Thick and Hearty Red Lentil Spaghetti Sauce

Lentil Spaghetti Sauce

I am going to go right ahead and admit that this is yet another Josh creation that I can take very little credit for. Broken record and a half. But the lentils were all me. I HAVE IDEAS TOO. ha.

This is just one of those staple recipes that I know I’ll be making for the rest of my life. It is quick, wholesome, versatile and so tasty. If I were to just see the ingredient list out of context, I have a feeling I would wonder if it were particularly flavourful. But wherever the flavour comes from, it’s there, alright.

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Let’s talk lentils for a minute. This is a great way to give these little guys another shot if you’ve tried them in the past and not been a huge fan. They blend in beautifully and rather inconspicuously (to the palate more so than to the eyes) and add such a nutritional punch. My eyes seriously bug out of my head a little bit when I look at their nutrition facts. Protein, iron and fibre like whoa.

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I’ve had this sauce with pasta and on pizza and even just alone as a chili of sorts. As I mention below, feel free to just throw in whatever veggies you have on hand that need using up. Also, you’ll see that I give the tomatoes a quick whirl with the immersion blender. I just find that this makes for a perfectly not-blobby-but-not-too-smooth texture, but you could certainly forego that step if you so desire!

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Quick and Hearty Lentil Spaghetti Sauce

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 32 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: 1-2 cups chopped veggies of choice (carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, mushroom and celery all work well!)

Directions: 

  • Pour entire can of diced tomatoes into a small pot and blend a little bit with am immersion blender*.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer to thicken.
  • Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until it starts sticking to the pot when stirred, lentils are tender and desired thickness is reached (20-30 minutes).

*If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could give it a few quick pulses in the food processor or not blend it at all! I just prefer a slightly smoother texture.

Lentil Spaghetti Sauce

Hope you love this sauce if you give it a try. Be sure to let me know if you do! 

Have a FAB weekend friends.  

Warm Fall Harvest Salad with Butternut Squash, Shrimp and Goat Cheese

Warm Fall Harvest Salad

Last week I came across a picture on my phone and was like “OH MY LANTA. HOW DID I FORGET ABOUT THAT SALAD?!” The thought occurred to me in caps and everything.

I made this salad over and over again last winter and just couldn’t get enough of it. But at some point, squash went out of season and the salad and I had to part ways. It was a tough time for me but I got through it. DSC_0690

I moseyed on about the summer months eating lots of seasonal greens and all was well in the world. But fast-forward to this fall and salads just lost their appeal. Just so cold and NOT comforting, you know? But like, it’s not you – it’s me.

So I was about to hang up the towel and move on to cooked veggies for the winter, but somehow and some way, I came across the phone picture and it’s safe to say that I am back in salad mode.

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Creamy and sweet from the butternut squash, tangy from the goat cheese, buttery from the shrimp and crunchy from the crackers. It’s just a full-on party of flavours and textures. And the vinaigrette is really easy and a wonderful complement (cinnamon in vinaigrette = yessssss)

The best part is that if you already have a batch of butternut squash cooked, the salad comes together in less than 5 minutes.


Warm Fall Harvest Salad {Butternut Squash, Shrimp and Goat Cheese}

  • Servings: 1
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I tend to eye-ball this recipe. So while I provided approximate measurements, feel free to add ingredients to your liking to create a ratio that tastes perfect to you!

For the Salad: 

  • 1 serving greens of choice (spinach works well)
  • 1 – 2 tsp Canola oil
  • 5 – 6 frozen shrimp
  • goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 Tbsp)
  • butternut squash, cubed and roasted* (about 1/2 cup)
  • Mary’s crackers, crushed*
  • vinaigrette (recipe below)

1. Heat a skillet to medium-high and add oil.
2. Run frozen shrimp under cold water for 1-2 minutes, until thawed enough to handle.
3. Peel shrimp and add to hot pan.
4. Cook shrimp, stirring often, until just pink (no more than 2 minutes).
5. Remove from heat and add butternut squash to pan to heat (if cold).
6. Put greens into a bowl and top with shrimp, squash, goat cheese, crackers and vinaigrette.
7. Serve.

Cinnamon Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette for One:

  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • shake of cinnamon

* I simply peeled and cubed a butternut squash and cooked with olive oil, salt and pepper for 25 minutes at 400F, stirring once part-way through.
* Alternatively, you can use the crackers or croutons of your choice

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Well thank you for listening to my little salad life story. Can you tell there’s an exam I should be studying for? ha

If you make it, I hope it rocks your socks off. Be sure to let me know!

What’s your favourite salad combo? 

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! 

So Long, Snack Rut: My 5 Favourite Portable Snacks

The idea to share my favourite snacks came to me the other day, but I immediately discarded it. People don’t need to read your blog to know that greek yogurt exists, Jacklyn.

But then I got thinking about how often I hear people complaining of being in a ‘snack rut’ and I had a revelation: if we are all caught in a snack rut, but our snack ruts are all different snacks ruts, then we just need to SHARE our snack ruts with each other to get out of our snack ruts.

Are you with me?!

Snacks

These are the 5 snacks that I pack most often. None of them are creative or uncommon. But perhaps there are one or two that don’t typically cross your mind as you’re leaving for the day and grabbing something to go.

It was nice knowing you, Snack Rut.


1. Fruit and Cheese

Having a bit of strong cheddar alongside my fruit keeps me full longer and satisfies my (seemingly constant) craving for the sweet-and-salty combo. Apples also work wonderfully instead of grapes!

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2. Muffin with Nut/Seed Butter

I make an alarming number of batches of muffins but I just can’t stop because a muffin-stocked freezer is the best kind of freezer. I usually just give them a minute in the microwave, slather some type of nut/seed butter between the halves and take off running.

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3. Pita and Hummus

When I buy a package of pita, I cut them all in half and stick the bag right back into the freezer. They thaw in minutes as good as fresh. Paired with some hummus = 10/10 (But what is NOT good when hummus is involved?)

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4. Greek Yogurt

The protein in greek yogurt makes for a pretty filling snack and it is so customizable. I usually add cinnamon, vanilla and a bit of sweetener to plain yogurt. Maple syrup is pictured, but honey and mashed banana are great too.

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5. Dried Fruit and Nuts

Such a winning combo. A bit of quick sugar from the fruit and some slower-acting fat and protein balances this one out nicely. I typically opt for dates, prunes or raisins and the world is your oyster when it comes to the nut/seed selection!

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What are your favourite snacks?! Do tell.

And HAPPY FRIDAY!

“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?