Today was supposed to be the big reveal. THE DESERT POST. Not just any desert either. It was one that had been tested on family and friends and the all around verdict was that it was bomb-ass delicious. I spent all day (ALL DAY!) Sunday cooking and taking photos of this desert (that shall remain nameless-I’m still too traumatized). Only when I finally took a bite at the end of the day (tired, starving, and suffering from a sugar high), I realized it was not right. Something had gone wrong. It was okay but nowhere near as bomb-ass as the first one I had made. I’m sure I will work it out eventually, but I realized that I was in a jam. I had put all my eggs in one basket and did not have anything ready to post for today. Oops.
But then I started to think about what I really need sometimes, as someone who is on a restricted diet for health reasons. There are some days when the food that is safe for you runs low or you ate the last of your reserves. You can’t just go out and get a hamburger or pop an instant meal in the oven. Quick and easy meals are essential for days when there is no time or when you are hungry and need food quick. I suffer crashes when I go without food for too long. When I’m healthy and not suffering from flare symptoms, I just turn into a grumpy old man. I mumble and shuffle around until I get something in me. When I’m sick and in a flare, I also get forgetful, cold, clumsy, and extremely tired. It is good to have recipes that you can fall back on that don’t take a lot of time or effort but are still tasty.
Ever since I bought a Paderno World Cuisine Vegetable Slicer I have been able to make really quick “noodle” meals. It is probably the best thirty dollars I have ever spent.
This time, I actually took time to write down what I did to create a new quick recipe. There are two great things about this Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomato Veggie Pasta.
One, it is fast and easy. When I make pesto for a dish, I never end up using all of it. I freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays. When I need a quick meal, I just take out a couple of cubes.
Two, it is really healthy. The pesto packs in a whole bunch of leafy greens and some protein with the nuts, the noodles are yellow summer squash (so cool!), and let’s not forget the cute little roasted cherry tomatoes.
It took me an hour to make and photograph this meal. That is amazing. I think how fast I could get this done without the camera and smile.
First you are going to roast your tomatoes. This part takes the longest but while the tomatoes are roasting you can prepare everything else. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.
Cut 1 cup of cherry tomatoes or baby heirloom tomatoes in half. Place halved tomatoes in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of good quality olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt (or sea salt), 5 grinds of pepper (you know, from a pepper grinder), and 2 sprigs of thyme (or any mix of fresh herbs that you like). Mix until the tomatoes are evenly coated. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
If you have some frozen pesto, now is the time to take it out. I used 3 ice cube pesto blocks. Zap them in the microwave for about ten seconds or until you can break them apart with your fingers. When unthawed you should have a 1/2 cup of fresh smelling pesto.
If you don’t have any pre-made pesto sitting around, now is the time to make it. I have never used the same pesto recipe twice but I will provide one at the end just in case you don’t feel like surfing the internet for one. Making pesto is really easy and doesn’t take long because you just put everything into a food processor. No cutting or dicing required. It takes about ten minutes.
Spiral two small peeled yellow summer squash.
When your tomatoes have about five minutes left, fill a medium sized saucepan halfway up with water. Bring the water to a boil and then add the spiraled squash noodles.
Only cook them for 1 minute. Any longer and they end up pretty mushy. Drain the noodles in a strainer. I like to drain them twice: once in a regular strainer and then another time in a fine mesh one. Because the noodles are vegetables, there is a lot of excess moisture, which you want to get rid of. I feel like straining a second time through a finer mesh gets rid of most of the excess. If the timer for the tomatoes goes off during this time, just leave them in the oven. A couple more minutes won’t hurt them.
Take the drained squash noodles and put them in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, 5 grinds of pepper, and a pinch of salt. Mix together with a fork (like you’re eating pasta not stirring) until the butter is melted and the noodles are coated.
Take the tomatoes out of the oven and place in a bowl along with the pesto and mix.
Add the noodles into the bowl with the roasted tomatoes and pesto and mix with a fork until the noodles are evenly coated.
Serve with a couple of raw halved cherry tomatoes and grated parmesan cheese. Oh my gosh that was so easy. And look how pretty and happy it is.
For a quick creation, I am very pleased with how this turned out. Sometimes simplicity is the best. I had it for lunch after I was finished taking pictures but I wish I had it for dinner with a glass of nice white wine. Yum. When you get to eat an easy but tasty meal and drink a glass of wine at the end of the day…words cannot describe.
Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomato Veggie Pasta
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/8th teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 sprigs of thyme
2 yellow summer squashes, spiralized
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat.
Cut 1 cup cherry tomatoes in half and put in a bowl along with the olive oil, salt, 5 grinds of black pepper, and thyme. Mix together until the tomatoes are evenly coated. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the other ingredients. I freeze my pesto in ice cubes and 3 equals about a 1/2 cup. Zap the frozen pesto cubes in the microwave for 10 seconds or until you can break them apart with your fingers (or use a 1/2 cup freshly made or store-bought pesto). Place the pesto in a mixing bowl and set aside. Spiral the two squashes.
When the tomatoes have about five minutes left, fill a medium sized saucepan halfway up with water. Bring to a boil and then add the spiraled noodles. Cook for 1 minute. Drain the noodles in a strainer and place in a bowl. Add the butter, 5 grinds of pepper, and a pinch of salt. Mix together with a fork until the butter is melted and the noodles are evenly coated.
Take the tomatoes out of the oven and place in the mixing bowl with the pesto and toss to coat. Add the noodles and mix until everything is coated evenly with the pesto. Serve with a couple of raw halved cherry tomatoes and grated parmesan cheese on top.
Prep: 10 min
Makes: 1 and 1/4 cups pesto
1/2 to 1 cup good quality olive oil
1 to 4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup basil
1 cup cilantro (stems and leaves)
1/2 cup leafy greens
1/2 cup nuts (your choice)
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Combine 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, and the greens in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the nuts and cheese and pulse until the mixture reaches the desired consistency (chunky or smooth). Add more olive oil if needed. Use immediately or place in ice cube trays and freeze to use for later.
This recipe is highly adaptable because pesto comes down to personal taste and what you have in your fridge. Use 1 clove of garlic (or none) if you are not a fan or 4 cloves if you want a lot of garlic flavor. Put more basil in if you know you love it. For the leafy greens get creative. Use arugula if you want a pepper kick to your pesto, spinach, or beet leaves. Traditionally pine nuts are used in pesto but my personal favorite is hazelnuts (filberts). Other choices include walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, etc.
I always start with a 1/2 cup of GOOD quality olive oil in the food processor. After you have blended all the ingredients, add more if needed. You’ll need more olive oil if the ingredients are clumping together because there’s not enough liquid. But you don’t want so much olive oil that it starts pooling on top.