During this time of year, when the weather is cooling down and the days are shorter, dinner should be a cozy affair. November is a great time to break out those one-dish comfort meals (lasagna, stews, casseroles) that are simple and hearty enough to get you through a chilly evening. But does meat need to be a part of the meal? Not necessarily.
Our friend Valentina over at Cooking on the Weekends this week launched a Veggie Week Challenge, urging readers to eat at least one meatless meal per day. This challenge inspired us to break out one of our favorite one-pot vegetarian comfort meals, a dish known in our family as simply, “The Yum.”
The Yum is basically a savory pasta dish baked with greens and feta cheese. Depending on what’s in the fridge, it’s a little different each time. Sometimes we’ll add chopped grilled chicken or sausage. But in its purest form, the Yum doesn’t need meat. It stands proudly on its own.
4 cups vegetable stock
1 large bunch leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, spinach, escarole, or whatever you have around)
1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On the stovetop, bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large oven-proof skillet. In the meantime, wash the greens, pat them dry, and coarsely chop them (you should have about 2 to 3 cups of chopped greens). If you are using kale or another leafy green with thick or hard stems, remove the stems. Place the greens in the boiling stock and let simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Add the pasta to the skillet and continue simmering, uncovered, for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed (continue stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta does not burn). Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the feta cheese. Sprinkle the grated parmesan and the pine nuts on top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until top is golden brown and slightly crispy. Serve immediately with crusty bread and a green salad. Serves 2 to 4, depending on how devoted they are to the “Yum.”
See? – No meat, no problem. Next thing you know, your family will be asking for it by name.