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Pesto Pasta with Green Beans and Potatoes

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Today is Jon’s birthday so naturally I’m making him a special birthday dinner.  This will actually be one of three special birthday dinners I’ll be making for him this week, but who’s counting!

Tonight’s dinner is from the pages of my upcoming cookbook, Vegan Without Borders. The recipe is for Trofie alla Presto with Green Beans and Potatoes — the photo is by Sara Remington who took all the gorgeous photos for the book.

This recipe is a classic Ligurian dish that I’ve made before — and which Jon loved — and since I happen to have a bag of imported trofie pasta on hand and loads of fresh basil, it’s the ideal choice for tonight’s dinner. Trofie pasta is a specialty of the region where it is rolled by hand and commonly served with Pesto Genovese.  Vegan Without Borders includes a recipe for making your own trofie, or you can simply substitute any type of bite-sized pasta — I recommend gemelli or cut fusilli.

It may seem odd to combine both pasta and potatoes in the same dish, but believe me, it works!

Happy Birthday Jon!

Trofie alla Pesto with Green Beans and Potatoes
from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing. Photo by Sara Remington

3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Salt
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
8 ounces small new potatoes, quartered or sliced
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound trofie pasta (or gemelli or cut fusilli)
Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, and salt to taste and process to a paste. Add the basil, drizzle in the oil, and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the pesto. Set aside.
Steam the potatoes over a pot of simmering water until tender, about 10 minutes. Set the potatoes aside, then steam the green beans over simmering water until tender, about 6 minutes. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
Gently stir in the steamed potatoes and green beans, reserved pesto, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the hot pasta water. Cook for a few minutes, until heated through and combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

 

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Watermelon Paletas from Vegan Without Borders

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In just three more weeks my new book, Vegan Without Borders, hits the shelves and I couldn’t be more excited. Vegan Without Borders is the culmination of my years of restaurant experience, family recipes, travels, and food writing. I feel like I’ve been doing research for this book for thirty years – ever since I first began working in professional kitchen and learning how to cook the food of different cuisines.  The book is organized by country or region of the world, each section provides a mini-immersion into each cuisine, so that you can enjoy complete meals from each cuisine. The recipes include family-style comfort foods, global ethnic favorites, and even some creative new dishes inspired by the classics. You can enjoy entire meals based on a particular region, or combine regions for cross-cultural fare.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite recipe tester photos (by Zsu Dever) along with the recipe for Watermelon Paletas from the Mexican section of the book.  These refreshing popsicles made with fresh watermelon are ideal for this time of year!

Watermelon Paletas
These watermelon popsicles make a refreshing end to a spicy meal or a cooling snack on a hot day. For best results use a set of plastic ice-pop molds. The paletas will keep well in the freezer for up to one week. From Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

1 medium seedless watermelon, halved
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup superfine sugar
Pinch salt

Cut or scoop the watermelon flesh from the rind. Discard the rind and cut the watermelon into chunks. You should have about 5 to 6 cups total.
Place the watermelon chunks, lime juice, sugar, and a small pinch of salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Fill a set of ice-pop molds with the pureed watermelon.
Place the molds in the freezer for 8 hours or overnight. To loosen the paleta, run the mold under warm water for a few seconds. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 12 paletas (depending on size of molds)

Here are some more recipe tester photos from Vegan Without Borders.  This is the Chickpea Wat:

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Here’s the Paella:

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And this is a tester photo of the Tonkatsu:

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In the coming weeks, I’ll share a few more recipes from the book — I hope you’ll be as excited about it as I am!

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Cookbook News

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There’s a lot going on in the Robin Robertson world of cookbooks, so let’s start with an update on two updates! Several people have asked if the upcoming Hot Vegan and Nut Butter Cookbooks are the same as Vegan Fire and Spice and Nut Butter Universe. In a word, the answer is: YES!  In a few more words, here’s what’s happening….

The Nut Butter Cookbook, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing and available August 19th, is a new and updated edition of the book originally published as Nut Butter Universe by Vegan Heritage Press.

Hot Vegan, also published by Andrews McMeel Publishing and available on September 23rd, is a new and updated edition of Vegan Fire and Spice (originally published by Vegan Heritage Press).

 

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So….if you already have Vegan Fire and Spice and Nut Butter Universe, you probably don’t need these new additions (unless you spilled maple syrup and tamari sauce all over them, then it’s probably a good idea to replace them). However, if these titles have been on your wish list (or you want to buy copies for friends), then these sparkling new editions await!

In other cookbook news…. Just a few more weeks until my gorgeous new full-color hardcover book called Vegan Without Borders hits the shelves. It’s available now for preorder. I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about one of my books as I am about this one. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a few sample recipes and photos so you can see what all the excitement is about!

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Finally, just a reminder, (because I’ve been asked about this like a kajillion times)… All y’all do realize that there are three separate and distinct cookbooks in my “quick-fix” series, right? So, in other words, if you already have Quick Fix-Vegetarian (which is actually 100% vegan) or Quick-Fix Vegan, you would probably want to check out the third volume – and my personal favorite of the three: MORE Quick-Fix Vegan. Three separate books, 150 recipes each – that 450 recipes with less than 30 minutes active cooking time!  Collect the set!

RR 3 QF Covers

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Olive Leaf Pasta and Blueberry Pie

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What is it about summer that makes it impossible to get things done?  The days are longer, but they go by lightening quick.  My to-do list continues to grow, yet every minute is packed with “busy-ness.”  Take this blog, for example.  Most of the year, I can manage to write a post at least once a week.  In the summer — this summer, at least — it’s more like once a month!  So here it is, four weeks after my last post about my birthday and I’m finally getting around to posting about two of my favorite birthday gifts this year.  No surprise, they both happen to be food!

Friends in Pennsylvania sent me a huge box filled with all kinds of Italian pasta — none of which I can find in my part of the universe.  One of the most intriguing to me was the pasta shaped like olive leaves, shown above with homemade tomato sauce and Gardein meatballs.  (Note: this was my first time trying the Gardein meatballs and it won’t be my last — they have a terrific flavor and great texture.  They bake up in the oven while you make the sauce and pasta.)  Below is a photo of the pasta label shown with 1 uncooked “olive leaf.”  I love the fun shapes and evocative names of Italian pasta.  I’m always intrigued by how the different shapes taste different, too, despite being made with the same ingredients.

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I also received a gift of several containers of fresh-picked local blueberries and black raspberries — making it a “berry”  happy birthday, indeed.  Here’s a picture of the blueberry pie I made with some of the berries.  I still have lots more berries waiting in the freezer!

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I love how summertime cooking revolves around fresh produce prepared in simple ways that let the vegetables themselves shine.  Lots of grilled vegetable skewers, roasted potatoes, beets, and corn on the cob.  Loads of delicious green beans.  And, of course, zucchini, zucchini, and more zucchini…

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Birthday Giveaway Winner + Cats!

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Many thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday.  You truly made my day!

Thanks also to everyone who entered my cookbook giveaway.  The winner is #26 — because that’s the date of my birthday!  Congratulations to Patty Roker!

Patty: please email me with your mailing address and I’ll send you a copy of More Quick-Fix Vegan.

In her comment, Patty asked what I was cooking for my birthday dinner.  The answer is: NOTHING!

I never cook on my birthday! Instead, Jon and I drove to my favorite Thai restaurant for an amazing lunch.  While we were in “civilization”, we did some shopping.  On the way back home, we stopped at another Thai restaurant to pick up some take-out for dinner later on, making my double-Thai birthday extra-special!

Of course, the best part of my birthday (and every day, for that matter) is spending time with my wonderful cat-kids: Gary, Mitzki, Petey, and Jason.

Thanks again everyone for all your support and good wishes! xo

 

 

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Birthday Cookbook Giveaway!

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6/27/14 Update:  THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!

In honor of my birthday today, I’m giving YOU a gift: the gift of 150 easy and delicious recipes in the form of my latest book, More Quick-Fix Vegan.  The giveaway is for today only — so enter now!  Just leave a comment at the end of this post to enter.  I will announce a winner right back here tomorrow.

 

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Happy Birthday to me — and good luck to you in the giveaway!

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