Vegetarian Times — April/May 2012
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Easy Entertaining
Ilana Eck

Mother Love

Delicious details make this Mother’s Day menu special

A Mother’s Day dinner doesn’t need to be complicated to be spectacular. Treat Mom to a feast of the foods she loves—all served up with a tasty twist. Fresh herbs, homemade croutons, and fancy pasta shapes add elegant flourishes to easy recipes. Cap off the celebration with a flourless chocolate cake drizzled with a fresh strawberry sauce, and you’ve got a meal that’s guaranteed to be memorable for everyone at the table.


Fusilli Col Buco with Braised Spring Vegetables

Spinach Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Coulis

Basil Lemonade

Fusilli Col Buco with Braised Spring Vegetables

Serves 6 | 30 minutes or fewer

This dish is worth a trip to a gourmet shop or Italian market to find an out-of-the- ordinary pasta such as fusilli colbuco. Liquid reserved from braising vegetables makes a light, brothy sauce for the noodles. If you prefer your pasta on the drier side, don’t add all the braising liquid when stirring the vegetables into the pasta.

1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cups dry white wine, preferably Italian
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
18 oz. fresh or frozen artichoke hearts, halved
20 baby carrots, diced (1 cup)
10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, halved
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
8 oz. dry fusilli col buco pasta
20 basil leaves, chopped (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Simple-but-special touches—such as homemade croutons for the salad and a fancy pasta shape—make this meal memorable.

1 | Heat large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add thyme, red pepper flakes, wine, broth, and lemon juice, then stir in artichokes, carrots, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add peas, and cook, covered, 5 minutes, or until peas are tender and bright green.

2 | Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain, and return to pot.

3 | Add braised vegetables to pasta, and toss to combine. Add just enough vegetable-braising liquid to achieve preferred sauciness. Stir in basil and Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

PER 11/2 -CUP SERVING 307 cal; 15 g prot; 5 g total fat (2 g sat fat); 52 g carb; 9 mg chol; 322 mg sod; 10 g fiber; 10 g sugars

Spinach Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Serves 6 | 30 minutes or fewer

Who can resist a salad topped with toasty, crunchy croutons? In this simple spinach salad, homemade croutons are brushed with sun-dried tomato oil to complement the flavors in the vinaigrette.


1/2 baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 cups)
2 Tbs. oil from jarred sun-dried tomatoes
2 Tbs. olive oil


1/2 clove garlic, minced (1/2 tsp.)
1 Tbs. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
4 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. agave nectar or honey
5 oz. baby spinach (4 cups)

1 | To make Croutons: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Toss together bread cubes, oil from tomatoes, and olive oil until bread is well coated; place on prepared baking sheet in single layer. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until croutons are crisp and golden-brown.

2 | To make Salad: Blend garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, vinegars, oil, and agave nectar in food processor until mostly smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3 | Toss spinach with vinaigrette in bowl. Top with Croutons.

PER 1-CUP SERVING 249 cal; 4 g prot; 18 g total fat (3 g sat fat); 19 g carb; 0 mg chol; 211 mg sod; 2 g fiber; <1 g sugars

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Coulis

Serves 12

Similar to a chocolate soufflé, this cake will rise, then fall slightly when cooled, leaving a cracked top. A fresh strawberry sauce balances the richness of the chocolate. The cake can be made up to two days in advance. For perfect, clean-cut cake wedges, dip the knife in hot water before cutting each slice.


8.5 oz. bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature, divided
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar


11/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries (8 oz.)
1 Tbs. sugar 1/2 Tbs.
lemon juice

1 | Preheat oven to 300˚F. Coat 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

2 | Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler. Remove from heat, and whisk until smooth and glossy. Whisk egg yolks, then stir into chocolate mixture.

3 | Beat all 6 egg whites with electric mixer on high 1 to 2 minutes, or until foamy. Add sugar, and beat 4 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture until just combined. Pour into prepared pan, and bake 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out mostly clean. Cool.

4 | To make Coulis: Combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in bowl of food processor; let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 Tbs. water, and purée until smooth. Strain through fine-mesh strainer. Serve Cake drizzled with Coulis.

PER SLICE 275 cal; 5 g prot; 20 g total fat (12 g sat fat); 22 g carb; 94 mg chol; 36 mg sod; 3 g fiber; 18 g sugars

Basil Lemonade

Serves 6

Even in a world of fancy sodas and gourmet iced teas, homemade lemonade will always be a treat. This version gets infused with fresh basil, but you could also use mint, or lesser amounts of rosemary, sage, or thyme. The basil syrup will keep for up to a month in the fridge, so you may want to double the recipe and use the extra to sweeten iced tea or spring cocktails.

4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, plus 6 basil sprigs for garnish
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

1 | Bring basil leaves, sugar, and 2 cups water to a boil in medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and bruise basil leaves. Simmer 5 minutes without stirring. Strain, pressing on basil to remove liquid. Cool.

2 | Pour 2 cups basil syrup into large pitcher. Stir in lemon juice and 4 cups water. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill well. Serve over ice, garnished with basil sprigs.

PER 1-CUP SERVING 107 cal; <1 g prot; <1 g total fat (<1 g sat fat); 28 g carb; 0 mg chol; <1 mg sod; <1 g fiber; 26 g sugars

Ilana Eck is a food blogger, recipe developer, freelance writer, expert on entertaining—and a new mom.