Zoodle Brains with Pumpkin Kale Pesto

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Zoodles are noodles made out of zucchini, nothing more.  Using a julienne peeler or spiralizer, the zucchini is cut into noodles.  Whenever I make zoodles, I usually dress them in a pesto or top them with marinara. This pesto has a lovely mix of basil, kale, and spinach, and because this recipe was is Fall- and Halloween-inspired, pumpkin seeds were thrown into the mix.   The end result is really delicious.

After tossing the zoodles with pumpkin kale pesto, throw in some sliced grape tomatoes for more texture and sweetness. When served with my Pink Peppercorn vegan “Goat Cheese,” it is even more satiating and scrumptious.

For a quick, raw, and satisfying meal, try this dish. You will be happy you did!

 

Zoodle Brains with Pumpkin Kale Pesto

Servings:  4

Time:  20 minutes

Diet:  V, GF, GFV, DF, SF, SRF, NF, CFNF, R

 

Ingredients

Zoodles:

4 medium zucchini

 

Pumpkin Kale Pesto:

1 cup basil leaves

¼ cup kale, stems removed

2 Tbsp spinach

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

4 Tbsp filtered water

¼ tsp sea salt

½ tsp fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

1 shake or pinch of cayenne pepper

 

Other Ingredients:

16 grape tomatoes, sliced in half

4 orange bell peppers, optional for Halloween

 

Directions

Zoodles:

1. Make zoodles using a julienne peeler or a spiralizer. When using a julienne peeler, carefully peel the zucchini as you would a carrot, making long “noodles”. When using a spiralizer to make zoodles, follow the manufacturer’s directions.

 

Pistachio Kale Pesto:

1. Place all of the Pumpkin Kale Pesto ingredients into a food processor or blender, and pulse until fully pureed and sauce-like in consistency.

 

Bell Pepper Jack-o’-lanterns: (optional)

1. Carve faces in your peppers. To do this, cut a round section on the top of the pepper. Discard the seeds and scrape away the insides. Being very careful, begin to carve the jack-o’-lantern face. When complete, set aside.

 

Assemble:

1. Toss the zoodles with enough pesto to coat, and

a)    place onto a plate. Add about 8 grape tomato halves to the zoodles, and if you have it, a slice of Pink Peppercorn Vegan “Goat Cheese”. Serve immediately.

b)    Toss in the sliced tomatoes and stuff each bell pepper with zoodles and tomatoes, replacing the top of the pepper once filled.

 

ZoodleBrain1

 

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Spinach and Parsley Pesto

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When I was four years old and while all five of my older sisters were in school, my mom would spend her time either cleaning the house, talking up a storm on the phone with her sister (my aunt), or helping my dad with his business.  During this time, I had free reign to do whatever I wanted with no one to stand in my way and stop me.  In fact, I learned to read by singing on the karaoke machine and reading the lyrics from music books.  When I did not know certain words, I would bug my parents and ask them.  I sang Karaoke every morning and for hours at a time.  I also sang the same songs over and over again and eventually, through consistency and repetition, I learned how to read.  I can see how the Gentle Revolution Method from the Institutes for Achievement for the Achievement of Human Potential worked on my little, genius nephews.  A routine and repetition is powerful in the development of young minds.

[Back to my childhood story] In the afternoons and around lunchtime, I would start watching my favorite tv shows.  I started with The Pink Panther, a show that none of my sisters cared for and watched when they were home.  Next up was Popeye the Sailor Man.  I loved the introduction where Popeye consumed tons of spinach or whatever vegetable that was green.  As a child, it affirmed in me that spinach is good for you and could energize the body.  When the show was about to begin, I would run to my mom and ask her to have my spinach ready for me.  My mom would cook up whatever greens we had and this is how I started my lunches.  The following year, I discovered the Nickelodeon channel and was influenced by a variety of shows such as Today’s Special to eat a strawberry frosted cakes and the cartoon with the boy who would lay on top of the tree eating sticky sweets while reflecting about his day.  By way of the tube, I had some good influences and some bad influences in terms of food consumption.  However, I have always held onto the idea that spinach is a super food and makes us strong.  I was that kid who always ate her vegetables– spinach and greens have always been a large part of my diet.

[Fast forward to today]  I have a lot of spinach in my refrigerator and freezer, and always have a good stock of other fruits and vegetables.  Usually, if I am short on time and see a zucchini in my fridge, I will most likely want to make zucchini “pasta.”  It is so simple.  I just take my julienne peeler or mandolin to make the zucchini into strips or “noodles.”  In case you are interested, here is a demonstration on making zucchini noodles, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiCJLqfE7tY.

Usually when I make zucchini “noodles,” I crave pesto.  However, rather than using basil I used spinach and parsley since I always have those two ingredients on hand.  If you know me, you know I like spinach in my pancakes, spinach in my lasagna, and spinach in my smoothies.  I guess you can call me the “Bubba Gump” of spinach.  I like to work with what I have on hand and since I do not usually use pesto’s main ingredients, you will see that this is not your typical pesto.  If you do not have parsley or spinach, try broccoli rabe, collards, even kale, and of course, basil, or a combination of them all. This pesto does not contain pine nuts, parmesan cheese, or a ton of olive oil.  This recipe is actually quite light in taste and density compared to the full-fat version.  As you will see, it is the appearance, function and method for making the pesto that stays virtually the same.  I enjoy my version very much. I find it to be refreshing and delicious!  I hope you do too!

Finally, I shall end today’s post with the song, “Alice” by Avril Lavigne since Alice went on many adventures as a child, like myself.  Being the youngest of  six daughters was fun.  I am glad they gave me the freedom to wander about and try a lot of different things. This set the tone for my many different lives (careers and experiences) and finally rediscovering one of my first loves–cooking–bringing me here today, sharing this recipe with you.  Enjoy!

Spinach and Parsley Pesto

Servings 4-6

Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

A handful of fresh spinach or a heaping 1 cup fresh spinach

1/4 cup of fresh parsley

1/3 cup of raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds (soaked in filtered water for at least 3 hours if you don’ t have a powerful Vitamix, Ninja or Blentec blender. If you do have a powerful blender, soaking isn’t necessary)

1-2 tsp of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt

2-3 cloves of garlic

3 Tbsp of sunflower, grapeseed oil, or cold-pressed olive oil

1/2 cup of filtered water

Directions

1. If you don’t have a powerful blender, soak seeds overnight or for at least 3 hours/

2. Blend all of the ingredients together and add salt to taste.  You may also add some cayenne pepper, if you wish.

And voila. You have pesto!  So easy, right?

Toss this with noodles, preferably zucchini noodles, and enjoy!

 

Zucchini “Noodles” 

You will need 2-3 medium to large zucchinis.

One zucchini is good for one serving, with about 1/4 to 1/3 the pesto sauce, depending on how saucy you like your noodles.  To make zucchini noodles, simply use a julienne peeler to peel noodles, or alternatively, use a spiralizer or mandolin.  I like to eat my noodles raw but you can heat the noodles a little in warm water or in the microwave.

Toss the pesto with zucchini noodles right before you are ready to serve. If you let the dish sit for more than 10 minutes or so, the salt in the pesto will remove the water in the zucchini and the zucchini will start to break down and the whole dish will be a little sloppy. You can also toss in slices of tomato!

I hope you enjoy this simple and easy meal!

Buono Appetito!

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