Tag Archives: sponsored

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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Vegan Pesto Butter

18 Jul

Disclosure: I received products from Sweese in exchange for a review. Opinions are 100% my own. Giveaway has ended.

I have a confession. In early March, I stopped eating dairy entirely. I determined that something was causing distress in my stomach and through some minor experimentation, deduced that dairy was to blame. My love affair with Wisconsin cheeses, Greek yogurt, salted Amish butter, and cream cheese had to come to an end. No more whipped cream, no more cheese platters, no more cheesy pizza!

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

At first, it was nearly impossible. Cheese and all manner of dairy products had been engrained in my life since the beginning. I’m a Wisconsinite, so naturally, dairy is one of the biggest food groups here, following beer and preceded by bratwurst (of which I now only eat the meatless varieties). Buttered toast, yogurt parfaits, and creamy frostings quickly became a thing of the past. I had to learn how to navigate ingredient lists to ensure no dairy resided in the products I was used to buying. And more importantly, I had to learn how to be around others who still enjoy all the dairy goodness that my state has to offer (looking at you, boyfriend).

Yes, at first, it was hard. It took about two months for my incessant cravings to subside. I played around with dairy-free alternatives to cream cheese (YUM), block cheeses (gross), shredded cheese (passable), and coffee creamer (took a while to find one I like). I have been using Westsoy Soy Milk for a few years now, so at least that wasn’t difficult. And I know how to substitute coconut products for dairy rather well (thanks to canned coconut milk and coconut oil!!).

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

But the one thing that never left my cravings: buttered toast. It’s simple, comforting, quick, and cheap. Carbs + fat = super satisfying for a pre-run breakfast or even a snack. Sprinkle on some cinnamon, and you’ve got a sweet tooth fix. However, the dairy-free butter alternatives are LOADED with gross chemicals and coloring agents and who knows what else. Yes, I bought a small container of the stuff, and yes, I used it all up, but I swore that once it was gone, I’d develop a homemade alternative that I could feel good about eating, and that would TASTE good.

And, serendipitously, I was contacted by Sweese around the same time. This company makes home and kitchen essentials that are functional AND stylish. Designs are simple and sleek, and pair form with function. Sweese kindly sent me a butter keeper and mortar & pestle set for testing, review, and GIVEAWAY.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

So, of course, I developed a recipe to put them both to use! Adorably, the porcelain butter keeper’s cork lid states “Alles in Butter,” which translates from German to mean “everything is ok” or “smooth sailing.” With my German heritage, this greatly appealed to me! The porcelain mortar is beautiful in its pristine whiteness, and the wooden pestle fits perfectly in my hand.

What better way to put both of these items to the test¬†than to make VEGAN pesto butter?! Yes, non-dairy butter that’s blended with a vegan version of pesto! I cannot tell you how ABSOLUTELY SCRUMPTIOUS this is. It’s salty, savory, creamy, and fatty. Everything you want in a spread to make your toast extra delicious.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

It’s also crazy-easy. The vegan butter is made up of three ingredients, which I know you have on-hand already. And the pesto simply requires a bit of elbow grease and some fresh ingredients. In no time, you can have a healthy, dairy-free, melt-in-your-mouth spread that’ll keep well in this porcelain butter keeper (or really, any airtight container).

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com
Vegan Butter,
from Bare Root Girl

Makes about 1 cup of vegan butter

  • 1/2 C unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Measure ingredients into a glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave until the coconut oil has melted completely. Stir to combine. Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer, and refrigerate for about an hour. You want it to turn opaque, instead of looking transparent.

Once this has set in the fridge, use the balloon whisk on your stand mixer. Turn it on low speed and whisk for 30 seconds. Then turn it up to high speed and mix for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture doubles in volume.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan Pesto, recipe adapted from Food52 and method from Italyum

Makes about 1/2 C pesto

  • 1/2 C tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp walnut halves or another nut of choice (pine nuts and almonds both work)
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (I like Kal brand)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Layer the basil, nuts, garlic, and salt in the mortar. Use the pestle to press and grind the ingredients together until a paste begins to form. This will take some elbow grease! Be sure to thoroughly grind down the nuts and garlic – you won’t want large chunks of these in the final product.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Add the lemon juice and nutritional yeast and continue using the pestle to grind the mixture completely. Pour in the olive oil and use a spoon to stir and combine well. Taste the pesto (on bread or a pita is the best way) to make sure the ingredients are balanced to your liking. Adjust as necessary.

Vegan Pesto Butter

Stir the pesto into the whipped vegan butter until completely incorporated. Transfer to your favorite butter dish or any container that has an airtight lid. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours. Keep the vegan pesto butter stored in the refrigerator and enjoy!

This butter tastes great simply slathered on bread or a pita, used on sandwiches, or mixed into pasta for a twist on “butter noodles.” Use it on savory pancakes or even roast potatoes with it! The possibilities are endless.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Parmesan Pita French Toast with a Whipped Walnut Pea Puree

11 Mar

I received free samples of Toufayan Pita mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Toufayan Bakeries and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Upon taking up a healthier lifestyle, all the sugary, nutrient-empty breakfast dishes had no place in my diet any longer. Donuts, cereals, traditional pancakes doused in syrup, breakfast pastry, French toast – it all had to go.

Parmesan Pita French Toast with a Whipped Walnut Pea Puree | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

But those tasty items don’t need to become completely obsolete! Using Toufayan Whole Wheat Pita, which are made free of cholesterol and trans fats, and only contain 2 grams of sugar per pita loaf, I created a savory version of an old favorite.

The salty Parmesan in the French toast liquid pairs perfectly with the whipped walnut pea puree for a breakfast (or lunch or dinner) that will satisfy all your nutrition and taste buds’ needs!

And, if you’re looking to buy some Toufayan Pita, just check out their site for a complete map!

Parmesan Pita French Toast with a Whipped Walnut Pea Puree | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Parmesan Pita French Toast with a Whipped Walnut Pea Puree

Serves 4

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C nondairy milk
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to serve
  • 4 Whole Wheat Pita breads

Whipped Walnut Pea Puree

  • 3/4 C frozen peas, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 C walnut halves
  • 1/4 tsp roasted dried garlic (regular granulated garlic will work as well)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp nondairy milk
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a shallow, flat-bottom baking dish that’s big enough for the pita breads. You may need to use two dishes.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and spices. Whisk in four tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan. Place your pita loaves in a shallow, flat-bottomed dish. Pour the mixture over the pita breads and lift them up to make sure the egg can coat the bottoms as well. Set aside to soak while you make the puree.

Cook the frozen peas in the microwave, following package directions. Drain out the water and transfer to a mini food processor. If you don’t have a mini food processor, you can use a fork and a bowl, or mortar and pestle.

Add in the walnuts, garlic, olive oil and one tablespoon of milk. Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add more milk as necessary to reach desired “whipped” consistency.

Transfer the puree to a small serving bowl.

Now that the oven is hot and the pita loaves have been able to soak, transfer the pitas to the prepared baking dish(es), pouring any remaining egg mixture over the pitas. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, turning the dish around halfway through.

Remove from the oven and carefully transfer pita breads to plates. Top with a scoop of of the whipped puree and more freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy hot for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Parmesan Pita French Toast with a Whipped Walnut Pea Puree | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com
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