Spring Garden Pasta

   

Living in Texas it can sometimes be a little difficult to look forward to the oncoming summer, what with its droughts and relentless heat waves. That anxiety is quickly diffused once I glimpse the new crop of garden fresh veggies at the grocery store. Here is a crisp, healthy pasta dish to embrace spring’s bounty and warmer months.   

Spring Garden Pasta

This is a wonderful dish to prepare if you’ve blacked out in a farmer’s market and awoken in your kitchen to find yourself staring hazily at mountains of fresh produce. The first time I prepared this I was craving pasta primavera, but wasn’t wanting something heavy. I cut calories by removing half of the pasta and replacing it with loads of vegetables. Serving the dish slightly warm rather than piping hot really allows the texture and flavors of the vegetables to shine. 

Spring Garden Pasta

Spring Garden Pasta
Serves 4
A healthier pasta dish absolutely full of crisp, fresh veggies.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons salted butter
  2. 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 broccoli crowns, cut into florets (about 2-3 cups)
  5. 1 cup carrots, sliced
  6. 1 cup frozen green peas
  7. 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  8. 2 tablespoons flour
  9. 1/2 cup milk (I used flax milk)
  10. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  11. 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  12. 1/4 cup fresh basil
  13. 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  14. 1 1/2 cups Maffei fussili (or whatever pasta you like)
Instructions
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in high sided skillet. Add minced garlic and sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cover until the mushrooms release their juices.
  2. Stir in chopped broccoli and carrots, cover and let steam for about 7-8 minutes until crisp tender. Transfer veggies to a bowl (reserve any liquid in the pan if there is some) and leave covered while you prepare the sauce.
  3. Meanwhile cook pasta in well salted water according to package directions. I used a refrigerated pasta by Maffei which is 180 calories per 1/2 cup. You want it perfectly al dente or just a hair shy of al dente - you want the pasta to stand up to the crisp veggies.
  4. While pasta is cooking - in the same pan you cooked veggies in melt the other tablespoon of butter. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour - it will be very thick. Let cook for a minute or two to cook off the raw flour taste and then add milk, black pepper, fresh thyme. Remove from heat and whisk well.
  5. Transfer pasta plus 1/2-3/4 cup (depending on how thick you want your sauce to be) of the pasta cooking water to the pan along with all of the veggies, the green peas, and your grated parmesan. Toss well and cover to let the peas warm through. This will also slightly cool down the pasta and veggies. This is ok as the slightly cooler pasta maintains the fresh flavor and texture of the tomatoes.
  6. When the peas are warm add fresh basil and chopped tomatoes, toss well and serve immediately. Ideally your pasta water should have been salted well enough that you wouldn't need additional salt, but feel free to add more if needed.
Calories
  1. 358 calories for 1/4 of the pan as I've prepared it.
Variation
  1. Cooking the mushrooms in a bit of dry white wine (maybe 2 ounces) adds lovely flavor to the dish.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Spring Garden Pasta

 


Crunchy Mediterranean Grain Salad

   

So it’s been almost 3 weeks since I made my last post, but not without good reason! Of course the holidays have a way of absorbing up all of your free time, but that’s not the real excuse. I’m sure that by looking around this page a bit (at least if you’re familiar with my blog from before) you can notice that I have a new awesome site design! For Christmas my boyfriend began this project as one of his gifts to me and when I saw the preview of what was in store by the time it was done, I nearly exploded with excitement. He put a ton of his free time into seeing it through and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Once I realized the new design was incoming I really wanted to wait to make a new post. I have a few more recipes lined up as a result of the mini hiatus (including roasted cauliflower soup and limoncello), but I knew that my first post of 2014 had  to be something healthy. This is, after all, the one time of the year that the human race unanimously decides to improve their well being (at least for a couple of weeks until someone caves and shows up at the office with donuts).

Crunchy Mediterranean Grain Salad 

A while back someone commented on how much they enjoyed looking through my blog. She pointed out that she particularly loved the Mediterranean influence she often sees in my recipes. I thought, “Wow… I guess I do have a tendency to cook with lemon, chickpeas, parsley, etc…” And who wouldn’t? The fresh flavors so commonly associated with Mediterranean food are incredible. This salad brings some of those influences together into one filling dish for under 350 calories. There is protein. There is fiber. There is nutrient dense broccoli. It’s definitely a recipe to ring in the new year and kick start your healthier eating habits.

Crunchy Mediterranean Grain Salad

Crunchy Mediterranean Grain Salad
Serves 4
A quick, healthy lunch inspired by the fresh flavors in Mediterranean cooking.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
13 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
13 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of pre-cooked whole grain blend (I used the red quinoa and brown rice blend by Village Harvest, which is found in the freezer section)
  2. 3 cups raw broccoli, chopped
  3. 1 can chickpeas, drained
  4. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  6. 1/2 tablespoon water
  7. 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  8. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  11. 1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  12. 1/4 cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Prepare grain according to package instructions. In my case I just popped it in the microwave for about 2 minutes.
  2. Place broccoli in a bowl and microwave a couple of minutes until no longer raw, but still crunchy and green. I combined my broccoli with the grain to save time while heating.
  3. Whisk together olive oil, lemon, water, and spices to form the dressing.
  4. Combine all ingredients with the dressing in a large bowl and toss well to combine.
  5. Eat slightly warm as is or transfer to the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes first (my preference).
Calories
  1. 341
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

Crunchy Mediterranean Grain Salad


Roasted Broccolini, Potato, and Smoked Gouda Soup

   

I don’t think there are many people out there that don’t enjoy a warm, hearty bowl of potato soup… but when you add cheese and broccoli to it? Pretty much heaven in each bite. Recipes for this type of soup are a dime a dozen, and I even make it multiple ways myself. What I think sets this particular soup apart is both the roasting of the vegetables and the use of a delicious smoked Gouda in place of the more traditional cheddar.

 

I’ve had a few people recently tell me that I should update my blog more often. I try to get at least one recipe up a week, but I want to take this advice to heart and get into the habit of posting more often. I actually have a backlog of another 4-5 recipes that I’m waiting to write about; I just need to get it done.

For the past couple of weeks my mind has been somewhat preoccupied with the creation of my Halloween costume. I love the art of transforming myself into someone new for a few hours so I’m kiiiiind of a costume junkie. For the past three years I’ve been in California for BlizzCon (yeah, I’m a World of Warcraft nerd – wanna fight about it??) and for that reason I have really missed dressing up for Halloween. This year I opted to do a Dia de los Muertos themed costume and put a fair amount of thought and time into crafting the dress and practicing the makeup. In the end I’m really happy with how it turned out!

Now that I’ve finished my costume, attended the party, and gotten all of that out of my system I’m ready to forge full steam ahead on the blog again – starting with this super yummy soup! And considering this soup is a meal in a bowl, it is pretty reasonable at 400 calories per serving. This particular time that I made it I decided I wanted to bump up the protein and include the addition of seitan. For you non-veggie folks out there, this is just a non-soy alternative to chicken for us vegetarians. You can leave the protein out (I actually prefer it that way) or opt to use some chopped leftover chicken or crumbled bacon if you like. I’ve yet to make a vegan alternative to this, but I actually think using nutritional yeast and a bit of the hickory flavored bacon salt would be an awesome substitution for the smoked Gouda – just make sure to use a little more liquid to compensate for the thickness that the nutritional yeast would add.

A friend of mine that ate this soup paid me quite a compliment on it and I’ll try to paraphrase as best I can, “I think your broccoli potato soups are my favorite soups. Not just out of the soups you make – out of all soups, ever.”

Awesome. :D

Roasted Broccolini, Potato, and Smoked Gouda Soup
Serves 3
A chunky potato soup with flecks of roasted broccolini and smoky gouda cheese.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 3/4lbs of baby yukon gold potatoes, diced (I used half of a 1.5 pound bag)
  2. 1 bunch of broccolini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 4-5 cups of vegetable stock (I used 4 because I like a thick soup)
  6. 1 package of chicken-style seitan, chopped
  7. 4 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
  8. Fresh black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Toss chopped broccolini and potatoes with half of olive oil and distribute evenly on a cookie sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile heat the other half of the olive oil in a pot big enough for your soup. Add chopped seitan and garlic, cooking until the seitan is lightly browned.
  4. Add stock and roasted vegetables. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Let cook, covered, for approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Using an immersion blender partially blend the soup. Little bits of potato and broccolini are ok, it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth.
  6. Stir in the smoked Gouda until melted and then add the cooked seitan and garlic. Season liberally with black pepper.
Calories
  1. 400
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/


Simple Skinny Broccoli Soup

   

A while back I bought a really nice rice cooker. It set us back enough that I was determined to get more use out of it than just making the occasional pot of rice. For months I made as many things as I could in the rice cooker, and this was one of the easier (and lighter) recipes from that time. There is no reason you can’t do this on the stove top though! I originally made this soup at 4 servings, but my boyfriend and I ending up splitting the whole thing. If you serve it between 4 people it’s only about 100 calories per bowl (which is why it’s so easy to have two).

 

Simple Skinny Broccoli Soup
Serves 2
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups of water
  2. 1 bouillon cube
  3. 2 cups of chopped broccoli florets
  4. 2 medium yellow potatoes, chopped
  5. 1/2 onion, chopped
  6. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  7. 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  8. 1 teaspoon dried sage
  9. 2 tablespoons of cream cheese (can use low-fat or fat-free cream cheese if you like)
  10. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Dump everything but the cream cheese into the rice cooker and start it. You can see the process for making this soup is going to be very complicated!
  2. When the vegetables are soft, either use an immersion blender (careful not to scratch up your rice cooker!) or transfer the soup to a food processor to puree.
  3. Stir in the cream cheese until it’s melted throughout. Salt and pepper to your liking.
Calories
  1. 200
Notes
  1. You can use 4 cups of stock in place of the water/bouillon. You can also use fresh herbs in place of the dried, but you’ll want to up the teaspoons to tablespoons.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

Creamy Basil Rotini

   

I made this sauce one afternoon when I was craving alfredo, but knew I couldn’t spare the calories. This cheesy sauce has a bit of richness from the heavy cream, but the other key ingredients keep the fat content manageable. As if that wasn’t reason enough to make it, you create the sauce in your food processor in just a few seconds. If you don’t have a food processor you can work the ingredients together with a fork, but make sure your basil is finely chopped as you won’t have the food processor to do the work for you.

 

Creamy Basil Rotini
Serves 3
Lightened up cream sauce with sausage & broccoli that whips up in seconds.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
17 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
17 min
Ingredients
  1. For the sauce:

  2. 3 wedges Laughing Cow Light Cheese
  3. 3 tablespoons Fat Free Cream Cheese
  4. ¾ cups Skim Milk
  5. 1/8 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  6. 1 cup Basil
  7. ¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  8. ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  9. ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
  10. Salt & Pepper (to taste)

  11. For the pasta:

  12. 1 ½ cup Whole Wheat Rotini (dry)
  13. 1 ½ Tofurky Italian Sausage
  14. 2 cups Frozen Broccoli
  15. 3 tablespoons Parmesean Cheese (grated)
Instructions
  1. Blend all sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Bring pasta to a boil. 2 or 3 minutes before the pasta is fully cooked, put the broccoli into the pot to cook. Strain the pasta and broccoli and return it to the pot.
  3. Add sauce and vegetarian sausage to the pot and mix well. Cook on low heat until warm, then add the parmesan and mix it in well. When the parmesan melts, it’s ready to serve.
Calories
  1. 396
Notes
  1. If you’re using non-vegetarian sausage, you should make sure it’s fully cooked. You can also replace the laughing cow wedges with plain cream cheese, but I happened to have several on hand and I enjoyed the extra flavor they added.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

 


Shredded Quorn & Broccoli Panini

   

A panini with broccoli in it. A belly with panini in it.

 

Shredded Quorn & Broccoli Panini
Serves 2
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
16 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
16 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 Slices Multigrain Bread
  2. 1 Tablespoon Butter
  3. 1 Quorn Cutlet, braised in a small amount of stock then chopped
  4. 1 Cup Frozen Broccoli Florets, thawed in microwave
  5. 1 Tablespoon Veganaise, feel free to use regular mayo or cream cheese
  6. 1 Tablespoon Grated Parmesan
  7. 2 Ounces Grated Asadero Cheese
Instructions
  1. Pulse the quorn, broccoli, veganaise, parmesan, and any seasonings (I used garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne) in a food processor until coarse, but not pasty.
  2. Butter each slice of bread. Assemble sandwiches by putting half of the broccoli mixture and half of the asadero on each one.
  3. Grill on both sides or put in a panini press.
Calories
  1. 454
Variations
  1. Cut some calories by using one slice of bread and doing a grilled open faced sandwich. Lightly broil the cheese until nice and bubbly.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/