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Masters of Disguise

Vegetables are good for you.

Duh

Obviously, one of the best ways to get a nice big helping of veggies is to nice, big salad.  But not everyone loves salad- we get that.  So what are all the non-salad lovers to do?

Disguise their salad in the form of something else…

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Something like pasta!

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Zucchini-noodle pasta, to be precise.  With diced tomatoes and pesto sauce.  And delicious turkey meatballs, of course!

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This is basically summer on a plate, people!  Because if you’re like us, you have a garden bursting with zucchini and tomatoes.  If not, you probably have a neighbour who would be happy to give you some.  At the very least, you most likely have a farmer’s market or grocery store near by that would be practically paying you to take them if they sold them for any cheaper!

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It really is amazing how noodle-like zucchini becomes when you slice it extra-thinly.  Whoever came up with the idea originally (because we are definitely not reinventing the wheel, here!) is a genius, and our hat goes off to him (or her!).

This is also a great dish for people who are trying to cut back on their carb consumption.  Of course, it also tastes really great with a crusty, multigrain loaf of bread on the side, too- which is obviously what we did.  (What can we say?  We are girls who love our carbs!)

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It is also a snap to prepare.  You can make the pesto up to a day or two beforehand if you wish, and you can cook the meatballs while you slice the zucchini.  Once each element is ready, its just a matter of throwing everything together!  Simple as that.

So is it pasta, or is it salad?  You could call it whatever you want- we’re going to call it delicious 😉

Zucchini Pesto Noodles with Turkey Meatballs

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

For the Pesto:

1 c. basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c. olive oil
1 tbsp parmesan or nutritional yeast (optional)

For the Meatballs:

2 lbs lean ground turkey
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp onion flakes
black pepper

For the Pasta:

3 large zucchini
3 tomatoes

Directions:

For the Pesto:

Lightly toast the walnuts and set aside to cool.  Mince the garlic and add it to a blender or food processor along with the basil, lemon juice, salt and cheese (if using).  Add the walnuts and begin blending.  When the walnuts have been ground up, start slowly adding the oil, with the motor running, until you have a smooth consistency that is neither too thick nor overly runny.  You may have to stop the motor to scrape down the sides once or twice.  Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

For the Meatballs:

Using your hands, mash up the turkey so that you can form it into clumps that stick together.  Roughly chop the basil leaves and add them to the turkey mixture along with the other ingredients.  Taking about 1.5-2 tbsp of the mixture at a time, form the turkey into small balls.  Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the meatballs and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning them so that they brown on all sides.  Place a lid over the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until they are cooked all the way through.

For the Pasta:

Using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler, slice or peel the zucchini length-wise into wide, very thin strips, stopping when you get to the center where all the seeds are.  Dice the tomatoes into small pieces.  Pour the pesto into the zucchini noodles and toss to coat all the strips evenly.  Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

When everything is ready, divide the zucchini evenly among 6 plates.  Top with diced tomatoes and meatballs, and serve.

(You can have the meatballs heated up or served cold, it is up to your own personal preference)

~twosaucysisters

Have you ever tried zucchini noodles?  What creative ways do you like to make sure you’re eating enough vegetables?

If You Can’t Take the Heat… Turn off the Oven

We’re not sure what the weather’s doing over in your neck of the woods, but here in Ontario we just came out of a 2-week long heat wave.  We’re talking 107F.  And this is not a dry heat, this is a hair-frizzing pore-clogging kind of heat that basically renders sweating useless.  (Not that our bodies got that memo- every time we came in from a run we looked like we had just gone swimming fully clothed- how’s that for a pretty picture for ya?)

Anyways, we think it goes without saying that in that kind of heat turning on the oven is completely out of the question.  Even barbecuing seemed like a bad idea, so we were really at a loss as to what to make for dinner for our family.

We’d also like to take this moment to blame the heat wave for our decided lack of posts lately.  We’ve hardly been doing any cooking so we really haven’t had much to share with you guys.  Because you can only post so many salad recipes.

Anyways, we’ll stop making excuses for ourselves and continue on to the good part!

As we said in Tuesday’s post , we had a delicious recipe that uses our pesto coming your way, so here it is…

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Quinoa Salad!

Ok, so right after saying that we didn’t want to start throwing a whole bunch of salad recipes at you what’s the first thing we do?  Give you a salad recipe.  But this is a quinoa salad, so it’s a little different and doesn’t really count.

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We discovered quinoa for the first time a few years ago and basically become obsessed with it.  We started putting it in almost everything we made so it found its way onto the dinner table several times a week.  It became a running joke in our family that if you didn’t know what was in something, it was most likely quinoa.  It got to the point where every time we made anything everyone would ask if there was quinoa in it.

We suppose it was a tad excessive…

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So while the quinoa-craze of 3 summers ago has passed, we still do like to break it out every once in a while.  And it was the perfect thing in this heat wave because it’s a great source of protein that can be cooked in 10 minutes on the stove-top.  Minimal prep and minimal heat required.  Which means more time in the pool- the only suitable place to be during weather like that!

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We had a wicked storm last night that took some of the heat away, so we will most likely be turning on the barbecue again, but you can be sure that if another heat wave like that hits we will be making this salad again!  In fact, even if it doesn’t get so hot, we will probably make this tasty dish again anyways 🙂

Quinoa Pesto Tabouleh Salad

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Prep: 20 minutes
Rest Time: at least 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 c. quinoa (any colour)
2 c. water

1 recipe of Sage-Basil-Arugula-Walnut Pesto
1c. bell peppers (any colour), diced
1/2 large seedless cucumber, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 c. chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Place the quinoa and water in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil, uncovered.  Once the water has started to boil, place the lid on top and turn the heat to low.  Allow the quinoa to simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn of the heat and allow to sit on the burner for another 6 minutes.  Remove from the burner, take off the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Combine the veggies and chickpeas in a large bowl.  Add the quinoa and stir to make sure the vegetables are evenly distributed.  Add the pesto and stir well.  Place in the fridge and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, so the quinoa has a chance to cool and the flavours have the chance to mingle.

Optional: add some chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, or feta cheese to the salad.

~twosaucysisters

What kinds of things do you make when you’re in the middle of a heat wave?

Chickpea Ravioli

What did you ask for for Christmas last year? A new phone? Money for shopping? Concert tickets?

So did we.  But we also asked for this:

A pasta maker! 🙂

Our first experience with fresh pasta was several years ago when we tried to make spaghetti by hand. It was delicious, but also so thick that you ate three noodles and were full! Our pasta making endeavors ended there, until this past year in our food science lab at school, where we got the wonderful task of making 3-cheese ravioli.

Let us just say this: Dried pasta doesn’t hold a candle to the fresh stuff!

The difference between our food lab pasta and our home pasta was, in the lab, we got to use a pasta maker. This simple appliance allowed us to roll out the pasta nice and thin, so that when it cooked it was just the right thickness. On that day we decided we had to have one of our own!

Within the last few months since getting the pasta maker, we have made pasta 3 or 4 times.  The first time we didn’t get the dough recipe quite right, and it was very crumbly and breaky.  Gradually, we started getting the hang of it, and our pasta has turned out better and better each time!

Remember when we said hummus is good in anything? We were right. It’s even delicious stuffed inside ravioli.

 It’s not our hummus recipe, but it’s chickpeas. It’s creamy. It’s awesome.

It’s chickpea stuffed ravioli.

Make that: Cheesy-tomato-basil-roasted red pepper-chickpea stuffed pasta.

Say that ten times fast! 🙂

First, we’ll start off with the pasta dough recipe itself.  Pasta dough is easy to make, but can be a bit temperamental. The important thing to remember is to have enough moisture that it will stick together but not too much so that it will stick to the pasta maker. Another key item to remember when making pasta, is it MUST be at room temperature when you roll it out. If it’s cold, not only is it super hard to work with, but also crumbles and breaks apart when trying to roll it out.

Basic Pasta Dough Recipe

1 c. Durum Wheat Semolina Flour

1/2 c. Whole wheat flour

1/2 c. All purpose Flour

1 egg

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

7-8 Tbsp Water

Directions:

Mix together flours in a large bowl.  Add egg and oil to the center, and using your hands, mix thoroughly.  Add water one tablespoon at a time until dough stays together and can be kneaded without significant breaking.  Knead for 2-3 min.

Take dough in small sections and roll with a rolling pin so that you have a long strip. Starting on the lowest setting, roll the dough through the pasta maker. Once it is rolled through once it will be much thinner and may become quite long. For ease of handling and less chance of breakage, cut the piece in half.  Each piece should be rolled through each setting twice before increasing to the next level.  We rolled ours up to the 5th setting.

Once you have two strips rolled out, you are ready for the filling! (see below for recipe)

Spread the filling so that there is about a half-centimeter space around the edge. You could also drop the filling by teaspoon-fulls along the dough, leaving a centimeter space around each blob.

Place the second strip of dough on top of the first and pinch the edges to close.

We have a ravioli attachment for our pasta maker, but if you don’t you should use the teaspoon drop method. If so, you can then cut them into squares with a knife.

But us? We let ‘er roll!

Look at those cute little squares!

Now that you’ve done the hard part, just drop them in a pot of boiling water and stir them for about two minutes, e presto! Pasta Ravioli!

Because we wanted the flavour of the filling to come through, we didn’t want to douse it in too much sauce, so we tossed ours in a light pesto coating.

And now for the filling!

Chickpea Ravioli

Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

2 c. chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 clove garlic

1/4 of a red onion

1 roasted red pepper (we used one from a jar!)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 heaping tbsp tomato paste

1/4 c. fresh basil leaves

1/4 tsp chipotle puree*

1 tbsp olive oil

pepper

1/3 c. old cheddar cheese, grated

Directions:

Add all ingredients except for cheese and blend until smooth.

Stir in the grated cheddar.

Spoon onto pasta and cover with another sheet of pasta (as described above).

Cook in boiling water for 2-3min.

* chipotle puree is simply a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (can be found at any grocery store) that has been blended into a paste.

~Twosaucysisters

Have you ever made or eaten fresh pasta?

Na-cho Average Nacho Plate!

Have I ever said before that I love summer? Because if I haven’t that’s surprising.  Summer is so great for so many reasons! And you know what one of those reasons is?

I can make nachos for lunch.

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Just look at that blob of yogurt on the top! Mmmmm… 🙂

However delicious those nachos may look, however, they are not the ones I plan on sharing with you today! (Gasp!)

Those are mine and Brit’s usual, go-to nacho combination – black beans, salsa, avocado, hot peppers, sweet peppers, and Greek yogurt. Today at lunch Brit and I had just come in from a toasty little run, and we wanted something quick and a little salty.  We had the multigrain Tostitos (though often we will make our own chips, these are much quicker!). We had the black beans.  We had the peppers, salsa, jalapenos and yogurt.  Unfortunately, we quickly realized we had no avocados! There was no way we could make black bean nachos without them, so we stood staring at our pantry for lunchtime inspiration.

I have come to realize that it is when we are forced to be creative and think outside the box, even if just a little, that awesome ideas are born.  We wanted nachos, we knew that. We didn’t have avocados, but we did have a can of tuna. Forget Mexican-style nachos – fish nachos it is!

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So yummy, so satisfying! Definitely just as delicious as the original nacho plate and no less healthy! I’ll even go as far to say that I didn’t miss the avocados (well, not too much anyways.) 😉

*All of these measurements are rough, remember with nachos, anything goes, you can put as much or as little of whatever you’d like on them! 🙂

Pesto-Tuna Nacho Plate

Total time: 5min

Serves: 2

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

Store bought or home-made tortilla chips (enough to fill up the size plate you are using!)

1 can of tuna, in water (I prefer chunk, but flaked works too)

2 tbsp. basil pesto

1/2 c. chopped hot peppers

1/2 c. diced sweet peppers

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped

1/8 c. fresh chives, chopped, or 1 tbsp. dried

1/2 c. shredded old cheddar cheese

1/2 c. hot salsa

1/4 c. Greek yogurt.

Directions:

Assemble tortilla chips on your plate.  Mix tuna with the pesto and disperse evenly across the plate. Top with hot peppers, sweet peppers, tomato, basil and chives. Spread the cheese evenly over top and broil in either the oven or a toaster oven for 3min or until the cheese has melted.  Top with salsa and Greek yogurt and enjoy!

*Remember to put the salsa on AFTER the nachos are broiled. If it goes on before, you’ll end up with a pile of soggy chips! Gross!

– Julie

Do you like nachos?

What are some of your favourite nacho toppings?