Pasta Primavera with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Pasta Primavera with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Enjoy this vegan take on pasta primavera! This pasta primavera with creamy cauliflower sauce uses a dairy-free sauce made by pureeing steamed cauliflower with with onions, garlic, almond milk, and nutritional yeast to make a rich and creamy sauce for pasta. Toss with sauteed seasonal vegetables of your choice! 

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Pasta with Shredded Squash and Yogurt Sauced

Use up your bounty of summer squash with this pasta with shredded squash and yogurt sauce! Trust me on the yogurt sauce, it's delicious!

Are you swimming in squash right now?

We're not....because we managed to kill our squash plants yet again. Womp womp. We've spent an ungodly amount of money on plants and seeds at the Hartley household, only to watch them wither up and die. Still, every spring we set out to have a garden plot any doomsday prepper would be proud of. When will we ever learn?

If you're better at keeping plants alive than we are, or at least know someone else who is, then maybe you'll appreciate this pasta with shredded squash and yogurt sauce. It's the perfect way to use up lots of summer squash or zucchini, which melds right into the yogurt sauce.

I know the yogurt sauce sounds kinda weird, but trust me on this one. It's takes on a rich and almost sweet flavor mixed with the caramelized squash and parmesan cheese. Plus, it's a heck of a lot easier than whipping up a cream sauce from scratch! Do be sure to use full fat yogurt. Not only does the fat help keep you satisfied but it tastes a heck of a lot better too.

Pasta with Shredded Squash and Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole grain pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium-large squash, shredded on the large grates of a cheese grater
  • 1 cup plain, full fat yogurt
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • More parmesan, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1 cup of starchy cooking liquid then drain pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat butter and olive oil in a large sided skillet on medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add squash, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Decrease to medium heat and stir in yogurt, parmesan, nutmeg and a little reserved pasta water (start with about 1/3 cup). Season with salt and pepper. Stir in chickpeas and pasta and warm through a couple minutes. Pour into a serving bowl and serve garnished with almonds, scallions and more parmesan cheese.

More tasty ways to use up summer squash:

Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Grilled Squash and Pesto
Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Grilled Squash and Pesto
Zucchini Fritters in Tomato Sauce
Zucchini Fritters in Tomato Sauce
Grilled Zucchini and Gruyere Panini
Grilled Zucchini and Gruyere Panini

Roasted Summer Vegetables with Southern Romesco

Roasted summer vegetables are delicious on their own, but even better with a bright and flavorful Southern romesco.

One can never have enough recipes for good 'ole caramelized and tender roasted veggies.

Just yesterday while leading a nutrition class, someone asked me the million dollar question:

"I get that I should be eating more vegetables, but how do you make them taste good?

Let me count the ways. You could top them with garlicky breadcrumbs, season them with a little bit of bacon, add dried fruit, grill 'em, serve them with a creamy vegan dipping sauce, fritter 'em, add smoky and spicy flavors. Or, you could keep things simple and roast them.

I want to point out a special vegetable in this mix - okra. It's definitely a polarizing veg. Okra detractors might call it slimy, or worse, mucusy, while okra lovers appreciate it's ropiness, ability to thicken stews (jambalaya!), and hold on tightly to breadcrumbs before baking.

I get the texture issues. Okra definitely has a unique one. But this is where roasting works it's wonders. Cut in half and roasted, or even left whole, the goo dries right up!

Now, this Southern romesco? Just do it. You probably will have some leftover with this recipe, although I didn't, probably because I dropped giant globs of it all over my veggies and maybe snuck in a food spoonfuls while photographing. I really wish I doubled up the recipe. Extras would be perfect on a veggie panini, tossed with whole grain pasta and grilled veggies. dolloped on my creamy mashed beans, or with scrambled eggs. You could even use it as a snack or appetizer and serve with whole grain crackers and crudites.


Roasted Summer Vegetables with Southern Romesco

Serves: About 4-8, depending on if it's a main or a side 

Adapted from Root to Leaf

Ingredients

Roasted Vegetables:

  • 1 cup black eyed peas, preferably soaked overnight
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb okra pods, halved
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, halved and sliced into 1/2 inch crescents
  • 2 medium squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch crescents
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, for serving

Southern Romesco:

  • 1 medium tomato, cut into large chunks
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Instructions

  1. Place black eyed peas and bay leaf in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-60 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. First, roast the vegetables for the romesco by tossing the tomato, peppers, red onion, and garlic with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes until tender then remove from oven and set aside.

  3. Toss okra, onion, squash and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on 2 large baking sheets and place in the oven. Roast 20-30 minutes until tender and golden, tossing halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and toss with black -eyed peas.

  4. Place vegetables for romesco in the food processor with pecans, sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Serve vegetables dolloped or tossed with romesco with fresh basil.

More roasted vegetable inspiration: 

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint Pea Pesto
Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint Pea Pesto
Caramelized Cauliflower with Capers and Golden Raisins
Caramelized Cauliflower with Capers and Golden Raisins
Roasted Haricot Verts and Mushrooms with Garlicky Breadcrumbs
Roasted Haricot Verts and Mushrooms with Garlicky Breadcrumbs

Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Pesto, Spinach and Grilled Squash

This gluten free millet and quinoa crust pizza is made with soaked whole grains and topped with pesto, spinach, grilled squash and scallions. 

For me, cooking is more than a chore or the means to produce something yummy to eat - it's a creative expression. Food is art, and not just for experienced restaurant chefs. Combining and layering different flavors, creating new dishes, and reinventing old are all expressions of creativity for the home cook as well. And for me, as someone who has pretty much zero artistic skill, it's my main creative outlet.

It's well established that art affects the brain in positive ways. It improves memory, resilience and mood. Children who engage in arts have been shown to do better in school and have better social skills.

Although the research has been done for more typical forms of art, like music, art and dance, I think cooking would demonstrate similar results. Really, it's such a similar mental process. And it's much more approachable than picking up a paintbrush or signing up for a glassblowing class :) 

I once read the average family has only seven recipes they recycle each week. This makes me sad. I know many people don't get the same kick out of trying new things as I do, but I won't accept eating the same seven dishes over and over again. .

When I try to get clients to step out of the box, we usually start by remaking a favorite dish. They're excited to create something they love in a healthier, but equally satisfying way. 

This pizza is a perfect example. With a crust made from soaked quinoa and millet blended with water, it couldn't be further from a traditional yeast and wheat dough. The crust is thin and crispy around the edges with a tender middle. The grains start to ferment an even sprout a bit, which adds a complex, fermented taste to the dough - kinda like traditional wheat dough!

Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Pesto, Spinach and Grilled Squash

Makes 2 small-medium pizzas, serves 2-4

Adapted from The First Mess

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa, soaked 24 hours in water
  • 3/4 cup millet, soaked 24 hours in water
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed basil

Topping:

  • Heaping 1/4 cup pesto , homemade or store bought
  • 1 summer squash or zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-in slices
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch small leeks or green onions
  • 1 bunch spinach, chopped
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • Fresh basil to garnish

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the toppings. Heat a grill to medium-high. Spray the squash and leeks/green onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill about 3-5 minutes per side until lightly charred and tender.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach and red pepper flakes and cook until wilted. Season lightly with salt and set aside in a bowl.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Rinse grains in a fine-mesh sieve then scrape into food processor. Add water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Blend until you get a thick, pancake batter-like consistency. Add basil and another 2-4 tablespoons water if needed to thin (I added another 3 tablespoons water).
  5. Put two (oiled if not nonstick) cake pans in the oven for 4 minutes to heat. Remove from oven and divide remaining tablespoon of olive oil between the two pans. Place back in the oven to heat the oil 1 minute, without letting it hit it's smoke point. Remove from oven and divide the batter between the two pans, quickly spreading it even with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully flip the crust, and return to oven to bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove crusts from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  6. When cool enough to handle, spread pesto evenly on the crust. Top with spinach, squash, feta cheese. Place back in the oven to reheat the ingredients if needed, just for a minute or two.