Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Revising recipes for healthier options.

In my quest to eat less meat in any given week, I've been spending my time wallowing over all my old, go-to  recipes hoping I can revise them without losing the flavor and texture of the original meat-loving counterpart.

Lately, my favorite cooking method is braising. I absolutely love the idea of slowly cooking things in liquid like stocks, cooking wines and well-seasoned water. The outcome makes any home cook feel like a rock star.

Braising mushrooms, onion and garlic in red wine.
One dish I particularly enjoy is Baked Ziti. My original version starts with searing a nice, Angus beef with oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a hot dutch oven. Next, I open a nice, dry red wine - take a huge gulp from it - and proceed to pour it over the beef until completely covered; I bring it to a boil before covering it and cooking on medium. I leave it this way for 2-3 hours until the beef is as tender as can be. This is incredibly flavorful beef, but I thought I could revise the recipe for not only a more heart-healthier version but an Eco-friendly one as well.

The Baked Ziti before it hits the oven.
It's no secret that mushrooms provide a similar texture as beef when cooking vegetarian meals so I opted to replace the beef with miniature portobello and crimini mushrooms. I sliced them up and sauteed them with garlic before adding the red wine. Once cooked down - 2 hours minimum, I added one onion, sliced; a large can of unsalted whole, peeled tomatoes I pureed in the food processor and cooked another 45 minutes. While the mushroom sauce continues to cook, I boiled my water for the whole wheat penne pasta and cooked until al la dente or firm - but not too soft. I combined the pasta and braised mushrooms and sprinkled the top with mozzarella and a sharp white cheddar and baked at 350 for 25 minutes.

The outcome was as delicious as its meatier version and a full-prove method of taste and flavor is if I can convert my husband to a meatless dish and he was sold on this new Baked Ziti recipe!

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