Who doesn’t love being radical? At the top of my New Year’s resolutions list this year was: 1) do not take yourself too seriously in 2016, 2) find more time for play, and 3) eat even MORE veggies and less meat! So when I say get radical, I’m sort of poking fun because if you’ve been following trends over the last decade beginning with when Michael Pollan steared us in the right direction to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” you’ll already know that vegetables have clearly become the delicious center of the plate. What I’m really suggesting in this week’s “Healthy, Not Boring” Tip is to make cooking and eating vegetables more fun for your entire family. There’s no easier way to do this than by going all out “theme” one night a week–Italian night, Tex Mex night, Chinese night–oh YES! Join me this week as we take our Meatless Mondays to a whole new healthy, not boring level with these three fun and delicious meals!
What I love about pesto is that it’s a green sauce that requires zero cooking! In my Joyful 12 recipe, Betcha Won’t Believe It’s Broccoli Pesto Pasta, I’m mixing up the standard basil centric recipe with a winter veggie that most kids and adults already love. What’s super fun about this pesto is its neon green color that comes from quickly blanching the broccoli florets and stems in the salty pasta water for a few minutes before they go into the food processor. If you didn’t already know this super cool science trick, it’s the salt in the water that keeps the chlorophyll from leaching out of green veggies that have been blanched! I’ll guarantee this hazelnut, parsley, and broccoli loving sauce will become your family’s favorite Italian meal this winter!
If you’re looking for a taste explosion, you’ve got to make Elena’s Kickin Southwestern Quinoa bowl. I’m addicted. What I love about this dish is that once you make it, you can continue eating it for several days in different ways–one night in a burrito, the next alongside a grilled piece of fish, or as a packed lunch on the go. With Elena’s recipe for a sweet and spicy mango salsa to top off all of this plant based yumminess, you’re guaranteed to return to this recipe as I have time and time again.
As I write this post, we are literally making fried rice for dinner! It’s always a variation of my standard Joyful 12 recipe based on whatever veggies I’ve got on hand. What I do though to make a Monday meal just a little more civilized is I do a little prep Sunday night when I’m vegging out to Downton Abbey, i.e., that’s when I cook my brown rice ahead of time. And don’t sweat it if you lean on those frozen veggies in your fried rice. Believe me, you’re going to pack in loads of fiber and flavor with so little effort, you’ll see why I call this my go-to Meatless Monday meal!
- Pasta (fusilli), 12 oz.
- Salt, 1 ½ tsp.
- Parmesan cheese (grated), 2/3 cup
- Hazelnuts, 1/3 cup
- Broccoli, 1 head (medium)
- Parsley (fresh), 1 bunch (2 cups measured)
- Salt, 1 teaspoon
- Black pepper, ¼ teaspoon
- Olive oil, 1 cup
- Garlic, 1-2 cloves (optional)
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Wash all produce.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for every 8 cups add 1 ½ teaspoons salt).
- Grate Parmesan cheese. Set aside a little extra to sprinkle on top of your final dish.
- Cut off the tops of the parsley, trying to get mostly leaves. Don’t worry if you get some stems. They will blend up in the pesto.
- For the broccoli: cut off the florets (the flowering clusters at the end of the stem). Also cut most of the stem, just discarding the lower woody part. You can quickly cut off the outer parts of the stem (peel it with your knife) that are harder and chop the more tender inside of the stem into chunks.
- First grind cheese and nuts together in a food processor.
- In the salted boiling water, drop broccoli florets and stems. After 2 minutes, remove the broccoli and put directly into your food processor.
- Add the parsley, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil and pulse until combined.
- Bring the salted water back up to a boil and cook the pasta according to the box instructions.
- Drain the noodles.
- In a bowl, combine cooked pasta with broccoli pesto and serve with some extra Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
- Culinary Note: I often find that children are not as fond of raw garlic in their pesto. For this recipe, we like to gently simmer the garlic in olive oil for about 15 minutes before using.