Rigatoni with Vegan Sausage, White Beans, and Swiss Chard

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Today was our first cold day in Chicago. The temperature were in the 40’s Fahrenheit and the first thing I did this morning was grab my robe and fuzzy slippers. This weather makes me want to hibernate! Of course, that’s not possible but a cozy pasta dish will have to do. I do a lot of cardio work outs so a reasonable amount of carbs are an important part of my diet. A hearty, nutrient dense meal is a great way to satisfy your hunger for a long time. I really crave comfort food in cold weather. I find it impossible to eat low calorie food for every meal because I end up wanting to eat larger portions and feel hungry all the time. This dish is balanced and has a LOT of protein – 33 grams per serving. I used Tofurkey brand Italian sausage which has 30 grams of protein per serving. I am not a fan of eating processed food for every meal but the sausage flavor goes really well with the beans and pasta in this recipe. This is a dish from the Tuscan region of Italy. I remember eating a similar dish when I visited Tuscany many years ago (before I was vegan). I’ve seen many different versions of it since – none of which are vegan. Some recipes add butter at the end, whereas others add tomatoes and basil. I wanted to vegan-ize the recipe but also keep it simple. This is an easy weeknight dish that will keep you from snacking and give you lots of energy for your next workout. The protein in the beans and vegan sausage goes a long way. Nutritional yeast is my favorite vegan substitute for parmesan cheese and adds B vitamins that are not available in other plant based foods. The lemon adds freshness and bright acidity. This is an easy and painless way to get your serving of green leafy vegetables in. If you are gluten free, you can use gluten free pasta such as quinoa pasta. If you’re not a fan of vegan sausage then I recommend leaving it out altogether and adding extra beans. Kale or spinach would also work really well instead of Swiss chard. You could use chickpeas as a substitute for Cannellini beans. I hope this hearty Tuscan pasta dish will keep you warm and energized this fall! Make sure you post a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram or Facebook or Pin this recipe on Pinterest if you make it!



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An easy and balanced weeknight meal!

Rigatoni with Vegan Sausage, White Beans, and Swiss Chard

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups uncooked rigatoni
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 2.5 cups Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2,  15oz cans)
  • 2 Italian flavored Tofurkey sausages, crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Directions

Heat a large pot of salted water until boiling. Add rigatoni and cook for about 7 minutes or until al dente. Save 1 cup of pasta water in a small bowl. Drain pasta and set aside. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add Tofurkey sausages and cook for about 4 minutes. Next, add white beans and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 cup pasta water and Swiss chard. Cook until Swiss chard is wilted and most of the water is absorbed. Add cooked rigatoni, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. Stir until combined and pasta is warm throughout. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately. May store in the fridge for up to 5 to 7 days.

Nutrition information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/4 of recipe:  556 cal
  • Approximate protein per 1/4 recipe: 33g

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

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There’s just something about this meal that is so warming and comforting. Acorn squash is my favorite type of squash and I’m always excited to see it at the grocery store. It has a beautiful color and a delightful shape. It tastes slightly sweet and starchy and just melts in your mouth. It’s super easy to roast and goes with almost everything. I paired it with the bright flavors of fresh thyme, lemon, and coriander. These flavors combined with mushrooms and hearty seitan make this dish really memorable. It’s filling and nutrient dense and makes a wholesome main course. You can cut the squash in half either lengthwise or horizontally. In order to have it lay flat and not roll around, I recommend making a thin cut to the bottom of the squash. Be careful not to cut too much off the bottom or you will have a hole at the bottom of your squash! The squash will come out tender all the way through when cooked properly. It’s also piping hot so handle it carefully with an oven mitt. You can rewarm the squash once it’s assembled by placing it in the oven at 400F for about 10 minutes. Stuffed squash is a great vegan main course for a holiday dinner or dinner party. The seitan adds a ton of plant based protein and the nutritional yeast is a great source of B vitamins not found in other plant based foods. If you are gluten free you can substitute with a gluten free, soy based beef crumble and quinoa or brown rice. The stuffing is very versatile and is great in stuffed bell peppers as well. You may have leftover stuffing which is great alone or in a lettuce wrap or soft taco. Make sure you tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook and Pin this recipe on Pinterest if you make it!

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Acorn squash has a beautiful orange and green color to it.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 large acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, diced
  • 1 (8oz) package of chorizo seitan (such as Upton’s brand)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • olive oil spray
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 3 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F. Cut each squash in half, remove seeds, and spray with olive oil. Place face down on a baking sheet and bake for 37 to 40 minutes. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool. Squash should be soft all the way through. Next, heat bulgur and broth in a medium sized saucepan on medium heat until boiling. Lower heat and simmer until water is absorbed – about 10 minutes. In a medium sized sauté pan, sauté onion in olive oil until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and coriander and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for about 6-7 minutes or until moisture from mushrooms is absorbed. Add seitan chorizo and cook for another 2-3 minutes until seitan is heated through. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and nutritional yeast. Add mushroom mixture to cooked bulgur and stir well to combine. Season with salt to taste. Next, assemble the squash. Partially scoop out cooled squash with a spoon, leaving about 1/2 inch of squash intact to hold shape. Mix removed squash with bulgur mixture. Top each squash half with bulgur mixture. Place stuffed squash halves back onto baking sheet and bake at 400F for about 10 minutes to warm, if needed. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately. May store in the fridge for up to one day.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/4 bulgur mixture plus 1/2 squash: 381 cal

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Chana Masala with Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

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It’s the end of summer… September is one of my favorite months. I start to lay off on the grilling and switch to roasting instead. I also start to crave things like curry and soup this time of year. Chickpeas are a staple in my house. I usually use organic canned chickpeas to save on time. They’re so versatile and can be used to make so many delicious things. They’re also high in protein and fiber. Chana masala at Indian restaurants is always so good. That may be because they use a lot of oil and also serve it with a deep fried Indian bread known as Bhatura. At home, I prefer the low fat, healthier version with low carb cauliflower rice. I am pretty much obsessed with vegetable substitutes for pasta a rice these days. I love cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles and make them almost every day. Cauliflower rice does take some extra time but once you make it, it lasts for days in the fridge. It can be flavored anyway you like and it really does keep you full. You could also serve Chana with quinoa or brown rice as healthy alternatives to traditional white rice. The leftovers from this meal make an excellent desk lunch the next day! I always say that Chana is better the next day. It’s really hard to mess up Chana masala. It’s so quick and easy to make. Feel free to substitute fresh grated ginger instead of powdered if you have it. You can also kick up the spice level by adding 2-3 more chili peppers. The squeeze of lemon at the end adds a much needed bit of tartness. In Indian cooking, cilantro is often used as a garnish in lieu of parsley. After all, it is from the same plant that produces coriander seeds. The cumin and coriander are what make the “masala”. They pair together beautifully and give this classic dish it’s depth. They are essential in Indian cuisine and give off a signature aroma. The turmeric adds beautiful color and has anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re trying to save on groceries, canned tomatoes and cayenne pepper (instead of chili peppers) will work just as well. This dish is great for everyday because it’s relatively inexpensive to make. Make sure you take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram or Facebook if you make it or Pin this recipe!

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Chana Masala with Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

    For the Chana Masala:
  • 2 (15oz) cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green chili pepper, seeds removed and minced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • For the cauliflower rice:
  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 cups of cauliflower florets)
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent/golden brown – about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Next, reduce heat and add chili pepper, ginger, coriander, cumin, and turmeric and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer on low heat until tomatoes have released their juices and thickened – about 8-10 minutes. Add chickpeas, garam masala, lemon juice, and salt and stir well. Simmer on low heat for another 6-7 minutes. Top with fresh cilantro just before serving. Next, make the cauliflower rice. Cut cauliflower into florets and towel off any excess water. Place 1/2 of the florets in a high powered blender or food processor. Pulse until cauliflower is rice sized. Remove from food processor and place in a large mixing bowl. Pulse second half of cauliflower florets until rice sized then empty into mixing bowl. Toss with salt and chopped cilantro. Serve chana masala over raw cauliflower rice. May store both in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/6 chana masala + 1/4 cauliflower rice: 243 cal

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