “inception” meal — it’s a recipe, inside of a recipe, inside of a recipe. I used the charred cherry tomatoes recipe that I created, along with a recipe I made last month for almond ricotta cheese. But unlike the movie, this dish was far from confusing, and unfortunately didn’t involve Leonardo DiCaprio.

warm primavera pasta with almond burrata cheese ball

What You’ll Need:

  • About 2-3 cups of spaghetti pasta (prepared)
  • 1/4 cup almond ricotta cheese
  • About 1 cup of charred cherry tomatoes (tossed in olive oil but without the salt)
  • 1 can of Trader Joe’s fire-roasted tomatoes, lightly drained
  • 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • **OPTIONAL**: 2 cups baby spinach, chopped


What to Do:

  1.  Prepare pasta according to directions and set aside.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan over low-heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  3. Add can of fire-roasted tomatoes with remaining juice from can.
  4. Let simmer until it lightly starts to boil. Add salt and garlic powder and stir into sauce. If using spinach, add spinach as well and stir sauce. Let simmer for approximately 3-4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
  5. Remove sauce from heat and stir in fresh chopped parsley.
  6. Add remaining olive oil to pasta and toss.
  7. Add sauce to pasta and toss again.
  8. Transfer pasta to serving dish and place charred cherry tomatoes on top.
  9. Shape almond ricotta into a ball and place in the middle of pasta. Serve and enjoy!



* I made the almond ricotta during a month-long tribute I did during August I coined “Vegan Chef Appreciation Month”. The recipe is not mine, I made it courtesy of a recipe by letscooksvegan , from their August 19, 2018 post. A tip I found after making the ricotta is that it tastes so much better after sitting for a few days. When I made this dish, which was almost a week after making the ricotta, the flavor and texture was great!


Date posted on Instagram: 8/23/2018

Green Shirataki Noodle Veggie Bowl

If you follow me on Instagram or check out my recipes, you’ll know I’ve been raving bout shirataki noodles for a little while now. They aren’t new, but so much food is new to me within my new vegan life. As much as I raved about them then, you can imagine how happy I was to see them in a different color– spinach shirataki noodles are apparently a thing also. I don’t think I mentioned too many facts about these beautiful, gelatinous gems, but they are a traditional type of noodle over in Japan and they’re made from the konjac plant, a Japanese plant with edible parts. They also have close to no calories due to the high water content and the fact that glucomannan, the substance in the plant that makes up most of the noodle, is also very low in calories, but high in fiber. Zero calorie noodles that still give me my daily dose of fiber? Yes please!

spinach shirataki noodle bowl

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 bag of spinach shirataki noodles, fettuccine style
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushroom heads, thinly sliced  (set aside stems)
  • 1/8 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, removed from stems
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

What to Do:

  1. In a small skillet, heat olive oil on low to medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add garlic to pan and saute for approximately 20 seconds before adding broccoli florets; saute for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add sliced mushroom heads and continue saute — you can slice and add the stems also or save them for another dish– I didn’t include them here because it looks more visually appealing with only the mushroom heads.
  4. Continue to saute and stir mixture occasionally until mushrooms are almost tender.
  5. Add soy sauce to skillet and continue to saute for another minute or two until mushrooms are tender, stirring frequently.
  6. Add edamame and green onion and saute for another minute, stirring frequently (edamame and green onion will remain very crisp when adding them in this way). Remove veggies from heat.
  7. Remove shirataki noodles from bag and parboil them to heat them up — to parboil, empty the noodles into a skillet with the water in the pack and heat them up over high heat for 2-3 minutes, just enough to warm them.
  8. Drain the noodles and run them under cool water for a few seconds if desired, to fully stop the cooking process.
  9. Place noodles in a medium to large sized mixing bowl and add sesame oil. Mix into noodles thoroughly.
  10. Add veggie mixture into noodles and mix thoroughly.
  11. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl and top with cilantro and sesame seeds to garnish.

Date posted on Instagram: 7/22/18

Tomato Penne, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Dinosaur Kale

This recipe came about as I continued to make dishes featuring colored pasta. It all started with one dish, but then I felt continuously inspired to use colorful pasta in my meals. All the pasta I used during this phase was colored naturally, using all-natural ingredients, no chemicals, and of course, no animal products — I double-checked. For this particular dish, I wanted to create something colorful, where the flavors would also compliment each other, and it would also be simple to make. I’m realizing that this is becoming my cooking style (to an extent). Dishes that feed many of the senses at once, but aren’t overly complicated to make. They may look complicated. They may sound complicated. They may even taste complicated. But they probably won’t be too complicated. I think this style stems from me being an amateur chef with absolutely no kitchen training whatsoever, but liking my food to feel decadent at times, because I can also be fancy like that.

Tomatoe Penne, Sundried tomatoes and dino kale

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 package of naturally red or orange colored pasta — I used the Barilla brand.
  • 2 cups of dinosaur kale, chopped (curly kale or spinach can also be used)
  • 1 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped slightly thick (you can also mince the garlic but for this dish I tried leaving the pieces chunkier)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Large mixing bowl

What to Do:

  1.  Prepare penne according to instructions. Prepare enough pasta for approximately 3-4 cups worth. Set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet on low heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  3. Once the oil is hot, add chopped garlic. Saute for approximately 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add frozen peas and continue to saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring to avoid burning.
  5.  Add chopped kale to skillet and saute garlic, peas and kale until kale is wilted and peas are cooked through. Remove from heat.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, add cooked penne, garlic, peas and kale mixture, sun-dried tomatoes, onion powder, oregano, fresh parsley, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  7. Toss all ingredients together.
  8. Transfer to a serving dish and top with nutritional yeast.



Date posted on Instagram: 7/6/18

Basil Spaghetti with Basil Mint Pesto

This was an impromptu recipe; I randomly found the pasta because it caught my eye as I was looking through the food and kitchen section at Marshall’s for something completely different — yes, I did say Marshall’s; don’t sleep on them, they have some great deals! But the crazy part is, it started this whole experimental phase in my cooking where I wanted to start making dishes with colored pasta. Eventually, I want to start making pasta from scratch. I want to make more simple components from scratch also, like this pesto for example, which wasn’t from scratch but instead I used a pre-made base pesto which I added to. I know making items from scratch is more labor-intensive but I think it’s one of the marks of a true chef and so I need to make at least a few pasta dishes with fresh pasta. Just don’t hold your breath until it happens!

Basil Pasta and Mushrooms

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 package of naturally colored pasta — I used an Italian brand I’ve never heard of and this was basil pasta but you can use spinach pasta or another green pasta. I prefer green because it goes well with the color pop of this dish.
  • 1 cup of Trader Joe’s kale, cashew and basil pesto
  • 1 cup organic grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Approximately 7-8 baby bella mushrooms, sliced down the middle, stems intact
  • 1 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (and a few additional leaves for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

What to Do:

  1.  Prepare pasta in a large saucepan according to instructions. Use about 1/3 to 1/2 of the package of pasta, enough to make approximately 3-4 cups of cooked pasta. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a medium-sized skillet on low to medium heat with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil.
  3. Once hot, place mushrooms in skillet and saute for approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Add grape tomatoes to skillet and mix mushrooms and tomatoes to cover in oil.
  5. Add garlic powder and salt to skillet and mix well into veggies.
  6. Continue to saute mushrooms and tomatoes until mushrooms brown (more than they already are) and, more importantly, until tomatoes get a few dark roasted and caramelized parts. Remove from heat and set aside.*
  7. Chop the fresh mint very, very finely. Place pesto in a small bowl and add fresh chopped mint to pesto. Mix well with a fork.**
  8. Combine mushrooms and tomatoes with pasta in saucepan.
  9. Add pesto to pasta mixture and stir well.
  10. Transfer pasta to serving dish and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Bon appetit!

* The tomatoes have a high water content so be careful when you try to give them this roasted “crisp” look. Some of them stuck to the pan, which was okay but you might have to turn them more frequently. Just watch them carefully to make sure they don’t all stick and become unusable for the recipe.

** If preferred, you can add the pesto and chopped mint to a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend. If using this method, you don’t have to chop the mint as finely but still chop the leaves into slightly fine pieces.

Date posted on Instagram: 6/21/18