Tag Archives: pasta

Baked Whole Wheat Spinach Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

12 Oct

Disclaimer: BrightFarms compensated me for my time to review their lettuce greens, and also provided a gift card to share with my readers to try the products as well.

It’s been more than a week doing the October #Unprocessed challenge, and it sure has been a challenge! Before I get into this recipe for Baked Whole Wheat Spinach Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, here are a few revelations I’ve made so far:

  • Why the heck does a jar of salted peanuts have wheat, soy, and milk in the ingredients?! It was a late-night snack attack, and salty peanuts sounded perfect, until I took a closer look at the label and saw a plethora of unnecessary ingredients. Tossed those out immediately!
  • Lunch at work is hard. We’re provided lunch in my office (which is super awesome!), but they’re not cooking under the same standards as I’m following during #Unprocessed. Lunch has basically been reduced to raw and cooked vegetables, and soup if they make a vegan one.
  • Special lunch at work is even harder! One of the teams I support is having a long meeting over the lunch hour, so the manager graciously offered to bring in lunch for everyone. Being vegan is hard enough in those situations, so being vegan AND unprocessed makes it nearly impossible. While everyone enjoys hot pizza, I’ll have to bring in lunch for myself and get all the questions.
  • Sometimes, a muffin goes a long way ūüôā I baked for that same team last week – vegan peach cornbread muffins. One of my teammates doesn’t eat eggs, and was elated to learn that the muffins were egg- and dairy-free.

With all of that in mind, I have been cooking a LOT more for myself. I don’t keep snack foods in the house (unless you count jalapeno-stuffed green olives, which I’m totally obsessing over at the moment), and even the bread I indulge in is homemade! Real food, made with fresh ingredients, is my tune.

Baked Whole Wheat Spinach Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

That’s why I created a from-scratch recipe with BrightFarms greens.¬†BrightFarms is the leader in local salad greens in Wisconsin, grown in a local greenhouse farm in Illinois, which is designed to conserve land and water, eliminate agricultural runoff, and reduce greenhouse gas emission from transportation. AND, the farm creates green-collar jobs for local farmers, keeping more dollars in the community. Their mission states that they strive to improve the¬†environmental impact of the food supply chain and encourage¬†the consumption of whole and fresh foods.

Baked Whole Wheat Spinach Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Whole wheat spinach gnocchi are ready for the oven!

Scroll to the bottom of this post for details on how to win a $25 grocery store gift card, provided by BrightFarms!

You may not know this, but gnocchi is my absolute favorite Italian dish. Properly made gnocchi melts in your mouth and is coated with the most scrumptious sauce, be that tomato-based, creamy, or pesto. I wanted to develop a gnocchi recipe that’s not too difficult, full of flavor, and made with fresh, local ingredients.

Enter: Baked Whole Wheat Spinach Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto. This version uses Russet potatoes grown in Wisconsin, whole wheat flour, and BrightFarms baby spinach. A simple swap of flaxseed gel for the traditional egg used to bind the dough makes these gnocchi vegan. They’re then baked (rather than boiled) to retain their texture and avoid any disintegration. Once boiled, the gnocchi are tossed in a freshly made pesto sauce, made with BrightFarms basil, locally grown sun-dried tomatoes, homegrown fresh tomatoes and parsley (from my Opa’s garden!), balsamic and red wine vinegars, and nutritional yeast to make it vegan (in place of parmesan).

Baked Whole Wheat Spinach Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

These gnocchi are so soft, they melt in your mouth!

A tip for the best gnocchi: bake, don’t boil the potatoes for the dough. Boiled potatoes retain extra water, which then requires the use of additional flour in the dough, which is not ideal. Baked potatoes are drier and will not need extra flour.

Baked Whole Wheat Spinach Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Serves 6

For the gnocchi:

  • 2 lbs Russet potatoes
  • 5 oz fresh baby spinach, stems removed (weigh after removing the stems)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tbsp warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub and wash the potatoes and wrap them well in aluminum foil. I wrapped several together into one sheet. Place the wrapped potatoes on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 60 minutes.

While the potatoes bake, skip down to the pesto recipe and prepare that!

Once the potatoes are baked, remove them from the oven and unwrap the foil. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on!

Place the destemmed spinach in a large bowl and cover with boiling water; let wilt for a few minutes. Then, lay a clean tea towel in a colander and drain the spinach into it. Use the towel to squeeze out ALL the water from the spinach – you want this as dry as possible! Roughly chop the spinach and place it back into the bowl it was wilting in (be sure to dry this off first).

Carefully peel the potatoes and discard the skins. Roughly chop the potatoes and add them to spinach.

Use a hand mixer to blend the potatoes together with the spinach, but be careful not to over do it – just blend until the potatoes have broken down so there aren’t chunks. Add in the salt, flour, and flaxseed meal and use a wooden spoon to mix until just combined.

Sprinkle a bit of flour on a clean, dry work surface. Scoop about a half cup of the dough into your hands and form a cylinder out of it. Then gently roll it into a rope, a half inch thick. Use a butter knife to cut off half-inch pieces. Transfer these pieces to a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough. Make sure the gnocchi do not overlap – leave them in a single layer.

Bake the gnocchi at 350 for 20 minutes.

For the sun-dried tomato pesto:

  • 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 C packed fresh basil, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, stems removed
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 C walnuts
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/3 C crushed tomatoes (fresh is best, but canned will work)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 C nutritional yeast
  • sea salt, to taste

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with hot water; let sit 5 minutes to soften, then drain out the water.

Combine all ingredients except the oil, nutritional yeast, and salt in the bowl of your food processor. Puree well, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Pour in the oil and nutritional yeast and puree again until smooth. Taste and add salt as desired (I added ~ 1/4 tsp).

Once the gnocchi are baked, transfer them to a bowl and toss with 6-8 tablespoons of the fresh sun-dried tomato pesto. Store leftover pesto in a jar and refrigerate, up to a week. You could also freeze this for a taste of summer in the winter!

Baked Whole Wheat Spinach Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Gnocchi tossed in pesto.

GIVEAWAY ALERT! BrightFarms offered to giveaway a $25 grocery store gift card to one of my readers. To enter, 1) comment on this blog post, telling me what you would like to make with some of the local salad greens that BrightFarms grows and 2) follow my blog via the button at the top right of the page! Deadline extension: Giveaway closes at midnight, October 27, 2017, so comment by then! Entrants must live in the USA.

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Spicy One-Pot Southwestern Pasta

30 Mar

One-pot dishes have clearly taken off recently. What’s not to love about healthy meals cooked in one pot (with usually just one cutting board and one knife for prep), that are ready in a half hour from start to finish?

Spicy One-Pot Southwestern Pasta | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Not all meals need to be multi-part gourmet dinners that are composed of five dishes!¬†This one-pot pasta is too easy – whole wheat pasta joins a pot of water with black beans, bell pepper, onion, celery, and seasonings for a protein- and fiber-packed dish that’s perfect for busy weeknights or after a workout. Kick up the spice factor by stirring in some hot sauce before serving!

Spicy One-Pot Southwestern Pasta

Serves 4

  • 2 C water
  • 8 oz whole wheat pasta, such as penne, macaroni or shells
  • 1 can or 1.5 C black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic, or 2 cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • Shredded cheddar, option, to serve

Place all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, remove lid and let cook about 8-10 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed/evaporated.

Stir in the hot sauce and serve into bowls. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

Quick Herbed Goat Cheese Alfredo with Red Lentil Pasta

22 Jan

Have you ever added up how much you spend on food? The daily coffees, lunches out with co-workers, dinner dates, picked-up meals and weekly groceries all add up to a LOT of money. Whether you’re working on a New Year’s goal related to spending habits, or just want to be able to cook more frugally, the Recipe Redux has you covered this month!

We’ve been tasked with creating a recipe that costs less than $3 per serving. Now, as a vegetarian, this is much easier for me than my meat-eating friends. I noticed the drop in spending immediately after I gave up meat – both at the grocery store and at restaurants. But the bill can still add up and sometimes in a less than healthy way.

Quick Herbed Goat Cheese Alfredo with Red Lentil Pasta | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

So I wanted to develop a meal that was not only low cost, but high in flavor, protein and fiber. Have you seen those legume-based pastas that are available? Black bean spaghetti, red lentil rotini, even chickpea penne! Yes, they sound a little crazy, and the first time you make black bean spaghetti, I guarantee you will be weirded out by the color of the cooking water. But these are such an incredible alternative to traditional pastas. (Which I totally have nothing against, especially since I began making my own!) Sometimes, you just need a high protein meal that comes together quickly and can be easily dressed up.

This Alfredo delivers on all of the above. Red lentil pasta, which clocks in at a hefty 21 grams of protein per serving, is tossed with a simple yet flavorful goat cheese sauce. Dress up the finished product with a bit of balsamic glaze and voila: a healthy, quick, delicious meal that only costs $2.22 per serving.

Quick Herbed Goat Cheese Alfredo with Red Lentil Pasta

Serves 2

  • 6 oz red lentil gluten free pasta (can substitute for black bean pasta, or another favorite) – ($1.50)
  • 2 tbsp butter ($0.15)
  • 1/2 C soy milk (or other preferred milk) ($0.12)
  • 4 oz garlic & herb goat cheese or chevre ($1.99)
  • 1 oz parmesan, freshly shredded ($0.36)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic glaze, to garnish ($0.32)

Grand total: $4.44. Per serving: $2.22!

Cook pasta according to package directions. These legume-based pastas have pretty specific directions, so it’s best to follow them!

While the pasta boils, heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Once melted, stir in the milk and then the cheeses. Keep stirring to melt all the cheese into the milk. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Drain the cooked pasta and immediately transfer into the skillet with the hot Alfredo sauce. Toss to coat completely. Serve and drizzle with balsamic glaze (this is optional, but the sweet tang of the glaze makes the creamy sauce pop!)

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