Tasty Italian options for vegetarians (sans pasta)

Quickest Tomato and Basil Pesto Sauce
Ingredients:
1 Jar of your favorite jarred tomato sauce (2 if serving more than 4 people)
1 jar of your favorite pesto sauce


Bring tomato sauce to a simmer in a medium pot. When heated through, remove from burner and stir in pesto. Easy and Delicious tomato & basil pesto sauce!


Homemade Gnocchi

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Ingredients:
1 pound russet/baking potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Pierce the potato all over with a fork. Microwave the potato about 6 minutes per side until softened. Let cool. Cut the potato in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; discard the skin. Mash the potato well and add only 3 tablespoons of the egg. Add flour and knead just until blended. This is the fun part, if you have kids, ask them to help:


Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each into a 1/2-inch-diameter long, thin line (about 20 inches long) on a cutting board. Add a dusting of flour if the dough sticks. Cut the line into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough over the prongs of a fork to form grooves each piece.


From this point, you can freeze the gnocchi for later use. (Put on a baking sheet in an even layer and allow to freeze until solid. Then transfer to a large Ziploc bag. When you are ready to cook, continue to instructions below.)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt and cook gnocchi in batches (of about 10) until they rise to the surface, about 1 minute. Continue cooking about 3 minutes longer. Serve with melted butter & parmesan or tomato & basil pesto sauce! Serves 4.



Stuffed Portobellos

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Ingredients:
4 large portobello mushroom caps
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (or the anchovy-free brand)
2 tablespoons grill seasoning (steak flavor)
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
6-8 large basil leaves, chopped
½ cup Italian style breadcrumbs


Pre-heat oven to 425°. Remove the black gills from the underside of the mushrooms with a spoon, discard. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil, Worcestershire, & grill seasoning on both sides of each cap.
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat, & add two mushrooms at a time, cap side down. Cook 2-3 min per side, then set aside.


In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, feta, breadcrumbs, and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Heartily Fill mushroom caps with mixture and place each one on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until heated through and cheese is bubbling. Serves 4.


Eggplant Parmesan

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Ingredients:
1 large eggplant
2-3 tablespoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup tomato & basil pesto sauce
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
8 slices fresh mozzarella


Preheat oven 400°. Slice eggplant into medallions about one inch thick. Spread in one layer onto a foil-lined baking sheet and heavily sprinkle with salt on both sides. Place another baking sheet on top to weigh them down (The point here is for the salt to completely draw out all of the bitter juices from the eggplant). Let sit for 20-25 minutes. Rinse each medallion and pat dry.


Lay out three separate deep plates or bowls. In the first, put the flour. In the second, put the beaten eggs. And in the third, put the breadcrumbs. Also, preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil.


Coat each piece of eggplant first in flour, second in egg, and third in the bread crumbs. Repeat. Begin to shallow fry, about 3 pieces at a time, in the hot oil until golden brown on both sides (about 2 min per side). When finished with each batch, put eggplant on a paper-towel lined plate until completed with the remaining slices.


When ready, put all of the pieces onto a foil-lined baking sheet and top each with 1 tablespoon tomato & basil pesto sauce, 1 tablespoon Parmesan, and 1 slice of mozzarella. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serves 4.

If you’re a vegetarian, I’m sure you know all too well the nights when you go out to a restaurant, and ask the waiter what he can recommend. I can’t tell you how tired I am of hearing, “Well, we can make you pasta primavera or mashed potatoes.”

And then there’s difficulty of figuring out what to make for dinner on your busy weeknights, especially if there are non-vegetarians in the house. You might end up making a casserole or a roasted veggie for yourself, but the consensus prefers to have some sort of meat included. There’s no reason why you can’t have a delicious vegetarian dinner, while pleasing everyone in the house.

Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, but are just trying to eat a bit better or lose a little weight, try these Italian, vegetarian recipes on for size:

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