Sun Dried Tomato Almond Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Sometimes I think it’s a scandal that sun dried tomatoes don’t cost more. I’ve never made them myself (though, living in the Phoenix area, we’re certainly not short on sun…or dryness…or tomatoes), but I do have a dim sense of how much time and effort go into the end product of these shrivelly red strips. The process goes something like this: 1. Pick tomatoes 2. Wash tomatoes 3. Cut tomatoes 4. Season tomatoes 5. Dry tomatoes in the sun for days on end 6. Package tomatoes. Seems like an awful lot of work–and an awful lot of tomatoes, seeing as how they lose around 90% of their original weight and shrink down to less than half their original size upon drying.

Yet there they are, a whole bag of them for only $3.00 at Trader Joe’s. Isn’t our food system strange?

Despite the seemingly inverse relationship between cost and effort in sun dried tomatoes, I for one am quite thankful for their relative inexpensiveness, because I adoooooore them. Chewy, brightly colored, and tangy-sweet, I happen to think they bring their A-game to any dish they grace.

And wouldn’t you know it, they make a pretty spectacular main ingredient in pesto.

This Sun Dried Tomato Almond Pesto Pasta with Chicken took its place on our family’s weeknight dinner plan last week, and it’s definitely an entree I’ll be making again. Whole grain spaghetti, olive oil, tomatoes, and almonds place it squarely in the Mediterranean Diet category–a category I’ve been known to harp on relentlessly for its many health benefits. (By the way, didja see the new U.S. News and World Report ranking of diets for 2017? The Mediterranean Diet comes in at the top of nearly every category they analyzed.)

Health benefits aside, this chicken pasta boasts excellent taste and can be whipped up in about 30 minutes. Add it to your meal plan this week!


Print Recipe
Sun Dried Tomato Almond Pesto Pasta with Chicken
A Mediterranean chicken dish packed with the healthy goodness of tomatoes, olive oil, and almonds.
Course Main Dish, pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Course Main Dish, pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Instructions
Make the pesto:
  1. Add tomatoes, almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Process until nearly smooth, then taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Set pesto aside.
Make the pasta and chicken:
  1. Make the spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, season chicken on both sides with basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add seasoned chicken and cook about 4 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
  4. Serve immediately: assemble entree with any combination of spaghetti, pesto, and chicken you like!
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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Broccoli Three Cheese Lasagna

Today, in addition to bestowing upon the internet the gift of an amazing Broccoli Three-Cheese Lasagna that might just become your family’s new favorite vegetarian pasta dish, I’m trying a little something new on the blog. For kicks, and because as a nutritionist I care about providing (reasonably) healthy recipes, I’ve decided that moving forward, I’d really like to include nutrition information with my recipes. Also because I’m curious. So today, for this lovely lasagna, I’ve included a nutrition facts label for your perusal.

Adding up actual counts of calories, fat, sodium, etc. can feel like a bit of a peeking-through-your-fingers potential train wreck, like “oh nooooooo, I’m eating WHAT? Why did you have to tell me that?”

But I do (usually) want to know what I’m putting into my body–and I want YOU to know, too.

I’m starting with this particular Broccoli Lasagna recipe because, in its original form via Real Simple, this homemade comfort food classic contained a whopping 833 calories, 56 grams of fat, and 1,500mg of sodium–even with vegetables in place of meat. I shudder to think about the nutrition facts for restaurant lasagna. Actually….let’s go there. Olive Garden’s Lasagna Classico will set you back 930 calories, 53 grams of fat, and 2,070 mg of sodium! (For reference, your daily intake of sodium should be below 2,400 mg. Good luck only eating 300 mg of sodium in the entire rest of your day!)

As delicious as the original version of this recipe might have been, it really didn’t need to be so heavy, and with a few changes to slim it down, it’s still plenty rich. With a bit less cheese and a more portion-controlled 5 servings instead of 4, this lighter incarnation contains 586 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 1,245 mg sodium. High in sodium, yes, but with fat and calorie counts I can feel good about with a one-dish-meal dinner. Especially one that combines the Italian nirvana of tender pasta and ooey-gooey stretchy cheese with the nutritional powerhouse of broccoli.


Print Recipe
Broccoli Three Cheese Lasagna
Stretchy mozzarella, tender lasagna noodles, savory sauce, and plenty of broccoli make this a one-dish delight.
Course Main Dish, pasta
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
Course Main Dish, pasta
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using fresh broccoli, steam in a microwave-safe dish by adding a few tablespoons water, covering with a lid, and microwaving 2-4 minutes until bright green and crisp-tender. If using frozen, thaw and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place steamed or thawed broccoli in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (but not pureed).
  2. In a large bowl, mix chopped broccoli, ricotta, 1 c. mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir half and half into marinara sauce.
  4. Assemble lasagna: in an 8-inch square baking dish, spoon a thin layer of sauce. Top with two noodles, a quarter of remaining sauce, and a third of the broccoli mixture. Repeat twice. Top with the remaining two noodles and sauce. Sprinkle the top with remaining 1/4 c. mozzarella and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan.
  5. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 35-40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Inspired by (but heavily adapted from) Real Simple.

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Steak Chopped Salad

Steak chopped salad

Somewhere early on in my learning the German language, I read the original Grimm fairy tale of Rapunzel. It’s pretty different from the Disney movie, FYI, from the lack of catchy musical numbers to the fact that the prince who comes to rescue Rapunzel from her tower ends up blinded when he attempts suicide by leaping out her window. (Hard to imagine that fitting in a catchy musical number anyway, now that I think about it.) But the especially bizarre thing that always stood out to me about the original German version of Rapunzel is that almost the entire first half of the story, which happens before Rapunzel’s birth, has to do with her pregnant mother’s insane lust for the lettuce growing in her neighbor’s garden. The mother’s desire for a salad made of the beautiful green lettuce she sees growing in this garden is so strong that she sends her husband to steal some. The husband, dutiful man that he is, does so, only to find his wife’s cravings intensified threefold after she finally tastes the forbidden lettuce. Dang those pregnancy cravings!

Steak chopped salad

When he eventually gets caught by the neighbor (who–didja guess? happens to be a witch), he promises to hand over the baby to her at birth, so long as his wife can continue to have a supply of the lettuce for her surreptitious salads. Cause, you know, baby…lettuce…it’s all good.

You’ll have to read the original Grimm fairy tale if you want to know how things pan out for Rapunzel and kooky family, but whenever I recall the story, I always think, DANG, that must have been one awesome salad to make her parents hand over their firstborn for it. (That or they weren’t too thrilled about having a baby in the first place?) Every time I have a great salad, I kind of chuckle to myself, like, “Could this be the one someone would relinquish their children for?” Just so you know, I have yet to find the salad I’d be willing to trade my kids in for…

Steak chopped salad

BUT…while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about this uh-may-zing Steak Chopped Salad. Thankfully, you don’t need to make a deal with your neighborhood mistress of the dark arts for a taste. Nor do you need to go hopping fences to steal magical lettuce. All you need are some pantry staples, a good piece of sirloin, and some garden-fresh red cabbage and romaine. The combination of roasted red peppers, creamy feta, marinated steak, and crunchy lettuce with a zingy Mediterranean-style dressing is sublime enough to make you think magic was involved. I couldn’t stop thinking about it after we had it a few night ago.

So I can only assume this is the salad Rapunzel’s mother made, because IF there were a salad that could make me go to crazy lengths to eat it, well, this is the one.

Steak chopped salad

Print Recipe
Steak Chopped Salad
A fresh, whole foods chopped salad you'll want to make again and again!
Course Beef, Main Dish
Servings
as a main course
Course Beef, Main Dish
Servings
as a main course
Instructions
Make the steak:
  1. Combine garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper in a gallon freezer bag. Add steak to the bag and let marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes-2 hours.
  2. Bring steak to room temperature by removing from refrigerator 15-30 minutes prior to cooking. Remove from marinade and pat dry. Set an oven rack 4-5 inches from broiler heating element and preheat broiler to high.
  3. Heat a small skillet over high heat. Add steak and sear 2-3 minutes per side, using tongs to flip in between. Place skillet in oven under broiler and broil on each side 2-3 minutes, again using tongs to flip.
  4. Carefully tent aluminum foil over skillet and let steak rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Make the salad:
  1. In a large bowl, toss chopped red cabbage, chopped romaine, red peppers, feta, and cannellini beans.
Make the dressing:
  1. In a 1-cup measuring cup, combine all ingredients. Using an immersion blender, mix until emulsified.
Put it all together:
  1. Slice steak into cubes, cutting against the grain, and add to salad. Serve with dressing on the side.
Recipe Notes

Loosely inspired by Real Simple.

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