When school started this year, I decided to try my hand at menu planning. It felt important for me to keep cooking and baking on the priority list, and planning ahead was the only way to make that happen with my schedule. On October 1st, I sat down with my all of my cookbooks and my online foodie to-do list and put together 10 meals that I wanted to make throughout the month.
10 meals might not seem like a lot for a whole month, but when I get busy, I shut down and revert to my old take-out habits, so I needed to set a do-able pace. Each weekend, we picked 2-3 meals from the list to make that week and took care of all the grocery shopping at once. The planning was a success, and I'm excited to do it again in November.
The first main course I picked was Orecchiette (my favorite pasta shape!) with Peppers and Sausage from Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast. We had some Quorn (a soy-free vegetarian meat substitute made from mushroom protein) crumbles in the freezer, so I tried them out in this dish. I'm pretty new to vegetarian meat substitutes, but I enjoyed this. It had no flavor (could be a pro or a con, depending on your tastes), so I added my favorite condiment, garlic salt, liberally to the finished product, which balanced the dish out well. I'll try this next time with chicken sausage for a bit more flavor.
p.s. Please give a warm welcome to my brand new Recipe Index! You can find a permanent link to its home over there ------> on the right sidebar, and it will be continually updated as I publish new recipes. Feedback on how to make it more user-friendly is always welcome!
Orecchiette with Roasted Peppers and Vegetarian Crumbles
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast
2 medium red bell peppers, four flat sides sliced off core, ribs and seeds discarded
2 medium yellow bell peppers, four flat sides sliced off core, ribs and seeds discarded
Coarse salt or garlic salt and fresh ground pepper
1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
2 tsp olive oil
12 oz. Quorn crumbles (or for the meat-eaters, 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings)
1 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more to taste
1. Heat the broiler. Place the peppers, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 4 inches from the heat until charred, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, steam 2-3 minutes. Rub off the pepper skins and discard, reserving any juices in the bowl. Thinly slice the peppers crosswise into 1/4 inch strips, return to bowl and set aside.
2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place frozen crumbles (or sausage) into pan and cook, breaking up large pieces with a spoon, until heated through (or sausage is browned), 7-10 minutes. Add the roasted peppers, cook until heated through.
4. Transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl. Add pasta, butter, reserved pasta water, and parmesan. Season with salt or garlic salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine.