Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce & Broccoli

Pastas with cream-based sauces can be really delicious. However, these dishes are often heavy, unhealthy and very fattening. It is best to minimise their consumption and replace them with healthier alternatives.

When I started to cook in a health-conscious way, I ditched the recipes that contained too much fresh cream. I then came across this vegan pasta with an interesting, pumpkin-based creamy sauce. I immediately recognized that it is a perfect alternative to the fatty pasta dishes swimming in cream-based sauces. It is equally delicious and attractive, but this creaminess has nothing to do with animal fat.

I found the recipe for this pasta with pumpkin sauce & broccoli on the website of Forks over Knives. The recipe was developed by Victoria Fiore. I made minor changes to it, so the recipe below is slightly different to her original “velvety macaroni”.

Let’s see how to make a creamy but healthy pasta dish for two people.

Vevety Macaroni from

  • 1 large pumpkin (or several smaller pieces)
  • 2 medium-sized broccoli heads
  • 300 gram dry pasta (preferably durum or rice macaroni, penne, farfalle or fusilli)
  • 4 garlic clove
  • 120 ml plant-based milk (preferably almond, hazelnut, coconut or flax seed milk)
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley flakes
  • Salt according to taste
  • Pepper according to taste

Preparation method:

  • Bake the pumpkin in the oven on 180 Celsius for half an hour.
  • Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and set aside.
  • Separate the broccoli into small florets and cut their stems off. Chop the stems into small pieces.
  • Place the broccoli stem pieces to a saucepan. Add a bit of water, cover the saucepan with a lid and steam the broccoli stems for 5 minutes. When they are soft, add the broccoli florets, cover the pan and steam the broccoli mixture for further 5 minutes. Drain the water (if any).
  • By this stage, the pumpkin is ready. Remove from the oven, let it cool for a while and peel it. Remove seeds and cut it into small pieces. Put the pumpkin pieces into a saucepan, add the garlic cloves and cover the pan. Steam it for 10 minutes. If it starts to brown, add some water to avoid the pumpkin pieces sticking to the pan and burning. Once the pumpkin mixture is ready, drain the water (if any) and add the plant-based milk to the pan to create a mixture. Season with salt, garlic powder and pepper.
  • Transfer the steamed pumpkin mixture into a blender and blend it until smooth and creamy to create the pumpkin sauce. Add the parsley to the sauce and mix well.
  • Transfer the pumpkin sauce back to the saucepan. Add the pasta and the broccoli mixture and mix well.
  • Heat the dish for a few minutes and serve immediately.

Velvety macaroni from picture
Isn’t it creamy and delicious?

Bon appetite!

Magical Minestrone from Italy

Minestrone” is a generic Italian word, which used to describe a very substantial, large bowl of soup or stew. However, this word no longer refers to a general soup. It describes a specific and particularly delicious Italian soup, which is respected and loved all over the world.

Minestrone is made with vegetables including onions, beans, celery and carrots. Normally pasta or rice is added to the soup, too. There is no exact recipe for the “right” minestrone, which makes it a very exiting dish. It offers plenty of room for creativity. Every region has its own minestrone that contains signature ingredients and probably every cook makes it in a slightly different way. Some cooks prefer thick, almost stew-like versions; others prefer lightly cooked vegetables in a broth-type soup. While the soup’s texture can vary widely, Angelo Pellegrini, a famous food writer and academic argues that the “genuine” minestrone has to be a bean-based broth and borlotti beans (aka Roman beans) must be used in it.

Minestrone is also a dish with history. At around the 2nd Century BC, thanks to commerce an abundance of food passed through Rome. As a consequence, meat, bread and soups were introduced to the diet of Romans. Thick vegetable soups and stews became staple foods. The ancient cookbook of Marcus Apicius described a soup called “polus” as a common dish at that time. Polus contained faro (a food product made of grains), chickpeas, fava beans, onions, garlic, lard and green vegetables. Later, other ingredients appeared in this soup, including meat and wine. When potatoes and tomatoes were introduced in Europe in the mid 16th century, these were added to polus as well. The additions of ingredients contributed to the evolution of the dish and ultimately changed the character of the soup. Although it changed over time, it always remained part of “cucina povera”, aka the “poor kitchen”, which was often cooked from leftovers and it was normally consumed as a side dish. Later, between the 17th and 18th centuries the soup’s recipe was more or less formalized. From that era onwards, it only contained fresh vegetables and was offered as a meal for its own sake. The name “minestrone” formally appeared in 1871.

My favourite minestrone recipe was developed by Carolyn Scott-Hamilton and appeared on the website of Forks Over Knives. I slightly fine-tuned it to my own taste and to the ingredients available in my area. It’s a vegan and super healthy and it is an absolutely awesome soup that everyone must try!


  • 1 medium-sized onion (cut into pieces)
  • 2 stalks celery (sliced into narrow pieces)
  • ½ bulb fennel (cut into small pieces)
  • 2 medium gold potatoes (diced)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (finely chopped or crushed)
  • 400 gram can of tomatoes (either plum or diced tomatoes are suitable)
  • 2 litres of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 400 gram canned or dry beans (borlotti, fava or cannellini beans; if you use dry beans, soak them overnight)
  • Salt (according to taste)
  • Pepper (according to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons of red-wine vinegar
  • 1 zucchini (quartered and sliced)
  • 1 or 2 bunches of Swiss chard or spinach leaves
  • 300 gram fusilli or penne pasta (preferably durum or rice pasta)

Preparation method:

  • Boil the water in a large pot. Add onion, celery, fennel, potatoes and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the can of tomatoes, stock, beans and season the mixture with salt and pepper, according to taste. Bring the soup to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer it for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook on a low heat for further 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir the vinegar and the green leaves into the soup. Season with salt and pepper, according to taste.
  • In the meantime, boil the pasta in a separate pot, according to packet instructions.
  • Once the pasta is ready, serve it in soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the pasta and serve it immediately.

Minestrone Pinterest
If you prefer a vegan version, you may serve it with ground pumpkin seeds or cheese substitutes. Otherwise, you may sprinkle some Parmesan on the soup, which enhances the wonderful flavours of this minestrone.

Bon appetite!

Curried Lentils from France

The cooking traditions of France date back to a very long time and the preparation method of French dishes have evolved over time. Generations after generations refined recipes and added subtle and creative techniques to the country’s gastronomic practices. The dishes differ from region to region and therefore the richness and diversity of French cuisine is beyond belief. It is so special, that the UNESCO classified the gastronomy of France as “intangible cultural heritage”.

The recipe for the curried lentils is definitely inspired by French gastronomy. It is a vegan dish that was created by Cathy Fisher. I found her healthy and flavorful recipe on the website of Forks over Knives and it soon became one of my favorite meals. It is not only delicious, but it is absolutely nutritious. To add to its benefits, it is easy to prepare and it embodies all the richness and subtlety of French cuisine.

As it is a curried dish, I think, it is a good idea to use the “Vadouvan” blend of curry spice in this dish. “Vadouvan” is a French curry bled that was inspired by South Indian flavours. It is known to originate in a former French colonial area of India, namely Pondicherry (currently Puducherry), which is located in the Tamil Nadu province of the country. However, French chefs added quintessentially French tastes to the original curry powder, including shallots, fennel and garlic. It is a special blend of curry that has complexity and if you use this blend, it will enhance the falvours of this fantastic curried lentil dish. However, if you cannot get hold of this special blend, the Madras blend of curry is absolutely gorgeous, too. If you have the chance, try it with different curry blends and choose your personal favourite.

Vadouvan from

  • 250 ml water
  • 250 gram green lentils
  • 1 yellow onion (chopped to small pieces)
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato (diced to small pieces)
  • 500 gram cauliflower florets (divide florets to small units)
  • 2 ribs celery (sliced to narrow pieces)
  • 400 gram can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (preferably Vadouvan or Madras blend)
  • 2 teaspoons dried green herbs (preferably French blend)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 bunches of spinach or kale leaves

Preparation method:

  • Bring the water to boil in a medium-sized or large pot. Add the lentils and cook them according to packet instructions. (Normally lentils need to be boiled and them simmered for approximately 20-40 minutes, but the cooking time varies based on the type of lentil you use.)
  • Add the onion, sweet potato, cauliflower celery, herbs and spices. Pour in the can of tomatoes and cook the mixture for 10 minutes.
  • Add the spinach or kale leaves. If you use spinach, cook for approximately 3 minutes, if you use kale, cook for up to 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender and the greens are wilted.

Curried French Lentils from, Pinterest
The curried lentils can be served with brown or jasmine rice, or can be eaten on its own. 

Bon appetite!

Vegetarian Waldorf Salad from New York City

I love delicious food that also has history. The Waldorf Salad is a prime example of such a dish. It is associated with the famous Waldorf Hotel (the precursor of the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) in New York City, where it was first created sometime between 1893 and 1897.

The Waldorf Salad is known to be first made by Oscar Tschirky, who was the head waiter of the Waldorf Hotel at that time. Mr Tschirky was known about his culinary creativity. He never worked as a chef, but he developed many of the hotel’s signature dishes. His cook book entitled “The Cook Book” contains the original recipe, which was fine tuned later, when it appeared in “The Rector Cook Book” in 1928.

The traditional Waldorf Salad contains fresh apples, celery and walnuts and it is served on a bed of lettuce. It is often served with mayonnaise. Sometimes chicken, turkey, grapes and dried fruit appear in the salad’s contemporary versions. Healthier interpretations tend to use a yoghurt-based sauce instead of the mayo.

The vegetarian version that I like to prepare is based on the traditional recipe, but it contains chickpeas for a bit of protein boost. I tend to use a yoghurt-based sauce and I normally serve it with baby spinach leaves instead of lettuce.

Waldorf Salad from

  • 120 ml plain full-fat yogurt, preferably Greek-style
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard, preferably Dijon type
  • 1 teaspoon of honey or agave nectar
  • Salt according to taste (approximately 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper according to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 400 gram can of chickpeas (drained)
  • 2 ribs of celery (finely chopped)
  • 1 apple (chopped into small pieces)
  • 1 medium-sized bunch of red grapes (cut the grapes into halves)
  • 1 medium-sized red onion (diced into small pieces)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 100 grams of walnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 1 bunch of fresh baby spinach leaves

Preparation method: 

  • Chop up the celery, apple, red onion, grapes, parsley and walnuts and combine them with the chickpeas in a large salad bowl.
  • Add the spinach leaves and combine with the salad mixture.
  • Prepare the dressing by combining the yoghurt, mustard, honey, salt and pepper and mix the ingredients well.
  • Stir in the dressing gently but thoroughly.
  • Refrigerate the salad for half an hour before serving.

Waldorf Salad from
The salad is perfect as a light meal. Alternatively, it can be offered as a side dish with more substantial oven-baked meals, pastas or risottos.

Bon appetite!

Marvellous Mediterranean Spaghetti from Italy

I am a big fan of Italian flavours and I believe that there is nothing better than an easy pasta dish for a light, weekday dinner. I often browse recipes on the website of “Forks over Knives”, where I have recently come across this pasta dish. When I prepared it for the first time, it was an instant hit for us. It has fresh, spring-like qualities and it is an incredibly well-balanced dish, in my view. The vegetables just work perfectly well in its sauce and the dish is simply very delicious.

When I looked at the recipe more closely, I discovered that it was developed by Ella Woodward, the author of the popular food blog “Deliciously Ella”. She deserves full credit for this marvellous spaghetti. Nevertheless, I made some minor modifications to the original recipe due to the fact that some ingredients are not always available in the area where I live.

Mediterranean Vegetable Spaghetti from
Let’s see how to make this marvellous mediterranean spaghetti with my minor changes.


  • 1 packet of durum pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 2 plum tomatoes, deseeded and sliced into eights (if plum tomatoes are not available, other types can be used)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 large or 2 smaller aubergines, sliced into small rounds and then quarters (alternatively use 1 zucchini, as per the original recipe)
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • Handful of olives (use deseeded and sliced ones if possible)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Salt according to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of Italian or French dried herbs
  • Pepper according to taste
  • 200 ml water

Preparation method:

  • Boil the pasta, according to packet instructions. Once it is ready, set aside.
  • Put the sliced aubergines in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and olive oil. Set aside.
  • Put the peppers, tomatoes, salt and dried herbs into a saucepan. Add the water to the saucepan and simmer the vegetables slowly. In case the vegetables start to brown, add more water and stir gently. Slowly cook for a few minutes.
  • Once the vegetables wilted, add the tomato purée and the juice of the lime.
  • Cook the vegetables for a few more minutes and let it slowly combine to form the sauce.
  • Once the sauce is ready, add the cherry tomatoes, aubergine slices (or zucchini slices) and the spinach leaves. Cook gently until the ingredients mix well.
  • Add the olives and additional dried herbs according to taste.
  • Combine the sauce with the pasta and mix well. Cook for a further a few minutes as the pasta will need to be heated.

Mediterranean Vegetable Spaghetti from
 This pasta dish is perfect on its own. If you prefer, you may serve it with parmesan.

Bon appetite!

Veggie Shepherd’s Pie from England

Having a British husband made me curious about the British cuisine. I looked up several recipes and I was instantly interested in the vegetarian version of Shepherd’s Pie, also known as “Shepherdless Pie”. This savoury pie looked substantial and healthy enough to serve for lunch or dinner and it seemed to go well with all sorts of steamed vegetables. When I first made a veggie version of Shepherd’s Pie based on the below recipe from Forks over Knives, my husband said it was really tasty. If an Englishman says that, then the recipe must evoke traditional flavours!

I also find the history of Shepherd’s Pie interesting. I learned that originally it was called “Cottage Pie” and was first made at around the 1790s in Northern England. The name comes from the cottages, where poor people lived at that era. At around this time, potatoes were introduced to England and were were very affordable, so poor people ate them very frequently. The women of that era thought that they could combine leftover meat with potatoes, so they created a layered pie from leftover roasted meat and mashed potatoes. The added mashed potato crust to the top, for a nice and crunchy finish and called this dish “Cottage Pie”.

Later, in 1877, the term “Shepherd’s Pie was introduced to the British culinary world. Ever since it is used synonymously with Cottage Pie”. These days, the British call the dish “Shepherd’s Pie” when the meat used in the pie is lamb. If it is made with other types of minced meat, then the pie is called “Cottage Pie”.

Now, let’s see my favourite recipe for a delicious veggie Sherphed’s Pie, or if you like, Shepherdless Pie.

Veggie Shepherd's Pie -, Pinterest, Pinterest

  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary (alternatively use dried rosemary)
  • 350 grams green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper according to taste
  • 8 medium red-skin potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped

Preparation method:

  • Place the onion, carrot, and celery in a large saucepan and sauté over low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Add water if needed to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the rosemary, lentils, bay leaf, and enough water to cover the lentils by 3 inches. Bring them to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, covered with a lid.
  • Preheat the oven to 175° Celsius. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper, according to taste. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and rosemary sprig (unless you use dried herbs), and pour the lentils into a large baking dish.
  • In the meantime, add the potatoes and parsnips to a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook the vegetables for approximately 15 minutes, covered. Remove the potatoes and parsnips from the heat and drain. Mash the vegetables until smooth and creamy, then season with additional salt and pepper, according to taste. Once it is smooth, spread the mixture evenly over the lentils.
  • Bake the casserole for 25 minutes. Before serving, set it aside for 10 minutes. Serve it with steamed French beans, broccoli, carrots or salad greens.