Recipes: Plant Based “Make It Italian” Dinner

I have a weakness for zee noodle.  Aaaaah, noodles…
*snapping out of it*

So, when I crave those calorie-deficient, no good, white, processed, crappy noodles, the lean-mean-green zucchini comes to my rescue.  And when I want handfuls of melty mozzarella cheese on top, I grab the nutritional yeast (which, let’s be honest, has a TERRIBLE name, but does season things wonderfully.)  How ’bout we call them Celestial Sprinkly Seasonings?  Or Mouth-watering Macho Sprinkles.  MMS.

Too much…?

Anywho, here’s an easy dish and two -yes, TWO- recipes to keep up your sleeve for fabulous, nutrient-dense dining.

160601 Family edits 8


Homemade Marinara Sauce, Quick and Delicious

This puppy makes a double batch -meaning you will be able to use it tonight and store the excess in glass jars (unless you like having tupperware that smells like sauce forever) and use over the next week or so.

2 large cans petite diced tomatoes

1 regular sized (not the teeny tiny ones) can of tomato paste

Empty these into a blender and let ‘er rip for 10-15 seconds.  You want the chop the tomatoes up enough so they’re not too chunky, but you don’t want to pulverize them.  You are the boss of your desired consistency.

Pour into a pot and tell them you’ll be right back while you prep the other stuff.

Onion, diced.  You’re in charge of how much you put in.  Half, whole, it’s up to you.  Heat up a pan and brown the onions (no oil necessary.)  Add to the sauce when finished.  

Go ahead and get that sauce over some heat now.  I recommend a medium temp., covering with a lid, stirring occasionally.

Sugar or desired sweetener -start with 1 tablespoon for the batch, let it cook for a few minutes and add the other seasonings so they have time to get to know each other and properly create their beautiful chemistry.  Add a touch more at a time if you like it sweeter.

Season with:

Basil, Oregano, Tarragon (hm… if I had three boys in a row, those names might work,) Garlic powder or minced fresh, salt and pepper to taste.  I also like adding a few splashes of Balsamic Vinegar to add a bit of depth and pop.  Like a bit of spice?  Red Pepper Flakes are fabulous.

Feeling fancy and/or like it chunky?

Diced mushrooms, any color of bell pepper (sautéed or oven blackened,) diced black or kalamata olives, red onion, etc (er, basically anything you’d put on top of a veggie lovers pizza -that’s what the list is looking like) are great as saucy options.

160601 Family edits 9

“Make It Italian” Main Course

You’re going to select how much you want to make, I’ll give you the ingredients and guidance.

Onion -diced  Since this is part of the main dish and not the sauce, I like to leave my onions in larger chunks or slices.  Heat a non-oiled pan on med-high, pop in your onion and sauté for a minute or so.  Don’t over cook them yet -you’re about to add more to it and don’t want them nuked.

Eggplant -skinned, sliced and chopped to desired size (a bit larger than the zucchini.)  These spongy babies are like fabulous fat noodles, adding bulk without weird flavor but great nutrition.  Pop in with the onion and sauté until they just begin to get cookin’.

Zucchini -coined/sliced  I like to do 2 medium sized zucchini per adult serving since this is a main dish in my house.  Add the sliced zucchini to the onions and eggplant, sauté and stir occasionally.

Favorite fillers:

Mushrooms -slice and add to the sauté party

Red Bell Pepper slices -add towards the end so you don’t over cook these beauties

Black Olives -whole or thickly sliced

Artichoke hearts -halved or quartered, I like using the canned kind

Top It Off GREEN

When all your sauté base ingredients are pretty well ready, add handfuls of baby spinach, cover and let the heat steam them to a nice wilt.  Before they get too floppy, mixa mixa mixa with the other veggies and the spinach will finish cooking with all the heat and juices from the vegetables.

*You can season this with salt/black pepper/red pepper flakes/oregano/basil/tarragon/balsamic vinegar/etc or let your sauce do it for you.*


Pile a big plate or bowl with your vegetables, ladle as much sauce as you’d like, sprinkle with Nutritional Yeast, take a picture and send it to me. 🙂


4 thoughts on “Recipes: Plant Based “Make It Italian” Dinner

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