This creamy, flavorful pasta sauce is actually healthy. And I don’t mean “not quite as terrible for you as cheesy alfredo drenched in butter so we can call it healthy.” I mean it is actually healthy. And the creaminess comes from…
wait for it…
Avocado may not sound like it belongs in your pasta, and I was just as skeptical as you probably are right now. Well, maybe a little less skeptical. I’ve been known to enjoy some pretty random cuisine. But it really doesn’t taste like avocado.
I adapted the recipe from the Pink Parsley blog, who adapted it from the Perry’s Plate blog. I like to add a little extra zip of flavor.
Notice how healthy this ingredient list is! It’s the perfect excuse to load up on carb-heavy pasta.
- 12 oz. pasta (I prefer whole wheat thin spaghetti)
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2-3 Tbs white wine (I use a $3 chardonnay from Walmart because I’m so cultured.)
- 1/4 – 1/2 of an onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (I cannot live without my garlic press.)
- 12 oz. fresh spinach (I’ve used thawed frozen spinach in a pinch. I’ve also used half spinach and half zucchini with great results.)
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1-2 tsp dried basil (The original recipe calls for fresh basil, and I LOVE fresh basil, so I’m sure that tastes amazing. I, however, did not grow basil this year, so I am stuck with dried basil.)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 dashes of cayenne pepper
- Pinch of salt and pepper
The cayenne pepper doesn’t make it spicy. It just adds flavor. Don’t skip it!
It’s actually pretty quick. And I don’t mean, “if you spent three hours chopping all your vegetables beforehand”-quick.
- Cook the pasta. You can make the sauce while it is boiling. Whenever the pasta is done, save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce, and drain the rest.
- Sauté the onion with the butter and white wine over medium heat in a large skillet until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic starts smelling really delicious. Do not wait until the garlic starts turning brown. (Though if you do, it will still taste great. It’s just not ideal.)
- Add the fresh spinach to the pan and cover the lid for a minute or two. Then stir the spinach around to coat it in all the lovely juices and replace the lid for a few more minutes until the spinach has wilted.
- Transfer the spinach onion mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt, avocado, basil, cayenne and a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Purée the mixture until smooth. Add the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and pulse a few more times until blended.
- Toss the sauce with the drained pasta. It seems like a lot, but I use all the sauce at once. It is so flavorful and wonderful, and it’s not runny like regular pasta sauce.
When I make this pasta, I don’t bother making a vegetable dish on the side. I feel like I’m being OH, SO BAD, but with all the spinach, onion, garlic and avocado involved, you don’t even need it.
Posted in Recipes | Tagged avocado pasta, Greek yogurt, spinach pesto | 1 Comment »
…Anybody home? *cricket*
I realize it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. I miss sharing recipes with my faithful followers (Hi, Mom). If you’ll notice, my last post was in December. Coincidentally, that’s around the same time that this guy started crawling. Things got a little busier around here once he was mobile, especially since he started crawling, pulling up and “cruising” all on the same day. Here is a picture from December:
And now he is a 14-month-old extrovert who will eat anything (and a lot of it) and loves being in a crowd and interacting with everyone (I wonder where he got that…).
(The above picture was taken at my parents’ house, where he gets to borrow Papa’s hat, play with the “puh PEE!” and carry around all manner of rocks and branches.)
Anyway, all that to say… I have a recipe all typed up and ready to publish tomorrow. And hopefully many more after that. Is there anything you would like to see on the blog?
Posted in Kids | Tagged baby, I'm back, pictures, Update | 1 Comment »
This velvety cheese sauce tastes so good, and it’s really quick to whip up. It can take a vegetable dish from boring to amazing in just a few minutes. And if you’re a good cheese-drizzler, your previously boring vegetables can even look elegant. When I went off to college, my mom made sure this essential sauce recipe went with me.
If you tell me my cheese sauce looks like “Easy Cheese,” you will suffer the wrath of a thousand scornful looks. I do not allow fake cheese into my house. I’ve made one recipe ever that called for Cheez Whiz, and I seriously could not buy the stuff. I made Cheez Whiz from scratch, y’all. “Processed cheese food” makes me cringe. (Seriously – go look at the Wikipedia page. It’s like reading about a frightening science experiment gone wrong.)
On that appetizing note, let’s move on to this yummy, real cheese sauce that actually is not remotely similar to processed cheese food! This versatile sauce recipe can also be transformed into a basic white sauce or even broccoli cheese soup.
It really could not be simpler. Unless you actually entertained the thought of comparing it with Cheez Whiz, in which case you would just open a jar. And be sorely disappointed.
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I love extra-sharp cheddar)
- Optional: A sprinkle of nutmeg or cayenne
You can use whatever cheese you want, and you can grate it yourself or buy it pre-shredded. It’s very versatile! This recipe is like a blank slate for whatever kind of cheese you want to use.
Watch it carefully, because milk can go from nothing to BOILINGOVERBIGMESS in 0.3 seconds.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir the flour quickly into the melted butter. It helps to use a whisk or fork.
- Add the milk all at once and stir until thickened.
- Add the cheese and stir until melted.
It’s best when served immediately, though it does keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
White sauce: This sauce is elegant and tasty over anything from vegetables to eggs and toast. It’s the same recipe, simply leave out the shredded cheese.
Broccoli cheese soup: Add more milk and some chopped broccoli. Maybe toss in some black pepper and some parsley just for kicks. Done!
Posted in Recipes | Tagged basic sauce recipe, broccoli cheese soup, elegant cheese, sauce variations, white sauce | Leave a Comment »
This stuff is so good. I couldn’t get enough of it and kept eating it for the next 2 or 3 days until it was gone. It’s healthy, beautiful and delicious. And did I mention that I don’t think I left any leftovers for Stephen to eat?
Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients! It’s really not that much, and the hardest part is just chopping the vegetables. Most of the ingredients are for the dressing, which you just stir together.
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbs peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (you can leave this out if you don’t want the extra bite of flavor)
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 large garlic clove, minced (I used my garlic press)
- 1 bag prepared shredded coleslaw
- 2-3 cups shredded carrots (you can buy them pre-shredded in the refrigerated lettuce section of the grocery store, or you can shred them yourself with a cheese grater like I did)
- 1 red bell pepper, slice thinly and cut into bite-sized pieces (but seriously… it doesn’t have to be red. Other bell pepper colors are invited to this party too.)
- 1 cup cooked, shelled edamame (I got mine from the frozen vegetable section of the grocery store.)
- 2-3 green onions, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
It makes quite a bit, so if you don’t think you’ll be serving several people or addicted to eating it multiple times a day, you could half the recipe.
Chopping is really the only thing that might take some time.
- Combine the honey, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, salt, Sriracha, ginger and garlic, stirring until the peanut butter dissolves. This is the dressing. Set it aside for now.
- Toss the coleslaw, carrots, bell pepper, edamame, green onions, peanuts and cilantro in a large bowl.
- Add the dressing and mix well.
- Resist the urge to eat it for 10-15 minutes so the flavors can blend. Serve cold.
We ate it with the teriyaki tilapia. The bright colors and flavor went well with the mild fish.
(You can find the original recipe here.)
Posted in Recipes | Tagged Asian salad, healthy recipe, peanut ginger slaw | 1 Comment »