20 Minute Mushroom and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta {Nut-Free + Vegan Option}

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I am pretty predictable at restaurants. If goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and pesto are in combination on a menu item, that’s probably what I’m ordering. Pizza, pasta, paninis — don’t really care what form they come in, just give me the goods.

So I’m not sure why it took me so long to try my hand at my beloved flavour combo at home. But OH baby… better.late.than.never.

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I wanted to create a pesto that was nut-free and vegan because it seems like 99% of recipes include pine nuts and/or parmesan. Which is all fine and dandy, but everyone knows that basil is the star player of pesto. So I was pretty convinced that I could nail a recipe that was a bit more accomodating to dietary restrictions. And I’m pretty convinced that I did. A happy dance may or may not have ensued upon tasting.

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Of course, if you want to make this dish even quicker, feel free to use your favourite store-bought pesto!

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As for the goat cheese, the dish is not lacking without it. So if you’re wanting to make it vegan or if goat cheese isn’t your thing, don’t hesitate to omit it. But it’s a nice touch if you’re on team goat-cheese-rocks.

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20 Minute Mushroom Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta {Nut-Free}

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Print

For the Pasta 

  • 1 1/2 cups pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
  • 2 – 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped and packed
  • big pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • heaping 1/4 cup pesto (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes
  • goat cheese (optional)

For the Nut-Free Vegan Pesto 

  • 1 garlic clove, large
  • 1 cup basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp light tasting olive oil (or Canola)

Instructions

1. Get salted water boiling in a medium pot. Cook to al dente according to directions and drain.
2. Meanwhile, make pesto: Drop garlic into a running food processor to mince. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth, adding oil until desired consistency is reached.
3. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan (enough to coat it).
4. Add onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
5. Add spinach and continue cooking until wilted.
6. Add salt and oregano and stir in.
7. Add drained pasta, pesto and sun dried tomatoes to pan and stir to combine everything.
8. Portion into bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese, if desired.

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Hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. P.s. The leftovers are fab (if there are any). 

Let me know if you try it and have a wonderful week, friends! 

Fluffy Whole Grain Carrot Pancakes

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I have a new mission, and it’s to make up for all the lost time I have spent not putting carrots in my pancakes. In hindsight, it seems so obvious. Carrot cake is such a classic; why would carrot pancakes not be equally as beloved? Who makes these rules?

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But don’t worry guys, this is a story with a happy ending. On Saturday morning, I found myself wanting pancakes other than my usual banana or blueberry, and the thought finally occurred to me. So I got to work, thinking I might need a few tries to get the result I wanted.

But I guess this recipe was just meant to be because it was love at first batch.

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These hot cakes are wholesome, fluffy and slightly sweet. The carrot and coconut make for a lovely texture but then they just sort of melt in your mouth.

P.s. I may or may not be speaking from experience when I assure you that adding a few dark chocolate chips makes ’em something ELSE.

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Recipe
(makes 10 medium pancakes)

  • 1 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot, packed*
  • 1 Tbsp oil (I used Canola; melted coconut works too)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • Optional Add-ins: Chocolate Chips, chopped dates, raisins
  1.  Stir together milk and vinegar in a large bowl. Stir in the oatmeal and then let sit as you do the rest.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar and cinnamon).
  3. Add dry ingredients, carrot, oil and egg to milk/oatmeal mixture and stir gently.
  4. Let batter sit for couple minutes as you pre-heat a skillet* (oiled if necessary) over medium-heat.
  5. Pour batter onto skillet and cook until bubbles start appearing and edges appear golden.
    (*They’ll be a bit hard to flip if they’re not cooked enough so try to be patient! )
  6. Flip and let cook on underside for a couple of minutes.
  7. Serve with your favourite toppings!

Notes
* It takes 1 really big carrot or a few smaller ones to yield 1/2 cup shredded
* I always get the best results with pancakes when I make sure my skillet is really nice and hot before starting!

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I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and I did.

And I want to know… are you a pancake person? And if so, what’s your favourite flavour?! 

“The World is Your Oyster” Pan-Fried Black Beans and Quinoa

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I seem to have acquired the notion over time that for a recipe to be “worthy of sharing”, it has to be elaborate, pretty, innovate and just generally make you want to sing from mountaintops.

And fried black beans don’t QUITE fit that bill, if you hear what I’m saying. But what I also realized recently is that my kitchen will probably see more batches of these beans during the upcoming school year than anything else (okay, besides oatmeal) for many a reason:

  • They’re done in less than 20 minutes
  • They’re easy on my student budget
  • They’re nutritionally sound (#allthefiber #alltheprotein #alltheiron #holla)
  • They’re crazy customizable
  • They’re just plain tasty

So “worthy of sharing”, I have deemed these beans.

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I remember being sort of floored when I first discovered the extent of the transformation that occurs when black beans get a quick frying. I’ve got nothing against them straight from the can, but heat removes a lot of the earthiness that I think turns many people away from beans and imparts a slightly crispy texture that is a game-changer.

I have the process down pretty down pat: I put on a pot of quinoa and let it do its thing while I chop some garlic and onion and throw them into a pan with the black beans and olive oil. The two finish at just about the same time and BAM. I’ve got three meals on my hands that I can dress up any which way I like.

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A few ideas for serving:

  • Mixed with salsa and avocado
  • With a squeeze of soy sauce or hot sauce or lemon juice
  • Cooked in a spice blend
  • As a taco filling
  • Topped with a drippy egg
  • Mixed with fresh or stir-fried veggies

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RECIPE
(makes about three portions)

For The Quinoa*

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Water
For the Beans
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (red or yellow is fine)
  • 1 19 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/8 tsp salt

1. Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Let boil for 30 seconds or so and then cover, reducing heat to low for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil on medium in a large frying pan.
4. Add onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes (they don’t have to be completely done – they’ll keep cooking with the beans).
5. Add beans and stir occasionally until slightly shrivelled and a bit crispy, about 10 minutes. Stir in salt.
6. When quinoa is done cooking, remove from heat and let stand a few minutes before fluffing with a fork.

*The beans are also great atop couscous and rice. Quinoa is just what I usually have on hand!

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If beans aren’t part of your life or have fallen to the wayside, I hope I’ve encouraged you to give them a chance at being on your roster. And go to TOWN discovering how you like them best. The beans want to see your wild side, people.

Hope you have a beautiful Wednesday!

Do you like beans? And if so, what’s your favourite way to eat them? 

Dark Cocoa Espresso Banana Muffins

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Occasionally I find myself craving something other than oatmeal for breakfast so I make oatmeal muffins instead. I wouldn’t want to get too predictable, you know?

I’m not going to lie to you and go on about how much these muffins taste like chocolate cake or brownies or something of the like. With just a quarter cup of maple syrup and banana, these lightly sweetened bad boys are for the cocoa lover and make a great canvas for nut/seed butter, jam, honey or whatever you fancy. I am stoked to have them on hand for rushed mornings and long, hungry afternoons.

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I always have a stash of chopped bananas in my freezer for emergency situations when I have no ripe ones on hand (emergencies are relative, people). They’re great for smoothies or for defrosting in the microwave to bake with.

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RECIPE
(Makes a dozen muffins)
Dry 
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup each whole wheat and all-purpose flour (OR 1 cup of oat flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
Wet
  • 1 1/4 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs (mine were medium)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup Canola oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 375 F and line/grease a muffin tin, if necessary.
2. Whisk together all dry ingredients.
3. Combine all wet ingredients.
4. Stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined.
5. Pour batter into muffin tin and bake for 16-19 minutes, until top is set and toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool completely before removing from tin.

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Are you a fellow muffin lover? What’s your favourite flavour? 

Garden Noodle Bowl

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30 minutes to prepare, nourishing, and really really good. So much yes.

This is yet another Josh specialty that I can take, oh you know, zero point zero of the credit for. That guy really has a knack for gathering a few ingredients and making something beautiful.

It starts with a whole bunch of veggies of your choice that we’ll pan-fry until they hit that crunchy-but-not-too-crunchy sweet spot. Technical term. Josh harvested a few of these from his garden which made my heart sing.

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The next step is preparing a homemade paste that gives the final product flavour like WOOO.

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Lastly, you’ll give some noodles a quick boil and poach a few eggs. We used rice vermicelli but the choice is entirely yours. As for the eggs, keeping the yolk runny rocks my socks off and brings it to another level to my tastebuds. But if runny yolk isn’t your thing (HI MOM), scrambled would be great too. And if you’re wanting to make this dish vegan, you can certainly omit the egg altogether.

Noodles and Eggs

RECIPE
(4 large servings)

For the paste:

  • 1/2 cup cilantro (no need to remove the stems)
  • 2 Tbsp basil (about 10 leaves)
  • big pinch salt
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp hoison sauce
  • sriracha to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce

For the bowl: 

  • 4 cups assorted chopped vegetables
  • 300 grams of rice vermicelli or pasta of choice (about 2/3 of a 1 pound pkg)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, for sautéeing
  • Green onions and celery leaves
  • Soy sauce, sriracha, lime juice, to finish (optional)

1. Chop the veggies and set aside.
2. In a mortar and pestle or mini food processor, combine the cilantro, basil, salt and garlic.
3. Add the rest of the paste ingredients and mash/blend until well combined.
4. Get a large pot of water boiling and cook noodles al dente according to directions.
5. Heat the olive oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat.
6. Add vegetables and sauté for 5 – 10 minutes, until tender-crisp.
7. Add paste to vegetables and incorporate.
8. Add noodles to vegetable mixture and combine everything.
9. Meanwhile, poach the eggs (or cook to your liking)*
10. Divide noodle/vegetable mixture into bowls and top each one with an egg and green onion & celery leaves.
11. Add additional soy sauce, sriracha and lime juice as desired.
12. Incorporate everything together and eat.

*we use a silicone poaching cup which works great!

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This is one of those go-to dinners that always seems to fit the bill in that moment of “what do we eat?” on days with no dinner plan. Hope it sneaks its way onto your dinner rotation if it’s up your alley!

What dishes have you been loving this summer?