Summer Eats: Almond Romesco Pasta Salad

If you’ve never tried a romesco sauce, you haven’t lived yet.  This smoky-garlicky-peppery sauce can be put on basically everything: toast, chicken, roasted potatoes, sandwiches, pizza and pasta!

This romesco pasta salad is one of our family favorites — a perfect summer’s eat!  It’s pretty easy to make (see recipe below) and it can be even easier if you ditch the oven heat and substitute roasted peppers for one small jar of roasted peppers. It tastes even better when eaten ‘al fresco’!

Almond Romesco Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red bell peppers (roast it with 1 tbsp of olive oil for 10 minutes at 400F)
  • 1/2 cup no skin almonds (I used salted/roasted marcona almonds)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (I used Spanish sweet pimenton)
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pound medium pasta shells
  • 1 10oz package fresh baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions but shorten 2-3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile add all remaining ingredients except the spinach to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Place spinach on a large bowl. Drain the pasta well and place it over the spinach, turning it with a drizzled of olive oil in order to wilt it.
  4. Add the romesco sauce and toss it well.
  5. Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before serving. If you have any leftovers store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

BLT Spaghetti with Garlic Bread Crumbs

BLT Pasta

For some reason this carb loaded dish doesn’t feel too unhealthy. Almost like the amount of carbs in the pasta can be forgiven by the amount of nutrients in the spinach and fresh tomatoes. The bacon…well…That’s another story!

If you CAN’T deal with the guilt just substitute the regular pasta for quinoa or whole wheat pasta and let me know if it’s worth the compromise.

Here is the recipe. Play with the ingredient amounts. Do more bacon if you think bacon is not evil. Do more spinach if you feel guilty about too much bacon. The ranges in the ingredient amounts will not unbalance the overall flavor of the dish. This recipe makes 2 servings if you are willing to share. Have fun!

Ingredients

  • 2-4 strips bacon, diced
  • 1-2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (measure after you cut)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoons of apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (do not leave this out!!!!!)
  • 4 oz dry spaghetti noodles
  • 1-2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh or dry thyme

For Garlic Toast Bread Crumbs:

  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced or smashed on garlic smasher tool (you know what I mean)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (plain)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt

Let’s make it:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

For the Garlic Crumbs
Heat oil in a skillet; add garlic first count to 30 slowly, add crumbs and toast until golden; add salt and set aside.

Saute the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat (make sure it’s LARGE because from here you will add all the remaining ingredients).  Cook until crisp, then set aside on paper towel.   Reserve some or ALL the bacon drippings, and drain off remaining oil.

Caramelize the tomatoes and sugar in the bacon drippings in the same large skillet (told ya), over medium heat.  Cook until tomatoes begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the leeks and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until leeks are translucent.

Deglaze with wine and allow sauce to simmer until the wine is nearly evaporated and sauce is thick.  Add the broth, vinegar, and pepper flakes.  Simmer until reduced by 1/3, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the spinach, thyme, and bacon to the sauce, then add the cooked pasta.  Toss lightly until pasta is well coated with sauce.  Season with salt as needed.

Ditch the Parmesan cheese and top each serving with the amazing garlic toast bread crumbs.

The DEALs (02/5 – 02/11)

Vons; Farmer John Sliced Bacon 3.99 ea with coupon (clip or click coupon)

Sprouts; Organic grape tomatoes 2 for 5 (1 pint)

Happy Dealicious Cooking!

Week 8: It’s HOT

My grand plan of soups and stews for this week have been sabotaged by the unusually hot weather. I’m just too lazy to come up with alternatives, so I’m making the family sweat…together at dinner.

For those who don’t eat fish that often, Whole Foods has Santa Barbara fresh caught Yellow Tail for half price (under $5 a lb.). We’ll stay away from tuna fish this week since we had sushi last Friday. Mercury and other heavy metals are more present in large fish like tuna. I try to do some mercury control, especially for the kids. This deal is so great I couldn’t let it pass. I made this “dealicious” Yellow Tail Sesame Ginger burgers and stuck them in the freezer until we meet again!

Sesame Ginger Tuna Burgers

2 lb tuna (finely chopped)

2 basil leaves chopped

2 scallions chopped

1 tbs sesame seeds (black or white or both)

3 tbs soy sauce (I used low sodium soy sauce)

3 tbs honey

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

Combine all ingredients and form 1 inch thick patties. Grill or pan fry with light oil, turning once, until medium-rare. It can be topped with this yummy Wasabi Mayo:

2 tbs wasabi paste

3 tbs low-fat mayo or Vegenaise

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Ralphs has the best deal on Avocados (under 40c each) and Organic California grapes (green or red) for $1.99 lb. Whole Foods has Organic Gala apples for $1.49 lb. Sprouts has broccoli and cauliflower for 77c lb. Vons has buy 1 get 1 free Foster Farms ground turkey and organic Heirloom tomatoes at $1.99 lb.

Wednesday: Veggie & Meat ensopado (Brazilian style stew) with Quinoa

Thursday: Gnocchi (from TJs by the pasta aisle) and Chicken albondigas (frozen last week) with ‘pink’ sauce and a side of steam broccoli and cauliflower

Friday: Gourmet Friday

Saturday: Take out/Eat out

Sunday: Israeli Couscous salad with pear and cranberry and Turkey Spinach rolls

Monday: Cream of zucchini and quesadillas (Meatless Monday)

Tuesday: Turkey Avocado sliders with garlic oven fries