30 April, 2013

Zucchini Pasta Primavera with Creamy Basil Pesto

Yesterday it was 80 degrees in Colorado.
Tomorrow it'll be in the low 30's and snowing.  Again.

See if I care! I'm making summer meals- fresh and light- snow or not. 
Take that.

One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is make zucchini pasta.  In fact, I posted a Zucchini Spaghetti recipe last year that's pretty darn close to this one.  

But this one is tossed in a creamy basil pesto.  
This is a 15 minute quick and easy recipe, no fuss required.
This just so happens to be a vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free, paleo recipe. 
It's so good, and so good for you.  You get some protein from the pine nuts in the pesto. I used what veggies I had on hand, though you could add pretty much anything.  I would've liked to add some spinach or kale, but it was quite filling as is.

If you want a more traditional primavera (aside from using actual pasta, lol) add parmigiana to the pesto- about 1/4 cup) and top the primavera with added parmigiana.  

I'll be honest, I didn't miss the cheese, and I thought I was going to.  
The basil pesto gives it tons of flavor.  I had extra pesto leftover- froze it in ice cube trays, and then removed to a ziploc bag in the freezer.  Now I can add basil pesto to pasta dishes in the future, or top some grilled fish or chicken with it. 

You will need a julienne peeler to make the zucchini spaghetti.  If you don't have one, they can be found at any kitchen store, or even Walmart and Target.  They're great to have, I peel carrots and other vegetables with them for a pretty look.

Zucchini Pasta Primavera with Creamy Basil Pesto
Serves 2

4 Zucchini
5 ounces grape tomatoes (about 1/2 of a 10 ounce container)
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup coconut milk

For the pesto:
3 cups packed fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Prepare the veggies.  Peel and julienne the zucchini. Place in a colander, sprinkle with a tsp of salt, and toss.  Let sit in sink (this draws the moisture out so zucchini spaghetti stays crisp and doesn't get all soggy). 

2. Heat a few swirls of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion. Saute until the onion is beginning to soften, turn translucent. Add the peppers. Saute until peppers are almost done and soft (about 10 minutes).  Add the grape tomatoes. Cook for a minute or so, and add the zucchini. Toss to incorporate, and cook until zucchini is just barely softening, about 5 minutes. 

2. While cooking the onion and peppers, prepare the pesto. Simply add the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and about half of the oil to a food processor. Pulse to combine.  With the food processor running, drizzle in the remaining oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. 

3. Add a cup of the pesto to the cooking zucchini and vegetables.  Toss to combine.  Cook about 2 minutes to get the zucchini to soak up the pesto, and add the coconut milk.  Stir, and cook another 2 or 3 minutes.  

Plate and enjoy!

A couple more posts to enjoy:
Sweet Summer Squash Pudding
Molasses Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple-Papaya Salsa
Gorgonzola Sage Popovers

24 April, 2013

A Healthier Honeycake

I've been delving into a bit of Paleo eating habits.  

Paleo is the 'caveman' diet- you eat only what cavemen could've gotten their hands on- nothing processsed.  That means no dairy, flour, rice, corn, legumes, beans, sugar, etc.

I think this diet has some merit in getting people to eat healthier, to be more aware of eating whole versus processed food.  Though I see nothing wrong in eating super-healthy quinoa, brown rice, and forbidden legumes.

However, I think particularly in the baking arena, this diet is a healthier way of eating.

Baking using the paleo principle means no processed sugar, no white flour, and no butter.  In this recipe, honey (while technically not paleo) replaces white sugar. Coconut milk replaces butter. And almond flour replaces while flour.

The almond flour alone works wonders for your health.  It has higher protein and more vitamins than white flour.  Which makes you feel more full.  Which is great news for those of us with no self-control in eating baked goods (surely I'm not speaking of myself here...)  While I could eat close to a dozen mini cupcakes myself, there's no way I could eat that many of these honeycakes.  

They satisfy the sweet tooth, but are so filling you won't be able to eat tons of them.
That's what I need in a baked good. 

I served these honeycakes with a coffee creme-anglais (made with coconut milk, egg whites, and coffee grounds). They are quite good with some tea or coffee on their own as well.

A Healthier Honeycake
Makes 24 mini-cupcakes
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup honey (I used raw organic honey)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (organic, nothing added but apples!)
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Combine almond flour, sea salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves.
2. In a separate bowl, combine honey, applesauce, coconut oil, and eggs.
3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry.
4. Grease and flour a 24 count mini-muffin tin.
5. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.