Semi-Veggie Jessie

Vegetarian recipes for beginner home cooks

Skillet Pizza Pasta Bake November 24, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — semiveggie @ 4:26 pm
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Skillet Pizza Pasta Bake

I am a thrift store addict.  I’m one of those people who cannot pass by a Goodwill store without stopping in “just for a minute”.  I love garage sales, farm stands, and those cheesy outdoor flea markets.  You know, the kind where you can buy fake designer purses, vintage china dishes, and old power tools all in the same place.  I can’t seem to stay away.  In the summertime, I wake up early to go trolling the garage sales in my town.   It’s amazing what you can find!

Before moving in to our new house two years ago, I went on a thrifting spree.  Thanks to my efforts, I was able to stock most of my kitchen with cookware that had been “pre-loved”, as they say in the used car industry.  I’ve found everything from Pampered Chef pizza stones to dutch ovens at yard sales, all for ridiculously low prices.

My favorite thrift store find is my cast-iron skillet.  A few years ago, I would have passed by this treasure without a second thought.  However, I had recently tried to follow a recipe online that ended in disaster.  I had been happily working my way through the recipe with my trusty non-stick pan, when suddenly the recipe directed me to put the entire pan in the oven to bake.  “What?” I thought.  “I can’t put my pan in the oven!  What a weird idea.  Wouldn’t it melt?”  After a quick Google search, I realized that I needed something called a cast-iron skillet to complete the recipe.  Cast-iron pans can be heated on the stovetop, and are heat-safe for the oven too.  I considered buying one, but those skillets can be expensive.  One day, during my routine Saturday morning schedule of gym – farmer’s market – thrift store, I came across a gorgeous cast-iron skillet at my neighborhood Salvation Army store.  It was mine for $12, and I’ve been using it ever since.

Cast-iron skillets can turn any dish into a casserole.  Just cook up some grains or pasta, add cheese, and pour into the skillet.  Bake at 350 until the cheese melts.  Easy!  This recipe uses pasta and mozzarella cheese.  The seasonings make it taste like pizza, so don’t skimp on the spices!  Go out and buy oregano if you don’t have any in your pantry, because a recipe for real pizza is coming up soon on SemiVeggie.  A pizza without oregano just isn’t worth it, I promise.

Skillet Pizza Pasta Bake


One box of whole wheat pasta

Two tablespoons of olive oil

Two cloves of garlic, minced

One 16 oz. bag of frozen spinach

One 16 oz. can of tomato sauce

8 oz. of pre-crumbled feta cheese

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Large handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup bread crumbs

Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Special tools needed:

A cast-iron skillet.  If you don’t have one, this recipe also works well as a simple pasta dinner.  Just combine the spinach, seasonings, tomato sauce and cheese with the pasta and enjoy your pizza-flavored dish!


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil water for the pasta in a large pot.  Cook pasta until firm, but not overdone.  Remember, the pasta will continue to cook when we put the skillet into the oven.  Drain the pasta, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a pan.  Add garlic, and cook for one minute on medium.  Add spinach, tomato sauce, feta cheese, Italian seasoning, oregano, and garlic salt.  Stir to combine.  Cook mixture for five minutes over low heat.

Combine the pasta and the spinach mixture in the large pot.  Pour the mixture into your cast-iron skillet.  Sprinkle bread crumbs, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese on top.   Bake for 10 – 15 minutes in the oven until crispy.

~Semi-Veggie Jessie


Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Avocado and Raisins October 18, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — semiveggie @ 12:50 am
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Semi-veggie?  I know, it doesn’t seem fair.   You secretly wish I would declare allegiance to your side, whether you are a card-carrying PETA member or a regular at the Outback Steakhouse.  You want to force me to decide, already!  You think I’m completely tormented by my gastronomic limbo.  After all, my double-agent culinary agenda means dirty looks when I request the last vegetarian meal on an airplane, not to mention the quiet gasps around the dinner table when I take a bite out of a chicken leg.  “How can she live like that?”, you wonder.  Well, you can relax.  I’ve made peace with my semi-veggie eating habits, and I’m excited to share my daily dinners with you.  For example, this couscous salad is delicious, filling, and easy.   This unusual combination of ingredients will quickly become a favorite dish.  

Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Avocado and Raisins


One ripe avocado, cubed

1/2 cup unsalted cashews

1/2 cup raisins

One 16 oz. can of chickpeas

Two red sweet peppers, diced

Large handful of fresh spinach

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup whole wheat couscous, cooked and drained

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients.  Pretty, isn’t it?  I love the colors in this salad.  Next, mix the drained couscous into the salad.  The warmth from the couscous will melt the shredded cheese nicely.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  


~Semi-Veggie Jessie



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