This pasta dish will quickly become one of your favorite go-to meals because it’s easy and fast to make, plus you can do many versions of it based on what you have in the fridge and pantry. This dish is especially amazing when heirloom tomatoes are in season when you can pick some up at your local farmers market. Heirloom tomatoes come in a variety of colors so try as many as you can.
I used Trader Joe’s brand organic whole wheat penne pasta but you can use 12 oz of your favorite pasta like linguine, spaghetti, or fun farfelle aka bow tie pasta. Normally for one pan dishes you’d use a 3-qt. sauté pan, but I used a wok because I found it easier to mix and stir the pasta while it was cooking.
I LOVE heirloom tomatoes because of their sweet, rich flavor, and the varieties of color and shape. For my dish, I used a combination of these two organic varieties.
I cannot get enough of the rich color of the Chocolate Striped heirlooms. They are stunning to use in chopped salads or sliced in Caprese salad.
Get creative and have fun with this recipe. I used mushrooms but another fun add in replacement would be chopped Padron or Jimmy Nardello peppers.
12 oz organic penne pasta
12 oz chopped organic heirloom tomatoes
4 organic basil leaves
4 small sprigs of otganic oregano leaves
6 chopped organic cremini mushrooms
1/2 small organic red onion sliced
4 coves organic sliced garlic – Add more to up the garlic excitement
3 tbsp olive oil
2-1/2 tsps of salt. I added 1/2 tsp more salt to the recipe because whole wheat pasta tends to be a bit blander (to me) compared to regular wheat.
Red pepper flakes optional if you want spicy
4-cups of water
Cooking the dish:
In your pan, pour in the pasta first then add in the tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, garlic, onion, basil, and oregano like you see in the photo above.
Add in the olive oil, salt, and a few shakes of black pepper. Add the red pepper flakes if you want spicy.
Pour in the water and mix everything together.
Turn the heat to high and wait for the water to start boiling. Keep stirring while the water gets hotter.
When the water boils, turn the heat down to medium high, and continue stirring until the pasta gets soft about 10-15 minutes.
The pasta water becomes the sauce of the dish. In the last few minutes, if you notice the water drying up faster than the cook time of the pasta, add a little more water. For example, Penne can use more water than Angel Hair pasta.
If you make this dish, take a photo, tag it #theflexi21 and share with the community on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram @theflexi21.
Who knew that a cucumber and tomato salad could look this beautiful or sound this divine? You never know what you can find at the farmers market. This salad allows for so many different variations based on what variety of cucumber or tomato you use. There is a plethora of options.
This salad is great to take to potlucks or BBQs, and is so easy to make. Most of the work is in chopping the veggies.
For this creation, I used Serpentine cucumbers aka striped Armenian cucumbers which are so cool looking because they really do look like serpentine creatures.
I love the shape and texture of the ridges on the skin of these cucumbers. They have less seeds and thinner skin than cucumbers you normally find at the grocery store.
I used organic heirloom tomatoes in yellow orange and magenta colors. Below the tomatoes are flowering artichokes. The flower of the artichoke is so beautiful and makes for a really cool centerpiece decoration.
You can use any red onion. I found these cool organic Red Spring onions.
For the ingredients, there is no rhyme or reason to how much cucumber, tomato, or onion you use. Base what you need on how many people you want to serve.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 long Serpentine cucumber chopped
3 Heirloom tomatoes chopped
1/4 Red Onion chopped or 1 Red Spring Onion chopped
5 sprigs of chopped fresh Dill
Brianna’s Blush wine vinaigrette – You can use any vinaigrette you want. The best to use is a sweet vinaigrette. I use pre-made vinaigrette because I am too lazy to make from scratch. Plus, this Brianna’s vinaigrette is one of my favorites because it has a cool sweetness that compliments all the veggies in the salad.
To make this salad, basically all you do is put all your chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and onion in a mixing bowl with the dill and massage in the vinaigrette. That’s it.
For the photo finish, I sprinkled on top some hemp seeds and chili pepper flakes.
One of the most popular dishes in the cafeteria at IKEA here in the U.S, is the meatballs, gravy, and mashed potatoes. When I ate meat, and visited IKEA, I would often get this dish because it’s my favorite and really embodies the IKEA experience for me.
When IKEA debuted their 100% plant-based Vegetable Balls which I reviewed here, my local IKEA offered the Vegetable Balls in the cafeteria for a limited time as a special. So GOOD!
You can buy the frozen Vegetable Balls and make the famous dish at home. This is how I usually make my plant-based version of this IKEA favorite.
I pan fry the balls in some avocado oil until they are a nice looking brown.
For the asparagus, I did a simple roast. Massage the asparagus spears with some olive oil, and season lightly with sea salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 7 minutes so they are cooked but still a little crunchy. To add some zest, squeeze some lemon juice on the asparagus after you take them out of the oven.
I make my mashed potatoes using 1 large organic russet potato chopped and boiled for about 15 minutes, Earth Balance Soy-free Buttery Spread, sea salt, and a plant-based milk. The milks I use often are either Milkadamia Original Macadamia Milk, or Living Harvest Tempt Original Coconut Hempmilk. Both have a neutral flavor that doesn’t give the potatoes a milk taste to it like soy or almond milk can.
Put the boiled potato, 1 tbsp of the Buttery Spread, 2 tbsp of the plant-based milk, and a couple shakes of sea salt in a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to whip the potatoes until they are nice and creamy. Add more salt to taste if you need or a little more milk for smoother mashed potatoes.
The gravy is from a packet of Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy. I sautéed some chopped cremini mushrooms and chopped shallots in a little bit of the Earth Balance Soy-free Buttery Spread until softened and then added them to the brown gravy. I like chunky gravy.
Here’s a fun way to eat your veggies – flatbread! What you top your flatbread with is also another opportunity to go to the farmer’s market and get creative with what is in season. During summer, cherry heirloom tomatoes are a MUST I tell you because these beauties are packed with flavor and fun colors like these here.
Here are some other summer vegetable ideas for toppings:
Shishito or Padron peppers
Organic summer squash. There are so many varieties. Have fun picking one.
Squash blossoms. So pretty!
Figs and sweet yellow peppers
See. The possibilities are endless for your pizza toppings. In fact, make it a party, invite friends over and make several flatbreads with different toppings.
This flatbread is so simple and fast to make. Here are the ingredients:
One piece of Naan or Pita bread (Naan looks more like traditional flatbread versus Pita, but most Pita is dairy and egg free. You can buy pre-made Naan too. Most in-store Naan is vegetarian containing ghee or here’s a recipe for vegan Naan from Vegan Richa)
2 tbsps of pesto sauce (pre-made or I included my easy pesto recipe below)
A choice of your favorite vegetable fixings. Get creative! In the flatbread I made above, it contains artichokes, black olives, mushrooms, chopped cherry tomatoes and red onions plus fresh herbs!
Your favorite fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil or oregano
Pre-heat the oven to 350 or get your grill going if you want to do the BBQ thing.
Layer the pesto sauce onto a piece of Naan.
Put your vegetable toppings into a small bowl and massage them with a little olive oil. The oil coating will help the veggies soften nicely while baking.
Spread the vegetable toppings onto your Naan. Toss some of the fresh herb on top.
Bake flatbread in the oven on a baking sheet, pizza stone or toss on the grill for 6-8 minutes depending on how crunchy you want your crust. Broil the top of your flatbread for 90 seconds just for a nice little top browning.
Here is my recipe for creamy pesto sauce.
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup walnuts or macademia nuts
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients together and blend until you have a nice creamy pesto sauce.
You can add some shaved parmesan or manchego to your pesto sauce but it really does not need cheese so you can keep the flatbread vegan.
These cookie bites are one of my favorite snacks because they are easy to make and are loaded with plant-based protein. In fact, there is about 43g of protein in this whole recipe. Besides protein, the hemp seeds add a punch of Omega 3 and 6. These power cookie bites are great for post workout snacking.
Ingredients (makes about 2 dozen 1″ balls):
1-1/4 cup organic dry oats
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup of organic nut butter (use your favorite: peanut, almond, walnut, cashew)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp hemp seed
5 tbsp organic honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients together. Chill the mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes. Take the bowl out of the fridge and create 1″ balls.
Store the balls in an airtight container until all the balls have been eaten.
An easy staple, everyday type meal packed with protein and fiber especially on the days when you don’t feel like cooking much is organic maple black beans with brown Jasmine rice. We have some ying/yang action going on here.
This dish is easy to make and you can add extras on top like roasted squash, green beans, chard, or collard greens. You name it! I added chopped yellow tomato with avocado and some pea shoots with red chili flakes for some heat baby!
Here’s how I usually cook my black beans.
Start with a 15oz can of organic black beans.
In a small pot on medium heat, heat one tbsp of olive oil and sauté two chopped cloves of garlic with a 1/4 chopped small onion until they are soft.
Throw in the black beans and a little salt to taste.
Add in 1 tbsp organic maple syrup to add a hint of sweet to the beans and cook everything together for about two minutes. To add some smoky flavor, add a few shakes of paprika.
Here’s how I usually cook my rice, or sometimes I’ll get pre-cooked rice at the Whole Foods hot food bar.
When I make my rice, I add in a little quinoa to add some fun texture and more protein. I like Jasmine brown rice more than regular short grain brown rice because Jasmine is a longer grain and it’s texture is less chewy than it’s shorter grain cousin.
Besides black beans, you can make this dish using pinto beans, adzuki beans, black eyed peas, or any one of your favorite legumes.