I love pastas… and when trying to do gluten-free for a few weeks, I crave it more and more each day.
We found this new pasta over at Costco – QUINOA PASTA!! I was skeptical at first, but it’s awesome! Cooks just the same and even better, I might add, than Tinkyada Rice Pasta, which for years has been my gluten-free pasta of choice. It withstands being left in hot water better than rice pasta.
This is a great recipe that combines pasta and salad all rolled into one… it’s basically pasta, salad and vinaigrette. It’s easy to make, delicious to eat, fast as it takes as long as the pasta takes cooking and even works great for company. I am planning to make this for someone new I’ve been seeing lately. Shhhhhh!!!! But, that’s just between you and me, OK??
QUINOA PASTA WITH BABY SPINACH
2 heaping cups of dry quinoa pasta
4-5 large handful baby spinach
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2-3 tbs of olive oil
The zest of 1 lemon
The juice of ½ of that same lemon
¼ cup parmesan cheese, optional
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook pasta according to the package directions. I usually boil the pasta for about 7-8 minutes, kill the heat, cover the pot and allow the pasta to continue cooking in the hot water.
- In a skillet over mdium-low heat, add about 2tbs of olive oil and the 2 garlic cloves. The garlic will infuse the oil with its taste. Allow the garlic to cook a bit in the hot oil, but don’t fry it, cook it just until it starts to change colors. Take the garlic pieces out and discard them. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest, the juice and season with salt and pepper. Mix together and keep in hold until the pasta is done.
- Drain the pasta and return to the same pot. Add the baby spinach and the olive oil/lemon mixture. Toss well to combine. The heat of the pot and the pasta will start to wilt a bit the spinach. It’s possible you may need to add the spinach in batches, but that’s ok. I like that some of the spinach wilts more than others.
- Add an additional drizzle of olive oil and the parmesan cheese, if using. Toss one last time to combine and serve immediately.
There’s more to curly parsley than just a chain restaurant garnish… Just like there’s more to my friend Tania than meets the eye.
This is a recipe I learned from her. Tania is a hair stylist but, every time you go to her salon, you get your hair done and your tummy full. The last time I was there she fed me lunch… and as any typical yogi would do, half the plate she gave me was salad. But this salad was special… it had a special dressing.
Tania tells me this parsley dressing is her go-to salad dressing at home. It’s super easy to make and she always has a bottle of it on top of her kitchen counter. I bragged so much about it to another friend in our running group that Tania had to make a dressing batch just for this other friend to try.
I have been dreaming of making salads with this dressing for a while now… and this is my homage to Tania’s Parsley Dressing. I hope I make it justice. A bottle of this is standing on my kitchen counter as I type!!
1 bunch of curly parsley, thicker stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove
½ tbs kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
This is the time to take out your immersion blender… I first used my food processor, but just a bunch of parsley is too small to use a large processor. Tania makes it in her Vitamix blender…
- In a glass measuring cup measure the olive oil and the water. Add the garlic clove, salt and the coarsely chopped parsley to the large measuring cup. Start pureeing with the immersion blender until the oil emulsifies and turns creamy.
- The measuring cup is nice because the spout will help you decant it into a bottle where you can keep the dressing for future use.
The dressing is chunky… but it’s super flavorful. Pour it over a green salad or even boiled potatoes or rice. It’s very, very versatile.
This is a great use of all that curly parsley that goes on sale frequently. I tend to prefer flat-leaf parsley in recipes, but for this preparation, curly works just fine.
You know I am not a cilantro fan… When a recipe calls for cilantro I usually substitute with flat-leaf parsley or I just omit it at all.
But there is something I have learned about cilantro in the last few years… I can tolerate it, even enjoy it, when I use only the leaves and not the stems of the cilantro plant. The stems remind me too much of the taste of recao. It’s too strong for me and gives me acid reflux. I know… not pretty. I noticed this once when I was cooking the now-famous veggie sancocho recipe after a retreat. I did like Ina Garten and shaved the leaves off the stems of the cilantro and used only that to “season” the sancocho. The other “more experienced” cooks were appalled at my “waste” of perfectly good cilantro stems. But many of the soup eaters thanked me afterwards because the cilantro flavor was subtle and not over powering at all after a few days of fasting.
Fast forward to the other day when I wanted to make something to bring to a party and I had an over abundance of avocados in my hands. I decided to make an avocado without tomatoes so it would stay as creamy as possible without the watery residue tomatoes sometimes leave atop guacamole. At the store there was no flat-leaf parsley so I went with the traditional and very much cheaper cilantro.
This guacamole was an absolute hit… People were asking me for the recipe all night. I wished I had posted this recipe already so I would not have to repeat myself so many times that night.
1 large avocado, cut into small pieces
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
The juice of 1 green lime
A generous handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
A drizzle of olive oil – about 1 tbs
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Mash everything together in a medium sized bowl.
- Let it stand in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors meld together.
You can make this with fresh avocados, but it also works with frozen avocados. Just defrost them and get rid of any water that separates from the pulp when the avocado is thawing.
I am not a bean lover, but funny enough I love hummus. I have shared with you already my basic hummus recipe when I shared my Hummus Sandwich recipe. I love that it’s lemonier than versions you usually get in a Middle Eastern restaurant.
When we go to these Middle Eastern restaurants people assume that if you like hummus, you must like babaganoush too. NOT!!! I like eggplant, but I have given babaganoush many, many, many tries and I just can’t seem to enjoy it. I have learned with time that I need to be in the mood to eat eggplant and babaganoush is simply not my thing.
So, apparently we are in eggplant season. I’ve been receiving baby Japanese eggplants in my CSA box for weeks now. I had 2 great specimens in my fridge before my retreat and I was afraid they would spoil before I would get back… so I decided to mix it in with my traditional (which is really non-traditional in the middle Eastern sense) and see how that played up.
2 small Japanese eggplants, halved
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
About ¼ cup of parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp paprika
The juice of 1 lime or criollo lemon – but if it’s not lemony enough I sometimes use 2
About 1 tsp salt – but I really eye-ball it…
About 5 cranks of the pepper mill
About ½ cup of olive oil
- Brush the eggplant halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a grill (I use my George Foreman grill) for about 10 minutes until you get nice grilled marks and the eggplants begins to soften. Take the out of the grill and set aside for a little while. The eggplant will continue to cook and soften somewhat.
- In a large food processor mix the hummus ingredients – the chickpeas, parmesan cheese, paprika, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
- Scrape the flesh of the eggplant and add that to the hummus mixture… leave the eggplant skin behind.
- Process the whole mix and thru the cover chute, drizzle the olive oil until the mixture gains a creamy consistency. Check for seasonings and pulse a few times more if you need to add anything else.
Serve this with whole grain pita bread or pita chips.
I brought this to a pool party at my friend’s Ana Yolanda and everyone loved it, especially Valerie who’s only 3 years old. Which proves my point that if you expose kids to different flavors early on, they’ll grow to develop great eating habits.
I’ve been receiving so many eggplants in my CSA box, that this has become my new version of hummus for picnics or get-togethers… it’s a nice twist on my original recipe, with a tad of smokiness from the grilled eggplants. I did it recently to participate in the Serious Eats Picnic Food roundup…
Hope you enjoy it as much as Valerie did…
I did this flavored oil to season a nice Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese Toasts… but I was surprised how versatile the oil has proven to dress and season many other recipes.
BASIL PARSLEY OIL
A small handful of parsley – mostly leaves
A small handful of basil leaves
About 1/3 cup of olive oil
Sea Salt – 1 turn around the food processor bowl
About 4 turns of the pepper grinder
- In a food processor mix together all the ingredients and process until the herbs are chopped super fine.
- Let it rest room temperature for about 1 hour so the flavors mix well together before using.
If you’d like, you could strain it… but I like it chunky.