I’ve always loved pesto, I could eat it spooned over crackers or grilled veggies, tossed with pasta, spread as a pizza base, slathered on a sandwich or drizzled over a cheese and vegetable platter. I think you get the point, I like the stuff just a tad bit :) In my little food world, it’s the Italian equivalent of hummus…it can go on almost anything.
While I am all for healthy fats, a tablespoon of traditional pesto can pack a caloric punch…and if used as generously as I do, it also can pack on the pounds. When I came across this recipe for a white bean pesto sauce with penne pasta, I was immediately intrigued. A no-cheese, low-oil creamy sauce or dip with plenty of garlicky herb pesto flavor that can be whipped up in about 5 minutes. I’m in!
This pesto pasta recipe was discovered on Christie’s blog, A Kitchen Hoor, which I was happily assigned for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal. Not only has she been cooking since she was “tall enough to see over the counter”, Christie “loves to mutate recipes into her own creations” such as her Corned Beef and Cabbage Enchiladas and her Saffron Baked Beignets. Talk about creativity! Her claim to fame was also being featured on Emeril Live! for her Elegant Sweet Potato Skins!
I seriously contemplated making her sweet potato skins, however with the summer weather approaching I thought a no-cook, versatile sauce and pasta might be more appropriate. I loved this recipe both hot tossed with pasta as well as the leftovers cold from the fridge so that’s a huge bonus in my book. Plus, this pesto sauce can be used as a dip, a spread, or drizzled over rice, vegetables, meats, etc.
I tweaked Christie’s recipe slightly to make it gluten-free and more substantial as a main dish (yes, I like big portions). I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the sauce to bring out the fresh flavors a bit more without me having to add too much salt. I substituted whole wheat penne for this gluten-free multigrain penne and tossed in oven-roasted some grape tomatoes and zucchini for a little extra bulk. I was very pleased with this meal! Full of flavor that was complex yet simple in it’s ingredients and filling! I’ll be making this pesto again, I might even try it as a sauce for potato salad…is this strange? :)
White Bean Basil Pesto Penne (slightly adapted from this recipe)
Gluten-free, Grain-free option, Dairy-free, Nut-free option, Vegan, Vegetarian, Quick, Sugar-free, No-Cook
- 1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (I used low-sodium)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 ounce almonds (could use pinenuts for a variation or use sunflower seeds and hemp seeds for nut-free)
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice from 1/3 lemon
- 8 ounces gluten free penne or other pasta*, cooked per package directions
- 1 cup oven-roasted grape tomatoes** (optional)
- 1 medium zucchini, cubed and roasted** (optional)
- Combine beans, basil, broth, almonds, oil, and garlic, lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as desired.
- Toss with hot, cooked pasta and serve!
*For a grain-free option, toss with cooked spaghetti squash, grilled veggies or grilled meat, or use a spread or a dip.
** I added in some roasted grape tomatoes and zucchini but your favorite vegetable could be substituted. I cut 1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes in half and cubed the zucchini, tossed them both with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and baked at 350F for about 25 minutes.
For additional protein, toss in more beans for vegetarian or grilled or roasted chicken or shrimp.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if that suites your fancy or some toasted almonds or pine nuts for a nuttier flare.
Substitute your favorite roasted vegetable or eliminate the veggies altogether if you’re not a fan. Sauteed green would be delicious too. Make it your own!
Spring fever…yep, I definitely have it! To help it along, I thought ice cream might do the trick? This refreshing raspberry chocolate chip ice cream helped transport me right to sunny days and warmer weather. It might be warm where you are but the chilly rain has been holding on here in Montana. While I can’t change the weather, I can change my mindset…and I’ll start with food :) Seems like a decent place to start. Is anyone with me?
Erin over at Table for Seven was the inspiration for this scrumptious recipe! I was assigned her blog for the Secret Recipe Club this month and I so enjoyed spending hours going through post after post, and I was having a difficult time picking just one thing to make! I came close to making her Pineapple Meatloaf, Baked French Toast and Mexican Stuffed Shells but my sweet tooth won out (again) when I ultimately chose her Raspberry Brown Sugar Chocolate Ice Cream. I had a great excuse to break out my ice cream maker, thank you Erin!
I tweaked the recipe a bit to make it dairy-free by substituting the milk and whipping cream with 3 cups of full-fat canned coconut milk. I used 3/4 cup of the mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips and opted for coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar since that’s what I had on hand. I had an ice cream maker so I used that method instead, but Erin gives an option for making this recipe without one that is equally as delicious. Chocolate + fresh raspberry + a creamy ice cream base…this hit the spot!
Raspberry Brown Sugar and Chocolate Ice Cream (adapted from Our Table for Seven)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo-Friendly, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Nut-free, Vegetarian, Refined Sugar Free
1 Tbsp lemon juice
- In a saucepan, heat milk until it bubbles slightly. Remove from heat. Stir milk into beaten eggs slightly.
- Return to saucepan. Cook and stir for approx 2 minutes or until heated. Remove from heat. Let it cool. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, coconut sugar/brown sugar, and lemon juice. Mix well. Stir into chilled ice cream mixture.
- For ice cream maker: Follow ice cream maker’s instructions and towards the end, stir in raspberries and chocolate chips/chunks/nibs after churning OR
- Without an ice cream maker, stir in raspberries and chocolate chips/chunks/nibs and use David Lebowitz’s instructions:
- Prepare your ice cream according to recipe. Chill it over an ice bath.
- Put ice cream in a deep, freezer safe container and put in freezer.
- Check it after 45 minutes. Break up any frozen sections. Beat it up good.
- Return to freezer. Check to check about every 30 minutes, breaking up the ice. Use a hand mixer if needed.
- After about 2-3 hours, you have ice cream.
*If you can have dairy, feel free to use 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream instead of the canned coconut milk.
For other recipes in this month’s reveal, click below!
Oh my…this recipe might just be my new favorite thing! A sweet but savory twist on a crumble…Mmmmmm. This delicious dish includes a few of my all-time ingredients and has a unique and incredible flavor profile. I can’t tell you how excited I am to share it with you, I could actually squeal! For those of you who actually know me, I am sure you can visualize and hear me giggling in excitement right now :)
Some of you may be tired of winter squash recipes, but I am giving it a last “hoorah” as it was 12F yesterday morning, and the flavors of fall and winter still have a grip on me. This is the second time I’ve made this dish in a week, and I (am a bit embarrassed to) admit that I haven’t shared it with anyone…I fully intended to but lunch, snack time and dinner came around and it disappeared!
For the Secret Recipe Club this month, I was assigned Susan’s blog The Wimpy Vegetarian. After reading her post on using food words as story, I knew she was my kind of gal! I chose her Farmhouse Butternut and Apple Crumble for March, although I had my eye a few other dishes, I kept coming back to this one…and I am MORE than thrilled that I did! I made a few changes: I increased the ginger a tad because I love ginger, swapped out oat flour for all-purpose to make it gluten free and subbed coconut sugar for brown sugar. I increased the mushrooms to use up what I had on hand and opted for a combination of chopped dried figs and tart cherries in the filling since I didn’t have fig jam in the fridge. To keep it dairy-free and make this recipe vegan, I used coconut oil in place of butter and I loved the flavor that it lends to the overall dish. Did I mention that I love this dish?!? Thank you, Susan, I will be making this over and over again!
Butternut and Apple Crumble (adapted from The Wimpy Vegetarian)
Gluten-free, Vegan, Dairy-free, Nut-free, Soy-free, Vegetarian, Refined Sugar-free
For the Filling:
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, unsalted butter, ghee or Earth Balance (use oil or Earth Balance for dairy-free and/or vegan)
- 2/3 cup finely chopped mushrooms
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots (1 large shallot)
- 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash, into 3/4″ pieces
- 1 1/2 tsp to 3 tsps freshly grated ginger root to taste (I love ginger so I used 3 tsp)
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 2 cups thinly sliced apple (unpeeled, I used Gala)
- 2-3 Tbsp dried cherries, cranberries and/or chopped figs (I used 1 chopped fig & 1 Tbsp chopped tart cherries based on what I had on hand)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
For the Crumble:
- 1/4 cup oat flour OR gluten-free all-purpose flour*
- 1/4 cup gluten free oats
- 2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar (or other granulated sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch ground ginger
- 4 Tbsp coconut oil, unsalted butter, ghee or Earth Balance (use oil or Earth Balance for dairy-free & vegan)
Preheat the oven to 375˚F, and generously butter or oil a baking dish. I used a casserole dish and a large ramekin for mine.
In a large frying pan, melt the oil/butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook until the shallots are soft and the mushroom begin to melt into the oil/butter, about 7 minutes.
Add the butternut squash and sauté until it softens and begins to brown, about 15 minutes. After the squash has been sautéing for 10 minutes, add the ginger and apple slices. Sauté all together for the final 5 minutes. Add a little extra oil/butter if the skillet is dry, but no more than 1/2 tablespoon.
Stir in the broth, thyme, dried cherries/fig/cranberries, and salt.
Pour the squash filling into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until just tender, about 20 minutes.
Combine all the Crumble ingredients together in a small bowl except the butter/oil. Chop the butter into pieces and add to the mixture. Pinch the butter in the mixture until the crumble is coarse, and some chunks of butter are the size of peas. This can also be done in a small bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade (this is what I used). Just pulse until the chunks of butter are no larger than a pea.
When the squash filling comes out of the oven, scatter the crumble over the top and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
Serves about 4 larger portions or 6 small
For more recipes from this month’s reveal, click below!
If I were stranded on an island with the option to live on ONE food for the rest of my life…pizza would be my choice hands-down. Not only can you cover all the food groups in one slice, there are options for every course from breakfast, lunch and dinner to a sweet dessert. With essentially unlimited combinations and flavor profiles, pizza is a versatile dish that I can eat cold, warm, room temp or straight from the oven :)
Cold pizza for breakfast? Yep, I could eat that everyday. No judging please!
The debate continues between pizza purists (my Italian friends) and myself on what constitutes a real pizza “pie”. While a traditionalist wants one or two toppings on a pizza, a good crust and a flavorful base, I say pile on the toppings, switch up the sauce and experiment with alternative crusts…you know, to make it interesting :) Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good simplistic pizza with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella but I do not deny my affinity for the alternative flavor combos!
Yet when I have a “homemade pizza extravaganza” for a get together or girls’ night, we get the best of both worlds– we made the gluten free pizza dough together and then chose our toppings for our individual pizzas. Win-Win situation. It’s such a blast that I think I should make pizza night to be a bi-monthly or monthly occurence!
For the dough, we settled on Bob’s Red Mill whole grain crust mix and loved it! This was the first time I’d made this mix and was very satisfied with the results — Great texture and taste, plus it made enough for two 12-inch pizzas. Feel free to use your favorite pizza crust recipe here but this mix is a flavorful option that even has an egg-free instructions if needed.
For my pizza, I opted for a veggie-filled white pizza with chicken. Caramelized onions with sauteed mushrooms and broccoli with grilled chicken and a cauliflower-alfredo pizza base. I’ve been eying various versions of a dairy-free Alfredo sauce and decided to make my own version by combining Leanne’s rockin’ recipe at Healthful Pursuit and Melissa’s Paleo-Alfredo recipe over at Cupcakes OMG! This sauce can be used with pasta, rice bowls, drizzled over veggies/meat or as a base and topping for pizza…yum!
Lightened up Chicken N’ Veggie Alfredo Pizza (Dairy-Free)
Gluten-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Dairy-free, Vegan/Vegetarian Option, Soy-free
Makes 1 12-inch pizza (8 slices)
1 recipe of prepared pizza dough or crust of choice (I used Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Mix and used 1/2 dough)
1 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided (or butter or ghee but is not dairy-free)
1/3 of an onion, sliced into thin rings
a couple shakes of dried parsley, oregano and garlic powder (can use 1-2 fresh garlic cloves, and fresh herbs if desired)
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 small cooked chicken breast, diced (I grilled one 4 oz breast that was seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil) – omit for vegetarian
3/4 cup creamy Dairy-free “Alfredo Sauce” plus more for serving/drizzling (recipe below)
1/2- 1 cup Dairy-free shredded cheese – mozzarella or cheddar (I Daiya cheddar shreds since that’s what I had on hand but if you aren’t dairy-free feel free to use regular cheese)
sea salt and pepper
1. Prepare dough pizza crust according to directions on package (or for your favorite or homemade crust). If using Bob Red Mills crust, have oven set to 425F.
2. Meanwhile heat 1 tsp oil/butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute 5 minutes until soft. Add seasonings, garlic, mushrooms and broccoli and saute for another 2-3 minutes until mostly cooked through (will cook a bit more in oven). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Once crust has “pre-baked”, spread the Cauliflower Alfredo sauce over the crust leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch edge around the outside. Brush the remaining 1/2 tsp of olive oil over the edges of the crust.
4. Top pizza with sauteed veggie and diced chicken and evenly sprinkle with shredded cheese.
5. Bake pizza for another 13-16 minutes or until crust is cooked through and cheese is melted. Slice, drizzle with additional Alfredo sauce and enjoy!
If you are using a prepared pizza crust, skip the first step or bake according to your crust directions.
For vegetarian, omit the chicken and increase the mushrooms and broccoli to 1 cup each.
If using Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust and want a vegan egg-free option, view package for flax egg directions.
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1/3 cup white or yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil (can use Earth Balance or butter as well but stick with EB/oil for dairy-free & vegan)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup veggie broth (or chicken broth if not vegetarian, could probably use dairy-free milk if desired)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup coconut milk (from can)
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2-3 tsp lemon juice
sea salt (helps bring out the flavor since cheese isn’t used)
freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 tsp but I like pepper)
1. In a large pot, steam cauliflower until tender and can easily be pierced with a fork. (I used a steamer basket and cooked the cauliflower for about 5-6 minutes).
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a medium skillet or saucepan. Add onion and saute for a few minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Stir in broth and heat through.
4. Add cooked cauliflower, onion/garlic/broth mixture, and remaining ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add more coconut milk if needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
5. Serve over ANYTHING!!!!