Vegetarian Orecchiette in 18 minutes or less

Packed full of so much flavor and filler you won't even miss the meat.

So, I have to be honest and say, I’m no vegetarian. I love meat, but I also love to be healthy. For me, this means taking a few days off the meaty stuff to have something a little lighter. There are many recipes you can make that offer even the most devout carnivore a satisfying vegetarian meal. This is definitely one of those times. There are a few tricks I use to make this a fulfilling meal for my carnivorous hubby, while keeping it light for me.

I have two main tricks when I want to keep it vegetarian, but filling. The first, starch/carbs. When trying to sell people who love meat on a dish that has none, you have to make sure it’s filling. Potatoes, rices, pastas and breads are the key to this. *Remember that starches/carbs aren’t bad for you. The type and amount we eat can be, though, so starch and carb responsibly.

The second trick I have is to use veggies that somewhat mimic the consistency and, sometimes, the flavor of meat, like mushrooms or asparagus. I find that mushrooms especially are a good substitute for meat. Not only are they thick and hearty, but they can have a great flavor, and can be given great flavor. Asparagus has a dense feel when cooked just right, and using the entire stalk, and not just the tips, can add a heftiness to your meal.

There is one last trick, but that’s just getting them to eat it without complaining. Good luck with that. I often do it by telling my husband we’re going to have one vegetarian dish a week. Usually, he’ll go along with it, and feel the better for it afterward, instead of stuffed and bloated. Just in case it doesn’t work, though, I keep a bag of pre-cooked grilled chicken strips in the freezer. My husband is a soldier, and for any men who have to physically exert themselves during the day, sometimes they need that extra protein boost.

So, let’s get to the food! This Orecchiette doesn’t have many ingredients, and this dish is easy to time so you have everything done at once. This, though, is one of those recipes where it’s worth it to have everything fresh (except the pasta, which can be dry.)


  • Orecchiette
  • Fresh Asparagus
  • Mushrooms, med dice or sliced
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Baby Spinach
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh Basil
  • Salt, Pepper & olive oil (can use veggie, grape seed or canola also)

You will notice that I haven’t given any amounts to use of these ingredients. It really depends on how many people you are going to serve, and what you like. I like to have equal parts veggies to pasta. For 2 people, I use the appropriate amount of pasta according to the package. For the veggies, I used about 1 cup of each, asparagus, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, then, 1/2 C baby spinach and a few roughly chopped basil leaves for garnish.

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Heat a pot of water to boiling.
  2. Prep Asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces.Cut tomatoes in half. place in a mixing bowl and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like to use a coarse grind like kosher or sea salt and a large grind of pepper. Toss veggies and pour onto a sheet pan. I always line it with nonstick foil, but it’s not necessary.
  3. Drizzle butter over mushrooms. Toss and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss in a few TBSP of flour. Add to sheet pan of veggies and bake for 12 minutes in oven.
  4. Once water comes to a boil, add salt to the water. The water should be salty to the taste, but, remember, this is going to soak into the pasta. I use about 1 TBSP of kosher salt to 3-4 C water. Add the pasta and boil for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and encourage even cooking. Test a few pieces by tasting them. This is a thick pasta, but should not have a hard, raw feel.
  5. While everything is cooking, slice your spinach into slivers (or ribbons) and set aside.
  6. When pasta is finished, drain and put in mixing bowl. Add spinach and toss. Add veggies to pasta and toss. Serve and top with grated Parmesan and basil.

For those of you who are desperate for the meaty addition, try this with grilled chicken chunks. It makes it super easy to get the pre-cooked pack of grilled chicken strips at the grocery store, and toss them into the oven as the same time as the veggies. Heat thoroughly, chop them in bite-sized pieces and toss them into the pasta. ENJOY!


Posted on March 23, 2012, in Main Dishes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Yummy! Me want to try!!!

  2. Love how this looks….really want to try it now!

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