Vegetarian Tortilla Bake

Savoury, vegetarian, packed with filling protein: this Italian-inspired single-serving casserole covers all the bases of a balanced meal and leaves you feeling satisfied.

Tortilla casserole_parsley

Do you ever create recipes that you feel everybody should try right this very second? No intro needed and never-mind-how-unspectacular-this-looks? Yes? Well, this is one of them for me. So go and make this right this very second. Okay, okay, I get it. You’re playing hard to convince today and want me to sing the praises of the dish before you even ave a glance at the actual recipe. I get it.  Luckily, offering just that for this casserole isn’t hard. Because – remember – it’s amazing.

Tortilla casserole_2

  • Easy to prepare.
  • Vegetarian.
  • Filling.
  • Packed with  protein.

If you’ve been around for a while already you might remember my excitement when I finally found tortillas without any sketchy ingredients last year. It’s funny how that’s been almost exactly a year ago to the day and I’m just now back on the tortilla kick. Which reminds me I should remake that vegan enchilada bake before I run out of tortillas again ..

Moving onto today’s dish, though. For one, this isn’t your average tortilla bake because it is not Mexican [not like any of my recipes were completely authentical but you know that]. Rather, I went the Italian route – or at least I deem any thing spiced this way Italian. Parts of this recipe were inspired by a recipe for a pasta bake I saw on another blog [but what I turned it into is completely different so I’m not making sense here …] and what my mum calls her ‘vegetable bolognese’. That is in fact nothing like meat bolognese at all but delicious in its own right so I won’t lecture her about that one.

Tortilla casserole_1.

The deliciously doughy tortilla, the creamy filling and plenty of full-bodied vegetable ragout-like sauce make this one satisfying dish. If I haven’t convinced you yet … well, you’re missing out.

Vegetarian Tortilla Bake

  • 1 flour tortilla [may use a gluten-free one]

Vegetable sauce:

  • 3/4 cup passata/tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small carrot, diced finely
  • 1/2 medium zucchini [~ 100 g], diced finely
  • 1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs**

coconut oil for frying and greasing the pan

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • optional: a handful of chopped broccoli [I’ve made this without but the time I took pictures had a package of frozen florets leftover so I added some thawed and chopped ones to the filling]

 

  1. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add about 2/3 of the chopped vegetables. Stir, cover and let cook for around five minutes or until vegetables are at your preferred level of tenderness. I like mine to still have some bite to them but it’s up to you.
  3. Pour in the tomato sauce. Season with pepper and herbs. Cover the pot again and let simmer while you prepare the filling. If the sauce looks too thick, add about a 1/4 cup of water.*
  4. For the filling mash the chickpeas with a few tablespoons of water. I chose to leave some whole chickpeas in there but you could also blend all of them for a hummus-like puree. Stir in cottage cheese, cumin and nutrional yeast. Add pepper to taste.
  5. Add a few spoonfuls of sauce to your prepared casserole dish. Cover with half of the tortilla. Spread with half of the filling and the reserved chopped vegetables. Cover with the remaining tortilla and pour the vegetable sauce on top.
  6. Drop dollops of remaining cottage cheese filling.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  8. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Notes:

* You want the sauce to be on the thinner side but not soupy as the tortilla soaks up a lot of liquid while baking.

** The blend I used consists of oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme so these could be substituted.

Tortilla casserole_inside_4

… and fresh herbs straight from the garden for decorative purposes make everything better.

In hopes of spreading the tortilla trend I’m sharing this for Recipe of the weekTasty Tuesdays, Real Food Recipes, Strange but good and Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

 

Happiness-inducing today:  Visiting a theatre play spontaneously. I enjoy going but with lack of options around it still doesn’t happen regularly.
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Where do you get the inspiration for your cooking?

Have you ever used tortillas in a non-Mexican dish?

Pump[kin] up my lunches and cookies

Oh hey, a second What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday in a row!

Not making any promises of posting weekly meals again but I do plan on joining WIAW more regularly again. I’ve fallen into a rut, no, groove [stealing this from Amanda] and I need crave change. WIAW has proven to be a helpful tool of inspiration and positive pressure here before so fingers crossed I’ll be able to shake it off up again. Onto my recent still-in-the-groove meals, though.

WIAW_new2015

 

Let’s face it: office lunches are not glamorous. Unless you a) live in an awesome city with intriguing options [Whole Foods, Panera, Chipotle – none of which exist in Germany and certainly not where I live]. What’s a girl to do? Meal prep, right. I’ve actually gotten rather good at breaking this up over the course of the weekend in batch-cooking a different grain every week plus two stew-like dishes to go along with it. That would be casserole-y-fying for you. And yes, we’ll pretend that’s a word. Thanks.

Pumpkin cheese sauce

That above is the key to one of my favourite go-to dishes: a super simple – does anybody use the abbreviation KISS anymore??? If so: that’s the name of the game. – vegan pumpkin cheese sauce. I’ve had neither Velveeta nor Kraft mac and cheese before but rumor has it they tag along that ‘neon cheese sauce’ image so maybe I can compete here? Only this sauce contains a fraction of the ingredients of boxed kinds and healthy ones at that. It’s in fact not the first time this sauce is making an appearance on here but I somehow never shared the original recipe I used it in.  Given it’s a keeper I might just have to …

Office lunch_casserole_vegan pumpkin cheese sauce

This particular dish was a mix of sautéed carrots, cauliflower, red onions and kale with – what’s new? – chickpeas. All served up with short-grain brown rice I cooked separately and sprinkled with a generous amount of nutritional yeast. The non-glamorous way it looked after lugging it along to the office and reheating it …

20150211_office lunch

… and all non-tuppered packed up. I’m not a member of the Tupper club anymore – or at least not at the office. Granted, tuppered up has a nicer ring to it but I’m really fond of my new dishes.  They’re not actually new – but you’d have a very good memory if you remembered where they hail from – but I’ve been using them more than ever before these past months. A dish you can [but I didn’t this time] bake and store a dish in afterwards?! Plus, the vacuum is pretty amazing – that little ‘zipper’ you see peeking out at the left side top of the dish. No  accidentially lifting the dish up and spilling its contents because the lid wasn’t closed well enough …

casserole_dish

And because I like my sweet endings I’ll overlook the fact I did not like the picture and show you my latest tried-and-tested blogger recipe. Amanda’s vegan Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Cookies. I will admit I didn’t care so much for the actual baked cookies but a lot of dough eating quality control was necessary. In fact, I baked another batch shortly afterwards not only because one of my colleagues was really fond of them but because I was craving some dough. We can call it a win-win-situation and still consider it a selfless act on my part, agreed 😉 ?!

Amandas_banana chocolate chip cookies

And now that I’ve talked your ears off about pumpkin cheese, tupper vs. non-tupper dishes and the importance of quality control when baking I’m hungry and we can call it a day. Let’s chat about your recent meals a little below and as always: happy Wednesday!

Happiness-inducing today:  Starting the day with a new breakfast. It’s a first step to breaking the groove!

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Have you ever made a pumpkin-based cheese sauce before? Let me know of any amazing recipes worth trying.

What’s your favourite kind of cookie dough? Yes, the dough, not the baked cookie. My favourite baked cookie [shortbread-based] differs from my favourite kind of cookie dough so I dare to say others are similar.

Are you a member of the Tupper club? And can we still be friends now that I’m not fully anymore???

 

 

 

Cozy comfort food and Christmas cookies

Look who’s back with the second What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday in a row? That’s not usual for me anymore these days and I won’t make any promises of keeping up the [good] habit every week.  This time, however,  I was rolling with it for the fact I was rolling dough that turned into a share-worthy outcome on the weekend and have been eating some delicious lunches as well. Actually, we’re not just talking about the second consecutive WIAW but also the second time I tried a few new recipes from other bloggers.

wiaw fall into good habits button

 

I might like my apartment but the lighting situation is breaking my blogger heart. It’s not like I was sitting in darkness – even if the food pictures make it seem like that – but somehow there’s no space to apptly position my food -and- get a good picture. Either way, this Cauliflower Potato Kale Casserole is too good not to mention it. By now it’s pretty much unneccessary to say I tinkered the recipe to my liking.  Out went the leeks I didn’t have on hand, in went mushrooms and – surprise! – chickpeas.  I also subbed the vegan butter for coconut oil and oooh my. I never want to eat mashed potatoes without this again. Best ever vegan mash I’ve eaten so far. Try it – you can thank me later ! And we also cannot forget about the crispy fried shallots. I’m pretty sure I made some inappropriate noises while eating this.

Cauliflower Potato Kale Casserole_vegan_theveganpact

Following up one casserolw with another? Boring. How about a little guessing game? After finally ringing in the Christmas bakery fun for this season last week I went with another relaxing – yes, I find it to be oddly relaxing – little baking action this weekend. Any guess on what these delicious plump little dough balls became?? Scrolling down doesn’t count but you might want to take a look into a certain recent post

Cookie dough ball_Christmas

Participating in Elf for Health this year it was our challenge to meal prep for the week.  I’ve already been doing that to some extent since moving here but made the extra effort to try some new meals.  And cook a different grain to last me for the week. I’m pretty obsessed with it after its first appearance in my life in months so fingers crossed I’ll actually have some left later in the week. .. Wondering about that mysterious grain?  Short grain brown rice! Probably not exciting to you but it clearly was for me after it took a considerable amount of searching. Believe it or not but unlike where I lived before it’s super hard to find here. I layered it casserole-style with my rendition of Hannah’s vegan hash .

Brown rice_casserole_vegan hash

Marmorkipferl. Like every country Germany has its specific Christmas cookie classics and Vanillekipferl are high on top of that list. While my grandma and mum have been making these every year I’d never tried my hand at them before.  If you saw my recent good good links you’ll probably  [or not if you don’t speak German] remember the recipe for vegan Marmorkipferl on the list. As much as I like classics I’m a fan of new adaptions. Especially if it includes getting to eat chocolatey dough they’re looking even prettier than the original.

Kipferl_Marmorkipferl_Christmas cookies

If you haven’t been baking any cookies this season yet I highly recommend starting. Kneading the dough [it’s called baking therapy for a reason], singing along the Christmas music playing [a neccessity] and spreading the love/cookies are part of what really makes this season. What are you waiting for?!

Happiness-inducing today: Getting a compliment for my outfit at work – new boots included – and feeling good. Despite the cold. I.can’t. stand.it.

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Christmas cookies: Do you stick with the classics or look for new ideas every year?

Share the link of  your favourite seasonal cookie recipe in the comments – vegan preferred but no must!

Oh, crunchy crunchety!

Oh, hi, we haven’t talked about food in a while, no? I’m a fan of keeping things  [semi-]regular  [interpret that whichever way you want to …] so here goes another What I ate Wednesday. I can’t promise I’ll be able to keep up the weekly or even bi-weekly posts but I’ll just roll with the flow and sprinkle in some food posts every now and then. Because we all need to eat and at least sometimes I actually remember/ am not too lazy to get out my camera.

One more note on the title of this post – or two, actually: a) I like themes and the amount of crunchy, crispy food made this a[n almost] no-brainer and b) I’ve been crunched for time [what’s new?]. No matter how little in general, though, there’s always time for food. Good food. Let’s get talking!

wiaw fall into good habits button

Breakfast. .. is such a classic over here I can’t wow you anymore.  How about we skip to snacks right there? Good. The first one is proof I can’t resist new products all the way even if they bite a hole into my budget before I can get a bite of them. Pretzel Thins, friends.  How good are they??! They’ve only been making appearance on store shelves around here since earlier this year. Too bad these are so. very.  good … I don’t like macro talk but: why am I even surprised they are? They’re crispy. Carbs.  Salt. A winning combination.

November - 2nd swoosh 109

While we’re at carbs,  salt and winning combinations let’s add cheese – I know Meg agrees. Gah. So good. I could easily write a whole post on this dish.  Actually,  I  will because this recipe needs to find its way into my personal recipe book. For now I’ll leave it at saying it is another autumnal dish with an addictive crunchy cheesy potato topping.  Who said healthy food was boring?  I’m a smidgen proud to say it got my mum’s seal of approval – a rare happening – when I prepared it on Saturday.  Another bonus of her stopping by – aside from the fact itself: help in shredding potatoes. And by help I obviously mean she did the whole task.

Crispy potato topping

On the sweet side another classic made an appearance again to save me. Save me  because the current intern at our office brought in storebought cake on Friday. Am I sensing a competition for employee of the month?  Watch out, friend, I’m up for it ;). Only I couldn’t be bothered to turn on the oven so no-bake it was.  Amanda’s krispie rice cereal energie squares have yet to disappoint me.  I’ve made them more times than I can recount and don’t think I’ve used the same combination of cereal twice so far. Though the best part is obviously that non-optional chocolate drizzle …

Chocolate drizzle_cereal bars

In its whole beauty below.  Preparing it Saturday night/Sunday morning was dangerous because I had to break of those imperfect bits and bites. Pre-breakfast nibbles of cereal bars? Why not. Probably mention-worthy would be that I just try to keep up the volume of cereal when making these, sub peanut for almond butter [more budget-friendly and there are no almond butter jars that haven’t undergone double-dipping action around these parts …] and omitting the protein powder. If the cereal mixture appears too sticky I’ll add some quick-cooking oats. Et violà: cereal bar perfection.

Cereal bars_whole

 

Wouldn’t you want me to be your colleague?! I hope my colleagues will appreciate the huge lot of work that went into these 😉 . [Edited: Demolished and my boss asked what kind of cake I’d bring tomorrow. They clearly hated these treats.]

And speaking of work that’s where I’ll likely be the moment you’re reading this so:

Happy Wednesday and see you again tomorrow for some Thinking out loud!

 

 

Happiness-inducing today:

Stay in touch!

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Are ’employee of the month’ run-ups actually a thing? Enlighten me! And: Do you think I’d win 😉 ??

What are your favourite treats to bring to work?

Pretzels, pretzel things, chips: what’s your salty snack of choice?

Lucky Scatterbrain [Best of Fall Vegetable Polenta Bake]

Cheesy creamy polenta topping a mix of flavourful fall vegetables. Vegan comfort food boasting with vitamins.

Two secrets to getting out of a cooking rut: getting yourself into troubles and being scatterbrained.

Polenta casserole 3

The Farmers’ Market is a dangerous place to go for me so that’s where the trouble part comes from. Even if I meant to pick up just one ingredient with a recipe using it in mind it never happens. Never. I don’t even know why I’m still trying to fool myself into believing it. The second I set foot onto the market I’m lost. Or should I say: my salary? In my defense, walking past a dozen stalls brimming with the freshest produce, most delightfully scenting breads and local honey [ even of the very rare kind!] until you get to the one you’d originally settled on is torture.

Long story short I didn’t just finally (!!) pick up the first kale of the season – can you believe it had been unavailable since the end of January? – but also lots of other autumnal produce.

Polenta casserole

About that scatterbrained part: Do you ever swear you had an ingredient at hand not even needing to check because you definitely know it’s there? Until you actually need it. Turns out you’d better have checked earlier than Saturday night with stores closed already. And when your heart’s set on a balsamic kale and butternut squash phyllo pastry it hurts just a little to notice you’re out of balsamic vinegar.

Polenta casserole 2

But lack of ingredients has the potential to boost creativity and variety is the spice of life after all. Old but true.  In hindsight I’m -very- glad I strained from my original plan because this might just be my new favourite.  The sweeteness of the soft parsnips, slightly bitter taste of the kale covered and meaty mushrooms once more mingling in a silky sauce and topped with creamy cheesy polenta? And did I mention chickpeas? Sign me up. Okay,  I guess I need to sign myself up or better yet get cooking but I recommend you do, too, for full fall flavour enjoyment. You’re welcome.

Polenta casserole 4

Also note that this is super fast and just right for lazier days because we’re preparing the polenta in the microwave.  Yes! Trust me it’s the surefire way to perfect polenta. It also saves you another dish to clean because you can eat right from the bowl you used for the polenta. I’m not going back to stovetop corn meal any time soon.

Name-wise I was torn with this dish. It’s autumn to me but I know the majority of you are used to the term fall so that’s what I ended up choosing.

Best of Fall Vegetable Polenta Bake

  • one medium Parsnip,  cut into half moons
  • one medium red onion, sliced into rings
  • Brussels sprouts (90 g) – 1/2 cup
  • Kale (50 g cleaned) – about 1 cup
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove of garlic,  minced
  • Coconut oil for frying
  • 100 g chickpeas [1/2 cup + 1 tbsp]
  • A generous 1/4 cup passata/tomato sauce (70 g)
  • 3 tbsps soy creamer, divided
  • Salt + pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each smoked paprika and thyme
  • 1/4 cup polenta
  • 2 tbsps nutritional yeast

As involved as it might look or sound this comes together really fast.

  1. Start by sautéing the onion rings until caramelized at mediun heat. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Sprinkle in the spices.
  3. Deglaze the pot with some water and add the Parsnip.  Cover the pot and let cook for about three to four minutes or until the parsnip is tender.
  4. Add the mushrooms,  sauté until the release some water. Then stir in the kale and let it wilt.
  5. Pour in the tomato sauce and two tablespoons of soy creamer. Stir to combine.
  6. Mix in the chickpeas.
  7. Turn off the heat and transfer the vegetable mixture to a greased baking dish.
  8. Top with the polenta and bake at 300 °F for about 20 minutes or until set.

 

  1. For the polenta: Place the polenta and 3/4 cup of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt. Stir and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes.  Microwaves vary so stay close by to avoid boiling over.
    Remove, stir in the remaining tablespoon of soy creamer and pepper to taste. Microwave for another 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave,  stir in nutritional yeast, salt to taste and 1/2 tsp of coconut oil.

I’m sharing this lucky byproduct of scatterbrainedness with Laura, Kierston, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, The Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck, Tasty Tuesday and Gluten-Free Fridays.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: My main work assignment for the day. It involved visiting a daycare facility and the little ones were too adorable.

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Scatterbrain, going produce-buying crazy at the Farmers’ Market, …: What are your best ways out of food ruts?

What are your top three seasonal vegetables in autumn?

Do you prefer saying autumn or fall? I’ll admit ‘feeling fall-ish‘ has more of a ring to it but still, in my heart it’s all about autumn [and alliterations].

Fulfilling blogger duties – with food

Some coincidences make me laugh. I never eat anything merely for the blog but looking at my meals from the past days I did pretty well at fullfilling blog world [food] duties with my meals. Good to know because I wouldn’t have rejoiced about being kicked out of this circle of awesome people soon. And while we’re on the topic of blog world duties I’m not missing out on everybody’s favourite mid-week party over at Jenn’s, either. Here’s to What I ate Wednesday featuring typical blogger fare.

wiawloveyourveggiesmonthbutton2

First up let me introduce our special guest – or: get all giddy about what I found just yesterday. If anybody would understand my excitement upon spotting this little guy and his friends* at the store it’d be you – fellow bloggers and blog readers. So let’s raise our glasses to welcome kabocha back in season! Or at least over here because I know some of you lucky ones are able to find it all year round.

*and if anybody could understand me talking about vegetables like this – and yes, I know pumpkin is techincally a berry.

kabocha!

Oops, I did it again – and will over and over as long as I can find my favourite ! If you remember I confessed to my unusual breakfast of kabocha last year already. In fact,  I guess with that other habit in mind I’m probably an overall slightly unusual breakfast eater. Who’d be worried, though? All I care about is taste and satisfaction. And steamed kabocha with both hazelnut and almond butter –is my definition of satisfaction. If I ever was to write a [food] dictionary you’d find this combination right there.

kabocha_pot

The not-so-awesome part was that I only found kabocha two days before my move – which happens to be today. So no more stocking up. Crossed fingers for me surviving this nerve-wracking madness are appreciated.

Onto more good food for now. I’ve been trying new foods – or old rediscovered ones  – and quinoa of all choices made an appearance again. It must have been at least (!) a year since my last encounter. And would probably have been a lot longer because I didn’t enjoy it much before. Blogger fail?! Had it not been for everybody posting even more quinoa meals lately [or maybe that was just my subjective perception] I’m not sure I’d have picked up a bag. Okay, you won. It was good. My first try was unspectacular but then I decided to work the – for whichever reason – magical [pseudo-]grain + cheese trick. What followed was so SO good. Caprese baked Quinoa.

Quinoa caprese_II

Oh my. I’m still not sure what exactly my stomach thinks of cheese so I’m trying to be mindful of the amounts but I was tempted to add more here. Creamy, tomato-y quinoa with plenty of fresh basil, chickpeas,  tomatoes and two kinds of cheese. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar: Perfection on a plate. The recipe is simple but so good I need to add it to my personal online cookbook. Or in other words:  share with you if you prefer that version 😉 .

Quinoa caprese

Lately I’ve been finishing almost every lunch with this:

Watermelon

Not like I hadn’t eaten it pre-blogging but I honestly can’t remember buying any myself in past years. Amanda and Kat fuelled the longing with their pictures and samples at the organic grocery  had their impact, too. I’m not complaining and can now fully comprehend any mention of watermelon as cryptonite. It’s addictive. So much that actually taking a picture instead of mindlessly munching pieces once I’ve cut them up is hard. Hard enough so I didn’t have one to include in my currently post. #Bloggerfail??

Mini PB cheesecakes

Not a fail but not yet a recipe were these individual refined sugar-free peanut butter cheesecakes. I’m posting this first picture mostly to keep myself accountable or as a reminder to stick with testing. I just need to tweak them a bit more before I’m ready to share the details with you.

And to finally answer my question why so stereotypical: Because every blogger keen on quinoa, kissing kabocha, considering watermelon kryptonite or writing odes to a oatmeal/ whichever kind of nut butter/ you name it is so right.* For more typical and not-so-typical blogger fare head over to Jenn’s.

*[That does not ring true for green smoothies, though. Sorry.]

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness-inducing today: A chat about animal-shaped clouds, childhood and flying with three older ladies on a train – another wonderful case of talking to strangers .


Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
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Quinoa: yay or nay? Tell me your favourite recipes!

What is your [fruit] cryptonite?

Can you find kabocha all-year round or is it a seasonal vegetable for you, too? Tell me I’m not the only one who has to spend almost six months without it.