Linguine with Clams and Baby Spinach

Bring health to the holiday table.. let vegetables, like  baby spinach, ante up the color, texture and nutritional value of your favorite pasta meals. 
Linguine with Clams and Baby SpinachDisclosure: I was asked to participate in the  Pasta Fits campaign as a member of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network.  I was compensated for my time. 

While reading the brillantly photographed magazine, Sift , I came upon a wonderful quote, written about pie..quote that can be applied to pasta+ linguine with clams and baby spinach

In my opinion, the same could be said of pasta.  If you’ve been following the the #pastafits campaign, you’ll recall it began in September,  when kids were heading  back to school. I shared  Fusilli with Broccoli and Peanuts, an easy to prepare recipe  for  after those hectic school days, with a bonus (leftovers pack well for school lunches)!   When  we turned the calendar and fall produce filled my CSA box,  I made a  Warm Minestrone Pasta Salad using fresh butternut squash. This meal was so versatile it could be served at a luncheon, and with a  slight variation, it was tailgate ready. Now it’s time to show you how #pastafits into your holiday spread, by teaming it with colder weather vegetables, in a dish that will usher in the comfort and  joy  of a  homecooked meal that’s both delicious and nutritious.

 The stretch from Thanksgiving to December holiday prep is The Most Wonderful  Time of the Year,  also known as the worst time of year for your waistline. But don’t get Grinchy for fear of  putting on a few extra pounds.  Reseach shows there are potentially effective ways to minimize holiday weight gain, including bringing health to your holiday table with more  fruits and vegetables. Here are three tips to integrate more produce into your holiday spread and keep the holiday spirit high:

1. Use fruit or vegetable purees in place of up to one-half of the fat in holiday baked goods.

2. Use fruits and vegetables as a hidden ingredient; chop, puree, grate or simply add to sauces, soups, pasta, sandwiches, dips, and spreads. Puree vegetables, like broccoli, make terrific  pasta sauces. Try pureed roasted red pepper or pumpkin in a risotto.

3. Use fruits and vegetables  to give an obvious burst of color and texture to sandwiches, soups, stews and pasta. Today  I’m adding fresh baby spinach to create a culinary star in my makeover of linguine with clams.  If it was summer, I’d add ribbons of zucchini. Colder weather creates new choices for  seasonal vegetables  including: spinach, kale, mustard greens, and microgreens. Any of these would work with this recipe; it’s a matter of preference or what you have on hand.

I n addition to using spinach to boost the volume, nutrition and satisfaction of this dish, I’m also substituting  whole wheat pasta for refined semolina. Whole wheat pasta is a great way to incorporate more whole grains into my diet. Maintaining a  healthy body weight while getting older means focusing on  nutrient rich foods and  making every calorie count, especially during the holidays. A one cup portion of whole wheat pasta provides up to 25% of daily fiber requirements.

This season, as you plan your holiday feasts, remember the formula for  healthier meals  in a  matter of minutes = pasta  +  seasonal vegetables + lean protein. Enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season!Linguine with Clams and Baby Spinach

Linguine with Clams and Baby Spinach

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, chopped (whites only)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups, dry white wine
  • 1-2 pounds( about 2 dozen) small littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • salt
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat linguine
  • 4 cups raw spinach
  • Instructions

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks and  cook until the vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook one additional minute. Add white wine to the pan. Bring to a boil and add clams. Cover and cook until clams open, about 3 to 5 minutes .
  2. 2. Transfer steamed clams to a  bowl ; tent with foil to keep warm. Continue to cook wine mixture until it is is reduced to about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of liquid. (This will take about 2o minutes). Add salt to taste.
  3. 3. Prepare pasta according to package  directions.  When pasta is done, drain and add to pan with wine sauce; toss. Add in fresh spinach and toss again. Transfer to a large shallow platter. Top with clams. Serve immediately.

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Beef & Eggplant Lasagna

Eggplant is the hidden vegetable in this  terrific meaty lasagna; make two, one for now and one for later. Freezer Friendly Beef & Eggplant Lasagna
What do you do when you encounter foods that you DON’T like? I’m asking , because I sometimes face this situation. Take for instance, theseEggplant to be used in my freezer friendly beef & eggplant lasagna

American globe eggplants. They are, to my eyes, lovely.  But to my taste buds, not so much.  I don’t care for their spongy texture.  So I follow the  advice I give parents of children who dislike vegetables: keep on trying, but  prepare them different ways. Today, I’m taking  eggplant outside of where we’ve ever been.  First, I ‘m thinnly slicing them lengthwise, then roasting to get a roasty charry goodness going. Now, into my lasagna… btw I am making two because if I’m going to the trouble of making lasagna, I ‘m going to get an extra meal in the freezer for that day when I don’t want to cook.  Talk about a #twoforone, this month’s Recipe Redux theme just happens to be: Fantastic Freezer Meals.  September is the  perfect time to remind those of us with gardens and  those who chose to eat according to the seasons, that tomatoes, summer squash, corn and eggplant are starting to fade.  If you want to enjoy the bounty of summer longer, use them in dishes you can freeze for later. Here is the result of my lasagna made with my  not so favorite summer vegetable.. and the taste testing begins..Freezer Friendly Beef & Eggplant Lasagna

Can you hear my sigh of relief over the internet? It  tastes as good as it looks! Be sure to visit the links at the bottom of this post to find more recipe ideas for heat -and -eat freezer meals.

 

Serves (serves 4)     adjust servings

Ingredients

(serves 4)

  • 12 ounces tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup skinless, seedless cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 2 drops hot sauce, or to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Juice from 2 limes (about 4 Tablespoons)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 whole avocado, divided, chop one half and slice second half
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

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    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size
    Amount Per Serving As Served
    Calories 169kcal Calories from fat 69
    % Daily Value
    Total Fat 8g 12%
    Saturated Fat 1g 5%
    Sodium 455mg 19%
    Carbohydrate 26g 9%
    Dietary Fiber 6g 24%
    Sugars 16g
    Protein 3g

    Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:

    Calories 2000
    Total Fat Less than 65g
    Sat Fat Less than 25g
    Cholesterol Less than 300mg
    Sodium Less than 2,400mg
    Total Carbohydrate 300g
    Dietary Fiber 25g

    Beef and Eggplant Lasagna

    Ingredients

    (make 2 pans of lasagna, each pan 6 servings)

    • 3 pounds eggplant, thinnly sliced lengthwise (1/4 inch)
    • cooking spray
    • coarse salt and ground peppger
    • 2 pounds lean ground beef
    • 2/3 cup fresh basil
    • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano
    • 10 cups prepared marinara sauce
    • 16 oven ready lasagna noodles
    • 2 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    Instructions

    1. 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. 2. Arrange sliced eggplant on a single layer on 2 sheets pans. Spray  both sides using cooking spray  and season with salt and pepper. Roast the eggplant until it is soft and golden. Turn slices halfway through, about 15 minutes. Let sheet cool on a wire rack.
    3. 3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet coated with cooking spray, add beef and cook, stirring occassionally until no longer pink. Add basil, oregano and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
    4. 3. Turn oven down to 375 degrees F. Spread 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8 inch baking dish. Top with 2 noodles. Layer with one quarter of the beef, then 1 cup sauce and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Top with 2 more noodles, one quarter of the  eggplant, 1 cup sauce and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers with the remaining ingredients, reserving the last 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover lasagna loosely with foil and and bake on top rack until sauce bubbles, 35-40 minutes. (Place a rimmed baking sheet on middle rack to catch any drippings.) Remove lasagna from oven and heat broiler. Sprinkled with reserved Parmesan and broil until cheese is browned and bubbling, 3 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before slicing.
    5. For second lasagna: Line an 8 inch baking dish with non-stick heavy duty foil allowing several inches to extend over sides. Prepare lasagna as direct above but DO NOT BAKE. Remove lasagna from baking dish by holding edges of foil and lifting out of pan. Fold foil over lasagna and wrap with additional foil, making sure it is tightly sealed to keep air out. Freeze for up to one month.
    6. TO BAKE SECOND LASAGNA: Remove from the freezer. Take out of foil wrap and place in an 8 inch baking dish coated wtih cooking spray. Cover and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bake, covered, in a 375 degree oven for about one hour or until heated through and sauce begins to bubble.

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