In a previous Meatless Monday post, I extolled the virtues of a great searchable recipe database. I mentioned a few ways you could use the search features, but I failed to mention one way that can be a real life-, er, meal-saver - you can search by ingredients you have in the kitchen and see what comes up.
The other day, I didn't have time to run out to the grocery store and the dinner hour was fast approaching. So, I took a peek in the fridge and saw that I had some spinach and mushrooms on-hand. I thought they might be good together in a pasta dish, but I wanted to venture out a bit and not fall back on my usual preparation methods (a little evoo and garlic). So, I went to the search engine and ran an 'enhanced recipe search.' I typed 'spinach' in the search window and then chose 'pasta' under 'main ingredients,' 'main dishes' under 'courses,' 'quick/easy' under 'conveniences' (figuring quick/easy would also mean less ingredients), and 'meatless' under 'dietary considerations.' After pulling up the results for that search, I typed 'mushroom' in the 'search within these results' window and VOILA! This recipe and 5 others came up. I scanned them quickly to check ingredients and preparation requirements and this one looked perfect . . .
Spinach Mushroom Pasta
One substitution that I made, that I would recommend, was swapping out the cream cheese for Neufchâtel. Used for centuries in Europe, the American version can be found pretty easily in most U.S. grocery stores nowadays. It's substantially lower in fat and, because it's softer in consistency, it's also easier to work into a sauce.
Another good substitution recommendation would be to swap out the spinach for kale. If you do though, keep in mind that you'll want to add the kale to the sauté pan with the mushrooms earlier than you would spinach because it takes longer to wilt.
As with most recipes, this one instructs you to "season to taste with salt and pepper." I would advise not being shy in seasoning - a fair amount of salt will really bring out the flavors of the vegetables, and a generous sprinkling of fresh cracked pepper will balance the creaminess of the sauce with a nice little kick.
Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!
Other Meatless Monday posts