Easy Ragu Sauce (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free)

Who doesn’t love pasta? And for me, I love it all ways but with a ragu sauce, one of my all time favorites. I remember as a teenager, baking Italian bread to go with a spaghetti supper, ripping pieces off the bread and tasting the sauce, telling myself it was to make sure it was seasoned correctly but actually just because I love the sauce more than the pasta!

If you want to make this even quicker and easier than my recipe, begin as I did but instead of adding canned tomatoes and tomato paste, mix in a large jar of ready made tomato sauce (I happen to be addicted to Rao’s Sauce for Sensitive Diets).

This recipe will serve four. In a medium, deep saucepan, heated over medium heat, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage, any type your family likes be it pork, chicken, or vegan (if using links, take the sausage out of the casing or slice after cooking)

Cook the sausage until browned (I always think of Anne Burrell when I say that – love her saying, Brown Food GOOD!). Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Add to the frying pan:

1 medium or 1/2 large onion, diced

1 sweet pepper diced, any color

1/2 cup grated carrot

6-8 ounces sliced or diced mushrooms (any type you like)

Cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add:

1 small to medium zucchini, diced

1-2 small yellow squash

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Stir the vegetables and cover the pan. I used summer squash but feel free to substitute any vegetables your family likes; I’ve even used small frozen Brussel sprouts. Cook 8-10 minutes until the squash are softened but not mushy. Add the sausage back into the pan along with:

1 32oz can tomato puree

1 16oz can small diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons Italian spices (oregano, thyme, basil)

This is where a large jar of prepared tomato sauce could be substituted (cooking time would be reduced to about 10 minutes and it would be ready to serve). Simmer for 30-45 minutes and add:

1 small can tomato paste

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Stir making sure the tomato paste is incorporated. Cook about 5 more minutes and serve with pasta.

Easy Ratatouille (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free)

I don’t generally blog recipes that don’t originally contain allergens. But I love vegetables so I thought it was time for me to share more of my basic go-to vegetable dishes like ratatouille. So delicious, one of my grandson’s favorites, and easy to put together. Like Chinese food, the hardest and most time consuming part of this dish is chopping the vegetables.

You’ll need:

1 small yellow squash

1 small zucchini squash

1 medium eggplant (I prefer to use Japanese ones because they don’t have the bitterness but pick one with a green stem and inward bottom where the blossom was; also try to pick one that’s reasonably thin and firm to the touch)

1 cup diced onion (sweet, yellow, white, red, whichever you have on hand)

1 tablespoon to minced garlic

1 16oz can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, squash and eggplant. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes turning several times. Reduce heat to low and cook another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just getting tender. Add the canned tomatoes, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes to heat, stir in the agave nectar. Serve. Serves 4-6.

Curried Vegetable Pie (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, vegan)

I LOVE curry! It’s one of my very favorite dishes so when I saw a recipe in the Trader Joe Fearless Flyer for Spicy Pumpkin Curry Pot Pie, I had to adapt it. Since I didn’t put any pumpkin in my pie, I’ve renamed the recipe to fit the actual ingredients. Since it contains beans, you could serve it as a side dish or an entree.

Like many of my recipes, this one can be adapted to suit your family’s tastes. For example, I used butternut squash but any winter squash, including pumpkin, could be substituted. Also, I love white kidney beans so I used those but feel free to substitute another bean, such as garbanzo; instead of parsnips, you could use carrots, and instead of the chopped dates, feel free to use dried cranberries, raisins, currents, etc. Whatever your choices, remember that curry loves sweet foods!

You’ll need for the vegetables:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion (I used sweet onions)

2 medium parsnips, cut into medium sized pieces

1 cup butternut squash, cut into medium sized pieces

1 bunch rainbow chard cut into shreds (feel free to use any chard or kale)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

16 oz can of beans, drained

1/3 cup chopped dates (or other dried fruit)

For the sauce, you’ll need:

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup gluten free flour mix

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon curry paste (depending on your taste)

And for the pie, you’ll need:

1 9″ pie gluten-free pie crust (I use Wholly Gluten Free even though it has a small amount of sugar in it but feel free to use whatever pie crust your family likes, just remember, don’t put a cold pie crust on top of hot mixture or hot mixture into a cold uncooked pie crust) (or see my recipe for gluten-free pie crust)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, add the 3 tablespoons of oil, heat then saute the onion and parsnips (or carrots) for about 5 minutes. Add the squash, cover and cook another 5 minutes. Add the chard, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook for about 5 more minutes or until vegetables are softened but still hold together. Remove from heat.

To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in the bottom of a saucepan and add the curry powder (remember not to burn the curry, just toast it so have your heat on medium). Add the flour and whisk in; it should absorb all the oil. Let simmer on low for several minutes to cook the flour. Add the non-dairy milk (any milk except soy which will not thicken); coconut milk would be wonderful if you can eat coconut. Whisk constantly until thickened; if too thick (should be the consistency of watery mash potatoes), add a little more milk. Once completed, pour over the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Grease a 9″ round casserole dish and then add the vegetable mixture.

If you are using a frozen pie crust, prebake per directions. Many frozen crusts will not come out of the pan until pre-baked (like the Wholly Gluten Free crust I use). That works well since then we’re putting a hot crust on hot mixture. Once pre-baked, flip it on top of the vegetable mixture. Bake in the oven until crust is done and mixture is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

HINT: If you’d like to add some crunch to this dish, add some seeds, I used pumpkin.

Maple Glazed Roasted Squash with Kale (dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan)

This reminds me of my mother’s baked acorn squash where she’d half them, remove the seeds, fill the cavity with butter and brown sugar and then bake them.  So buttery and delicious.  This is a fairly easy recipe once the squash are sliced.  Some grocery stores will now do this for you so ask (they can probably slice them more evenly than I did mine!).  Feel free to use one large or a variety of smaller ones depending on your taste.  In my case, as in the three squash mash from an earlier blog, I used my favorites – butternut, buttercup and acorn.  The sweetness of the maple sugar only adds to the velvety sweetness of the squash with a note of maple thrown in.  So simple and so good.  Be sure to reduce the heat half way through the cooking process to keep the maple glaze from burning.  Serves 6 depending on how much squash is used.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a steamer pan add:

  • 1-2 bunches kale, cleaned with larger stems removed

Steam until softened, 5-12 minutes depending on how much kale you have in the steamer.

Half the squash and remove the seeds from:

  • 1 small acorn
  • 1 small butternut
  • 1 small buttercup

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.  Slice the squash into equal slices.  Arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Be sure that end pieces with mostly skin are skin side down.  Mix together in a small bowl:

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used only 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a 1/8 teaspoon pepper)

Pour the glaze mixture evenly over the squash.  Flip over the squash so that the end pieces with mostly skin are skin side up.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip so that pieces with flesh on both sides are now turned over.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until squash is soft, approximately 15-20 more minutes.  If you have thicker pieces that need more cooking, remove the cooked pieces and add the kale in the places where there’s no squash (I moved all the thicker squash slices to the edges and put the kale in the middle of the baking sheet).  If all the squash is removed, simply add  the kale to the baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Arrange the kale on a serving dish with the squash slices on top.  

Butternut and Chard Tart (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, vegan)

I enjoy savory pies just as much as sweet ones.  I wasn’t a believer in mixing squashes and cheese until I tried this tart.  So yummy and such a great side dish for Thanksgiving.  Feel free to substitute pumpkin or sweet potato, maybe even a different squash like acorn or hubbard.  Serves 6-8.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  You’ll need for the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 cup pepitas, toasted and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste (1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water

Since this is a gluten-free crust, the oil and water may change depending on the flour blend you use.  Mix the above with a food processor or a fork until crumbly.  Spread in a 9″ pie plate, pressing on sides and bottom.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  When cut this crust will act more like a graham cracker crust than a regular pie crust.

For the filling, you’ll need:

  • 3 cups diced squash
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 diced shallots
  • 2 medium diced garlic cloves (or one large)
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped pepitas
  • 4-5 cups of sliced rainbow chard
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (1 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses could substitute for both the vinegar and agave nectar)
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey would work)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon of each)
  • 4 slices of non-dairy provolone or other creamy cheese
  • 1/3 cup aquafaba combined with 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch (if you can use eggs, you can substitute 2 large eggs here)

Roast the squash for approximately 1/2 hour until tender, turning once so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom.  Meanwhile in a large skillet combine the olive oil, diced shallots and garlic and saute for about a minute until tender.  Add chard, vinegar, agave, and seasonings, combine and cook for another 3-5 minutes until chard is tender (I cooked mine a little longer because I like the stems along with the leaves and it takes a little longer for them to get tender).  Add the pepitas, cheese and aquafaba (or eggs slightly beaten if you can use them).  Stir in the squash and pour into the pie shell.  Add another 4 slices of non-dairy cheese on top and bake for another 20-25 minutes until filling is set (the aquafaba may still be a little runny when you take it out of the oven but will set as it sits).  Serve warm.

Three Squash Mash (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, sugar-free, vegan)

My father loved winter squash — any variety, he raised them all and loved to eat all of them.  His least favorite was the most common, the butternut.  It was too wet for his taste so when we cooked one, we had to mix it with other winter squash to dry it out.  He always doused it with a good amount of gravy, so it had to be dry to begin with so the gravy would sink in (he also liked his potatoes very dry for the same reason).  There’s a wide variety of winter squash to choose from — blue hubbard, acorn, butternut, buttercup, kabocha, carnival, dumpling, delicata, etc — I used an acorn, buttercup, and delicata in my mash but you can use any combination you want.  I also use the very smallest I can find since, unless my older brother shows up, I have to eat it all by myself since my son and husband don’t like it.

Wash 3 winter squash and then stab them with a sharp knife to pierce the squash into the center so that the steam can escape while you cook them.  Put them in a baking dish with about 1 inch of water and put the dish into a 400 degree oven until the squash are soft. In my case, it took around an hour.  Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes (unless you like burned fingers) before you clean them.

Using some paper towels to collect the seeds and strings from the center and a bowl to collect the meat, cut each squash in half and scoop out the seeds and strings onto the paper towels.  Once you have them basically out (its okay if a few strings get into the mash), scoop the meat of the squash into a bowl large enough to hold the meat from all 3 squash.  Repeat for each squash.

Once you have the meat separated, mix in:

  • 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup avocado oil, or if you can use it, vegan margarine; the amount you’ll use depends on how much squash you have in your bowl (for my 3 very small squash, I used 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon to  1/4 cup agave, maple syrup, or honey (optional) — I actually think winter squash is sweet enough without adding any sweetener, especially if you use a delicata, carnival or dumpling in your mix

Stir briskly with a large spoon (or if you have a lot, use a hand mixer on a low setting) until the squash types and additions are well mixed.  If your squash is now too cool to serve, put the squash into a greased baking dish and return to oven to heat up, roughly 15-20 minutes if your oven is already hot.

Spoodles (sweet potato noodles) with vegetables (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, vegan)

Here’s another recipe to help us use up all those fresh vegetables we have during these summer months.  And again, its one you can adapt to your vegetable overload.  The only thing you may want to get from the store are the spoodles or coodles (carrot noodles). Either work great in this recipe.  I like it plain but you could easily add a curry sauce or if you can use soy, a hoisin-based sauce.  Makes 4 serving.

Dice:

  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, medium sized
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup pea pods or 1 cup green peas, or 1 cup green beans

Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet and when the oil is hot, add the diced vegetables.  If you are planning to add a sauce, use less oil.  Saute over medium heat until onion is translucent.  Add the pea pods, peas or green beans and 1 pound of spoodles or coodles.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, about 15 minutes for sweet potato and 20 minutes for carrot noodles.

Simple curry-sauce:

In a small sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil then add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of curry, depending on your taste and cook for approximately 30 seconds until you can smell the curry.  Add 2 tablespoons of all purpose gluten-free flour.  Whisk and cook for several minutes.  Whisk in 1/2 to 1 cup (the amount of milk depends on how thick you want your sauce) of your favorite milk (coconut milk works great here but rice, hemp, almond also work fine).

Tomato Vegetable “Stoup” (vegan, dairy- free, gluten-free)

This time of year with all the fresh vegetables, this is one of my go to dishes.  My husband and I love this soup/stew.  Its one that is easy to customize to your taste since its basically whatever vegetables you have on hand.  Instead of using canned diced tomatoes, I peeled and chopped some of my husband’s fresh off-the-vine tomatoes sitting on my counter top.  Best of all, its delicious whether you serve it hot or cold.  Add some croutons for crunch (made with gluten-free bread of course!).  In the winter, this soup is a great vehicle for cooked chicken. Feel free to play with it and make it your own by adding the vegetables your family likes the best.  But keep the carrots since they add that sweetness that takes care of the acidity in the tomatoes (the parsnips help with that as well).  Makes 8-12 servings.

Peel as needed and dice into like size pieces:

  • 1 medium onion (I used a red onion)
  • 6-8 stocks of celery
  • 1 medium purple top turnip (or a regular one if you like them but the purple top have a milder flavor)
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium zucchini squash
  • 2 small parsnips
  • 2 baby bok choy (you could use regular chopped cabbage instead of the bok choy and then add some kale or spinach for the greens of the bok choy)
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms (I like to mix them up so I used half baby bella and half porcini)
  • 1 cup chopped or grated carrots
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 cup green beans

Add 4 cups (1 quart) of vegetable stock to a large stock pot (if you want, you could add 4 cups of chicken stock).  Be sure to use stock and not broth for that “cooked all day” flavor.  Add the onion, celery, turnip, squashes, bok choy and mushrooms and cook covered over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add:

  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I find the Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes taste less metallic than regular canned tomatoes)
  • 1 12 ounce can of your favorite beans (I love the cannellini beans or great northern)

Cook over low heat for another 10-15 minutes until tomatoes and beans are heated through.