Healthy Noodles: Easy Meal Edition

This summer, I had a full time internship, with an hour and a half commute to and from work.  By the time I got home, I wanted to work out, and then eat a quick, healthy meal.  At the beginning, I mostly made monotonous salads.  But I soon grew bored of spinach leaves, and tried to be more creative.  Here are three quick and easy noodle ideas… that do not use traditional pasta!

Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs 

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Have you ever heard of spaghetti squash before?  It is an oval shaped squash that produces stringy threads when baked, which are reminiscent of thin spaghetti!

This meal is really easy because all you have to do is bake the squash.  My mum had made the meatballs in bulk beforehand.  And the sauce is Rao’s Marinara.

To bake the squash, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Carefully cut your spaghetti squash in half.  Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Sprinkle salt and black pepper on top of the fleshy side of the squash halves.  Then rub olive oil so the fleshy side is completely covered.  Then lay the squash flesh side down (The “fleshy side” is the interior of the squash).  Bake for 1 hour.  Then, using a fork, scrape the inside of the squash to create spaghetti!

Top with warm marinara and meatballs.  Add some grated parmesan on top.  Then you are all set!

“Puttanesca” Spaghetti Squash

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While puttanesca sauce is now popular, and an esteemed dish, that was not always the case.  Puttanesca translates to as “in the style of a whore.”  There are theories as to where this tarnished relation came from… Puttanesca sauce is very easy and quick to make.  The intense aroma of the pasta would lure men off of the street.  Etc, etc.

Puttanesca generally consists of tomatoes, garlic, olives, and anchovies.  It has a saltier bite than a traditional marinara.

This version is not a traditional puttanesca, but it has similar salty, briny flavors.  I used Rao’s Artichoke sauce, which is very similar to their marinara, but artichokes are added!

Prepare the spaghetti squash following the above recipe.

Chop kalamata olives and remove the pits.

Mix the spaghetti squash with the sauce.  Add the chopped olives.  Crumble feta on top. And serve!

Butternut Squash Noodles with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Roasted Chickpeas 

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Start with the roasted chickpeas. Preheat your over to 400 degrees.  Open one can of chickpeas, wash thoroughly, then pat dry.  Lay parchment paper on a baking pan, and put the chickpeas on top.  Salt and pepper the chickpeas.  Then drizzle olive oil on top and mix all the chickpeas together. Bake for 30 minutes.

Drizzle olive oil in a sauce pan that is on medium high heat.  Place the sweet potato noodles in the pan and cook until the potato is cooked through.  Around 3o minutes.

I used Seggiano Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.  Toss the pasta in the sauce.  Sprinkle the chickpeas on top.  And enjoy.

 

Bottega Fiorentina

Bottega Fiorentina is a Florentine dining experience located in Coolidge Corner, just a short walk away from the C Line.  It serves a large number of pasta dishes, sandwiches,  fresh ingredients by the pound, imported grocery items, such as cookies, chocolates, drinks, desserts, and espresso and cappuccino.

Bottega Fiorentina sits on a small corner and when you walk inside, you are greeted with a picnic table, hanging lights, Italian related posters, and delicious smells, as if you were dining at a cafe in Italy.

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Everyday there are featured specials, and the menu is so extensive that anyone would be able to find something worth ordering.  I opted for the spinach gnudi topped with pesto.  Gnudi looks like gnocchi, but instead of having a potato base, its base is ricotta cheese.  Gnudi translates to nude because gnudi is “nude ravioli” since it does not have the outside layer of pasta dough, it just has the ricotta filling.

The pesto was very fresh and light compared to the oil ladened versions you find in the freezer section of your supermarket.  The gnudi were soft and pillow like, and were not overworked at all.  Bottega’s pastas are all reasonably priced, which makes this the perfect place for a college student on a budget.

The staff are very friendly and mandate a “pay once you have eaten policy,” trusting their customers to enjoy their meal and be loyal.  The only caveat to Bottega is that there is no bathroom for customers, since it is mostly a takeout place.

 

Prosciutto Caprese Sandwich

I got the idea for this sandwich from my go to order at Cafe Rustica in Somerville.  Fresh bread topped with pesto and sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.  Simple but good ingredients make it a treat whenever I order it.  This version has an addition of prosciutto de parma, which melts in your mouth and adds another salty element.  Wicked easy to make you will be stunned by how delicious it is!

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Prosciutto Caprese Sandwich

Sliced focaccia

Pesto

Thinly sliced prosciutto de parma

sliced mozzarella

sliced tomatoes (sprinkle with salt and pepper)

Slather the bread on both sides with the pesto.  Layer with the prosciutto, mozzarella, and tomato.  Dig in!!

Spinach Pesto Pizza

Pizza is one of my favorite foods and I love how you can cater it to specific preferences to make people feel special!  For example, I am a big pesto fan and use it instead of the traditional red sauce.  Feel free to make your own dough, but I buy it from Bertuccis.  Whole Foods also has pre-made pizza dough or you could try your local pizzeria.

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Spinach Pesto Pizza (1 serving)

ball of dough to form 8 in pizza

1 tablespoon pesto

1-2 oz. feta cheese

1/2 cup spinach

4 kalamata olives pitted, roughly chopped

flour for dusting

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using your fingertips spread the dough onto a baking sheet until you reach desired thickness.  I found sprinkling flour on the dough as well as the sheet helps.

Spread the pesto over the dough.  Add the spinach.  Sprinkle on the olives and cheese.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the dough is cooked through.  It took me around 15-20 minutes.

Tomato, Pesto, and Basil Pizza

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My sister actually came up with this wonderful pizza.  Pesto, tomato, and basil always taste great together, so naturally we expected this pizza to be scrumptious. And it was! It looks like a dish because we folded the edges over the tomatoes – this made for a really thick crust, which is basically my favorite part of all pizzas (Don’t worry, the ingredients are good too). For the pizza dough, we used the multi-grain one from Whole Foods. We had never tried it before, and we were pleasantly surprised. It had a lot of flavor and was perfectly crunchy. I would definitely recommend  trying this pizza dough!

Ingredients

3 large tomatoes

1/2 cup of pesto

1/2 cup of diced tomatoes (in a jar)

Tarrago (as much or as little as you want, depending on how much you like it)

Basil (as much or as little as you want, depending on how much you like it)

Cheese (we used swiss, but mozzarella would work well too)

Directions

Lay out the dough.

Spread the pesto on the dough, leaving a one inch margin around the edge.

Add the diced tomatoes and then put the fresh tomatoes (sliced) on top, maintaining the margin of dough.

Sprinkle on the basil and the tarragon and then sprinkle with cheese.

Add salt and pepper.

Fold over the edges of the dough.

Put the pizza in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. And enjoy!

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