One Pan Tomato Mushroom Pasta Featuring Heirloom Tomatoes

 

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.

 

Organic Red Zebra Stripes Heirloom Tomatoes

 

Organic Chocolate Stripes Heirloom Tomato

 

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.




Ingredients:

  • 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.
  • Black pepper
  • 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.

 

Vegan Grilled Cheese: Havarti, Roasted Tomato, Garlic, and Basil

 

Oh yes, this sandwich dripping with cheese is vegan!

The quality of plant-based cheese has thankfully improved dramatically since the turn of the century. We are getting to the point where the difference between a plant-based cheese and a dairy made cheese are getting pretty close.

The vegan cheese featured in this sandwich is the Jalapeno Garlic Havarti Daiya Wedge. This Daiya Havarti melts pretty well. It wouldn’t fool a dairy eater, but oh, it comes in pretty close. The Jalapeno is very mild and adds more flavor than heat.

I made this grilled Havarti with roasted vine tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Other brands of plant-based cheese I would recommend trying include Field Roast Chao Creamy Original and Follow Your Heart Pepperjack or Smoked Gouda.

 

 

For the bread, I found at the market a Pumpkin Seed Sage Boulet that was vegan. Sage and seeds sounded so good to me, and the pumpkin seeds just add more protein to the sandwich.

 

 

To make the roasted tomatoes:

  • Cut the tomatoes into slices. Dice some fresh basil leaves. Chop some garlic chunks.
  • Place on a baking sheet.
  • Drizzle with some olive oil. Massage the oil into the ingredients. Add a couple pinches of sea salt.
  • Roast the tomatoes in the oven for 12 minutes at 400 degrees.




The butter I used was Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread. This flavor is my favorite of all the Earth Balance Buttery Spreads because it has a great buttery taste. Also, this spread is trans fat-free, vegan, and has no GMOs. I made toast for my folks using this spread and they didn’t know the difference.

A little secret to get the cheese to look gooey melted is to cook your grilled cheese sandwich in a pan on the stove top like you would a regular grilled cheese sandwich until the bread is a nice golden brown. Then put your sandwich on a plate and microwave it on high for like 10 seconds. If you microwave too long, the bread will start to get soggy and lose it’s crispy grilled texture.

Of course, I had to complete the sandwich experience with tomato soup. For ease, the soup is Whole Foods 365 brand organic Vegan Tomato soup in a can.

If you make this sandwich, take a photo, tag it #theflexi21 and share with the community on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram @theflexi21.

 

Serpentine Cucumbers, Heirloom Tomatoes and Dill Salad

 

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.

Boom! Done. Easy.

 

Vegan Szechuan Beef Strips With Padrons, Zephyr Zoodles And Fried Brown Jasmine Rice

 

This meal is something you can easily make for dinner because it doesn’t involve much prep. Thankfully, there are plenty of plant-based alternative meats available to choose from. My favorite Asian beef alternative is Gardein’s Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips . The texture of these beefless strips reminds me of a crispy sweet and sour pork like you get at Chinese takeout places.

I cooked the strips per the instructions and sprinkled some sesame seeds on top. The sauce Gardein uses to flavor the beefless strips is amazing! I wish they would bottle that stuff up because I would buy a whole bottle of it. It tastes like a sweet, soy stir-fry sauce.

 

 

Recently, I bought a Veggetti Spiralizer for like $10, and I’ll be honest because of this gadget I have become addicted to spiralizing vegetables, mostly zucchini. The Vegetti makes some real fun thick and thin veggie noodles.




To make the Zoodles, I used organic Zephyr squash which is one of my favorite summer squashes because of its fun yellow and green stripes.  No need to cook the zoodles because they actually taste better raw.

 

 

I love Padron peppers! Definitely try them if you haven’t. Padrons are a Spanish pepper and only about 3″ long. They have an earthy, sweet, nutty flavor and are mild 99% of the time. Occassionaly though, a couple in the bunch will be hot. It’s like playing roulette. In all the years I’ve eaten this pepper, only twice have I gotten a hot one.

If Padron peppers are not in season or available in your area, try other sweet peppers like Shishito or Jimmy Nardello.

Quickly pan sear a handful of chopped Padron peppers with olive oil, a pinch of garlic powder and pinch of sea salt.

Mix the cooked padrons in with the raw Zoodles and some chopped red onion.

The fried rice is simply pan-fried brown Jasmine rice with organic carrots, corn, edamame, and a little soy sauce for flavor.

 

Plant-based Version of Classic IKEA Cafeteria Meatballs, Gravy, and Mashed Potatoes

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.

Vegetable Balls:

I pan fry the balls in some avocado oil until they are a nice looking brown.

Asparagus:

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.

Mashed Potatoes:

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.

Gravy:

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.

Enjoy!

Protein Snack: No Bake Oatmeal Hemp Cookie Bites

 

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.

Yum!

Send this to a friend