Creamy Macaroni Salad

adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites
While we try to vary our menu from week to week, there are, of course, a few family favourites that recur pretty frequently – lasagne, Dr. T’s very excellent pizza, and the chili posted below. These, and a few other stalwarts, show up every two or three weeks without fail.
The other regular item on the menu is the macaroni & cheese, which Colin now makes pretty much all by himself (see? Having kids can pay off!). We have this mac & cheese every week, usually with a couple of very good friends and some trashy TV. It is a good, good thing.
This past week, however, temperatures hit the mid-thirties, and coupled with our traditional high humidity, the weather just wasn’t good mac & cheese weather, no matter how amazing the mac & cheese. My very smart friend, and frequent attendee of the weekly mac & cheese night, Aurora, suggested pasta salad instead – so Colin went looking, and found this recipe in the Moosewood Low-Fat Favourites (which, incidentally, I strongly recommend. TONS of great recipes, mostly vegetarian (Moosewood has apparently decided that fish are vegetables), and reasonably easy on the diet.). We made a few modifications, and ended up with a salad that was unanimously lauded:

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Warm up with some chili

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this one yet! This chili is super-easy and has become one of our mainstays. You can serve it over rice, but I typically serve it all on its own. As with other potentially spicy dishes, I’ve become accustomed to toning this down on the stovetop and allowing people to heat it up according to personal taste with hot sauce at the table.
The bean/lentil choice often comes down to which one we happen to have in the cupboard at the time, or what the rest of the week features. One other option is to use both and eliminate the ground round – or if you’re doubling the recipe, you can use beans, and lentils, and ground round – yummy protein!
Tonight we enjoyed this with a bottle of Petalos, a nice Spanish red, but it goes well with lots of our favourites – just choose a medium-bodied red.
adapted from Rose Elliot’s Complete Vegetarian

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Vegetarian Goulash

From Carol Bowen’s The Vegetarian Cookbook
3 tbsp oil (I use a generous spray instead, and get great results)
1 onion, peeled and sliced or chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp caraway seeds
28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bouillon cube or splash of vegetable concentrate
11-oz can corn kernels
19-oz can beans – cannellini, navy beans, white kidney beans…
2 tbsp fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried)
Salt & pepper
Sour cream to serve
Saute onion, garlic and celery together for about 5 minutes, then add the paprika and caraway seeds, and fry for another minute or so. Add the tomatoes and bouillon, and a little water to make a liquidy sauce. Bring to the boil and reduce heat, half-cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the corn, beans, parsley and seasoning, and simmer for another 15 minutes.
Serve with sour cream on the side. We’ve served this alone, over rice, or over egg noodles.
We enjoyed this tonight over egg noodles (although next time we’ll do half a package, rather than the whole bag of noodles) with a bottle of Pinot noir De La Chevalière vin de pays d’Oc 2007
3 points/serving, recipe serves 4.


This is one of Dr. T’s favourites from his childhood, and now one of the many flat round things he counts in his culinary repertoire. We had these tonight with a very nice Grand Caumont, which is not the shiraz that might really pop with this kind of dish, but is one of our ‘drink with anything’ standbys.

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Vegetable Pot Pie

It’s been a snowy couple of days, and while my outdoor adventures have been completely voluntary, Dr. T’s have been work-imposed. I figured that after a long, cold bus ride home, a little comfort food would hit the spot: enter the scrumptious Homespun Pot Pie from Moosewood New Classics. I have played with the original measurements, because the recipe claims to serve 6 but the original measures would easily feed ten!
I served this with a new Gazette recommendation, Mencia Pittacum Bierzo 2005, which was touted as good with herb sauces. There are other wines we’ve had with the pot pie in the past, notably those that go well with mushrooms.
The Mencia was a good choice, but quite intense – which, when you’re trying to warm up from the inside out, is probably a good thing. Underneath the intensity I tasted overripe strawberries, and Dr. T claims there was some red currant.
For those that count, this is 10 points for a generous serving, less without the topping – and you can always sub reduced fat/calorie margarine for the butter.

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Simply Supper

Tonight, the last night of the Christmas vacation, was a simple affair: bread and soup.
I am a big fan of comfort food (as I assume everyone else is, too, given the term). On a winter night, one of the most comforting suppers is a good, hearty soup with a loaf of fresh bread. In this case, I doubled Rose Elliot’s Golden Lentil Soup recipe and halved the Kitchenaid French Bread recipe*:
*if, like me, you don’t use yeast in packages, the equivalent is 4 1/2 tsp; I used 2 1/4 tsp for my halved recipe and it was just right.
We opened up a bottle of Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Shiraz with tonight’s supper. The wine is great, but since I forgot the curry in the soup, it was a little over the top for plain lentil soup. It was certainly acceptable enough to keep the bottle open – but something a little less full-bodied would probably have been just right.
Rose Elliot’s Golden Lentil Soup*

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Easiest Mac & Cheese Ever

My don’t-cook-your-noodles lasagne is a staple of our menu, and was the inspiration for this macaroni and cheese casserole. On Wednesday evenings, Dr. T goes off to play with his Scrabble club, and the boys and I grab a bowl of this casserole and watch TV – decadent, fun, relaxing – it’s a great way to deal with the middle of the week.
I make my couch potato time even nicer with a glass of Chardonnay at almost room temperature. Little Penguin does a 3-litre box, so I don’t have to open a whole bottle just for myself.
1 box whole wheat macaroni
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion, quartered
1 tbsp Dijon mustard**
2 tbsp cream cheese (low-fat OK)
1 cup buttermilk
salt & pepper
You’ll need a nice deep casserole dish with a cover. I use my black clay cooking pot (which I LOVE for this recipe, and a few others).
*Experiment! Remember the really annoying cheese guy? “You change the cheese, you change the taste”? Aim for about a cup of cheese, or if you want to, more. Use this as an opportunity to get rid of any odd bits of cheese. I’ve used blue, Brie, feta… I usually make sure that about half the cheese is old cheddar (low-fat, even) and a quarter fresh Parmesan, but that’s a reflection of my personal tastes.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. If you’re like me, remind yourself to remove/adjust oven racks to accommodate the covered casserole.
2. Put the uncooked macaroni into the casserole dish.
3. Toss the onion, tomatoes, and cheese(s) into a food processor and whirr it all up, adding the buttermilk as needed to keep things moving. Add the mustard, cream cheese, and, if using, nutmeg and/or cloves, and give it one last whirl.
4. Pour the tomato mixture into the casserole, add the salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
5. Cover and bake at 350 for one hour.
6. Remove from oven, give it a good stir, and let it sit for another 5 minutes or so – enjoy!
**My friend Iris was aghast at this ingredient, because she doesn’t like mustard. I assured her (and now you) that there’s no hint of mustard in the finished product. Somehow the Dijon brings out the cheese taste. You can also add a dash of nutmeg and/or cloves to enhance the cheesiness even more.

Vegetarian stroganof

Tonight we’re having one of our mainstays: stroganof. I remember stroganof as one of the few vaguely exotic dishes my mum used to make (sole amandine was another). My dad’s a conservative eater, so it was never easy to introduce new flavours. Stroganof, back home, is rather less appealingly called “that gray stuff.”
This version is decidedly low cuisine, not to mention ultra-quick.
1 large onion
butter/oil/spray for frying
1/2 pound mushrooms*
1/4 cup wine**
1 package soy ground round
1 cup sour cream (low fat OK)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt & pepper
1 package egg noodles (375 g broad)
*I usually just use one regular container of sliced mushrooms -fast! Otherwise, you’ll have to do your own slicing.
**the original recipe calls for white wine, but I just add a 1/4 cup from the bottle we’ll be drinking – good excuse to open the bottle early 😉
Cook the egg noodles (usually 6 minutes) while you prepare the rest.
Saute the onion for a few minutes, until it starts to soften. Add the mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the wine and let it simmer a minute, then add the ground round and mx it up. Add the nutmeg, sour cream and salt & pepper, and let it simmer another 5 minutes or so.
Noodles + sauce in bowl – tada!
We eat this with Chateau du Grand Caumont, a nice French Corbieres.

Lasagne – Quick and Easy!

How many times have you tried to make lasagne, only to find yourself cursing over wet noodles that just won’t cooperate?
It turns out that the secret to easy lasagne is – don’t cook the noodles. I learned this from New Moosewood Classics, which has an awesome recipe for Greek lasagne. If your tomato sauce is liquid enough, the noodles will cook while the assembled lasagne is baking. I’ve tried this countless times now, and assembly is a snap, and the results are yummy every time.
And just to clarify, I am not talking about so-called “express” lasagne noodles. I’m talking about real, honest-to-goodness noodles.
The following recipe is very traditional – I use Yves Veggie ground round instead of meat for my tomato sauce; you can presumably use anything that approximates the taste and texture of ground beef. The delight of this recipe for me is that it is not only really easy, but also very adaptable – use your imagination, ingredients-wise. Like pizza, lasagne can be an excellent way to use those leftover veggies.

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