Pasta Salad with Fried Zucchini and Edamame

The day has finally arrived.

I’m finished with the “white carb detox”!  For those of you who didn’t see my beginning post, I basically decided to eliminate sugar (except for fruit) and white flour from my diet for 3 whole weeks.  I can’t say that it was always easy and I won’t lie and tell you that I didn’t have any slip-ups (there was one illicit piece of pillowy focaccia bread and some nasty frozen pizza at a crazy party).  Nonetheless, I am 100% glad that I did my very best for 3 weeks.  By the end, I was eating a ton of vegetables and healthy protein and fat, I was feeling satisfied and energetic, and the dreaded belly bloat was almost nonexistent.  Too bad I wasn’t able to go to my 5-year college reunion…I was looking good!

Since my 3 weeks ended on Monday, I have to admit that I’ve been much less virtuous.  Nothing over the top, but there has been some kind of white bread or pasta every day.  These foods are just so darn convenient and simple!  And so, of course, I have a pasta salad for you today!  Of course you could use whole-grain or gluten-free pasta, but for me, sometimes, being bad just feels too good.  🙂

Pasta Salad with Fried Zucchini and Edamame
serves 4
adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

– 1/2 cup sunflower oil
– 3 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
– 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
– 1 10 oz bag frozen edamame
– 2 cups basil, cut into ribbons and divided
– 1/4 cup parsley leaves
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 cups uncooked bow-tie (farfalle) pasta
– zest of 1 lemon
– 1 Tbsp small capers
– 6-8 oz fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces

Fry the zucchini: Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Gently add slices of zucchini in batches and fry for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden.  Place on paper towels to drain.

Cook the edamame: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add edamame.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, drain, and place in a large bowl.

Cook the pasta: Refill your pot with salted water and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain, rinse with cool water, and place in the bowl with the edamame.

Make the dressing: Combine 1 cup of basil, all the parsley and olive oil in a food processor.  Puree, scraping down the sides as needed.  The dressing may not be completely smooth and uniform…that is ok.

Put it all together.  Add the zucchini, red wine vinegar, and basil dressing, lemon zest, and capers to the pasta and edamame.  Stir well.  Season to taste with salt.  Add the mozzarella and remaining basil before serving.

* I shared this post with this week’s Full Plate Thursday.

Anna’s Pesto Trapanese

Today’s recipe comes from “The Splendid Table“, a public radio show (or podcast) about all things food and cooking.  I guess I decided that the multitude of cooking blogs I follow and the cookbooks that I’m always bringing home from the library just weren’t enough.  Plus, I can’t read cookbooks while I’m jogging or riding my bike.  In my exploration of the world of food podcasts, I’ve found that this is one of the best.  I’m trying out of few others ones right now and may have to share a list of my favorites in a future post.

But for today, I’m just going to focus on this pesto.  This is something that I think will be in heavy rotation in my apartment this summer for a couple of reasons: 1) The sauce does not require any cooking.  No slaving over a hot stove.  2) While most pestos use mostly basil, this one is tomato-based.  I loved the fresh, sweet taste of fresh tomatoes in my pasta.

I’m lucky enough to live near a place that sells freshly made (not dried) noodles and so I served the sauce with fresh angel hair pasta.  You can use any pasta you would like, though.  You could even try spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons!

Anna’s Pesto Trapanese
makes enough for 4 servings of pasta
adapted from The Splendid Table

– 10 oz fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes
– 8 basil leaves
– 1/4 cup almonds, toasted
– a few slices of peperoncini
– 1 tsp sea salt
– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gran Padano cheese

1. Place tomatoes, basil, almonds, peperoncini, and salt into a high-speed blender or food processor.  Blend for about a minute until you have a fine puree.

2. Turn the blender or food processor on low and slowly add the olive oil until incorporated.

3. Toss the pesto with your noodles.  Add cheese and toss again.

* I added this post to this week’s Fat Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday.

Man-Friendly Dinner: Lemony Leek and Mushroom Pasta

What do you get when you cross a quinoa and green-smoothie loving lady with a guy who has more…uh, traditional tastes?  You get a hard time agreeing on what’s for dinner.  And sometimes a little peace offering is in order.  You see, I started noticing that Jeremy would get a very worried look on his face (panic, maybe) whenever I came through the front door announcing that I had bought groceries for dinner.  His nonchalant question, “What are you making?” masked a desperate search for an exit strategy.  Turns out, not everyone thinks roasted beets and sweet potatoes are an awesome dinner option.

I’ve decided that I need to earn back his trust a bit by making a few dinners that I’m sure he’ll enjoy.  They may not live up to my weirdo health-nut standards (I’m trying to dial back the carbs…this dinner was a carb-lover’s paradise), but seeing his empty plate was its own reward.  Luckily for me, Jeremy does like mushrooms, especially shiitakes.  I piled them on in this dish to amp up the superfood content.  And I served it with a side of buttery garlic bread to underline my good intentions.

Lemony Leek and Mushroom Pasta
serves 2

– 3 leeks, washed and finely sliced (white an light green parts only)
– 3/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced
– 2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– salt and pepper, to taste
– juice from 1 lemon
– toasted and chopped walnuts, for serving
– finely chopped parsley, for serving
– 1/2 lb linguine pasta

1.  Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.  Drain, rinse with cool water, and set aside.

2.  Heat butter or oil in a large pan.  Add leeks, mushrooms, and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

3.  Turn heat to low and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Toss with noodles until heated through.

4.  Top with walnuts and parsley, if desired.

Creamy Cannellini Bean Sauce with Pasta and Vegetables

I can hardly remember the last time I made pasta.  It’s not that I have anything against Italian food (it’s one of my favorites!) but pasta, to me, seems like a treat better saved for a romantic night out than something cooked at home.  The problem is that I can’t bring myself to do the whole wheat noodle thing.  I want to be healthy but there’s something about the texture or taste of whole wheat pasta that just ruins it for me entirely.  Enter Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta…

It’s a bit of a misnomer since it seems to also have a healthy amount of corn but I’m not complaining.  It has more fiber and protein than regular semolina pasta and doesn’t turn all mushy the way rice pasta does.  Instead, it keeps a nice chewy texture when it’s cooked, which just the way I like it.  It was on sale at the grocery store this weekend and so I decided that now was the time to give it a try.

This recipe is adapted from Yvonne and Julie’s blog.  I changed it a bit to reflect what’s in season right now but otherwise stayed pretty true to their version.  I realized after I’d done my grocery shopping that mushrooms would have been the perfect addition!

Creamy Cannellini Bean Sauce with Pasta and Vegetables
serves 4

– 1 package Quinoa Harvest Pasta Pagodas (or your favorite pasta type)
– 10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– 2 Tbs + 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
– 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
– juice from 1/2 of a lemon
– 1 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 large head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1/4 cup hazelnuts

1. First, toast the hazelnuts in a saucepan over medium heat, shaking regularly to make sure the don’t burn.  Remove from heat, allow to cool, and roughly chop.

2. Cook the garlic in 2 Tbs olive oil over medium heat (don’t let the garlic get brown).  Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Steam vegetables until slightly tender.

4.  While the pasta and vegetables are cooking, make the sauce.  Place sautéed garlic, beans, remaining olive oil, rosemary, salt, and lemon in the blender.  Add coconut milk as needed to reach desired consistency.  Sauce should be thick but pourable.

5. When the pasta is done drain and return to pot.  And sauce and vegetables and mix it all together.  Scoop into bowl and garnish with hazelnuts to serve.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, if desired.

Well, I’m off to get some studying done.  I get a little panicky when I look at all the assignments I have due in the next couple of weeks but I just have to remember to take it one thing at a time.  Deep breath 🙂