Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo

I'm still not sure how I feel about goat cheese, but this type of recipe leans me in a more positive feeling direction. And, it is really, really fast, perfect for days like today when your staff meeting runs long. Original recipe here, but I did make several changes.

whole wheat linguine*
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
4-5 small cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4-1/2 cup non-fat milk
4 oz herbed goat cheese
2/3 cup grated parmesan
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
salt and pepper, to taste
1 small jar artichoke hearts**, rinsed and drained
1 cup peas**
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken**

Cook the linguine to al dente, drain, and set aside. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a non-stick pan, and saute the garlic and onion for 5 minutes or so. Mix the Greek yogurt and milk together to the texture you want, then add the yogurt mixture and goat cheese to the pan. Turn the heat to low, and toss until everything is smooth and melted. Put the yogurt and onion mixture in the food processor, along with the parmesan and red peppers, but put the pan back on the stove, and turn the heat back up to medium. Saute the peas, artichoke hearts, and chicken for a few minutes while you process the yogurt and onion mixture until it is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste (it took about 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper for me). Toss it with the linguine and artichoke hearts, peas, and chicken, and garnish with basil before serving.

* I used between 1/3 and 1/2 of a box and it was enough for half of this recipe. I like my pasta pretty saucy (ha!), so make more or less as you desire. I am guessing this sauce would freeze really well also.
**these are optional ingredients

I really liked this, and will probably make it again, for several reasons. I think this could be really versatile, for one. It seems like any soft cheese would work well in this recipe, so if goat cheese isn't your thing, try something else. Secondly, you could add any vegetables you like. I bet this would be really good with asparagus. Also, it is really fast. It took me 15 minutes from start to finish (although my chicken was already cooked). In addition, while I really don't use a lot of canned foods anymore, this recipe lends itself to using healthy canned foods like roasted red peppers (a giant pain to make on my own), and asparagus hearts (also a giant pain to access from a raw asparagus). And finally, this is a large recipe, so it would be easy to cut in half, or freeze for later. As is, it made enough for my dinner and probably 3 lunches, and I only used half of the sauce.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? I think the sauce needed basil, which I guess would make it closer to this red pepper pesto, but I just think it needed something. Next time!!


Vegetable Quinoa Skillet

You know, there really is nothing better than a really easy, vegetarian meal...unless it's a hamburger. I like the idea of vegetarianism, but I don't like it in reality. I'll always like chicken and the occasional hamburger, and you can't have Thanksgiving without turkey, but this little skillet mix is pretty stinking amazing. Original recipe here (warning...very picture heavy post). I didn't know what to call this - skillet, stir-fry, hash, I don't know - but it's good no matter what you call it.

1 cup quinoa
1.75 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 small zucchini, cubed
1.5 cups corn
1 cup green onions, chopped
1-2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
15-20 leaves of basil, chopped

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1-1.5 Tlbs honey
pinch of salt
1.2 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove, finely minced

In a saucepan, combine the quinoa and chicken broth. Bring to boiling and then turn down to low. Let it simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes, until liquid is gone. Set it aside. Meanwhile, in a jar with a lid, mix 2 Tlbs lemon juice, 1 Tlbs lemon zest, honey, salt, pepper, and garlic. Shake well, set aside. Then warm 1 Tlbs of olive oil in a LARGE* skillet on mediumish, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds or so, until it is fragrant. Then toss in the zucchini, corn, and green onions and saute for another 4-5 minutes. Add the quinoa and half the vinaigrette, and stir for another minute. Then add the tomatoes, feta, basil and the rest of the vinaigrette, and toss in a little bit of salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let it sit and meld for 5 minutes or so before serving.

*She said in the original recipe to use a large skillet, and she wasn't kidding. This is a HUGE recipe. I could have cut it in half and still had enough for at least two more meals, and as it is, my fridge is full of leftovers. My pan was actually kind of crowded. Cutting it in half would probably serve 3 adults comfortably and might make the stirring process easier. She also had less basil, (but we all know how I feel about my best friend basil...) and recommended fresh corn. I had frozen, and threw it in the pan still frozen, and it turned out fine. She also says this is good cold, I haven't tried it that way.

Holy cow, this is freaking delicious. I really don't like zucchini, but I thought I'd give it a shot, and I love it in this. She originally wrote this as a farmers market recipe, and it really seems like it could be really versatile. Be careful with the salt, though, since the feta is pretty salty it is easy to go overboard. I cut it down in my recipe from the original. The feta is super creamy in this, and really goes well with the lemon. I also am not a fan of lemon zest, but I liked it in this. I highly recommend prepping everything while your quinoa is cooking, as the actual sauteing goes really fast...no more than 10 minutes, start to finish.

Rating: 5/5
Why? Fast, easy, delicious, and healthy. Mmmmm....


Tomato Garbanzo Bean Salad

School starts tomorrow, so I am sad to say goodbye to summer. And by sad, I mean desolated. One of my least favorite things about school is how early we start...I have to be at school  at 6:50 in the morning, which means I have to leave my house no later than 6:15. I do not function well in the mornings, so the last thing I want to do is think about lunch at that ridiculous hour. This will work well for that. Original recipe here.

1 can garbanzo beans
1 package grape tomatoes
12-15 basil leaves
1 Tlbs red wine vinegar
1 Tlbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tlbs olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
pinch of salt

Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans. Rinse the tomatoes and slice them in half. Chop the basil and add it as well. Mince the garlic. Toss everything together with the vinegar, olive oil, and salt and let it marinate for at least an hour before serving. Serve chilled.

The original recipe called for 1/2 Tlbs of honey, but I forgot to put it in, and liked it just fine without it, so I left it out here as well. 

Rating: 5/5
Why? This was very easy to put together and tasted very delicious and filling.