Tag Archives: vegetarian

Carrot Orange Pecan Loaf

I absolutely LOVE this recipe.  I could eat this carrot orange loaf every day.  I created it for my Cafe but have started making it at home on my days off because my kids can’t get enough of it and I love it because it’s LOADED with carrots.  Win win.

If you want it for breakfast it’s AWESOME just sprinkled with brown sugar, BUT if you want to make it more of a dessert (suggestion:  serve it warm with vanilla ice-cream!!!), just mix some icing sugar with fresh squeezed orange juice until it’s a thick spreadable texture and lather the top of the loaf with it once cooled.  Then top with crushed pecans if you want the nuts!  Soooooo good!!!

INGREDIENTS (makes one loaf)

  • 2 cups packed shredded carrot (at home I use a hand-held blender.  At work I just grate the carrot on a cheese grater!).
  • 1 large orange (all zest and juice used) (reserve a little orange juice if making the icing sugar glaze)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil + more for coating loaf tin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (+ more for topping loaf)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup (or as much as you like!) pecans
  • optional:  1/2 tsp almond extract
  • optional:  powdered sugar

METHOD

  • In a large mixing bowl combine orange zest and juice, carrot, egg, milk, oil, vanilla and sugars.  Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl mix together cinnamon, baking soda and powder, salt and flour.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients.
  • Pour mixture into a WELL OILED loaf tin.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • If NOT using icing sugar glaze, top with crushed pecans and sprinkle a generous amount of brown sugar on top.
  • Bake for 65 – 80 minutes and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • (If glazing, combine orange juice with about a 1/2 cup of icing sugar to desired consistency and spread over cooled loaf. Add crushed pecans immediately before glaze hardens).

Turmeric & Jalapeno Dressing (with charred corn and bell pepper salad)

My latest obsession is fresh turmeric.  I’ve read so many things about the health benefits of turmeric so when I saw some organic Peruvian turmeric at the corner market I HAD to grab some to experiment/play with!

Now that I’ve gotten over the initial trepidation of using a new spice, I’m incorporating it into all sorts of dishes, from rice to lentils to quinoa – and now even in my salad dressing(s)!

The following salad dressing requires, in my opinion, a hearty salad with some texture and crunch to balance out the heat of the jalapeño.  I really enjoy it with the following:

Charred Corn, Cabbage and Bell Pepper Salad (serves 2)

  • 2 cups green or red cabbage (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup julienned (thin strips) carrot
  • 1 cup julienned bell pepper (red, orange and/or yellow)
  • 3/4 cup corn
  • 1/3 cup red onion, shredded
  • Garnish options:  Roasted peanuts or cashews, feta cheese, fresh cilantro, cherry tomatoes, green onion

METHOD:  (this is just a suggestion.  You don’t need to char the vegetables to have a great salad!).

  • Cut/prepare vegetables.
  • Get a non-stick pan searing hot (it should be starting to smoke).
  • Add the corn in and do not stir or move it.  DO NOT ADD OIL OR BUTTER.  THE PAN SHOULD BE DRY OR THE VEGETABLES WILL COOK INSTEAD OF CHAR.
  • Once the corn starts ‘popping’ (literally, like popcorn), give the pan a shake.
  • When the corn starts to char/blacken, remove from pan and into a large mixing bowl.
  • Repeat process with red onions and then with bell peppers.  You only want to ‘flash’ them into the hot pan to give a nice char.  You’re not trying to cook them.  A few SECONDS in the pan is plenty.

Turmeric and Jalapeno Dressing (enough for 4 servings)

NOTE:  I use a microplane for grating ginger, garlic, turmeric and all citrus zest.  It is an essential kitchen tool, in my opinion.

 

  • 1 medium sized jalapeno, seeds removed (keep a few if you want the dressing really spicy!)
  • 1 4″ piece of turmeric, peeled and grated (or 3/4 tsp ground turmeric, but use the fresh stuff if you can!)
  • 1 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic (about 1 tsp), grated
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste

METHOD:  pulse all ingredients together in a food processor or hand-held blender and toss into salad.  Season salad with salt to taste.

 

NOTE:  If you have any dressing left over it’s wonderful thrown into quinoa, rice or lentils!!

 

 

 

Incredible Carrot Muffins

carrot-muffins

I had some carrots that I wanted to use up so I decided to come up with a recipe for carrot muffins.  This recipe turned out GREAT!  I made 16 small muffins today and there are 3 left.  My kids and my husband absolutely LOVE them.  The best part is, because of the natural sweetness of the carrots and orange juice, I didn’t have to use much sugar.  These muffins are LOADED with carrots so they’re healthy and will make the perfect snack for school lunches and something to grab on the way out the door.

I have a feeling I’m going to be making these A LOT!

NOTE ABOUT THE RECIPE:  I used both oil and butter because I like the flavour and moist texture that using both provides.  However, using one or the other would also work!  I LOVE these with coconut sprinkled on top but you could also top them with chopped walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, etc. for a delicious crunch and added healthy fat.  You could also add raisins to the mix!

carrot-muffin-with-walnuts

INGREDIENTS (makes about 16 small muffins)

  • 2 small eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp canola/vegetable oil OR coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5  tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • OPTION:  1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed but any orange juice will do)
  • 3 cups shredded carrot (I use a food processor to shred it but a cheese grater works too)
  • OPTION:  shredded coconut to sprinkle on top!

METHOD

  • Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
  • Using a food processor, cream together butter, oil and sugars.
  • Add vanilla extract and orange juice.  Add eggs.
  • Combine dry and wet ingredients and fold until everything is mixed.
  • Stir in shredded carrot.  Do not over-mix.
  • Fill greased muffin tins to 3/4 full.
  • Sprinkle on shredded coconut or nuts, if using.
  • Bake in 375 degree pre-heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before eating (if you can wait that long!).

NOTE:  For more of a ‘dessert’ taste, these are incredible with vanilla cream cheese frosting on top!!

carrot-muffin-with-frosting

Thai Vegetable & Rice Salad with Warm Peanut Sauce

thai vegetable salad

Last weekend I was going for a ‘girls night’ at my friends house and I wanted to make something  interesting, fun, simple and delicious to bring for dinner.

(My friend is a vegetarian so I didn’t include meat with this recipe but some strips of pork, steak or even chicken would be great with this dish.  Prawns would also be AWESOME).

This recipe turned out REALLY well.  We all agreed it was a keeper.  It’s inexpensive to make, full of amazing flavours and textures, incredibly nutritious and satisfying enough to eat for dinner without feeling hungry half an hour later.

NOTE:  Rice, peanut sauce AND eggs can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and simply reheated when you want to serve with salad!!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

Sauce

  • 1 red Thai chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 heaping Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • pinch salt

Salad

  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 packed cups green cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup scallions/green onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup beet, shredded
  • 1/2 cup celery, sliced thin on bias
  • 1/2 cup carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, sliced (red, orange and/or yellow)
  • 1 cup english cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • OPTIONAL:  1/2 cup bean sprouts and/or 1 cup mango chunks for garnish!
  • GARNISH:  1/3 cup – 1/2 cup roasted peanuts

Rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Thai chile
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

METHOD

Sauce

  • Using a blender/hand-held mixer, pulse all ingredients together until blended and smooth.
  • Transfer peanut sauce to a small pot/saucepan and add 1/4 cup water.
  • Heat over low heat, whisking often, until smooth and hot.
  • Keep warm over very low heat until you’re ready to serve the salad.

Eggs

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add eggs and cook for 8 minutes.
  • Run eggs under cold water (or put into an ice bath) until cooled, then peel and set aside.

Rice

  • Add coconut oil, garlic kaffir lime leaves and whole thai chile to pot and sauté on low heat until garlic is fragrant.  About 2 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk, water and salt and bring to boil stirring often to ensure you don’t burn the coconut milk.
  • Add rice, stir, cover with lid and reduce heat to very low.
  • Cook rice for 55 minutes (or whatever the cook time for the rice you’re using reads).
  • Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Remove lid and take out the lime leaves and thai chile.
  • Taste and adjust salt as desired.

Salad

  • Prepare all the vegetables and herbs as instructed above.
  • Mix together in bowl and season generously with salt.

ASSEMBLY

  • scoop warm rice into four bowls.
  • Add the salad into the bowls on top of the rice.
  • Drizzle each salad generously with warm peanut sauce.
  • 1/2 the eggs, season with salt and pepper and add an egg to each bowl.
  • Top salad with peanuts (and mango chunks if using).
  • Put extra peanut sauce into a small bowl so everyone can add extra sauce as desired.

veggie salad with peanut sauce

 

 

Curried Squash and Carrot Soup

carrot soup with spoon

This is a wonderful ‘winter’ soup.  It’s easy to make, absolutely delicious, super healthy and best of all, it costs next to nothing.  It’s got the perfect amount of spice from the cumin and curry and the fresh ginger is delicious in this soup without being overwhelming.  I added buttermilk because I had it on hand and it adds a really nice ‘tang’ to the soup.  Feel free to just use regular cows milk if you prefer.  If you still want the tang without the buttermilk, adding a tablespoon or two of fresh orange juice right before pureeing would be a great idea.

What elevates this soup from good to GREAT is roasting the vegetables on very high heat before adding them to the pot.  This allows the natural sugars in the vegetables and garlic to caramelize and adds a lot of depth to the soup.

(Both squash and carrots are AMAZING for you!  Click on the following links to read up on the nutritional value of: squash and carrots ).  (:

When serving this soup, I like to add a dollop of whatever dip I have on hand since I make all my dips with fat-free greek yogurt.  My favourite garnish is my lime dip but a spoonful of plain yogurt or sour cream or even a just little grated orange zest and some green onion would also be amazing. This is a perfect soup to serve with a side salad for lunch or to sip on between meals to keep you full and give you a few extra servings of vegetables!

NOTE:  If you don’t want to use milk, you can always just use 6 cups of broth instead.  If you find the soup is a little bit thick, simply add a bit more broth or even water to thin it out to your desired consistency.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 – 8)

  • 1 onion (about 1/2 cup) – chopped
  • 3 cups carrot – peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups butternut squash – peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp mild/medium curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch red pepper flakes (or 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper & 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable/chicken broth
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or just use regular milk if you don’t have buttermilk on hand)
  • 1 cup milk

METHOD

  • Prepare all your vegetables and toss them on a sheet tray with salt, pepper, curry powder, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, cumin, ginger and olive oil.

carrot soup veggies on tray pre roast

  • Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees and roast vegetables for 20 – 25 minutes or until they start to brown in spots.

carrot soup veggies after roasting

  • Remove from oven and add to a large pot on stove top.
  • Turn heat to medium and add broth.
  • Bring to boil then turn heat down to low and simmer for around 20 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and add milk (if using).
  • Puree using a hand-held blender attachment or a blender.
  • Adjust seasoning as needed/desired.

SUGGESTION:  Finish with a dollop of sour cream, plain greek yogurt or an orange or lime infused aioli.

carrot soup

 

 

 

Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini Boats

cheesy stuffed zucchini boats

cheesy stuffed zucchini boats

Zucchini has never been one of my favourite vegetables.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of flavour.  However, this can be a good thing because it’s basically a blank slate.  You can do a LOT of things with zucchini (http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/zucchini-parmesan-fritters-with-lemon-zest/) and ‘hide it’ in just about any dish (http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/10-whatever-ways-sneak-vegetables-food/)!

It’s also incredibly good for you.  Zucchini is an outstanding source of manganese and vitamin C and is the best source of dietary fiber that will keep your body in the best shape for the long run. It also contains vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus.  To learn more about all the amazing health benefits of eating zucchini check out the following link: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-zucchini.html

I’ve been trying for a while now to get my kids to eat more zucchini, but it’s been an uphill battle.    I’ve tried serving it raw with dip, sautéed in a stir-fry and diced into quinoa and/or rice.  I’ve even shredded it and tossed it in with pasta.  Although they will eat it all of these ways, I haven’t heard them tell me they actually like it yet.  That was until I served it to them in the form of a cheesy zucchini boat!  This recipe is DELICIOUS, easy to make and a fun way to serve zucchini.

About the recipe:  I used cottage cheese to add protein but ricotta would be wonderful too.  If you want to keep this dish lower in fat and calories, just reduce, or forgo, the mozzarella cheese on top.  I baked these but they could also be cooked right on the barbecue!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1.5 tsp garlic – minced
  • 2 Tbsp shallot – minced (white onion or leek would also work)
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)1 cup mozzarella cheese (1/2 for mix and 1/2 for topping)
  • 3 Tbsp panko break crumbs (1 Tbsp for mix, 2 Tbsp for topping)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp olive oil (plus more for rubbing on zucchini)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp parsley – chopped
  • OPTION:  2 Tbsp green onion – chopped

METHOD

  • Cut end off zucchini and slice in half length-wise and right down the middle to make 4 equal pieces.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, slice down back of zucchini so that it has a flat surface and won’t roll around.
  • Using a melon baller, scoop out the inside flesh and chop the ‘flesh’ into small pieces.

zucchini scoop

  • Place in a colander/strainer with a bowl underneath and coat generously with salt.
  • Allow to sit for 10 – 15 minutes to draw out the moisture then squeeze out any remaining liquid.

zucchini in strainer

  • Season the zucchini ‘boats’ with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • Heat oil, garlic and shallot in pan and allow to soften and become translucent.  About 3 or 4 minutes on medium-low heat.  Stir often to ensure garlic does not burn.
  • Scrape garlic/shallot into mixing bowl with the drained zucchini bits and add all other ingredients EXCEPT 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 2 Tbsp of panko (mix the remaining panko and mozza together and reserve for topping zucchini later).
  • Taste mixture for seasoning and adjust as desired.

zucchini mix in bowl

  • Scoop mixture into seasoned zucchini boats.

zucchini stuffed

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and bake zucchini boats uncovered for 20 minutes (up to 25 minutes if you like the zucchini very soft).
  • Remove from oven and turn oven up to BROIL.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese and panko onto zucchini boats and place under broiler for 3 – 5 minutes or until the top is browning and crispy.

Suggestion:  Serve as a vegetarian dish with rice or quinoa or serve with your favourite meat (I really like these with steak or pork!

zucchini - at dinner

zucchini boat with bowtie pasta and steak

 

Fresh Herb and Cardamom Falafel

falafel in bowl

The other night I decided to make falafel.  I found a recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine that had cardamom as an ingredient in the mix and I was intrigued.  I’m not normally a fan of cardamom.  I find it very ‘flowery’ tasting.  But I wanted to try something new so I gave it a shot.

The below recipe is quite different from the one in the magazine.  Although most of the ingredients are the same, the measurements are completely different.  I increased or decreased things based on what I like.   I also used pre-cooked, canned chickpeas as opposed to fresh ones.  I wanted to keep things simple.  Even though I cut the amount of cardamom in half for this recipe I was still worried it would be too much.  It wasn’t.  It was perfect.  I absolutely LOVED the falafel.  In fact, I can’t wait to make this recipe again.

You could definitely serve these balls in a pita shell with some shredded lettuce and tomato, but I opted to serve them with garlic infused jasmine rice, cucumber and cabbage salad with pomegranate and a dill, lemon yogurt sauce/dip.  SO GOOD.  This was a big hit with the kids too.  I just served them some broccoli instead of the cabbage salad.  I figured I’d introduce one new thing at a time.  Dinner usually goes smoother that way (:

one falafel ball

INGREDIENTS (makes 12 balls)

  • 1 can chickpeas – rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 Tbsp jalapeno – seeded (use more if you want it really spicy!)
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp shallot (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 3 Tbsp flour (chickpea flour if you have it, otherwise all-purpose if fine)
  • 2 tsp salt (up to 2.5 tsp)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • vegetable/canola oil for frying (about 1 – 1.5 cups)

METHOD

  • Pulse chickpeas in a food processor or hand-held processor.  About 5 seconds. You want it to still be a bit chunky.  (The texture should be uneven, with some slightly larger pieces visible).
  • Transfer to large bowl.
  • Pulse onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, parsley and lemon juice until it’s a finely minced mix.
chickpeas and herb mix

chickpeas and herb mix

  • Add to chickpeas, then mix in flour, salt, baking powder, cardamom and cumin.
  • Form into ping-pong sized balls.
falafel balls uncooked

falafel balls uncooked

  • Pour about 2 inches of oil into a pan.  Once oil is hot (about 330 degrees), add balls.  (You should hear a sizzle and see little bubbles when you drop the balls in.  Ensure you do this slowly and carefully so you don’t splash hot oil on yourself).

falafel frying in pan

  • Cook falafel, turning occasionally, until deep brown and crisp on all sides.  About 5 – 7 minutes.

browned falafal frying in pan

  • Transfer to paper towel and sprinkle with a little salt.

falafel on paper towel

Serve in a pita or on rice or just dip them into your favourite yogurt dip and eat them by themselves as an appetizer!

 

family dinner

family dinner

 

 

 

 

Cucumber and Cabbage Salad with Pomegranate

cucumber cabbage salad in bowl

I absolutely LOVE chickpeas and decided to make my own falafel the other night.  Instead of serving it in a pita shell, I made garlic and cumin scented jasmine rice, a dill lemon yogurt dip and a refreshing cucumber cabbage salad with pomegranate and tomatoes.  This salad was delicious with the falafel.  It would also go really well as a side to chicken, burgers or ribs!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 as a side dish)

  • 1/2 head small green cabbage (around 3 cups) – shredded as thinly as possible
  • 1 cup english cucumber – cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup red onion – sliced as thinly as possible
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp canola or grape seed oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup tomatoes – chopped (cherry tomatoes would be great.  Just half them)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint – chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion – chopped
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • OPTION:  1/2 cup feta cheese – for garnishing

METHOD

  • Toss everything together (except feta and salt) in bowl.
  • Let sit for in fridge for one hour before serving to soften the cabbage a bit.
  • Add the salt to the salad and toss (NOTE:  only add salt right before serving so it doesn’t draw out the moisture from the cucumbers and tomatoes leaving a puddle of liquid at the bottom of the salad)
  • Taste and adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice as desired.
  • Transfer to serving dish and garnish with crumbled feta.

cucumber cabbage salad with pomegranate

 

 

Capellini Pasta with Spinach Basil Pesto, Sweet Bell Peppers and Sautéed Prawns

capellini pasta with spinach basil pesto, sautéed bell peppers and garlic lemon prawns

capellini pasta with spinach basil pesto, sautéed bell peppers and garlic lemon prawns

Last night I wanted something light and packed with veggies for dinner.  The boys, as usual, wanted pasta.  I decided we could have both.

About the pasta…

I love capellini pasta (also known as angel-hair pasta).  It’s similar to spaghetti but much thinner, hence the name angel hair.  There’s something about the way it twirls on my fork.  It makes me happy eating it!  (:   Capellini is such a delicate pasta that, in my opinion, it requires light ingredients.  I never serve it with meat or a heavy sauce.  My absolute favourite way to eat it is with a delicious, light pesto and some type of seafood.

spinach basil pesto angel hair pasta with garlic lemon prawns 5

About the prawns…  

In the recipe below, I removed the tail and halved the prawns down the middle.  I’ve never understood why restaurants keep the tail on the prawns (other than the obvious reason of making it look like you’re getting more than you are.  Maybe that’s the only reason…).  There’s nothing I find more annoying (okay, there are lots of things, but this is up there) than having to dig through a hot pasta dish with my fingers to try and get the tail off the prawns.  It drives me nuts.

I love the idea of halving the prawns because then you don’t have to either shove a whole prawn in your mouth at once or use a knife to cut it.  When you cut it in half BEFORE cooking, it really does feel and look like you’re getting twice as much and it’s the perfect amount for one bite.  NOTE: It’s easiest to slice them lengthwise in half when they’re still a bit frozen (see picture below).

About the peppers…

I added bell peppers to this dish because I had them and I wanted a bit of sweetness and bite to the dish.  Also, I just like adding extra vegetables to EVERYTHING, as long as it ‘makes sense’ in the dish.  In this case, the bell peppers compliment the prawns and pesto beautifully.  I was going to add diced tomato as well, but decided against it – this time.  Perhaps next time…

About the cheese…

I recommend garnishing this dish with good quality parmesan.  If you only have the pre-grated stuff, use that.  No big deal.  But the ‘good stuff’ is a nice treat.  I buy Grana Padano at Costco and it lasts me a month or more.  I shave it onto EVERYTHING.

grana padano cheese

grana padano cheese

About the pesto…

Lastly, you can certainly just use a store-bought pesto for this dish but it will have a LOT more fat and calories (from much more oil, cheese and pine nuts) and much less nutrition (without all the spinach).  Pesto literally takes 5 minutes to make and will last up to a week in the fridge!  It also freezes well.  I make it all summer while I have basil in the garden.  (I add it to sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads, rice dishes, fish dishes, vinaigrettes and dips, to name a few).  Yeah, I like pesto.  Click on the link for the recipe: spinach basil pesto.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 300 – 375g capellini pasta (or vermicelli)
  • 3/4 cup pesto (store bought or homemade)
  • 12 – 16 prawns – peeled, deveined, tail off, and cut in half LENGTHWISE (see picture below)
  • 2 Tbsp shallot – diced
  • 1 tsp garlic – minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup yellow and/or orange bell pepper – large dice (red pepper would work as well)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth/stock   OPTION:  1/4 cup white wine and 1/4 cup chicken broth to deglaze with for a ‘grown-up’ version.  Deglaze with wine FIRST.  Reduce by half, then add the chicken broth.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • OPTION: 1 Tbsp butter – to finish pasta

METHOD

  • Bring pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Mis en place everything (get all your ingredients ready to use).  NOTE:  This is important because the prawns cook so quickly.  Have everything ready so you don’t have to stop to grate cheese or squeeze lemon juice or anything.  This will ensure nothing gets overcooked or goes cold.
mis en place prawns, veggies, cheese and pesto

mis en place prawns, veggies, cheese and pesto

  • Add oil into pan and get hot on medium high heat.  Meanwhile, season prawns generously with salt and pepper.
  • Drop pasta into boiling water and set timer.  Cook for 4 minutes and drain immediately.
  • While pasta is cooking and when the pan is hot, add prawns, peppers, shallot and garlic and cook for about ONE minute, stirring occasionally to ensure garlic isn’t burning.

prawns, peppers, garlic and shallot in pan

  • Deglaze with lemon juice (and wine, if using).
  • Add chicken broth and cook for 30 seconds more until broth is slightly reduced.  Don’t cook for too long or prawns will over cook and become rubbery.
adding chicken broth and lemon juice to pan

adding chicken broth and lemon juice to pan

  • Turn off heat and add the pesto.
adding pesto to pan

adding pesto to pan

  • The pasta should be cooked by now.  Add pasta to the pan (and butter, if using) and toss to mix all the ingredients together.  Top the pasta with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

spinach basil pesto angel hair pasta with garlic lemon prawns

Suggestion: I always serve this dish with wine and a nice crusty warmed baguette. (Because EVERYTHING is better with wine and bread!)

spinach basil pesto angel hair pasta with garlic lemon prawns 6

spinach basil pesto angel hair pasta with garlic lemon prawns 2

eating pasta!

my 4 year old son enjoying dinner!

my 4 year old son enjoying dinner!

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious and Easy White Bean Tostadas

white bean tostada

white bean tostada

When I want a fun, super easy, healthy AND tasty lunch or dinner I like to make white bean tostadas!  The fibre from the beans keeps me full for hours.  When serving them for dinner I sometimes like to top them with prawns/shrimp and serve them with a side of rice and/or guacamole.  I also really like to make them when I have some pork or chicken leftover that I can top them with.  It’s a perfect Friday night shared meal with a cold cerveza or two!

INGREDIENTS (enough beans and toppings for around 4 – 6 tostadas)

Beans:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white onion – diced
  • 2 tsp garlic – minced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 540ml can white kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken stock/broth
  • 1.5 Tbsp lemon juice

Toppings:

  • 2 cups romaine lettuce – shredded (you could use kale or other lettuce, but I like the crunch of romaine)
  • 1 cup tomatoes – diced (cherry tomatoes are ideal)
  • 1/4 cup red onion – diced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese – crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • Corn tostada shells (can be purchased at your local grocery store where the taco stuff is sold)

METHOD

  • Heat olive oil in pan on medium heat.
  • Add onions and sauté around 2 minutes or until softened.
  • Add garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes and sauté for another 30 seconds or so or until fragrant.
  • Drain and rinse beans.  Add to pan with water/chicken stock and lemon juice.
  • Bring to simmer and cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until water is reduced.
  • Serve beans hot with toppings in bowls so everyone can build their tostada the way they like!
white bean tostada

white bean tostada

  • MEAT/SEAFOOD OPTION:  Add shredded cooked chicken, pork or cooked shrimp/prawns on top!
white bean tostada topped with leftover sliced pork

white bean tostada topped with leftover sliced pork