I realize that “yogurt & pea pasta with feta, basil, & chile pine nuts” doesn’t exactly *sound* easy. But I promise it is. This slightly adaptation of Yotam Ottolenghi’s pea pasta is a super simple meal with fascinating, complex flavors, all in under 30 minutes.
I’ve made a few slight changes to the recipe, mostly to simplify steps (and number of bowls/pots), ensure it’s seasoned properly (it definitely needed more salt), and adjusting a few of the ingredient amounts.
Below I’ve also included both a “full” recipe (in the recipe card) and a smaller version that’s roughly 2/3 to 3/4 of the original, adapted for 2 to 4 people—or one person plus a few meals of leftovers.
This might be a controversial take, but I actually loved this the MOST cold straight out of the fridge…or maybe zapped for 20 seconds in the microwave but still basically cold. It makes totally bomb leftovers.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When not in Rome…still do as the Romans do, because the Romans know how to DO IT. While not as well-known in the U.S., cacio e pepe pasta is one of the most iconic traditional Roman dishes, beautiful in its simplicity.
When I dig into a bowl of this, I’m immediately transported back to a night in Rome sitting in a cozy little trattoria with a glass of local red, with the moon bright and the noise of people chatting and Vespas zooming by outside.
It takes just a few simple ingredients, a couple pretty simple techniques, and about 15 minutes to make cacio e pepe, but the result is pure magic. I used Samin Nosrat’s recipe, because I like her simple description of the technique, and I’ve provided step-by-step photos below.
The star of this dish is the pecorino romano cheese, a hard, salty sheep’s milk cheese that’s native to Italy and has a very distinctive flavor. It shouldn’t be too hard to find, the fancy Murray’s cheese counter in my Midwestern Kroger has it.
A couple tips to make your cacio e pepe spectacular:
- I do STRONGLY recommend you get your hands on a real pecorino romano cheese…it is THE flavor in this dish, and any substitute just won’t be the same. It will be delicious, I’m sure, but not cacio e pepe. The cheese counter at my big Kroger has it (Murray’s).
- Additionally, you could consider more like a mixture of 70% pecorino and 30% parmesan (note, separate cheeses, but using some of both)
- The finer you grate your cheese, the better. I used two different tools…the first time I used my microplane zester/grater, which gives amazing fluffy cheese that’s perfect. But it takes longer and is a bit more difficult, so when making a full batch I used my cheese hand mill grater on the tiny setting, which was still awesome.
- Get your cheese grated ahead of time, because things move very quickly once you start.
- Don’t forget to reserve the pasta water before draining! I recommend waiting until the pasta has been cooking at least 5 minutes, to get it starchy enough.
- The first time I did this, I didn’t use a big enough skillet and it was super hard to toss everything together and get the pasta coated, so use the biggest you have. Also, long pasta is much easier to toss and coat than short pasta. Long pasta is more traditional in this dish.
My photos here are actually a compilation of a few different times I’ve made it…mostly because I was a dummy and when I made it with the buccatini (long) noodles which are more traditional, I totally forgot I was halving the recipe. So I added way too much pasta water and the sauce you see in the photos isn’t thick enough. Still 10/10 for flavor though…
Now let’s just look at this dreamy, fluffy pile of cheese again, shall we???
This pesto goat cheese pasta is, to me, a perfect encapsulation of late summer. Packed full of zucchini and fresh basil, it’s trying its darnedest to use up summer’s bounty of produce while it’s still there.
It combines two of my favorite things (fresh basil pesto and tangy goat cheese) into a super light, refreshing sauce. I added zucchini because I love the flavor and texture, and we’re in the peak of zucchini season.
I threw in the shredded brussels sprouts mostly because they were sitting in my fridge close to going squishy, and I wanted some added “health”.
I used my one true love, Giovanna’s easy homemade pesto, as the base for the sauce, though I did leave out the parmesan since it didn’t seem necessary.
It was as simple as blending the ingredients together and then adding the goat cheese while the pasta and vegetables cooked.
Y’all, I was SOOOOO skeptical about this. Seriously, could a “no squeeze” cauliflower pizza crust even work?? It was so wet! Surely this was a recipe for disaster.
But wow…this was the easy cauliflower crust of my dreams.
This crust is gluten-free, grain-free, high protein and low carb, and doesn’t have the weirder preservatives and stabilizers found in store-bought cauliflower crusts.
What makes it amazing is that it’s so fast and hands-off…you don’t have to pre-cook the cauliflower (you use it raw), and you don’t have to squeeze (and squeeze and SQUEEZE) all the moisture out before making the dough.
But HOW, I can hear you saying?? This crust includes one key secret ingredient that makes this possible—egg white protein powder.
I talked in my post on how I survive a low-carb or keto diet about how I tend to avoid weird special ingredients that I don’t know enough about, but this is an exception (and it’s not that weird).
It’s just pure powdered egg whites and it makes all the difference in a super easy cauliflower pizza crust. The crust “dough” is super wet when it goes in the oven (you even PUT water in it!) but the powdered egg whites soak it up as it bakes and makes it puffy and like a real dough.
Some dishes just scream “comfort food”, and this creamy, soupy golden rice topped with crispy spiced chickpeas ticks all the boxes for a hearty and comforting vegetarian meal any time of year.
It’s super easy and doesn’t require a ton of hands-on work. The flavors are quite subtle, not the kinds of spices that punch you in the face. In fact if you’re not careful it can be a tiny bit bland, so I recommend being a little heavy-handed on both layering salt as well as the red pepper flakes.
What really elevates this soupy turmeric rice dish is the crispy, crunchy chickpeas that are PACKED with flavor. Used as a topping, these chickpeas first provide protein, but also have a salty and spicy flavor, some intensity from the shallots, and little crispy bits from the coconut as well.
This zucchini baked pasta is the perfect recipe for those lazy hot days of summer as they start to slide into fall. Not too heavy, packed with bright and silky garlicky zucchini and light ricotta, but oozing with a comforting amount of gooey mozzarella.
The recipe is also super flexible and adaptable, and I did make a couple changes.
I cut back on the fresh mozzarella by a third…partly because I forgot to buy enough, but I ended up finding what I had was MORE THAN plenty. I threw in a small handful of shredded (bagged) mozzarella in the main mixture for good measure and to help bind everything together.
I also used a ton of zucchini—three medium and one ginormous. In case you’re wondering, I made my own pesto (love that fresh basil taste!) but I’m sure a jarred would work fine.
I just needed something indulgent but not *too* unhealthy, and this zucchini ziti fit the bill perfectly.
I’m quite picky when it comes to pizza. But give me an amazing Naples-style traditional margherita pizza and I am in 100% of the time.
And make that a grilled margherita pizza?? ALL THE YES.
This pizza is perfect in its simplicity…it’s less of a standalone recipe than it is the sum of a few delicious components. The flavor and high heat from the grill help kind of approximate the crazy heat and fire of the traditional woodfire oven.
You can whip it up on any weeknight, something that always feels like a victory. The real problem for me is that…I’m one person. So I really can’t justify eating tons of pizza, but it’s not good as leftovers, so…
I guess what I’m saying is, my clothes are tight.
It’s happened. I found a salad recipe I love. True, it’s packed with roasted vegetables and hearty grains in addition to the baby kale…
But still, I absolutely love this recipe, and for a person who’s not really into salad, that is saying something!
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it’s CRAZY adaptable, takes very little hands-on time, and you can use store-bought ingredients to make things simpler. I used pre-cooked beets (I still went ahead and roasted them after), and a clamshell of baby kale which is tender and doesn’t need shredded.
This roasted vegetable salad is also a great dumping ground for other leftovers…I’ve tossed in roasted veggies, grilled chicken, and anything else that caught my fancy. It made a great make-ahead lunch for taking to work all week, and I actually *looked forward* to pulling it out of the fridge.
Besides swapping out the wild rice for a hearty grain like barley, and I played with the dressing proportions quite a bit…in particular, I decreased the olive oil so it makes less dressing but the flavor is stronger—so you need less and cut the calories down a little.
Because I use baby kale and it’s more tender, this works okay, and you can add the dressing ahead of time without everything getting too soggy. It packs a punch!
It’s rare that I find a recipe that not only makes amazing leftovers, but makes *enough* of them that it’s worth all the work. And that I can actually talk myself into still choosing over the cafeteria’s amazing chicken tenders on days 2, 3, 4…
This is one of those recipes.
This grain and roasted vegetable salad is a total recipe unicorn—easy, versatile, and just as good hot, lukewarm, or cold. It can be meat-y, vegetarian, or vegan. Basically, YOU DO YOU.
Also, this lemon tahini dressing is sooooo good! It really pulls everything together, with depth and tanginess but doesn’t just overwhelm you. Honestly you should put this dressing on everything!
The only downside of this recipe is that actually getting that many vegetables roasted or grilled (and prepping them, honestly) can take a bit of time.
However, what I usually do is pace it over the course of an afternoon, since the veggies don’t need to be piping hot fresh. And I’ll do a combination of grilling and roasting so I don’t have my oven on forever. I love to absolutely pack this salad with veggies rather than have it be really grain-heavy, because HEALTH.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a simple healthy dinner recipe…probably because it’s been a while since I’ve *made* one that doesn’t require just throwing chicken and veggies on the grill. But this yummy and super easy farro salad is such a perfect way to transition from winter’s cozy comfort food to lighter summer fare that I had to share.
This is another Smitten Kitchen gem that I’ve adapted in several different iterations depending on what I have in the fridge (like that delish goat cheese with thyme and apricots you can kind of see in the pic below). This is the simplest version, but feel free to add to or switch up ingredients. The best part of this dish is the combination of different textures and flavors—creamy, chewy, salty, crunchy, sweet. So as you swap things in and out, try and maintain those elements for maximum awesomeness. You can also try it with different grains (barley is a particular favorite of mine).
I don’t want to oversell this, but I’ve got your new favorite Meatless Monday recipe comin’ at ya. It is LEGIT.
This easy cauliflower & chickpea curry is crazy flavorful and super easy to make. It’s healthy but doesn’t feel like you’re giving anything up. We all win.
The other great thing about this recipe (besides how fast it comes together) is that it doesn’t take much in the way of special ingredients. Other than red or yellow curry paste (which I think most grocery stores have now, and you can easily get online), everything should already be in your kitchen.
Make with this: Easy Homemade Naan Bread
I’ve been completely obsessed with this this recipe for a couple months now. I’ve seriously made it three or four times in six weeks. And I cook like…maybe once a week?
This dish is super healthy done right—it’s so delicious that you don’t feel like you’re giving something up, and so easy that you don’t have to work hard to convince yourself to make it. Another bonus is that the main ingredients are really affordable, which isn’t always the case when using fresh, healthy ingredients.
Given how hectic things have been lately, I’ve tried out a couple of meal prep delivery services to see if they would help me be better about cooking and eating healthier—rather than relying on UberEats. I recently tried Terra’s Kitchen and focused on largely paleo and vegan recipes for my first box, to try and counteract the rest of my life.
This is a slightly adapted recipe of the first meal I made from them, and it was a WINNER! If you are wanting to try out a meal delivery service that has a lot of really healthy, fresh options, you might give them a try. This code will get you $40 off your first box (just a referral link, not a partnership of any sort).
The star of this dish is the sweet, tangy, spicy sauce that coats everything. But don’t underestimate how awesome the different textures are in combination—solid yet tender cauliflower, chewy chickpeas, crunchy peanut pieces. Nom nom nommity nom!READ THE POST
Once upon a time I would have called this a frittata, and I would have been wrong. One of my co-workers is half Spanish, and for breakfast one time he brought in a traditional Spanish tortilla. While it looked exactly like the frittatas I’m so fond of, it had a few notable differences and I knew I wanted to recreate it myself.
Spanish tortillas and frittatas are very similar, though there are a few differences. Tortillas are always egg- and potato-based, while frittatas only have to have eggs.
Also, apparently the main difference is that you’re supposed to flip a Spanish tortilla on the stovetop at the end, versus finishing in the oven like a frittata. I’ll definitely be trying this method next time—I’m trying to wheedle my co-worker’s recipe out of him!
The gold potatoes are delightfully tender and add a delicate base to the dish along with the onion (this Kitchn article speaks to the technique that gets them lovely and soft).
Many also include asparagus, chorizo, and other fillings, but this one is very simple and traditional. The recipe below called for tarragon, though I used fresh rosemary and oregano instead.
Today we’ve got a twist on a traditional pesto…specifically a kale and walnut pesto combo.
As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend I made a few healthy additions to my lifestyle, things I felt like I could manage. The first was guzzling a full glass of water before getting up every morning, and the second was making sure I ate a healthy breakfast every day. I also started to make sure I took vitamins every day.
This meal was about the last one—trying to eat more raw foods.
Cooking foods can make them more delicious, but can also destroy valuable nutrients and enzymes.
That’s not to say you should never eat anything cooked, but adding more raw foods to your diet (such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts) can significantly up the amount of benefits you’re getting from your food.
Of course, the best way to really get the most out of your food is to make sure you’re buying local and organic, since the longer since a food has been harvested, the more it loses. That’s not always feasible—either financially or availability-wise—but I am trying to get certain things organic, such as apples and carrots (two of the worst pesticide-contaminated foods).
This organic dino kale was in my CSA box, so it checks both boxes. Rather than sauteeing it up like I normally do, I decided to puree it with some raw walnuts, garlic, salt, olive oil, and a little ground flaxseed for a different take on pesto.
Toss with some curly pasta, and you get the best of both worlds—cooked whole grains with a potent creamy raw sauce. I toasted a few walnuts to throw on top, or if you don’t care as much about raw foods then you could toast all your walnuts before making the pesto.
The CSA box I got a couple weeks ago was—much like the rest of us here in Georgia—stuck between summer and winter.
There were some delightful strawberries and spring-y butter lettuce, but a couple of sweet potatoes as well. I don’t give sweet potatoes much thought, generally, but the timing seemed perfect since I’d just pinned this sweet potato pasta sauce recipe.
I’ve been really trying to focus on cooking and eating healthy when I’m at home (minus a few Chinese food-palooza Saturday nights), particularly since I’ve had a rash of delicious but indulgent lunches and dinners for work.
This recipe seemed to balance my need for comfort food that especially-chilly day, but the presence of whole wheat pasta and adding creamy sweet potato to the sauce upped the healthy quotient.
Also, shallots, amirite?! These little guys pack so much flavor punch!! And the crispy sesame kale really takes this dish to the next level.
The sauce also has deeeelicious sautéed garlic and shallots to make a super flavorful base. I had a little trouble with the crispy kale (left it in the oven too long…yikes!) but overall this was simple and awesome and totally satisfying.
Blah blah blah resolutions blah. Seems like that’s all anyone talks about this time of year. But the fact of the matter is, there’s nothing magical about January in terms of getting healthy.
In fact, it’s harder to make a drastic change mid-winter (when, let’s face it, your body is craving sleep and warm comfort food) than to make gradual changes over time that you can actually sustain.
For me, the two major things are exercising almost every day and eating healthy at home since my job often entails lots of eating out, drinking, and treats.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I’m not going to stick with a diet that I don’t enjoy. That’s why one of my big focuses in the past year has been finding super healthy recipes that I absolutely love.
Make a list of the most healthy foods and ingredients you should be eating—superfoods, whole grains, spices, etc.—and then see how you can work them into recipes. Everyone’s list is going to be different. For me, I haven’t found anything involving lentils that I enjoy, and brown rice is dry and bland when eaten as leftovers.
But conversely I’ve found a lot of quinoa and barley recipes that I like and are great to take to work the next day. I love kale, brussels sprouts, all squashes, okra, and spinach, but there is no recipe or list of healthy benefits that can convince me to eat cucumbers, green peppers, or fresh ginger.
Once you find ingredients you enjoy, hunt up all sorts of different recipes using them. That’s where this recipe comes in. I’ve found that quinoa salads like this one and my sweet & savory chicken quinoa and quinoa & kale salad with feta & pecans are easy, healthy, filling, and affordable. And that’s quite the combination.READ THE POST
I have been wanting to try this fried sage and butternut squash lasagna recipe out FOREVER!
Why haven’t I, you ask? Mostly because I tried actually cutting up a butternut squash once many years ago and it was terrible, my hands hurt and were orange and I don’t ever want to do it again. Ever. Because I’m a chicken. So I had to wait until I remembered to pick up already-diced butternut squash from Trader Joe’s. And, sadly, that took me forever.
Butternut squash and sage is a captivating flavor combination to start with. Add in gooey mozzarella, grainy ricotta, pasta, and a hint of nutmeg? Awesome.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to put together, too. I roasted the squash a couple hours ahead of time, and the rest of the assembly was very simple—particularly since I used oven-ready lasagna noodles.
While you could add chicken if you wanted (or even sausage), it didn’t feel like it needed meat. It was hearty enough on its own, and would be great for a Meatless Monday type of meal plan.
I used to be really scared of making mac & cheese. I mean the legit baked kind where the sauce starts with a roux and there’s whisking involved. Whisking is one of those things that kind of intimidates me. I have no idea why, but it seems very serious.
Luckily, I’ve tried a few recipes over the past year that have helped me get over my fear of making bechamel sauce, including some different mac and cheese recipes (it all started with the beer mac & cheese last Thanksgiving).
But every time I make it, I still get this anxiety right before I start whisking like my life depends on it…
For some reason I was really just craving some comfort food last weekend, but needed it to be healthy comfort food—I’ll be on a beach in a swimsuit in a couple weeks (vacay, finally!) and do have a little bit of vanity left in me.
So this roasted vegetable mac and cheese, with its hearty roasted veggies, whole wheat pasta, and olive oil-based cheese sauce, called to me.
One of the things that really intrigued me about this recipe is that the roux—basis for the bechamel cheese sauce—is made with olive oil instead of butter. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve seen a roux recipe without butter, so I was definitely interested to see how that went.
And I quite liked it. It gives things a little bit of an olive oil-y flavor that, when combined with the flour and whole wheat pasta, was a different twist on a regular mac & cheese. READ THE POST
Garrison Keillor (he of Prairie Home Companion notoriety) famously said, “Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn”. Corn is one of those hallmarks of summer for me. I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, and my grandma always had a giant garden—well, somewhere between garden and legit field—just for corn.
All the aunts and cousins would get together for a few days and pick corn, shuck it, blanch it, and cut it off the cob for preserving. But we’d always save the best ears for eating right away, rolled in butter and lightly salted. That sweet, juicy pop of kernels is synonymous with summer for me.
With my surgery happening in the middle of the summer (and all the preparation that came before it), I feel like I’ve kind of missed out on summer, particularly the glut of zucchini, tomatoes, and corn that usually accompany the hot months.
Right before I left for Colorado a couple weeks ago, I realized that the entire summer has passed by and I hadn’t made a single dish with fresh sweet corn. Which is totally unacceptable. So this creamy corn & leek fettuccine is like the last hurrah of summer!
This is actually an adaptation of two different pasta recipes I’d pinned, this one from A Cozy Kitchen, and this one from Pinch of Yum. Each featured charred sweet corn as the primary ingredient, but one focused more on fresh fennel, tarragon, and clams (which I don’t eat), while the other recipe had chipotle and cilantro (which are definitely not my style) but a sauce process I liked.
This recipe has some elements of each, but I made several changes as well…hence creamy charred corn & leek fettucine. A perfect comforting dish that will help us slide into fall.
To put my own spin on it, I added leeks as the flavor base for the sauce. I actually wanted to use shallots opposite the corn, but the store was out so I let the leek pinch-hit. They have a great, subtle flavor when sautéed and then partially pureed.
I didn’t have fresh tarragon, but used dried instead. I added the charred corn to the sauce (and would recommend lightly pureeing) as well as just tossing the whole, charred corn kernels with the pasta.
Risotto is one of my favorite authentic Italian dishes, and my absolute favorite to make myself when I have the time. You can’t rush risotto. It’s my “stress-relief” dish—pour a glass (or two) of wine, and stir and stir. The process of it is soothing.
One of the first recipes I pinned on Pinterest was for this cauliflower risotto with leeks. It’s a healthier version, since you get the additional vitamins, fiber, etc. from the cauliflower plus you use less rice, which is a simpler carb.
I’ll admit I was skeptical about the cauliflower. I’ve never made anything with cauliflower (I didn’t even know how to chop it!), and I was worried you’d lose the smooth awesomeness of risotto by adding the cauliflower in. I remained skeptical throughout the entire cooking process, but I was more than pleasantly surprised by the result. It was so delicious!
Look at all this healthiness you’re about to put inside you.
I’ve always kind of had an irrational fear of making frittatas (or frittate as the Italians would say). I think it probably stems from the time I made a quiche for my breakfast day at work, and realized once I got ready to serve it that the egg was still runny. So, panicked, I ran to the kitchen and threw the entire quiches (yes, there were two) in the microwave and started re-cooking them. Suffice to say, it was a bit stressful and I was terrified I’d make all my co-workers sick with partially-cooked egg.
But I’m realizing how silly it is to be scared of frittatas, because they’re about the best, easiest, most versatile food you can make. It’s basically an open-face omelette—in fact, “frittata” comes from the Italian word for “to fry”. What’s truly excellent about it is that it’s what I call a “kitchen sink” food—meaning you have a basic base (in this case eggs, a little milk, seasoning, & cheese) and then you can add whatever you happen to have on hand to finish it off.
In this case I am still trying to use up the gobs of summer squash and scallions that came in my CSA box a week and a half ago, and I had some lovely tomatoes sitting around as well. But you could put whatever you want in here…zucchini, peppers, any other veggie, different types of cheese, fresh herbs (yes please!). The biggest thing is determining which things need sauteed first. Good rule of thumb: if it won’t be cooked to the right consistency with about 10 minutes in an egg mixture in the oven (tomato, for instance), you should cook it up first. You can saute it, or roast the veggies to add some lovely flavor, or if you have leftover cooked veggies you can throw them in too.
I originally got this corn & black bean salsa “recipe” (in quotes because the word implies consistency) from my awesome friend Casey, who brought it to a Mexican-themed summer get-together we had with friends. I was immediately smitten because it didn’t include 1) green bell pepper, 2) hot peppers, or 3) cilantro. I’m just not that fond of those ingredients, and finding a salsa without them is quite difficult.
However, that’s not to say this salsa CAN’T include them—its beauty is in its versatility. I’m pretty sure I’ve never made it the same way twice (let’s face it, mostly because I can never remember how).
So I’m just going to give you the guidelines and some other thoughts on how to adapt. You’ll have to play around with it to figure out how you like it best. People seriously scarf this, and rave about it every time I bring it somewhere.
I’m weirdly obsessed with heirloom tomatoes, given that I’d never had one until I finally tried this recipe. So I’ve been fascinated with this recipe for a few years, since I found it in Real Simple and tore it out (that’s right, kids, out of a magazine made of paper). It’s been languishing in my “must try” cookbook since then, because heirloom tomatoes are surprisingly hard to find.
But a few weeks ago, serendipity struck. My chiropractor (Austin, who’s awesome) had a box of peppers, squash, and heirloom tomatoes for the taking, from his and his wife’s own garden.
I snatched a couple, trying not to look like a greedy pig. I practically squealed with glee when I got back to my car. Then I got super lucky and found a third at Publix, which gave me enough to work with.
It’s said that each type of heirloom tomato has its own unique flavor, so by mixing them together you’ll have something different each bite. They are indeed delicious. But would this recipe live up to my three years’ imagining? Time to find out.