Garlic-Parm Quinoa and Zucchini

3 05 2016

You know how sometimes you just need a quick side dish? Well, here’s one right here to add to your arsenal – quick and healthy quinoa and zucchini with just a few ingredients.

Garlic-Parm Quinoa and Zucchini

The following serves 3-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, cut down the center lengthwise and then into moons
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Cook quinoa with 2 cups chicken stock according to package directions. Reserve the 1/2 cup for later.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and zucchini and saute until starting to brown and soften, flipping once, 5 minutes or so. Add the butter, garlic and salt to taste and continue to saute until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant, another couple of minutes. Add the cooked quinoa and the rest of the chicken stock, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and add the cheese, cooking and stirring another minute or two until the stock is absorbed and everything is combined. Taste, and season with salt as needed.

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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio With Marinated Tomatoes

1 09 2014

This past weekend I cooked dinner for a friend’s bachelorette party, and served this fantastically flavorful spaghetti to 15 lovely ladies. I took my grandma’s spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) up a notch by featuring marinated tomatoes. As you can see from the pic, I made enough to serve an army – but below I show the normal recipe. If you want to serve a crowd like me, you can easily double this and even make most of it the night before. Which coincidentally will not only save you time day of, but will add more flavor to this classic Italian dish.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

The following serves 4-5 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Half a head of garlic cloves, plus a few extra cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Fresh basil, sliced into ribbons about 1/4-1/2 cup worth (stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll like a cigar and then thinly slice into ribbons)
  • 1 lb thin spaghetti
  • Grated parmesan or romano cheese

Heat oil until it’s hot in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. You don’t want to boil the oil, so just watch it. After a few minutes test to see if it’s ready by dropping a little piece of minced garlic in. If the garlic floats to the top and starts to sizzle the oil is ready. Carefully add the rest of the half a head of minced garlic, and reduce heat to low. Add a good pinch of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the garlic in the oil until the garlic looks like it’s just about to begin to brown, stirring often. Turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner that hasn’t been used. Allow the oil to cool.

Add the sliced tomatoes to a large mason jar along with the remaining minced garlic and sliced basil. Top with the cool oil, along with all the cooked garlic and seasonings in the saucepan. Secure with mason jar lid. The longer you’re able to let the tomatoes marinate, the more flavorful this dish will be. I recommend doing this the day before and just allow the tomatoes to marinate in the fridge. If you want to eat this the day of, try to let them marinate for at least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Meanwhile to a large skillet over medium heat, add most of the oil from the marinated tomatoes, but don’t add the tomatoes – reserve those for later.

Right before you’re ready to strain the spaghetti, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water. Strain spaghetti and immediately add it to the skillet. Add some of the starchy water, 1/4 cup at first. Toss the spaghetti in the oil for a minute or two. Add a little more of the starchy water if needed.

Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes and the remaining oil from the mason jar. Toss well. Top with a little more fresh basil and serve along with grated cheese.





Grilled Fish With Lemon, Basil and Garlic

3 06 2014

This technique of grilling fish on top of lemon slices is brilliant, and is my new favorite way of cooking fish! The citrus helps flavor the fish, but more importantly it prevents it from sticking to the grill. Flavorful, smoky fish that’s done fast – that’s my kind of summer supper!

Grilled Fish With Lemon, Basil and Garlic

The following serves 2 (adapted from Martha Stewart):

  • 2 boneless, skinless white fish filets, really you could use whatever fish you’d like, your cooking time will just vary
  • 1-2 lemons, sliced thick
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Preheat grill to low heat.

You don’t have to use a grill pan if you don’t have one, I just thought it was easier for transporting these stacks. Spray the grill pan with non-stick spray.

Each piece of fish will use 3 thick slices of lemon. Place 2 slices of lemon per fish on the grill pan and top the lemon with a layer of basil leaves, using however many you need to cover the lemon slices. Next, add 2-3 smashed garlic cloves on top of the basil. Top the lemon, basil and garlic with a piece of fish. Drizzle the fish with a little olive oil. Season lightly with salt to taste, and top each piece of fish with another slice of lemon.

Grill covered for about 10-12 minutes (do not turn), or until fish has turned opaque and begins to flake.

Serve with more lemon slices and roasted or steamed veggies.





Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

21 05 2014

This rustic Tuscan bean side dish is deliciously creamy and loaded with both flavor and nutrition! It whips up pretty quickly too. Get some chicken or steak on the grill while you prepare this, and before you know it you’ll have a lovely weeknight meal ready to enjoy.

Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Pinch kosher salt to taste
  • 1 (8 oz) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of low-sodium, reduced-fat beef stock
  • Kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 2-3 oz fontina cheese, cubed (you want to use fontina because it melts really well)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat a few Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring, a minute or so. Add rosemary, red pepper flakes and just a pinch of salt. Next add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, stock, olives and cheese. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cheese will melt nicely into the stock, creating a nice creamy dish.

Meanwhile in a large saute pan, heat some oil and saute kale until wilted and cooked, 5-10 minutes. You can make as much as you like, I filled the pan (remember it shrinks when it cooks). Transfer sautéed kale to the beans and finish cooking together the final 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dish out beans, top with parsley and enjoy alongside a protein of your choice. I served with grilled chicken breasts.





Grilled Flank Steak With Lime and Soy Sauce Marinade

14 05 2014

Tonight’s dinner is for my Mom, who makes a knock-out grilled flank steak! She doesn’t follow a recipe, she just wings it – like most Moms do. So when I asked her where this recipe came from she couldn’t remember. After a little research I found it came from another Mom we all know so well….Miss Martha Stewart. 🙂

Thanks to a thin cut of meat, this lean flank steak is both healthy, and a quick fix. Serve along with grilled or roasted veggies of your choice for a yummy, all around good-for-you meal!

Grilled Flank Steak With Lime and Soy Sauce Marinade

The following serves 2-3 (Compliments of This Girl’s Mama, who adapted this from Martha Stewart):

  • 1 and 1/2 lbs flank steak
  • Juice and zest from 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger (save yourself time and use it from the paste from the tube!)
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes – the bigger the pinch you use, the spicier the meat with taste

In a bowl, whisk together the lime juice and zest, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, green onions and red pepper flakes. Place the steak in a resealable freezer bag and pour whisked marinade over. Seal bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour, turning the bag over occasionally.

Remove steak from the marinade and preheat grill to high. Grill steak, covered and untouched, 3 minutes per side over the hottest part of your grill. Flank is a lean piece of meat and if overcooked can be dry and tough, so be careful not to cook it too long. While you want a nice char on the outside, you also want the inside to be rare to medium-rare.

While the meat is grilling, bring the leftover marinade to a quick simmer in a saucepan over low heat.

Remove steak from the grill to a plate. Top steak with some of the warmed marinade and tent with foil, allowing to rest 5-10 minutes. Once rested, slice steak against the grain into thin slices.

Grill or roast some veggies for a quick side dish.

Divide steak among plates, top with more of the warm marinade and serve with veggies.

PS….if you happen to have leftover steak (which likely won’t happen), enjoy it for lunch the next day in a multi-grain wrap with veggies, arugula and shredded cheese.





Sun-dried Tomato and Garlic Vinaigrette

13 05 2014

I indulge in a lot of salad. So naturally, I’m always on the hunt for new and healthy dressings to try! This vinaigrette was inspired by Food Network Magazine, and packs a punch of flavor. You won’t miss any store-bought dressing with this recipe, that’s for sure!

Sun-dried Tomato and Garlic Vinaigrette

The following is enough for 2 salads (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat with inspiration from Food Network Magazine):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 heaping Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of oil and add garlic. Cook on low a few minutes. Add the shallot and sun-dried tomatoes and cook a few more minutes, stirring often, until garlic browns.

Transfer cooked oil mixture to a small food processor, add vinegar and pulse until chunky. Continue to pulse and slowly stream in more olive oil until the vinaigrette reaches your desired consistency, between 2-4 more Tbsp worth of oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve vinaigrette over salad. The salad pictured above includes:

  • Organic arugula
  • Sliced grilled chicken
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced baby yellow peppers
  • Halved grape tomatoes
  • Reduced-fat shredded Italian cheese
  • Walnuts




Warm Barley and Spinach Caprese

7 04 2014

Caprese is a classic Italian salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, dressed with olive oil. I took this simple starter up a notch, turning it into an easy, meatless main or side dish made with healthy barley.

Warm Barley Caprese

Warm Barley and Spinach Caprese

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearled barley
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • Couple handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian cheese blend or mozzarella, shredded
  • Grated parmesan
  • Fresh basil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Rinse barley thoroughly with water, drain. Cook according to package directions. Mine called for cooking the dried, rinsed barley in a large pot of water for 35-45 minutes. Then drain and return to the pot, much like pasta.

After the barley is cooked, make the sauce. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering and add the garlic. Cook garlic a few minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and the tomatoes. Cook tomatoes 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt to taste. Next, wilt in the spinach over low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked barley and stir well to combine.

At this point you could enjoy the dish as is if you wanted, garnished with parmesan and basil. Or you could mix in a little shredded Italian cheese blend and some basil, then transfer to a small casserole dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with a little parmesean and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Dish out the barley, top with more basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar just before serving.