One of my favorite things to do is sit and read through various recipes online and in cookbooks. So when my aunt, who is also a dietitian, asked me to develop a recipe for a newsletter she sends out quarterly, I jumped on the opportunity. The food highlighted for this spring’s issue is zucchini and it did not take me long to figure out what I would make: zucchini noodles or “zoodles”! I know I’m super late to the spiralizing trend, but I love how easy it is to substitute some or all of the pasta with zucchini noodles in many of my favorite pasta recipes. It’s a great way to get an extra serving of vegetables in without sacrificing flavor or texture.
Vegetables, in almost all forms, have sounded very unappealing to me throughout my pregnancy. Therefore, I’ve been trying to “sneak” them into dishes as often as I can. I’ve always loved my broccoli pesto pasta sauce so I was curious how it would pair with zucchini noodles. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that it worked out great! The sauce, surprisingly, is packed with flavor, even though there are only a few ingredients. It does taste like broccoli, but it also has a hint of garlic, some nuttiness from the parmesan and a little bit of heat. It’s super creamy too! Replacing all of the pasta with zucchini left little sustenance so I chose to just replace half and use whole wheat pasta for the rest. The whole wheat pasta lends a nice, nutty flavor as well as a little bit of bite (the zucchini noodles tend to be on the softer side). The bonus of all of this is that the sauce is super green, so it’s fun to eat, and you get two servings of vegetables without sacrificing any flavor. All of that in 30 minutes of cooking makes this a quick and healthy weeknight meal that I hope you enjoy as much as we have!
Zucchini “Zoodles” with Broccoli Pesto Sauce
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1/4 lb. whole wheat spaghetti pasta
- 1 large head broccoli (about ½ pound)
- 1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil, divided
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup (1oz) freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Use the fine noodle blade on a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. If you do not have a spiralizer, you can make the noodles using a cheese grater by running the long side of the zucchini down the grater. Set “zoodles” aside until step 9.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and a medium pot of water to a boil for the broccoli.
- Remove broccoli florets from stems and chop into medium florets. Peel stems with a vegetable peeler and slice into 1/2-inch segments.
- Steam, for 5 to 6 minutes, or par-boil, for 3 to 5 minutes, the broccoli florets and stems until just tender. Drain broccoli, if needed, and set aside.
- When large pot of water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook to al dente, according to package instructions. When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup pasta water to thin sauce. Drain pasta in colander and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in the medium pot used to cook the broccoli, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat.
- Add onion and reduce to medium-low, sautéing until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes.
- Add steamed broccoli, salt and red pepper flakes and turn the heat back up to medium-high, cooking it with the onion and garlic for a few additional minutes. Pour whole milk over mixture and let cook for 30 seconds.
- While onion mixture is cooking, heat large pot used for pasta over medium heat with remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Add zucchini “zoodles” and sauté for about 5 minutes, until zoodles are soft but still have a slight bite.
- Once broccoli mixture is cooked, transfer to a blender or food processor and blend in short bursts until it is finely chopped. Add a little of reserved pasta water at a time until sauce is smooth, but still thick.
- Add whole wheat pasta, broccoli sauce and parmesan cheese to large pot with zucchini zoodles. Cook over medium high heat for 1-2 more minutes, stirring frequently, and adding additional pasta water, as needed, to thin sauce and fully coat noodles. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Serve hot with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.
1. I frequently serve this with sautéed shrimp or chicken breasts to add more protein to our meal.
Nutrition Information for 1 cup: Calories: 190 Carbohydrates: 27g Fat: 7g Protein: 10g
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Thanksgiving is next week and I’m giving you… a salad! I know, typical dietitian move, but you have to hear me out about this salad. For me, and I would assume for many of you, it is challenging to keep my diet in moderation this time of year with all of the delicious sweets and traditional, yet heavy, holiday dishes. For balance, I usually resort to eating salads each day for either lunch or dinner. After awhile though, green lettuce salads start to get a little mundane. Sure, there are lots of awesome salad recipes out there, but I can only buy so many ingredients for one person before it starts getting a little ridiculous. This Thai carrot salad is the perfect answer. I always have these ingredients in my pantry and it changes the salad pattern up just enough to keep things interesting! Another bonus is that carrots are always available, so you can make this salad year round and not have to worry about finding everything that you need.
When Colin and I first started dating, we decided to compete in a March Madness bracket. It was just the two of us, so the grand prize for the winner was dinner and drinks, all prepared by the loser. I won, of course, so Colin decided to make chicken enchiladas for me. It was love at first bite, although not with what you’d think. I fell in love with his chicken enchilada recipe! Of course, I couldn’t just leave it as is, so I’ve been changing it every time I make it and this last time, I finally perfected the recipe. It’s so good that I knew I had to share it with all of you!
With football season in full swing and the Packers squeezing in a spot in the playoffs, I knew I had to share one of our favorite game day foods. The reason Colin and I started dating, or at least continued our first conversation after initial introductions, was because of our mutual love for the Packers. Since neither of us knew many Packers fans in Washington, we quickly started watching the games together. The games always tended to fall around meal times, so Colin made chili for one of the first games he invited me over for. His chili making skills impressed me, maybe even more than his love of football, and it quickly became one of our favorite half time meals. (Side note: Colin later revealed his chili recipe was from Cooking Comically, which is a hilarious way to write recipes, if you ask me.) After moving to Japan and realizing that half time was either going to be spent sleeping (no game is important enough for me to wake up at 3am), drinking coffee or at work, I knew we were going to have to resolve to eating chili on a regular weeknight.
Spaghetti squash has already had its’ moment, or maybe moments, of food star-dom. It first became popular when everyone gave up carbs as a substitute for pasta and made a comeback when those same people swore off gluten a few years later. But I’ve never liked it as an alternative to pasta. To me, spaghetti squash is sweet, like most other squash, and smothering it in tomato sauce doesn’t make it shine. I’d always been on the lookout for alternative ways to utilize spaghetti squash when I came across this recipe a few years ago in my (then) new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Intrigued by the flavor combination, I figured I should give it a try.
Sweet potatoes are one my favorite foods. Besides being an excellent source of Vitamin A and many other nutrients, I love the sweetness they lend to so many dishes. I learned, while researching for our move to Okinawa, that sweet potatoes are a large part of the Okinawan diet. If this wasn’t exciting enough, I realized that Okinawa doesn’t have the orange variety we are used to in the U.S., but the purple variety, called beni-imo.
For those of you who don’t know me, I should explain. Purple is my favorite color. By favorite color, I mean, my life is purple. My phone, laptop, suitcase, even baking supplies in my kitchen–it’s all purple. So the fact that Okinawa has purple sweet potatoes, well, I knew my life was never going to be the same. Okinawans love, and have created, beni-imo everything. Ice cream, Kit-Kats, pastries–if something can be flavored, it will be beni-imo and it will be purple. It’s delicious and amazing and makes me love Okinawa that much more.