Best-Ever Eggplant Meatballs

This eggplant meatballs recipe is truly amazing! The purple veggie makes a surprisingly juicy texture and a delightful Italian style dinner. Ever tried making meatballs…with eggplant? We’d been hearing for years that eggplant makes great vegetarian meatballs, we just didn’t really believe it…until now. Try this amazing Eggplant Meatballs recipe! Garlic, herbs, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese make one insanely juicy and savory meatball. Roasted eggplant makes them moist and textured, vs dry or mushy like lots of vegetarian balls. Combine it with marinara sauce and it’s out of this world delicious. In fact, we took one bite and yelled “Wow!” (True story.) Ingredients for eggplant meatballs It’s a short ingredient list here! All you’ll need to make eggplant meatballs is the following: Eggplant: you’ll need 2 pounds; 3 medium or 2 large (it’s helpful to weigh out exactly at the store! Garlic Jarred sundried tomatoes Italian panko: Panko are large, fluffy breadcrumbs. You’ll need to locate the Italian version, which has added salt and herbs. See below for more! Grated Parmesan cheese: Make sure it’s the powdery stuff: not shredded, which looks like little sticks! Salt and pepper What’s Italian panko? Is there a substitute? Panko is a flaky bread […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This eggplant meatballs recipe is truly amazing! The purple veggie makes a surprisingly juicy texture and a delightful Italian style dinner.

Eggplant meatballs

Ever tried making meatballs…with eggplant? We’d been hearing for years that eggplant makes great vegetarian meatballs, we just didn’t really believe it…until now. Try this amazing Eggplant Meatballs recipe! Garlic, herbs, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese make one insanely juicy and savory meatball. Roasted eggplant makes them moist and textured, vs dry or mushy like lots of vegetarian balls. Combine it with marinara sauce and it’s out of this world delicious. In fact, we took one bite and yelled “Wow!” (True story.)

Ingredients for eggplant meatballs

It’s a short ingredient list here! All you’ll need to make eggplant meatballs is the following:

  • Eggplant: you’ll need 2 pounds; 3 medium or 2 large (it’s helpful to weigh out exactly at the store!
  • Garlic
  • Jarred sundried tomatoes
  • Italian panko: Panko are large, fluffy breadcrumbs. You’ll need to locate the Italian version, which has added salt and herbs. See below for more!
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: Make sure it’s the powdery stuff: not shredded, which looks like little sticks!
  • Salt and pepper
Eggplant meatballs recipe

What’s Italian panko? Is there a substitute?

Panko is a flaky bread crumb mixture used in Japanese cooking for fried foods. It’s also made its way into international cooking because it’s the perfect breading and frying. Italian panko are made with seasonings and salt. Panko is available in most grocery stores and online. You can also find gluten-free panko or Italian panko online, to make this a gluten free recipe! If you can’t find Italian panko, here’s what to do:

  • Use regular panko and add salt and Italian seasonings. See the recipe below for quantities.
  • Look for coarse breadcrumbs instead, or make them! Some purchased breadcrumbs have very fine texture, which isn’t as ideal (but you can still use them). Italian breadcrumbs have the salt and herbs added, so they are a good substitute. If all you can find is plain, use the salt and herbs from the recipe below as well.
Eggplant meatballs

Roast the eggplant small diced, skin on (here’s why!)

The key to these eggplant meatballs is this. Roast the eggplant chopped very small, then mash it with a potato masher before forming the balls. Here’s why:

  • Roasting with the eggplant skin on makes the very best juicy, meaty texture that’s incredibly satisfying. You’ll have some chunks in the meatballs: but that’s good!
  • Using a food processor or blender or removing the eggplant skin makes a texture that’s gooey rather than meaty: not nearly as delicious. Speaking of…

A few tips on forming eggplant meatballs

These eggplant meatballs have lots of texture to the dough, which can make forming them a little different than say, falafel. Here are a few tips on the forming process:

  • Include the eggplant skin right into the the balls: try to evenly disperse them throughout each meatball.
  • You can also discard a few of the skin pieces if it’s hard to form the balls. But again, the skins and chewy parts are what you need for a meaty, interesting texture: so don’t worry that it’s not a smooth dough!
Eggplant meatballs recipe

You’ll need about 1 hour: or they’re great for make-ahead!

Keep in mind: in total, this eggplant meatballs recipe takes about 1 hour to make. We’re obsessed with fast and easy recipes around here, as you may know. But guess what: this recipe is so good, it’s absolutely worth the 1 hour prep time! Here’s what to know about planning and meal prep to make it fit into your lifestyle:

  • Eggplant meatballs save very well: you can refrigerate or freeze! If you can make them ahead, it makes dinner time a breeze! Store them refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months, stored in a single layer in a freezer safe container.
  • To reheat, simply warm them in a skillet with marinara. That’s it! So easy.
  • Or, make them on a weekend or when time allows. If you have the time, it’s a perfect recipe for a Saturday or Sunday dinner.

Make it a meal: main dish, pasta, and more!

Take one bite of these eggplant meatballs and you’ll be amazed by the amount of flavor going on with these babies. Don’t even think of them as a vegetarian meatball: they’re just DELICIOUS. Now, you don’t need to serve them with pasta: but you can. The only thing that’s required is the marinara sauce (use your favorite jar). Here are a few ways you can eat these eggplant meatballs:

How would you serve them? Let us know in the comments below!

Eggplant meatballs

This eggplant meatballs recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free panko.

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Eggplant meatballs

Best-Ever Eggplant Meatballs


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 20 meatballs (4 servings)
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This eggplant meatballs recipe is truly amazing! The purple veggie makes a surprisingly juicy texture and a delightful Italian style dinner.


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds eggplant (3 medium or 2 large, about 12 cups diced into 1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon jarred sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups Italian panko (use gluten free as needed)*
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not shredded)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For serving, 1 large jar marinara sauce, 8 to 12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta or zucchini noodles

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch chunks by slicing 1/2-inch rings and then cutting the rings into cubes. The size of dice is important for the final texture! (If you weren’t able to weigh the eggplant, measure out 12 cups 1/2-inch diced). 
  3. In a large bowl, quickly mix the eggplant with olive oil and kosher salt (the eggplant soaks up the oil in an instant, so mix as soon as you add it!). Pour the eggplant onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread it into an even layer.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes, then stir and roast 10 minutes more until browned and very tender. Remove and reduce the oven heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  5. Add the warm eggplant to a bowl and mash it with a potato masher until chunky and mostly mashed. Stir in the minced garlic, finely chopped sundried tomatoes, Italian panko and grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and add any salt to taste (we added only 1 pinch; remember that the marinara sauce will also add flavor after baking).
  6. Use your hands to form the dough into 20 balls. You’ll include the eggplant skin right into the the balls: try to evenly disperse them throughout each meatball.  You can also discard a few of the skins if it’s hard to form the balls. But the skins and chewy parts are what you need for a meaty, interesting texture: so don’t worry that it’s not a smooth dough! See the photos above. 
  7. Place the meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until lightly browned on top and very browned on the bottom. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, or longer if desired (the balls will firm up). At this point, you can serve immediately, refrigerate for 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months (in a single layer in a freezer safe container). While the meatballs bake, you can boil the pasta or prep the zucchini noodles. 
  8. To serve, add the marinara sauce to a skillet and add the meatballs in a single layer. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes until warmed. Serve over the noodles, then top with grated Parmesan cheese (and chopped fresh basil, if desired). You can also serve as a vegetarian main dish with a few sides, like broccoli and couscous, rice or quinoa.

Notes

*We recommend Italian panko for the best results. If all you can find is regular panko, use 1 1/4 cups regular panko, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (or 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1/2 tablespoon each dried basil and thyme). If you can’t find panko at all, you can substitute coarse breadcrumbs — the texture of store-bought is very fine, so chunkier homemade breadcrumbs are ideal (but you can use either). Italian breadcrumbs work in a pinch; adjust the salt to taste. If you eat gluten-free, you can find gluten-free panko online.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired

Keywords: Eggplant meatballs, eggplant meatballs recipe

More eggplant recipes

Eggplant is one unexpectedly delicious vegetable, when you cook it correctly! Here are some more eggplant recipes to try:

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Vegetarian Lasagna with Ricotta

This vegetarian lasagna recipe is a total crowd pleaser! The easy spinach and ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. When it comes to lasagna recipes…well, this one is tops. Meet our best vegetarian lasagna with ricotta, aka vegetarian lasagne! We’ve been honing meatless lasagna recipes for years. This one is the culmination of all of our research: and damn, is it good (if we may say so ourselves). The tomato sauce has just the right zing and garlic nuance, and the spinach ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. It’s scented with fresh thyme and a little lemon zest, which takes it to over the top status. There’s no one who will turn down a piece! At least, who we’ve met. Here are all our secrets. Ingredients in vegetarian lasagna Did I mention that we love easy recipes: or at least, recipes that are pretty simple to put together? The spinach ricotta filling in this vegetarian lasagna recipe is elegantly simple, with no need to chop a long list of ingredients. We’ve also got lots of time saving ideas for those evenings where you don’t have time to make your own marinara. Here’s what you need for this vegetarian […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This vegetarian lasagna recipe is a total crowd pleaser! The easy spinach and ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy.

Vegetarian lasagna

When it comes to lasagna recipes…well, this one is tops. Meet our best vegetarian lasagna with ricotta, aka vegetarian lasagne! We’ve been honing meatless lasagna recipes for years. This one is the culmination of all of our research: and damn, is it good (if we may say so ourselves). The tomato sauce has just the right zing and garlic nuance, and the spinach ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. It’s scented with fresh thyme and a little lemon zest, which takes it to over the top status. There’s no one who will turn down a piece! At least, who we’ve met. Here are all our secrets.

Ingredients in vegetarian lasagna

Did I mention that we love easy recipes: or at least, recipes that are pretty simple to put together? The spinach ricotta filling in this vegetarian lasagna recipe is elegantly simple, with no need to chop a long list of ingredients. We’ve also got lots of time saving ideas for those evenings where you don’t have time to make your own marinara. Here’s what you need for this vegetarian lasagna:

  • Tomato sauce: homemade or purchased (see section below)
  • Lasagna noodles (dried or fresh)
  • Baby spinach (or frozen)
  • Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh thyme
  • Lemon zest
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
Vegetarian lasagna recipe

Make homemade tomato sauce, or find your favorite brand

This vegetarian lasagna recipe features our favorite homemade tomato sauce for lasagna: made with garlic, tomatoes and our secret ingredient: dried tarragon. Here are a few notes about each type of sauce:

  • Make the homemade sauce for great flavor. When you have time, a homemade tomato sauce is where it’s at! This sauce is full of big flavor and takes only a few minutes of hands on time: it can simmer while you prep the other ingredients. Dried tarragon adds big Italian flavor: but if you can’t find it, you can use oregano as a substitute.
  • Or, go easy with purchased marinara! There are lots of nights where we want a shortcut. These days there are many high quality marinara brands on the market: look for organic if you can! Grab enough for 4 cups of sauce.
Easy marinara sauce

Substitute frozen spinach for fresh

Here’s another way you can customize this vegetarian lasagne recipe to your tastes: you can use fresh or frozen spinach! Here are the benefits of both:

  • Fresh spinach is tasty and often on hand. We often have a big box of baby greens in our refrigerator, so we love using fresh spinach here. It takes just a few minutes to wilt down on the stovetop.
  • Frozen spinach offers maximum flexibility! Frozen spinach is easy to stock in your freezer for whenever you have a lasagna craving (or spinach artichoke dip!). Make sure defrost and squeeze out all the water before you use it.

The best vegetarian lasagna recipe with ricotta cheese

Why make a vegetarian lasagna recipe with ricotta? Ricotta cheese is a creamy Italian cheese with a mild flavor. It’s most famously used in lasagna recipes to make that beautifully creamy, cheesy layer. We love it in this lasagna with ricotta because it has the best classic flavor.

  • What are other ways to use ricotta? Smear it on toast, swirl it into pasta, dollop it into scrambled eggs or even spread it onto a pizza. Want ideas? Go to these Genius Ricotta Recipes.
  • What are some substitutes for ricotta in lasagna? Don’t have ricotta, or don’t want to use it? You can also use the same amount of cottage cheese (if you can, food process it first) or creme fraiche as a substitute for ricotta in lasagna.
Lasagna recipe with ricotta cheese

Other filling variations!

Want to change up this lasagna recipe with ricotta? Here are some additional filling ideas that would go well with spinach and ricotta:

  • Spinach mushroom lasagna: Make the spinach and mushroom filling from Vegan Lasagna and substitute it for the spinach (with or without the cashews).
  • Kale lasagna: Make the spicy kale filling instead of spinach from Spicy Kale Lasagna.
  • Chard lasagna: Chop 2 bunches rainbow chard and wilt it down following the instructions in the recipe.

Make ahead and storage info

How to store vegetarian lasagna? Can you make it ahead? Here are a few pointers for this recipe:

  • Make ahead ideas: As noted above, you can use purchased marinara to make this recipe a little quicker. You can also cook the spinach in advance (or use frozen spinach). Mix up the cheese filling and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  • Or make ahead the entire pan: Make the vegetarian lasagna prior to baking, then refrigerate overnight. Increase the bake time as needed to cook until it’s warmed through and the cheese has melted.
  • Storage info: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days. Or freeze them: it’s easiest to cut it into single servings and freeze each in separate containers. To reheat, defrost the vegetarian lasagna the refrigerator, then place in a baking dish, cover with foil and reheat at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until warmed through.
Lasagna with ricotta

Sides to serve with vegetarian lasagna

The great thing about a vegetarian lasagna recipe? You can use the long bake time to prep some tasty side dishes! Here are a few sides that pair well with lasagna:

This vegetarian lasagna recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free lasagna noodles.

Print
Vegetarian lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna with Ricotta


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 9
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This vegetarian lasagna recipe is a total crowd pleaser! The easy spinach and ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy.


Ingredients

For the tomato sauce (or substitute 4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce)

  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if possible
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce, fire roasted if possible
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or oregano)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or arrowroot starch)

For the lasagna

  • 10 to 12 lasagna noodles (8 ounces, gluten-free as necessary)*
  • 5 ounces baby spinach** (or 8 cups chopped spinach)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 16 ounce (2 cups) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Boil the noodles*: Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the noodles until just before al dente, according to the package instructions, stirring often. Drain the noodles, then drizzle a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil. Lay the noodles flat onto the sheet, then turn them over so they become coated with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Prepare the tomato sauce (or skip with purchased marinara): Mince the garlic. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring frequently. Once the garlic is fragrant after about 1 or 2 minutes, turn down the heat and carefully add the tomatoes (avoid any momentary spitting), tomato sauce, basil, tarragon or oregano, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Remove 1/4 cup of the sauce and stir it with the cornstarch, then add it back to the pan (this helps to thicken the sauce). Simmer on low heat while making the remainder of the recipe, at least 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Wilt the spinach: In a large skillet, mound the greens and 1/4 cup water in the skillet and cook, stirring often, until completely wilted and reduced, about 3 minutes (the greens significantly reduce when cooking; if necessary, sauté in batches.) Sprinkle with 2 pinches of kosher salt and stir, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Once cooled, use your hands to squeeze out all excess liquid and discard. Roughly chop the spinach.
  5. Prepare the cheese filling: Destem the thyme, then roughly chop the leaves. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons thyme to a medium bowl and reserve about 1/2 tablespoon for topping the lasagna. To the bowl, add the lemon zest, nutmeg, ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Layer the lasagna: In a 9” x 13” baking dish, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then top with 1 layer of noodles, half of the cheese mixture (in dollops then spread it out), half of the greens, and about 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Repeat again: 1 layer of noodles (you may need to cut a noodle in half for the side, depending on your pan), the remaining cheese mixture, the remaining greens, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Finally, top with noodles (again, you may need to cut a noodle in half for the top layer), then the remaining 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the entire top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 tablespoon thyme.
  7. Bake the lasagna: Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving (this allows the lasagna to set). Leftovers can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days and reheated in a 375°F oven.

Notes

*If you use fresh lasagna noodles, they don’t need to be boiled. 

**You can also substitute 3/4 cup frozen spinach. Defrost it and squeeze of excess liquid: you can skip the cooking step. 

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired

Keywords: Vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian lasagna recipe, vegetarian lasagne recipe, lasagna recipe ricotta, lasagna recipe with ricotta cheese, lasagna with ricotta, lasagna with ricotta cheese

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Spanish Paella Recipe

Here’s how to make a paella recipe…the Spanish way! This stunning one pan dinner features shrimp, vegetables and all the authentic flavors of this traditional dish. Here’s a stunning one pan dinner that’s made for celebrations: paella! This traditional Spanish rice dish has thousands of variations. but it’s always rice with an explosion of colorful toppings. This one is our best classic paella recipe, based on our travels through Spain! We’ve perfected the skills so you can try it at home. It stars saffron-scented rice, mixed colorful vegetables and shrimp, and it’s full of traditional flavor. Here’s everything you need to know to make paella at home! What paella types are there? Paella is a traditional Spanish dish with saffron-flavored rice topped with seafood, meat and/or vegetables and served in a shallow paella pan. There are varying sizes of paella pans: small pans for two people, and massive paella pans for a crowd. (Fun fact: the world’s largest paella was made in a pan big enough for 30,000 people!) What types of paella are there? Spaniards themselves differ on what is the most classic, authentic paella recipe. Alex and I have eaten paella in Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid, and all […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make a paella recipe…the Spanish way! This stunning one pan dinner features shrimp, vegetables and all the authentic flavors of this traditional dish.

Paella Recipe

Here’s a stunning one pan dinner that’s made for celebrations: paella! This traditional Spanish rice dish has thousands of variations. but it’s always rice with an explosion of colorful toppings. This one is our best classic paella recipe, based on our travels through Spain! We’ve perfected the skills so you can try it at home. It stars saffron-scented rice, mixed colorful vegetables and shrimp, and it’s full of traditional flavor. Here’s everything you need to know to make paella at home!

What paella types are there?

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish with saffron-flavored rice topped with seafood, meat and/or vegetables and served in a shallow paella pan. There are varying sizes of paella pans: small pans for two people, and massive paella pans for a crowd. (Fun fact: the world’s largest paella was made in a pan big enough for 30,000 people!)

What types of paella are there? Spaniards themselves differ on what is the most classic, authentic paella recipe. Alex and I have eaten paella in Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid, and all of them have been vastly different. There are four main types of paella:

  • Paella de mariscos: Seafood paella with shrimp, prawns, scallops or mussels
  • Paella mixta: A mixed paella with seafood, meat and vegetables
  • Valenican-style paella (paella Valenciana): Chicken, rabbit, garrofó (a variety of lima bean), saffron, and rosemary
  • Paella de verduras: vegetarian paella with vegetables only
Spanish paella recipe

Ingredients in this paella recipe

For our best paella recipe, we used the common elements in the paella recipes we’ve had in different regions in Spain. Here’s what’s featured in this paella:

  • Traditional paella pan: you can also use a skillet (see below)
  • Bomba rice: you can also use arborio
  • Tomato, onion and garlic to make a quick “sofrito”
  • Saffron and pimentón aka smoked paprika
  • Mixed vegetables like artichokes, red pepper and peas
  • Seafood: you can also make vegetarian paella (see below)
  • Lemon wedges: garnishing with lemon is the perfect bright finish
Best paella recipe

What is the best paella pan? Do you need to use one?

A paella pan is a large round, shallow pan with handles used for cooking paella. The shallow shape lets rice cook consistently and lets it dry out more than it can in a skillet. If you have a paella pan or want one, now’s the time to use it! This recipe is for a 15-inch paella pan that serves 4 people. If you’re looking for one, here’s a link to purchase a 4-person paella pan.

Don’t have a paella pan? Don’t worry! Make this paella in your largest skillet. The larger the better! You may need to adjust the cook time slightly if you are using a skillet.

Paella pan care instructions: Paella pans are made of carbon steel and can rust. Make sure to dry the pan completely after cleaning it, and rub it with a bit of vegetable oil to prevent rusting.

Paella rice

What’s the best rice to use in paella?

The most authentic paella rice type is called bomba rice. Bomba rice is a white short grain rice. You can also use Arborio rice, which is easier to find but can result in a gummier texture than bomba. Either work! For this recipe we tried bomba and felt like it had more consistent results. You can find bomba rice online. Order it: Bomba rice

The secret spices: saffron and pimentón

This is an authentic style paella recipe, so it uses two special spices to get that traditional flavor. Here’s what to know:

  • Saffron brings an earthy flavor and a beautiful color to the dish. It’s an expensive spice, but it’s worth the splurge. What can you substitute for saffron? If you can’t find it or don’t want to splurge, use 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.
  • Smoked paprika: Called pimentón or Spanish smoked paprika, this bright red spice gives the dish more color and a smoky undertone. It’s easy to find and you’ll find it in many of our recipes here. (Here are our 20 best smoked paprika recipes.)
Easy paella recipe

Do not stir this paella recipe!

Once all the ingredients are added to the pan in paella, here’s what to do…or really, what not to do. Don’t stir it! Please repeat: no stirring allowed. The broth and spices boil through the rice, leaving everything perfectly flavored and cooked.

Traditionally, it’s good to get a brown crust on the bottom of the rice (perfectly brown, without burning it). The Spanish call this socarrat. It’s difficult to achieve the perfect socarrat because so much depends on the exact timing. It’s also a little harder to get it if you’re using a skillet. But never fear! Each time you cook this recipe, you’ll learn new things about perfecting your paella technique.

Paella variations

Variation: vegan and vegetarian paella

Don’t want to make a shrimp paella recipe? No problem. We love making vegan and vegetarian paella as well. (Or go to this Simple Vegetarian Paella.) Here’s what to do to customize this recipe:

  • Omit the shrimp! Obviously.
  • Add 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (1 1/2 cups cooked). Drain and rinse them, then add them when you add the vegetable broth.
  • Increase the salt by 1/4 teaspoon. You’ll need it to flavor the chickpeas.

This paella recipe is…

Gluten-free, pescatarian, and dairy-free. For vegetarian, plant-based, and dairy-free, see the section above.

Print
Paella Recipe

Spanish Paella Recipe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Here’s how to make a paella recipe…the Spanish way! This stunning one pan dinner features shrimp, vegetables and all the authentic flavors of this traditional dish.


Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3 roma or plum tomatoes (1 1/2 cups finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peel and deveined*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3 cups seafood stock or vegetable stock 
  • 1 1/2 cups short grain Bomba rice or arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed under water
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, quartered
  • Lemon wedges from 1/2 lemon
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prep the vegetables: Mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Finely chop the tomatoes, removing the cores but keeping the seeds with their juices.
  2. Measure out the ingredients: Measure out all the remaining ingredients before you start. The cooking process goes fast!
  3. Cook the shrimp: Dry the shrimp and add it to a bowl with 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. In your largest skillet or a 4-serving paella pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp and saute until it is just barely opaque, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp and set it aside.
  4. Cook the paella: In the same pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until just translucent, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped tomatoes, the remaining 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and red pepper flakes, and cook until the tomatoes have broken down and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, saffron and 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Sprinkle the rice evenly across the broth and tap the pan with a spoon to evenly spread the rice. Bring to a medium simmer and cook without stirring until liquid is absorbed, about 18 to 22 minutes (adjust the cook time as necessary if using a skillet).
  5. Adjust the heat as necessary: If your pan is large enough to span multiple burners on your stovetop, adjust the heat on each burner so you achieve a steady medium simmer. Rotate the pan every few minutes for an even cook.
  6. Add the artichokes and peas: When the top of the rice is beginning to show through the liquid (about 10 minutes into the cook time), press the artichokes and peas lightly into the rice.
  7. Assess whether the paella is done: In last few minutes, carefully watch the paella and rotate pan more frequently. As the paella finishes, you’ll see the steam start to slow down as the water cooks out. If desired, peek at the bottom of a pan by using a knife to scrape back the rice — you shouldn’t see any standing water. The sound will start to change from a simmer to a crackle. This indicates the crust is forming. Let the crackling continue for about 2 minutes before removing from the heat. If you smell any burning, remove immediately.
  8. Add the shrimp and serve: When the paella is done, add the shrimp to top of paella and squeeze the lemon wedges onto the top of the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of kosher salt and add the parsley, if using. Serve with additional lemon wedges.

Notes

*Vegetarian and vegan variation: Remove the shrimp. Add 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cups cooked) when you add the veggie broth. Increase the salt by 1/4 teaspoon.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Spanish

Keywords: Paella Recipe, Paella

More paella recipes

Love paella? Here are a few more options to try:

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Ultimate Spinach Pizza

Get your greens and pizza fix all at once with this spinach pizza! Ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese make for a creamy pie everyone will love. Want to get your greens and eat your pizza too? Try this Spinach Pizza! It’s got the power to change the minds of spinach haters everywhere. Yes, this pizza is all about garlicky, savory flavor! Any bitterness in the spinach melts away into the three cheeses. Ricotta makes for a creamy base, and mozzarella and Parmesan add stretchy texture and savory flavor. Top it off with herby spinach and a few colorful vegetables, and it’s a crowd-pleaser that everyone will love (especially with Italian salad). Even spinach haters! The secret to this spinach pizza? Frozen spinach. This spinach pizza has a little secret. It uses frozen spinach! Now, why is that important? It’s not just for the convenience factor (though that’s a thing). Frozen spinach has a satisfying texture: think spinach artichoke dip! Fresh spinach and frozen spinach are almost like two separate ingredients. Frozen spinach is blanched before it’s packaged, meaning it’s cooked quickly before freezing. This gives it a super satisfying texture when topped on a pizza: lightly crunchy and almost fluffy, […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Get your greens and pizza fix all at once with this spinach pizza! Ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese make for a creamy pie everyone will love.

Spinach pizza

Want to get your greens and eat your pizza too? Try this Spinach Pizza! It’s got the power to change the minds of spinach haters everywhere. Yes, this pizza is all about garlicky, savory flavor! Any bitterness in the spinach melts away into the three cheeses. Ricotta makes for a creamy base, and mozzarella and Parmesan add stretchy texture and savory flavor. Top it off with herby spinach and a few colorful vegetables, and it’s a crowd-pleaser that everyone will love (especially with Italian salad). Even spinach haters!

The secret to this spinach pizza? Frozen spinach.

This spinach pizza has a little secret. It uses frozen spinach! Now, why is that important? It’s not just for the convenience factor (though that’s a thing).

  • Frozen spinach has a satisfying texture: think spinach artichoke dip! Fresh spinach and frozen spinach are almost like two separate ingredients. Frozen spinach is blanched before it’s packaged, meaning it’s cooked quickly before freezing. This gives it a super satisfying texture when topped on a pizza: lightly crunchy and almost fluffy, whereas cooked spinach can get a little slimy. It reminds us of spinach artichoke dip!
  • It’s easy to use frozen spinach: no cooking necessary. Yes, the convenience factor is a thing too! Frozen spinach just needs a rinse under warm water to thaw it. No cooking required!
Spinach pizza

How to make spinach pizza (basic steps)

This spinach pizza is a white pizza, meaning it has a white sauce (or olive oil) that covers the dough. The most technique-driven part of making a pizza is the pizza crust, which we’ll walk through down below. Here are the basic steps (or go right to the recipe):

  • Make the pizza dough. See below for more on how to do it. Or, you can also do a “cheater” pizza by using this as a topping for Naan Pizza or Flatbread Pizza!
  • Thaw and season the spinach. All it needs is a quick rinse under warm water. Here’s the important part: squeeze out as much water as possible over a strainer! This brings the spinach to a dry, almost crumbly texture. This is what you want!
  • Season the ricotta. Mix it with some salt, pepper and minced garlic.
  • Top with mozzarella and Parmesan, then the spinach and veggies. That’s it!

A few more white pizza recipes? Try our Ricotta Pizza or White Pizza (Pizza Bianca).

Homemade pizza dough & alternative options!

Homemade pizza dough is absolutely worth the effort: and once you practice a few times, it will become second nature! There are also several alternative options that are easier and quicker. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Pizza dough: master recipe! This Best Pizza Dough is our tried and true crust: it comes out with the absolute perfect texture. Stretching the dough takes a bit of practice, but it’s not hard. Head to How to Stretch Pizza Dough.
  • Thin crust. Try this Thin Crust Pizza Dough: it’s easy to roll out into a thinner, crispier crust.
  • Naan or flatbread pizza. To make a quick and easy pizza, try our Naan Pizza or Flatbread Pizza.
  • Pan pizza. You can even make this into a pan pizza in a cast iron skillet! It takes a little longer, but it’s easier because you don’t have to stretch the dough.
How to make spinach pizza
How to make

Equipment you need (for the master recipe)

If you make our master pizza dough recipe or the thin crust pizza, you’ll need a few tools for your spinach pizza. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Pizza stone: You can bake pizza on a baking sheet, but it’s infinitely better on a pizza stone! A pizza stone is what makes Italian pizza crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Here’s the best pizza stone we’ve found, plus care tips.
  • Pizza peel: When you use a pizza stone, it’s easiest to use a pizza peel to transfer the pizza onto the hot pizza stone in the oven. We recommend this Standard pizza peel or this Conveyor pizza peel.

Variation: make it into Spinach Artichoke Pizza!

Do you love spinach artichoke dip? (We do!) You can easily make this spinach pizza into a Spinach Artichoke Pizza! Here’s what to do:

  • Remove the red onion and red pepper.
  • Top it with a handful of chopped artichokes from a can or jar of artichoke hearts.
  • Or make this Spinach Artichoke Pizza, a slightly different variation!
Spinach pizza

Other topping ideas

There are lots of other fun topping ideas for this spinach pizza! Here are a few ingredients we’d try:

  • Tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Bell peppers, multi-colored
  • Caramelized onions
  • Prosciutto

This spinach pizza is…

Vegetarian.

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Spinach pizza

Ultimate Spinach Pizza


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 slices
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Get your greens and pizza fix all at once with this spinach pizza! Ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese make for a creamy pie everyone will love.


Ingredients

  • 1 ball Best Pizza Dough (or Thin Crust Dough)
  • 8 ounces frozen spinach
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 handful sliced red onion
  • 1/2 jarred roasted red pepper (or fresh red bell pepper), diced
  • 1/2 small garlic clove (1/4 teaspoon minced)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Make the pizza dough: Follow the Best Pizza Dough or Thin Crust Dough recipe to prepare the dough. (This takes about 15 minutes to make and 45 minutes to rest.)
  2. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. OR preheat your pizza oven (here’s the pizza oven we use).
  3. Prepare the spinach: Run the spinach under warm water in a strainer, then squeeze out as much water as possible so that it has a dry, crumbly texture. Mix it in a bowl with 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, the garlic powder and the oregano.
  4. Prepare the other toppings: Mince the garlic. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta with the kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and minced garlic. Thinly slice the red onion, and dice the roasted red pepper.
  5. Bake the pizza: When the oven is ready, dust a pizza peel with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can use a rimless baking sheet or the back of a rimmed baking sheet. But a pizza peel is well worth the investment!) Stretch the dough into a circle; see How to Stretch Pizza Dough for instructions. Then gently place the dough onto the pizza peel.
  6. Spread the seasoned ricotta onto the dough. Top with the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, spinach, red onion, and red pepper.
  7. Use the pizza peel to carefully transfer the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake the pizza until the cheese and crust are nicely browned, about 5 to 7 minutes in the oven (or 1 minute in a pizza oven). Slice into pieces and serve immediately.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Spinach pizza

More favorite pizza recipes

It’s pizza party time! Here are a few more topping ideas to try:

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Perfect Pan Pizza

Here’s how to make the incredible pan pizza at home! It’s got thick pillowy crust and tastes like your favorite pizzeria…but even better. Eh ’em. Calling all lovers of thick, pillowy pizza crust! This epic homemade pan pizza tastes just like the thick crust pizza from your favorite pizzeria. The smell wafting from the oven is enough to make you visibly drool (we did!). Cooking in a cast iron skillet makes the crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside: and the cheese goes all the way to the edges. These supreme-style toppings with gooey cheese and garlicky tomato sauce…well, it’s true perfection. Side benefit: it’s easy to make, too. Here’s how to make the best pan pizza! How to make pan pizza: an overview Alex and I have spent years honing the art of Neapolitan-style artisan pizza and the perfect Margherita. But we’d never mastered American-style pan pizza: until now! While this style takes a little longer to make, it’s actually easier! You don’t have to shape the dough or worry about transferring it to a pizza stone. Throw it in a cast-iron skillet and let the oven do the magic! Here’s a basic outline of what […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make the incredible pan pizza at home! It’s got thick pillowy crust and tastes like your favorite pizzeria…but even better.

Pan pizza

Eh ’em. Calling all lovers of thick, pillowy pizza crust! This epic homemade pan pizza tastes just like the thick crust pizza from your favorite pizzeria. The smell wafting from the oven is enough to make you visibly drool (we did!). Cooking in a cast iron skillet makes the crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside: and the cheese goes all the way to the edges. These supreme-style toppings with gooey cheese and garlicky tomato sauce…well, it’s true perfection. Side benefit: it’s easy to make, too. Here’s how to make the best pan pizza!

How to make pan pizza: an overview

Alex and I have spent years honing the art of Neapolitan-style artisan pizza and the perfect Margherita. But we’d never mastered American-style pan pizza: until now! While this style takes a little longer to make, it’s actually easier! You don’t have to shape the dough or worry about transferring it to a pizza stone. Throw it in a cast-iron skillet and let the oven do the magic! Here’s a basic outline of what you’re getting yourself into with skillet pan pizza:

Make the dough15 minutes active
Proof dough in skillet45 minutes to 1 hour, inactive
Proof dough again (and prep toppings)45 minutes, inactive (use time to prep toppings)
Top and bake pizza15 minutes, inactive
How to make pan pizza

You’ll need a 10″ cast iron skillet

The only equipment you’ll need to make pan pizza is a cast iron skillet! You’ll need a 10-inch skillet for this recipe, because the dough size is designed especially to fit this pan.

The trick to extra thick crust: two proofs!

If you’ve baked bread before, you’ll know the term “proof”. Proofing is when you let bread dough rest after you’ve added yeast, so that it rises. The trick to getting the extra thick crust in this recipe is proofing the dough twice. The downside is that you’ll need to wait for 45 minutes not once but twice. The up-side is that you’ll get super thick, pillowy crust.

Another pro to making a skillet pan pizza: you don’t have to worry about shaping the dough! No throwing pizza dough in the air, or getting frustrated when it tears. Just proof it in the skillet, then press it out into the dough. It’s so simple!

Dough in cast iron skillet

This pizza sauce is a must

When you think about toppings for pan pizza, you can use anything you like. Just make sure to make our Best Pizza Sauce! It is full of incredible flavor and makes any pizza taste like you just stepped into a pizzeria. Even better, it takes just 5 minutes to make. Please. We beg of you. Make this sauce! Go to Best Pizza Sauce for the recipe.

Top your pan pizza with these epic supreme toppings!

OK, so here’s the deal. You can top this pan pizza with cheese and pepperoni if you’d like. But might we suggest topping with these epic supreme toppings? Typically we encourage creativity (and we do!). But you’ve got to try these toppings at least once. They make your house smell like you just stepped into a pizzeria. And they taste, well…epic. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (lots of it!)
  • Mushroom sauteed with fennel seed = tastes like sausage!
  • Bell peppers
  • Red onion
  • Dried oregano
Best skillet pan pizza

Pan pizza baking technique: stovetop then oven!

One last note about the technique for a pan pizza. The first thing you’ll do once you’ve topped your pizza is not put it in the oven. Nope, you’ll put it on a stovetop burner first and cook for 2 minutes. This makes sure that the bottom heats up just enough before it gets into the oven, making for the perfect crispy crust bottom. Trust us on this one!

Keep in mind: you can only make one (unless you have 2 skillets!)

This pan pizza recipe is made right in the cast iron skillet: you’ll rise the dough there for 1.5 hours, then press it in. Because of that, you can only make one pizza at once. Unless of course, you have two 10-inch cast iron skillets! (If so, can we be friends?)

That might not sound like enough. But guess what? The crust of a pan pizza is very thick, making it much more filling than a thin crust pizza. Typically Alex and I have at least 2 pizzas for our family (2 adults plus 3 year old), but with a pan pizza we can get by with one. Just make sure to accessorize with a salad or side. Speaking of…

Pan pizza

Ways to serve this pan pizza

Because you can only make one pan pizza at once, it’s an excuse to get creative on side dishes! It’s easy for Alex and me to load up on pizza, so we like the added challenge with this pan pizza. Here’s what we like to serve with it:

  • Favorite Chopped Salad This chopped salad will amaze everyone around the table! Homemade Italian dressing, crisp veggies and Parmesan cheese combine into one extraordinary salad.
  • Easy Arugula Salad The simplest salad you’ll ever make! This easy arugula salad is fool-proof: you don’t even need to make dressing. It comes together in minutes!
  • Spinach Apple Salad So easy and SO good, it will be your new go-to! No one will believe it took minutes to put together.
  • Simple Citrus Salad This refreshingly simple citrus salad features grapefruit and oranges topped with a tangy vinaigrette and fresh mint.
Best pan pizza

This perfect pan pizza recipe is…

Vegetarian.

Print
Pan pizza

Perfect Pan Pizza


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 4.63 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 slices
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make the incredible pan pizza at home! It’s got thick pillowy crust and tastes like your favorite pizzeria…but even better.


Ingredients

For the pan pizza dough

  • 188 grams (1 1/2 cups) Tipo 00 or all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 118 grams (1/2 cup) warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

For the topping

  • 4 baby bella mushrooms or one portabella mushroom
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 bell pepper (or 1/4 green and 1/4 red)
  • 1 handful thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup Easy Pizza Sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Dried oregano

Instructions

  1. Make the dough (15 minutes): Combine the flour, yeast, salt, oregano and garlic powder in a bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir to combine. Add the water and olive oil and stir until a raggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
  2. Knead the dough by pushing with the base of your palm, then reforming it into a ball. Continue kneading for 8 minutes until the dough feels pillowy and has a smooth, stretchy exterior. If the dough is very sticky, add a small amount of flour while kneading. Alternatively: attach the dough hook to a stand mixer and start the mixer on medium-low speed, then allow the mixer to knead for 8 minutes.
  3. Proof the dough (45 minutes to 1 hour): Generously the oil bottom and sides of a 10” cast iron skillet with olive oil. When the kneading is finished, use floured hands to gently shape the dough into a boule (ball shape) by folding the dough under itself. Set the dough in the center of the skillet and dab the dough with a bit of olive oil to keep it moist. Cover with a damp towel and allow them to rise until doubled in size and spread out, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Press and proof again (45 minutes): Remove the towel and drizzle with a tad of olive oil. Use your fingers to press the dough out into a circle to the edges of the pan. Cover and rest for 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat: When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 475F.
  6. Prep the toppings: Slice the baby bella mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Saute the mushrooms and fennel seeds for about 3 to 5 minutes, until they become golden brown and start to release moisture. Add 2 pinches of kosher salt and cook another minute, then remove from the heat.
  7. Finely dice the green pepper. Thinly slice the red pepper. Thinly slice the red onion.
  8. Top and bake the pizza (20 minutes): When the dough is ready, spread the pizza sauce over the dough using the back of a spoon to create a thin layer all the way to the edges of the dough. Add the mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Top with the mushrooms, peppers, and red onion. Sprinkle with dried oregano and a few pinches of kosher salt. Top with another light sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.
  9. Place the skillet on a stovetop burner on high heat for two minutes. Then transfer to the oven and bake 13 to 17 minutes until the cheese is browned. Run a butter knife around the edge of the pan so that the cheese doesn’t stick, then cool it to cool slightly. After a minute or so, remove the pizza to a cutting board and slice it into pieces. Serve immediately.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian American

Keywords: Pan Pizza, Easy Pan Pizza

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Vegan Enchiladas

These vegan enchiladas are over the top delicious! Stuffed with black beans and guacamole, they’re doused in a zesty homemade red enchilada sauce. WOW is all we can say about this vegan enchiladas recipe! It tops the charts (with our vegan lasagna and shepherd’s pie) as one of our most crowd-pleasing plant based recipes…ever. Tortillas are wrapped around a veggie filling oozing with flavor, and it’s all doused in a zesty homemade enchilada sauce. With the crunchy veggie topping, this dish looks simply incredible. And it tastes even better than it looks! Alex and my goal was a whole food plant based (WFPB) enchiladas recipe with no cheese substitutes or need for vegan cheese. With a few tasty tricks, it turned out even better than expected! Here’s how to make it. What’s in the best vegan enchiladas? Don’t let these vegan enchiladas fool you: they’ll satisfy people of all diets! They’re packed with zingy flavor and full of nutrients. Even better, there’s a lazy version and a version for when you have lots of time. Here’s what’s in these enchiladas (can you see it peeking out?): Veggie filling: The tasty filling features black beans, red onion, bell pepper, and portobello […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

These vegan enchiladas are over the top delicious! Stuffed with black beans and guacamole, they’re doused in a zesty homemade red enchilada sauce.

Vegan enchiladas

WOW is all we can say about this vegan enchiladas recipe! It tops the charts (with our vegan lasagna and shepherd’s pie) as one of our most crowd-pleasing plant based recipesever. Tortillas are wrapped around a veggie filling oozing with flavor, and it’s all doused in a zesty homemade enchilada sauce. With the crunchy veggie topping, this dish looks simply incredible. And it tastes even better than it looks! Alex and my goal was a whole food plant based (WFPB) enchiladas recipe with no cheese substitutes or need for vegan cheese. With a few tasty tricks, it turned out even better than expected! Here’s how to make it.

Vegan enchiladas

What’s in the best vegan enchiladas?

Don’t let these vegan enchiladas fool you: they’ll satisfy people of all diets! They’re packed with zingy flavor and full of nutrients. Even better, there’s a lazy version and a version for when you have lots of time. Here’s what’s in these enchiladas (can you see it peeking out?):

  • Veggie filling: The tasty filling features black beans, red onion, bell pepper, and portobello mushrooms sauteed with spices
  • Guacamole! This is the secret ingredient! Instead of cheese, guacamole is what brings the savory, creamy flavor to the inside of these enchiladas.
  • Red enchilada sauce: Use your very favorite red enchilada sauce here, or the best one is homemade (see below).
  • Tortillas: Flour or corn tortillas work. See our comparison below!
  • Veggie garnish: Since there’s no cheese on top, we went for a fresh Mexican-style veggie garnish with romaine lettuce, red onion, radish, and cilantro. It makes the entire dish look stunning!
Homemade enchilada sauce recipe

Homemade enchilada sauce makes the dish!

If you have time, it’s absolutely worth making our Homemade Enchilada Sauce. Turns out, it takes just a handful of ingredients to get huge flavor. This full-bodied sauce is zingy, zesty, and you’ll never want to stop eating it. Here are a few notes on incorporating this sauce into these vegan enchiladas:

  • It’s cheaper to make homemade. This recipe calls for 3 cups enchilada sauce. Alex and I priced out our favorite brand and it would be $12 to make this recipe! The homemade version weighs in at around $5.
  • Make it the day before for quick assembly. It takes about 30 minutes to make the enchilada sauce. We recommend making it the day before and refrigerating until serving. Or, you can…
  • It adds about 15 minutes to the prep time (and a dirty pan & blender). If you make it the day of, it will add about 15 minutes to the recipe, since you can simmer it while you make the enchilada filling. Just know you’ll have a little more to clean up, too!
How to make vegan enchiladas

How to assemble these vegan enchiladas

Assembling these vegan enchiladas is the hardest part. How to make sure you have the right amount of filling so it doesn’t spill out? How to make sure the tortillas don’t split? Here are our tips:

  • Don’t overfill the tortillas. It’s easy to want to put in way too much filling. All you need is 1/4 cup veggies and 2 tablespoons guacamole. Spread them in a line like you see below.
  • Roll them tightly and place seam side down. Placing seam side down helps them stay rolled.
  • If using corn tortillas, use a good brand and cook in oil prior to rolling. Corn tortillas taste great and are gluten-free, but they can easily tear and split when rolling them. See the instructions in the recipe and the section below for more!
Assembling enchiladas
Here’s what the inside of one of the tortillas should look like!

Flour tortillas vs corn tortillas: which are better for enchiladas?

Corn tortillas are more traditional in Mexican-style enchiladas. Flour tortillas are more traditional in American style enchiladas. There are pros and cons to both! When we tested this vegan enchiladas recipe, we had a lot of issues with corn tortillas that split open when we went to roll them. Here are some pros and cons to each:

  • Corn tortillas are gluten-free and more authentic Mexican. But many brands easily split when you go to roll them! To combat this, find the best corn tortilla brand you can. Then brush it with oil and cook it 15 seconds per side before assembling. Doing so can help to make it more supple for rolling (and infuses a little flavor).
  • Flour tortillas are more authentic to American enchiladas. They’re not gluten-free but they are much easier to roll! We also both loved how gooey they get when soaked in the enchilada sauce.
Vegan enchiladas

Homemade vs purchased guacamole

Our homemade guacamole recipe is so good, it’s worth making if you have time! But since storebought guacamole is so easily available, we’d recommend getting your favorite purchased brand to speed up prep time for the recipe. It takes about 15 minutes to make the guacamole. If you’re making of the components at home, we’d recommend the enchilada sauce instead.

But if you do have time, it’s worth making this incredible homemade guacamole, and you can use the extras as a side dish. You could also make it ahead and store it using this storage tip so it doesn’t brown: refrigerate it with 1/2″ of water on top of the guac. This serves as a barrier to the air and works like a charm!

Vegan enchiladas

Sides to serve with vegan enchiladas

These enchiladas are a stunning vegan dish that’s perfect for dinner parties or weeknight meals. What to serve with these vegan enchiladas to make it a full meal? We’ve got lots of options. Here are our favorite sides to serve with enchiladas:

This vegan enchiladas recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free (with corn tortillas).

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Vegan enchiladas

Vegan Enchiladas (Best Ever!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.44 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6

Description

These vegan enchiladas are over the top delicious! Stuffed with black beans and guacamole, they’re doused in a zesty homemade red enchilada sauce.


Ingredients

  • 3 cups Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce or purchased sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (leftover from the enchilada sauce recipe) or water
  • 1 1/2 cups guacamole (homemade or purchased)
  • 12 8-inch flour or corn tortillas (read section above)
  • For the garnish: 1 cup thinly sliced romaine lettuce, 1 to 2 radishes cut into matchsticks, 2 tablespoons minced red onion, and torn cilantro
  • Optional: Vegan sour cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Start the Enchilada Sauce (or for quicker prep, make it the night before). 
  3. Remove the stems from the mushroom caps and thinly slice them. Thinly slice the red onion. Thinly slice the bell pepper
  4. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the veggies for 6 to 7 minutes until tender. Add the black beans (drained and rinsed), garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, paprika, kosher salt, lime juice and vegetable broth or water. Cook for 2 minutes until the liquid is thickened into a sauce. 
  5. Spread 1 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. 
  6. If using corn tortillas ONLY: Brush both sides of each tortilla lightly with olive oil. Heat a large griddle to medium-high heat. Cook the tortillas in batches for 15 seconds per side until lightly browned.
  7. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 cup of the vegetable filling and about 2 tablespoons guacamole, running in a line down the center (see the photo). Roll it up and place it in the baking dish seam side down. Once all of the 12 tortillas are in the dish, pour over the remaining 2 cups of enchilada sauce.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes until warmed through. Top with garnishes and serve. (Leftovers keep well refrigerated.)

Notes

*Prep time listed below does not include time for making enchilada sauce. This adds about 15 minutes to the prep time, since you can simmer the sauce while making the filling.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop / Baked
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Vegan Enchiladas

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Here’s the very best vegan shepherd’s pie! The hearty veggie and lentil filling contrasts fluffy potatoes in this stunning plant based dinner recipe. Wow is all we can say about this one. This vegan shepherd’s pie is the dinner recipe version of wearing a fuzzy sweater and drinking hot mulled cider. It’s cozy comfort food to the max! Imagine: a creamy gravy filled with tender vegetables, lentils and scented with fennel and sage. Then a fluffy layer of Yukon gold potatoes, topped with fresh rosemary. It’s layered together in a baking dish and then baked until golden. This one’s a whole food plant based (WFPB) stunner: perfect for impressing guests…or just yourself. Why it’s the best vegan shepherd’s pie Know one thing: vegan shepherd’s pie is not quick and easy! Though we do have hundreds of fast and easy dinner recipes. But this one is cozy, slow-cooked comfort food. You’ll need 1 hour to make this recipe. And we think you’ll agree with us: this is 1 hour very well spent. Pull this one out when you’re looking to impress…it’s perfect for a Sunday dinner. But if you’re well organized, you can serve it on a weeknight, too! Here’s why […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s the very best vegan shepherd’s pie! The hearty veggie and lentil filling contrasts fluffy potatoes in this stunning plant based dinner recipe.

Vegan shepherd's pie

Wow is all we can say about this one. This vegan shepherd’s pie is the dinner recipe version of wearing a fuzzy sweater and drinking hot mulled cider. It’s cozy comfort food to the max! Imagine: a creamy gravy filled with tender vegetables, lentils and scented with fennel and sage. Then a fluffy layer of Yukon gold potatoes, topped with fresh rosemary. It’s layered together in a baking dish and then baked until golden. This one’s a whole food plant based (WFPB) stunner: perfect for impressing guests…or just yourself.

Why it’s the best vegan shepherd’s pie

Know one thing: vegan shepherd’s pie is not quick and easy! Though we do have hundreds of fast and easy dinner recipes. But this one is cozy, slow-cooked comfort food. You’ll need 1 hour to make this recipe. And we think you’ll agree with us: this is 1 hour very well spent. Pull this one out when you’re looking to impress…it’s perfect for a Sunday dinner. But if you’re well organized, you can serve it on a weeknight, too! Here’s why we think this recipe stands out:

  • The filling is thick, meaty and savory. It’s hard to make vegan recipes taste as satisfying as meaty dishes. Here, fennel seed tricks your brain into thinking there’s meat (it’s used in sausage). The gravy is ultra thick, and the tender French cut-onions are vaguely reminiscent of a meaty texture.
  • It’s full of plant-based protein. This shepherd’s pie is filled with plant-based protein: lentils and peas help it to have sticking power.
  • It can be made in about 1 hour. Most recipes don’t brag about this. But with a shepherd’s pie, it can take multiple hours to make. But we’ve tweaked this one to be as easy as possible within the genre (even faster than our vegetarian shepherd’s pie).
Vegan shepherd's pie

Make sure to use Yukon gold potatoes!

Don’t even think about using Russet potatoes here! Some people claim the best shepherd’s pie is made with Russet potatoes. But we beg to differ! Maybe you can pull it off if you load them with dairy. But for a vegan shepherd’s pie: use Yukon gold potatoes. They have a naturally buttery flavor and creamy texture that can withstand the lack of dairy. Also, isn’t that bright yellow color beautiful?

Time saver: canned lentils vs cooked

Here’s a little time saver: you can use canned lentils instead of cooked for this vegan shepherd’s pie recipe! This speeds up the recipe so you don’t have to get out yet another pot. Here are a few notes:

  • Look for canned lentils near the canned beans in the grocery store. Use any type of canned lentils you can find. Make sure to drain before adding them to the filling.
  • Or, cook your own lentils! If you can’t find canned lentils, cook your own lentils and add 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils to the filling. Use our Brown/Green Lentils or Black Lentils recipes. You can cook them in water and omit the seasoning listed in the recipe. Do cook with the kosher salt, but don’t add extra salt after cooking since the filling will be seasoned. If you can, do this step in advance and refrigerate until making the filling.
Vegan mashed potatoes
Make the mashed potatoes in advance as a time saver.

Some meal prep tips: make it even faster!

The canned lentils are a little trick to make this vegan shepherd’s pie quicker to prepare. Here are a few more things you can do to make your life easier the day of baking:

  • Make the mashed potatoes in advance. This will actually work to your advantage since it also helps the texture set. Refrigerate the Vegan Mashed Potatoes until serving, then reheat them to make it easier to spread onto the filling.
  • Make the filling in advance (if you’re really motivated!). If you’re really into meal prep, you can make the filling in advance too! Then refrigerate until serving. You can reheat it before baking to keep the same bake time in the recipe (20 minutes). You could also bake it from cold, and you’d need a few more minutes of baking time. Let us know if you try that out!
Vegan shepherd's pie

Step up vegan shepherd’s pie: add truffle oil!

Serving this vegan shepherd’s pie at a dinner party? If you’d like to impress, here’s a trick: stir a little truffle oil into the potatoes layer! Truffles are a luxury flavor of mushroom that’s used in Italian cooking. The exotic flavor is often paired with potatoes, like in these Truffle Fries! Stirring in a little truffle oil to taste would add a layer of magic to this dish. Here’s more about truffle oil: how to use & where to buy it.

More vegan comfort food recipes

Want to continue to impress with plant based dinners? These vegan comfort food recipes are fan favorites and will knock your socks off (promise):

  • Best Vegan Pot Pie This vegan pot pie is next level: hearty vegetables, a gooey sauce, and a flaky, sage crust. Better yet, it’s easy enough to make on a weeknight!
  • Favorite Vegan Lasagna This vegan lasagna will become your new favorite: guaranteed. Full of flavor, it’s whole food plant based (dairy free) and a winner with everyone!
  • Best Vegan Pizza This best vegan pizza recipe is a total crowd pleaser! The veggie pizza toppings are so full of flavor no one notices it’s cheeseless.
Vegan shepherd's pie

This vegan shepherd’s pie recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Vegan shepherd's pie

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (Best Ever!)


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6

Description

Here’s the very best vegan shepherd’s pie! The hearty veggie and lentil filling contrasts fluffy potatoes in this stunning plant based dinner recipe.


Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Vegan Mashed Potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces portabella mushrooms (2 large mushroom caps)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 15-ounce can lentils, drained*
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, for the garnish

Instructions

  1. Start the mashed potatoes: Start the Vegan Mashed Potatoes recipe**. (You can also make these in advance; just reheat before spreading onto the filling to bake.)
  2. Prep the vegetables: Meanwhile, dice mushrooms into bite-sized chunks. Peel and slice the carrots into thin half-circles. Cut the onion into thin slivers length-wise (also called French cut; see the instructions in 1:40 of the linked video).
  3. Make the filling: In large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium high heat. Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes until golden and tender. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the sliced onion and carrots. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are tender and just browning.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low. Stir in the flour, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and dried sage and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable broth, peas, lentils (drained if canned), soy sauce and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until the broth is very thick and the vegetables are heated through.
  5. Finish the mashed potatoes: When the potatoes are done cooking, mash them according to the instructions in that recipe.
  6. Bake: Pour the filling into a 2-quart small baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes in a layer on top. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned. If desired, broil for 1 to 2 minutes to brown the top. Garnish with chopped rosemary and serve warm.

Notes

*If you can’t find canned lentils, cook your own lentils and add 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils to the filling. Use our Brown/Green Lentils or Black Lentils recipes: you can cook them in water and omit the seasoning. Do cook with the kosher salt, but don’t add extra after cooking.

**Want to impress? Stir in a little truffle oil to the mashed potatoes to taste. Here’s our favorite All Natural White Truffle Oil.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Wild Rice Casserole

Here’s a modern spin on wild rice casserole! It’s broccoli cheese flavor, easy to make, and a healthy spin that’s heavy on whole foods. Here’s a modern spin on wild rice casserole that’s cozy and all about whole foods! Why relegate this healthy whole grain only to wild rice soup? There are plenty more ways to serve it, and this one is truly spectacular. It’s broccoli cheese flavor, flecked with savory bits of broccoli, gooey white cheddar, and a creamy easy-to-make filling. While it’s got a vaguely 1970’s vibe, this one is all whole foods and heavy on the plants. (Nope, there’s no cream of mushroom soup!) Ready to get cooking? What’s in this wild rice casserole? This broccoli cheese wild rice casserole is all about comfort food! At the same time, Alex and I have tried to keep a healthy spin: it’s got all whole foods, just enough cheese, and no rich roux sauce. Here’s what we’ve got in this vegetarian and gluten-free casserole: Perfect Wild Rice: Here we’ve used our favorite method of cooking this grain, simmered with vegetable broth, onion and celery. It comes out perfectly moist and tender! Broccoli: It’s chopped into small florets and sauteed […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s a modern spin on wild rice casserole! It’s broccoli cheese flavor, easy to make, and a healthy spin that’s heavy on whole foods.

Wild rice casserole

Here’s a modern spin on wild rice casserole that’s cozy and all about whole foods! Why relegate this healthy whole grain only to wild rice soup? There are plenty more ways to serve it, and this one is truly spectacular. It’s broccoli cheese flavor, flecked with savory bits of broccoli, gooey white cheddar, and a creamy easy-to-make filling. While it’s got a vaguely 1970’s vibe, this one is all whole foods and heavy on the plants. (Nope, there’s no cream of mushroom soup!) Ready to get cooking?

Wild rice recipe

What’s in this wild rice casserole?

This broccoli cheese wild rice casserole is all about comfort food! At the same time, Alex and I have tried to keep a healthy spin: it’s got all whole foods, just enough cheese, and no rich roux sauce. Here’s what we’ve got in this vegetarian and gluten-free casserole:

  • Perfect Wild Rice: Here we’ve used our favorite method of cooking this grain, simmered with vegetable broth, onion and celery. It comes out perfectly moist and tender!
  • Broccoli: It’s chopped into small florets and sauteed simply on the stovetop with a few spices. It’s our favorite way to eat it as a side dish: which we stole here for this casserole!
  • Sour Cream: Who wants to dirty another pan to make a cheese sauce? You’ll stir sour cream right into the rice to make it creamy.
  • White Cheddar Cheese: A sharp white cheddar cheese is perfect here. You can use aged cheese to get even more flavor.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Adding shredded Parmesan brings just right right complexity!

Did you know wild rice isn’t really…rice?

Did you know that wild rice is not actually rice? (Mind blown, right?) It’s actually the seed from a native grass that grows in lakes and streams in the Northern US and Canada. But since it looks a lot like rice, wild rice is treated as rice in most cuisines! Wild rice was an important staple to Native Americans in the upper Great Lakes area of the US. I’m from Minnesota originally, so wild rice was part of the heritage and history of where I lived growing up!

Wild rice casserole

Wild rice vs brown rice

Though they’re not truly related, wild rice is often compared to brown rice. They are often served in similar ways, and wild rice is a great substitute for rice (like in a wild rice casserole!). Is wild rice healthier than brown rice? Here’s how they stack up:

  • Wild rice has less calories than brown rice, about 66% less! 1 cup of cooked wild rice has 166 calories and 1 cup brown rice has 248 calories. (Source)
  • Wild rice has slightly more protein than brown rice1 cup cooked wild rice has 6.5 grams protein vs 5.5 grams in brown rice. (Source)
  • Both wild and brown rice have the same amount of fiber, about 3 grams per 1 cup cooked.
Wild rice casserole

Make ahead tips!

Wild rice takes about 45 to 55 minutes to cook…which is why Alex and I used to avoid it in our recipes! But we’ve learned it’s absolutely worth the time. To make this wild rice casserole seriously simple to prep, here’s what you can do:

  • Make the wild rice in advance. Make the rice in advance and refrigerate until serving! The day of serving, mix it with the hot broccoli in a bowl, which should reheat it.
  • The day of, make the broccoli while the oven preheats. Saute the broccoli while the oven is preheating, then mix it with the wild rice to reheat it.

How to serve wild rice casserole

This wild rice casserole can be served as a side dish or a vegetarian and gluten-free dinner main dish! What could you serve with it to make it into a meal? Here are some ideas:

  • Lemony Steamed Green Beans These zesty steamed green beans are the epitome of an easy side dish: they take just 10 minutes to put together.
  • Best Ever Sauteed Mushrooms This wild rice casserole doesn’t have mushrooms, so why not serve them as a side! They’re meaty and would add a nice contrast.
  • Fennel Orange Salad Here’s a refreshing and easy side dish: fennel orange salad! It pairs juicy orange and the subtle licorice essence of fennel with a citrus vinaigrette.
  • Want more? Here are our Best Side Dishes.
Wild Rice casserole

This recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Wild rice casserole

Wild Rice Casserole (Broccoli Cheese!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Description

Here’s a modern spin on wild rice casserole! It’s broccoli cheese flavor, easy to make, and a healthy spin that’s heavy on whole foods.


Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Perfect Wild Rice (with onions and celery)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (2 large heads) broccoli (about 4 cups small florets)
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cup (4 ounces) shredded white cheddar cheese (aged, if you’d like)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Make the rice: Make the Perfect Wild Rice. (Meal prep tip: Make this in advance and refrigerate until serving. The day of serving, reheat it to warm, or mix with the still-warm broccoli in step 2 to reheat it.)
  2. Cook the broccoli: Meanwhile, chop the broccoli into small florets. Thinly slice the green onions. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the broccoli florets and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (the broccoli will lightly brown in parts). Stir in the green onion, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until crisp tender but still bright green. Taste and add a few pinches of salt if needed (make the flavor pop!) and fresh ground pepper. Remove to a large bowl. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Mix the casserole filling: When the wild rice is done, drain it and add the additional salt to taste as part of that recipe. Then place it in the bowl with the broccoli. Mix in the sour cream and 3/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese. Taste and add additional salt if you’d like (we added 1/4 teaspoon more). 
  5. Bake: Pour the filling into a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Bake 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Wild Rice Casserole

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Poke Bowl Recipe

Here’s how to make a poke bowl! This classic recipe stars ahi tuna marinaded in a flavorful poke sauce, rice, and lots of veggie topping ideas. How much do you love a good poke bowl? This Hawaiian bowl of seasoned raw fish, rice and crunchy veggies has caught on here on the mainland, and everybody’s doing it! Yep, there are a few poke restaurants right here in Indianapolis, the middle of the Midwest. Because poke is that good. And guess what? You can easily make poke in the comfort of your own home: it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, or even better for a showy meal for entertaining. Want a plant based option? Go to Vegan Poke Bowl. What is poke? Poke is Hawaiian for “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces, and it refers to the raw fish that’s cut into cubes. It originated from fisherman in Hawaii who would season leftover parts of their catch for a snack! Poke is a Hawaiian-American food, but much of its flavor is influenced by Japanese cuisine: soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil. You can make poke out of any raw fish, but the most common fish you’ll see is ahi […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make a poke bowl! This classic recipe stars ahi tuna marinaded in a flavorful poke sauce, rice, and lots of veggie topping ideas.

Poke bowl recipe

How much do you love a good poke bowl? This Hawaiian bowl of seasoned raw fish, rice and crunchy veggies has caught on here on the mainland, and everybody’s doing it! Yep, there are a few poke restaurants right here in Indianapolis, the middle of the Midwest. Because poke is that good. And guess what? You can easily make poke in the comfort of your own home: it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, or even better for a showy meal for entertaining.

Want a plant based option? Go to Vegan Poke Bowl.

What is poke?

Poke is Hawaiian for “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces, and it refers to the raw fish that’s cut into cubes. It originated from fisherman in Hawaii who would season leftover parts of their catch for a snack! Poke is a Hawaiian-American food, but much of its flavor is influenced by Japanese cuisine: soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil. You can make poke out of any raw fish, but the most common fish you’ll see is ahi tuna.

Poke can be served as either an appetizer, or in a bowl as a main dish. Serve it with rice, veggies, and other sauces and it becomes a poke bowl. What does it taste like? You’ve got to taste it to believe it, but with a good ahi tuna it tastes buttery, savory, and altogether otherworldly.

Ahi poke

What’s in the poke sauce?

This poke bowl recipe features glistening ahi tuna poke in a marinade that makes it taste like the most incredible food on the planet. You’ll cut the tuna into cubes, then stir it with these flavors and let it marinade. Here are the flavors that go into this poke sauce:

  • Sweet yellow onion (has a milder flavor than yellow onion)
  • Green onions
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil (plain, not toasted, to gently accentuate the flavor of the fish)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sriracha (just a squirt to brighten the flavor without adding heat)
Poke bowl

Do you really have to marinade 1 hour?

Most classic poke bowl recipes call for marinading the poke for 1 hour. But do you really have to wait a whole hour before digging in? Great question. To find out, Alex and I taste tested our poke right away, at 30 minutes, and at 1 hour to see how the flavor changed. The verdict?

  • You can eat your poke right away! It tastes incredible.
  • Marinading even 15 to 30 minutes rounds out the flavor.
  • If you have the time, marinade for 1 hour: the flavors really permeate the fish.

Raw fish? Here’s how to find the best ahi tuna

You’ll be eating raw fish in a poke bowl, so you want to make sure to get the very best tuna you can find. Here are some pointers:

  • Make sure to purchase ahi tuna that is marked sushi or sashimi grade.
  • Sometimes this will be in the frozen fish area, or at the fish counter.
  • If you aren’t sure, make sure to confirm with the store that this fish is safe to eat raw.
Ahi tuna

Poke bowl topping ideas

There are so many ways to make a poke bowl! This bowl is built around the assumption: if you start with great poke, you’ll have a great poke bowl. The fish is the star here, so really anything you do with it will taste incredible. The poke sauce will drip down into the veggies and rice, helping to flavor them. In this bowl, we did add some light seasonings to each veggie to bring out the flavor. Here’s what you’ll find in this poke bowl, and then some other ideas:

Toppings in this poke bowl

  • Short grain rice white or brown, we tend toward brown since it has more fiber and nutrients. Traditionally it’s white sushi rice. This bowl we actually used purple short grain rice, which was also tasty!
  • Red cabbage flavored with a little rice vinegar and salt
  • Cucumber with a few pinches of salt
  • Edamame frozen and thawed, well salted
  • Radishes if you can find watermelon radishes, they’ve got beautiful color!
  • Sesame seeds

Other poke topping ideas

  • Cucumber seaweed salad: Take 1 large English cucumber and julienne it into long thin strips (3 cups; we used a handheld julienne peeler). Mix with 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.
  • Spicy mayo: Everything is better with a little spicy mayo: right? We also use this on our Vegan Poke Bowl.
  • Carrot ribbons: Julienne carrots or slice them into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
  • Avocado: Many poke bowls have avocado: we also used it in our Vegan Poke Bowl.
  • Ponzu sauce
Poke bowl topping ideas

Other great poke recipes

Want more ideas? There are great resources from Hawaiian chefs:

Ahi tuna poke bowl

This poke bowl recipe is…

Pescatarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

Print
Poke bowl recipe

Poke Bowl Recipe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

Here’s how to make a poke bowl! Try this easy healthy dinner recipe with rice, ahi tuna marinaded in a flavorful sauce, and lots of veggie topping ideas.


Ingredients

For the poke

  • 1 1/2 pounds ahi tuna, sushi or sashimi grade (3 steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1/4 cup minced sweet yellow onion
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (not toasted)
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Small squeeze sriracha

For the poke bowl

  • 1 cup dry short grain white rice or brown rice
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 watermelon radish or 2 radishes
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (thawed)
  • Rice vinegar and kosher salt, for seasoning
  • For the garnish: Sesame seeds, microgreens or sprouts
  • Optional: Spicy Mayo

Instructions

  1. Make the rice: Make the rice on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot. When it’s done, give it a few shakes of rice vinegar and stir in salt to taste. (Or, make the rice in advance and reheat it on the stovetop with a splash of water.)
  2. For the poke: Slice the tuna into 1-inch cubes. Mince the onion. Thinly slice the green onions. Mix them in a bowl with the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, kosher salt and Sriracha. 
  3. Serve immediately, but for most authentic flavor marinate in refrigerator for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt before serving.* (Get this in the fridge while the rice boils and you prep the veggies, and you can eat when it’s all done.)
  4. Prepare the vegetables: Thinly slice the red cabbage. Place it in a small bowl and add a few shakes of rice vinegar and a few pinches salt. Thinly slice the cucumber and radishes, and salt them with a few pinches of salt. 
  5. Assemble the poke bowls: Place the rice in the bowl and top with the poke and vegetables. Garnish with sesame seeds and greens. 

Notes

*It tastes great either way. The traditional poke is marinaded at least 1 hour. If you’re looking for a quick meal, it’s very good right away too.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian

Keywords: Poke Bowl, Poke Bowl Recipe

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Creamy Cavatappi Pasta

Cavatappi pasta is corkscrew shaped and great with creamy sauces. Serve it with a creamy white sauce, spinach, and sundried tomatoes for an easy dinner! This post was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own. Here’s a tasty pasta recipe that’s comfort food with a healthy spin: our creamy cavatappi pasta! It’s one of Alex and my favorite pasta shapes, paired with a creamy sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. It’s cheesy but not too rich, made with a secret ingredient to infuse nutrients. It perfect as a weeknight pasta dinner but fancy enough for entertaining. Our son Larson could not get enough of this “mac and cheese” (his words)! It’s made with our favorite Italian pasta brand: Delallo. They’re a family business that knows how to make the best pasta out there. What is cavatappi pasta? Cavatappi means corkscrew in Italian! Cavatappi pasta is macaroni that’s shaped into corkscrews. It’s best eaten with creamy or chunky sauces. Our favorite is this creamy cavatappi recipe (scroll down), or it makes a mean mac and cheese! Alex and I love this pasta shape because it’s unique and substantial: we find that the unexpected shape slows us down to really […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Cavatappi pasta is corkscrew shaped and great with creamy sauces. Serve it with a creamy white sauce, spinach, and sundried tomatoes for an easy dinner!

Cavatappi pasta

This post was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own.

Here’s a tasty pasta recipe that’s comfort food with a healthy spin: our creamy cavatappi pasta! It’s one of Alex and my favorite pasta shapes, paired with a creamy sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. It’s cheesy but not too rich, made with a secret ingredient to infuse nutrients. It perfect as a weeknight pasta dinner but fancy enough for entertaining. Our son Larson could not get enough of this “mac and cheese” (his words)! It’s made with our favorite Italian pasta brand: Delallo. They’re a family business that knows how to make the best pasta out there.

What is cavatappi pasta?

Cavatappi means corkscrew in Italian! Cavatappi pasta is macaroni that’s shaped into corkscrews. It’s best eaten with creamy or chunky sauces. Our favorite is this creamy cavatappi recipe (scroll down), or it makes a mean mac and cheese! Alex and I love this pasta shape because it’s unique and substantial: we find that the unexpected shape slows us down to really enjoy each bite.

Cavatappi pasta

What’s in this cavatappi pasta recipe?

This recipe is a fantastic way to eat cavatappi! The sauce is creamy and cheesy, but it’s hiding some good-for-you ingredients too. Here are our secrets to this creamy cavatappi pasta recipe:

  • Cavatappi pasta. Cook it to al dente to enjoy the full effect of this dish. Get the best quality pasta you can find (here’s the Delallo cavatappi we used).
  • Creamy cauliflower sauce. Here’s the secret: cauliflower! Our cauliflower sauce is a healthy alfredo sauce that blends cauliflower with garlic, spices, and a little Parmesan. It’s terrifically good and it’s got all the nutrients of cauliflower.
  • Baby spinach. A few handfuls of spinach make for another dose of nutrients. You’ll cook the spinach in the pasta water in the last minute, so you don’t need to dirty an extra pot!
  • Sundried tomatoes. Finely chopped sundried tomatoes add a savory component that makes the entire dish just right!
Creamy cavatappi pasta

All about Delallo pasta!

Delallo is our favorite Italian foods brand, a family business that’s been around since the 1950’s. They’re obsessed with quality and making the very best in Italian foods. Pasta, tomatoes, pesto, meats and cheeses, olives and antipasti, bruschetta—they do it all.

DeLallo’s pasta (like this cavatappi pasta) comes from Southern Italy, in an area just below Naples known as the birthplace of pasta. It’s made with only wheat and water, with the highest of quality ingredients. Then it’s extruded with bronze dies: this creates a surface perfect for absorbing and capturing every type of sauce. Does it really make a difference? Yes! Alex and I have taste tested and bronze die pasta really does absorb the sauce flavors better. Check out all of Delallo’s pastas here!

Pasta shapes

How to cook pasta to al dente

Now for a truly authentic experience, you absolutely must cook your cavatappi pasta to al dente. What does al dente mean? In Italian it means “to the bite” and refers to pasta that is still firm on the inside when cooked. The ideal al dente texture is a tender exterior balanced by a firm bite with a fleck of white at its core. Here’s how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  • While cooking, be sure to check pasta continually for doneness.
  • As soon as the pasta has a tender exterior but a fleck of white at its core, drain it! Even a few seconds can be the difference between al dente and limp noodles.
Cavatappi pasta

Why make a creamy cauliflower sauce?

Why make sauce with cauliflower? This sauce is like a healthy alfredo sauce, but unlike the traditional version, you’ll feel light and vibrant afterwards! The standard cheesy pasta often feels too rich and I end up with an upset stomach. This cauliflower sauce is much lighter. Even better, you get all the nutritional benefits of cauliflower. So this cavatappi pasta works as an easy, healthy dinner idea. Here’s a breakdown of cauliflower nutrition (source Harvard Medical School):

  • 1 cup of chopped cauliflower has only 25 calories and 5 grams carbs
  • It’s a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B and potassium.
  • Cauliflower is high in fiber (1 cup has about 10% of your daily needs).
Creamy cauliflower sauce

How to reheat cavatappi pasta

You can save any leftovers of this cavatappi pasta in the refrigerator. Alex and I even found a great way to reheat it so it’s creamy again after refrigerating! Here’s how to reheat leftover cavatappi pasta:

  • Place it in a skillet and add a splash of milk. Use a ratio of about 1 cup noodles to 1 tablespoon milk.
  • Heat over medium heat and stir until creamy.
Creamy cavatappi pasta

This cavatappi pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Cavatappi pasta

Creamy Cavatappi Pasta


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8

Description

Cavatappi pasta is corkscrew shaped and great with creamy sauces. Serve it with a creamy white sauce, spinach, and sundried tomatoes for an easy dinner!


Ingredients

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 small head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), enough for 6 cups florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 pound Delallo cavatappi pasta
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 3 tablespoons Delallo sundried tomatoes, minced
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley

Instructions

  1. Make the cauliflower sauce: Mince the garlic. Chop the cauliflower.
  2. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and saute for 4 minutes until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the vegetable broth, garlic powder, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook 6 to 7 minutes on medium high heat until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside). When the pasta is just about al dente, add spinach to pasta water in last 45 seconds (it only needs this long to cook). Then drain the pasta and spinach and return to the pot.
  4. Blend the cauliflower sauce: When the cauliflower is cooked (in Step 3), carefully transfer the hot cauliflower and broth mixture to a blender. Blend on high until a smooth sauce forms. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and an additional 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and blend again.
  5. Serve: Once the pasta is done, pour in the cauliflower sauce. Add the chopped sundried tomatoes, the additional 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes (if using). Taste and if desired add salt or fresh ground pepper. Top with parsley and serve. Store leftovers refrigerated (see reheating instructions above.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Cavatappi pasta, Pasta dinner ideas, Cauliflower sauce

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