Monthly Mystery Munchies #31: Pasta Primavera

Credit: NordWood Themes

Haaaaapy New Year! May 2018 be delicious! In the spirit of New Year, Ann from Grubbs n Critters, who is my dedicated, loyal Best Blogging Friend, chose “new beginnings” as this month’s recipe challenge, and challenge is quite apt. I was initially stumped, as it’s not as easy as it sounds, but then I did some research and learned that Chinese dumplings are a traditional dish served for the Chinese New Year. Fantastic, I thought, let’s do that. I mean, how hard can it be? Quite, as it turned out. I Googled and YouTubed and realised that dumplings were, in fact, tricky, but that did not deter. I went to the grocery store and stocked up on pork mince, bamboo shoots, and the rest of the ingredients. However, when it came time to make said dumplings, well, it was a comedy of errors. The Husband informed me that rice wine vinegar is not the same as Chinese rice wine. Oops. Also, I left spring onions off the list, and my dumpling dough was horrendous and inedible. It was so hard, it could have been used as a weapon. Blunt force trauma for dinner, anyone? No? We bailed on the idea and went out for burgers instead. It was good for a laugh. The Sister from Another Mister was lured here with the promise of pork dumplings, but instead she was tasked with the idea of finding another recipe. I felt it only right that she contribute, as I stared into my chicken burger and uttered some choice words. She decided that I should make pasta primavera, or spring pasta, and I jumped on the opportunity.

Now, it’s not spring in South Africa. It is summer. Sweltering, blazing summer, but all of these veggies are available here and I do love spring, and the idea of using these veggies that represent a new season. Plan B worked out well. Hallelujah! I really loved the idea of roasting a wide array of delicious, colourful vegetables, mixing them with butter and cream, topping with parmesan. It’s a creamy dish, but because it also uses a variety of vegetables, it’s bursting with flavour too. Yes!! I am so keen to see Ann’s dish this month, and I mean wow, she really picked a fun one this month. So without further ado, here’s my pasta primavera recipe, and please take a gander at Ann’s recipe. I have no doubt it’s a delicious treat!

Pasta Primavera

Supplies:

500g bowtie pasta (or any other kind)
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 baby marrows/zucchini, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon Italian herbs
Freshly cracked black pepper
Pink salt (you can use normal salt, but Himalayan salt is my fave for health reasons)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce:

4 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 sliced garlic cloves
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup cream
½ cup parmesan

Making it Happen:

Boil the pasta per package instructions until al dente.
Meanwhile, lay your vegetable in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle the dried herbs over the veggies and roast in a preheated oven at 200°C for 10 – 15 minutes.

For the sauce:
Heat the butter in a pan on medium, and add the onion and garlic. Fry until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and fry for another minute. Pour in the stock and cream, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, along with the cherry tomatoes, then add the roasted veggies and toss well. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve!

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #25: Baked Orange-Pomegranate Chicken

This month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies theme was difficult. I felt like a thief… A really confused thief, but I had theeee best time playing around with recipes. Ann from Grubbs n Critters, who is my sweet dear friend and my Monthly Mystery Munchies partner-slash-best-blogging-friend, suggested we do a recipe swap. How much fun!? Too much (there is no such thing!). The idea is to take a recipe the other has made over the last 24 months, and make it our own. I am easily confused, I openly admit, and I suck at making decisions, especially when all the options are fantastic. There were two I wanted to make, but I didn’t have the heart to change the first one in any way, so I decided to make Ann’s baked chicken cutlets in orange-plum sauce. It’s settled.

Or is it? No, apparently not. I made the recipe and I was like, really? How am I supposed to change this? How can I improve it? No pressure! I decided to try orange-pomegranate instead of orange-plum, and I was pretty happy with the results. I swapped Worcestershire sauce with balsamic vinegar, and baked the chicken breasts in the fruit and honey while frying the veggies. I was definitely apprehensive about this dish, because I genuinely didn’t want to change anything, but this is exactly why we do it – to challenge ourselves, and each other, and sometimes my husband, who has to put up with my to-ing and fro-ing and “but do you think it will taste as good?”, or “I’m definitely sticking with this recipe” until 5 minutes later “maybe I should try another one instead?”, the next day “what if I try granadillas instead?”. Bless. He deserves a medal, but since he got several of Ann’s delicious meals over the course of three weeks, I think he’ll be fine.

Ann has undoubtedly produced something amazing. She always does, every month, without fail. Please check it out here. Ann, thank you so much for your wonderful suggestion this month. Although this was the hardest one to date, I enjoyed it immensely!

Baked Orange-Pomegranate Chicken

  • Difficulty: Dude, it's easy
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Supplies:

For the chicken marinade:

4 boneless, skinned chicken breasts
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
80g pomegranate seeds
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon turmeric

For the veggies and rice:

1 onion, chopped
1 green, yellow, and red pepper, sliced
150g baby tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh coriander to garnish
Brown and wild rice to serve

Making It Happen:

First check how long your rice will take to cook. Time it so that it’s cooked as soon as the chicken comes out of the oven (30 minutes).

Mix the balsamic vinegar, pomegranate seeds, orange juice, zest, honey and turmeric. Marinade the chicken for an hour or longer. Remove from the fridge half an hour before cooking, and let it come to room temperature. Cook in a preheated oven on 180°C (350°F) for 30 minutes. At this stage, cook your rice.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the baby tomatoes, puree and sesame oil, season with salt and pepper, and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the peppers and fry for 5 minutes.

Add the cooked rice to the fried veggies, and serve with the baked chicken. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #21: Huevos Rancheros (Eggs with Spicy Salsa)

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Delicioso! This month’s theme was chosen by Ann, and wow, it was a goodie! Breakfast, they say, is the most imprtant meal of the day. (Side note: Who exactly are the mysterious”they”? “They” say a lot, but I tend to agree with “them” on this one!) I entered into this challenge with curiosity and muchos excitement. We’ve never done a breakfast challenge for our Monthly Mystery Munchies, so this was an excellent, and challenging, idea.

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See, I frikken love all things spice. And eggs. Gotta love eggs. The result, you ask? Huevos rancheros – a traditional Mexican breakfast consisting of a tomato-y veggie salsa, topped with eggs, and rolled in a tortilla. This dish is flexible though, so I served it on seedloaf. We also had it for dinner last night, and it was bomb! Yummers! I desperately wanted to make guacomole, but ffs, all the avos were hard. Blah. Anyway, we soldiered forth (we = The Husband and I. He loves giving input, because he is the guinea pig, a role he happily, uh, relishes. See what I did there?). Oh, and “ffs” stands for “for food’s sake” – get your mind out of the gutter!

As much as choosing one recipe was a challenge, this one is not only a fiery start to the day, but it’s easy to boot. Fry up some sweet peppers, chillies, garlic, and tomatoes. Add egg. Top with coriander. I mean! See, easy, yes? Yes! I played around with this recipe and the final result is, in my opinion, muy bueno! I’m pumped about Ann’s recipe – “Hearty Breakfast Quiche“! QUICHE, people! #BeStillMyBeatingHeart #QuicheForBreakfastIsTheNewBlack! Ch-ch-check it out at Grubbs n Critters, and feast your eyes (and tummies) on her latest offering and so much more.

Happy New Year folks, and may it be a year filled with gastronomical delights!

Huevos Rancheros (Eggs with Spicy Salsa)

  • Difficulty: Easy (or over-easy)
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Supplies:

1 onion, thinly sliced
2 gloves garlic, thinly sliced
Mixed sweet peppers, I used yellow and red, sliced
1 green chilli, sliced (I leave the seeds in for an extra bite, but you can remove them)
1 teaspoon dried cumin
2 bay leaves
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Tortillas/toast/whatever you want to serve it with
Fresh coriander to garnish

Making It Happen:

Heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion and fry until softened and lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.
Add the cumin and chillies and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the peppers, tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fry your eggs to your liking (I perfer them with runny yolk but solid whites). Scoop the salsa onto your tortilla/bread/whatevs, place your egg on top, garnish with coriander and remember to remove the bay leaves.

Crazy About… Warm Butternut and Avo Salad with Herb Dressing

Avo butternut salad 1 2

It’s too cold for mojitos (cries into pillow), so I decided to use my mint and lime in a herby, minty salad dressing instead. I love it when plan B works! This meal is packed with superfoods, and the mint and coriander add a lovely, fresh taste to the roasted veggies.

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This is a warm salad, perfect for cold, wet, wintry days. Just because summer’s gone, doesn’t mean you have to give up salad! Just serve it warm, and you’ve got an easy, delicious, healthy meal!

Warm Butternut and Avo Salad with Herb Dressing

  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

800g butternut, peeled and cubed
250g spinach, cooked
2 large ripe avos
1 red pepper & 1 yellow pepper
Zoodles (zucchini noodles)
1 disc feta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbablespoons minced garlic

Dressing:

1 large handful mint
1 large handful coriander
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making It Happen:

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Par-cook the butternut, either by steaming or boiling, until just soft. Place the butternut in an oven roasting dish, add sliced peppers, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil or steam the spinach, set aside.

Dressing:

Blitz all ingredients. That’s it.

Cook the zoodles for 1 minute in the microwave.

In a large salad dish, layer spinach at the bottom. Top with cooked butternut, peppers and zoodles. Place avo on top, then feta, then drizzle with dressing. Serve warm.

Crazy About… Couscous with Chicken Mince and Vegetables

Couscous 1I made this recipe three times in one week, because I was “testing” it, you see? Actually, I also “forgot” to take photos, so naturally I had to keep making it. Not that I needed an excuse as The Husband was a willing participant. Enthusiastically so. I had chicken mince in the freezer so why not, yes? Folks, this is healthy, easy and yummy. Trifecta!

Couscous with Chicken Mince and Vegetables

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Couscous 2100g couscous
500g chicken mince
500g butternut squash, cubed
1 yellow, red, and green pepper, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tin (400g) chickpeas, cooked
1 disc feta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
130ml chicken stock (check your couscous package)

Making It Happen:

Couscous 31. Peel the butternut and cut it into small chucks, about 1 inch x 1 inch. Steam or boil until just soft, about 5 minutes.
Slice th onion and fry with garlic until soft, about 5 mins on medium heat.
Add the chicken mince and fry for another 5 min. Then add peppers and fry for another 2 minutes.

 

Couscous 42. Add sun-dried tomatoes, butternut and chickpeas and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes.

 

 

 

Couscous 53. Cook the couscous per package instructions and then add it to the veggies. Stir well, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Crazy About… Sautéed Lentils

Lentils veg 7Easy! Tasty! Healthy! Check, check, check. I do enjoy a culinary trifecta! This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to cook (it takes me longer to put my face on), it’s packed with flavour, it’s low-carb and low-fat, and can be served as a side dish or a main meal. Last night we had it with honey and mustard chicken breasts, and this afternoon I had it alone for lunch. It was delish as both. Here we go…

Sautéed lentils

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: super duper easy
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Supplies:

500g lentils, cooked
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
500g baby tomatoes, halved
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil

Making It Happen:

Lentils veg 81. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic on medium for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sliced peppers, and rosemary and simmer for another 5 minutes.

 

 

Lentils veg 6 12. Add the lentils and lemon juice, and simmer for 2 minutes.  Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

 

Crazy About… Asparagus and Green Bean Salad

Asparagus green beans 5This recipe is eeeeasy, people, and delicious, and healthy. I’m down! Ready in minutes, and served either warm or chilled, it’s tasty, low-fat, and delicious. Did I mention it’s delicious?

Asparagus and Green Bean Salad

  • Servings: 4 sides
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
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Supplies:

Asparagus green beans 1170g asparagus
200g green beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 disc low fat feta
Peppadews/ piquante peppers, halved
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

 

Making It Happen:

Asparagus green beans 21. Slice the asparagus and green beans into thirds. Steam them until al dente.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and add the asparagus, green beans, and peppadews. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes.

 

 

Asparagus green beans 32.Crumble the feta over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.