Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pre-holiday vegetables and spinach and 'ricotta' zucchini fettuccine

I usually eat a reasonable amount of fresh produce, but over the past two weeks that amount has been ramped up. In the week before the wedding, I was mindful of eating well; in the week since, I have been mindful of the possible reduction in fresh fruit and vegetables as we travel over the next month.


There have been large salads, leftover sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed veggie burgers (they were still good after 3 weeks in the freezer!), vegetable ratatouille, and a tofu and broccoli stir fry not dissimilar to the one in this post.

In the week before the wedding, I also threw together a dish that was inspired by a spinach and ricotta fettuccine my mother made when we were growing up. I have never been a huge pasta fan, and never a creamy pasta fan at all, but spinach and ricotta pasta was an exception.


This version uses tofu instead of ricotta, and zucchini noodles instead of pasta (for me at least...I didn't think Mr B would be pleased with that swap so he had regular fettuccine). Despite the changes, the dish was reminiscent of the one I remember. It managed to be filling as well as light, and the spinach tofu mix was the star of the plate in a way that might not be the case if regular pasta was used.

As a child, I always added sweet chili sauce to the spinach and ricotta mix, and as we didn't routinely have sweet chili sauce, I can only assume that it was a recommended pairing. It worked with this dish too. To make the flavours 'pop' a little more, I would probably add chili to the dish in future, but if you aren't a fan of spicy dishes (or live with someone who isn't) then the recipe without spice is still pleasing. It definitely gives a good hit of vegetables!



Spinach and 'ricotta' zucchini fettuccine
Adapted from a recipe I remember from my mother
Vegan
Serves 2


Ingredients
1 packed cup spinach and/or kale leaves (I used about half of each)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 block (350g) tofu (note: soft tofu would be better than firm for this recipe, but I used firm because it is what I had, and it did work fine)
1 onion, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste (I used a shake of salt and a few cracks of pepper)
Ground paprika or chili powder, to taste (I would recommend 1/2 - 1 tsp)
1 large zucchini

Sweet chili sauce, optional, to serve

Method
Wash your spinach / kale leaves and process in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add the dried basil and process until combined. Add the tofu and process briefly to mix. Set aside.

In a large non-stick pan, saute the onion over medium-high heat until golden. Reduce heat and add the spinach-tofu mix. Stir over low heat for approximately 5 minutes. Add water if needed to thin out the mixture (this should only be necessary if you used firm tofu).

Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler (or spiralizer if you have one) to create zucchini noodles. Angela at Oh She Glows and Sarah at Peas and Thank You have both done helpful posts on this recently if you need tips. I use a regular vegetable peeler to create thin, wide zucchini strips.

Add the salt, pepper and paprika or chili powder to the spinach-tofu mix and stir through. Leave over low heat for a further 5 minutes and then serve atop the zucchini (which can be lightly heated in the pan if desired).


This is a really easy dish, and a simple way to eat a filling vegetable-based dinner. Of course, it would also work on top of any pasta, or even as a filling for a baked potato.


Vegetables aside, I am pleased to say that we are now nearly off! The house is clean, I think we have remembered the crucial things, our bags are packed, and we fly out tonight (all going well, please all going well) to Madrid, where we spend 6 days before moving on to Portugal.

I am sure pictures will appear along the way!

Do you miss vegetables when travelling? And are you a fan of spinach-ricotta type pasta dishes?

47 comments:

  1. Ooo!!! Have fun!!

    I always make sure to load up on veggies before I travel. This is the perfect dish for doing so! Comforting yet super veggie-full.

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  2. Vegetables is one thing I often miss on my travels - though with sylvia we have been more likely to stay at self catering which actually makes it easier to keep eating vegies. I find cold zucchini noodles a challenge but the idea of heating them sounds doable and I love the idea of tofu instead of ricotta - I like the spinach and ricotta combo but prefer it less creamy so tofu is perfect for me!

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    1. I actually thought of you whilst making this dish, but primarily because I imagined you making it with cashew cheese or something similarly impressive :) I'm glad the tofu looks appealing too!

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  3. You seem so disciplined in the way you eat, Kari. This looks like a great meal and I love how you replaced the pasta with zucchini. I hope the start to the honeymoon is going well xx

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    1. Thanks Charlie - although I chuckled at the disciplined comment because my vegies are often followed by chocolate ;) We are safely in Madrid and just about getting ourselves into the right time zone!

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  4. Be safe and have a wonderful time!! :) I do miss veggies when I travel. Normally when I go on a mission trip the meals are cooked for speed and they mostly consist of carbs. Ugh. By the end of the trip I am a slug. By the time that I get home I am starving for some greens!

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    1. Exactly! Carbohydrates definitely ramp up on my travels too.

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  5. Very rustic and clean looking dish. Fabulous!!!

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  6. Sounds delicious and so simple! My kind of weeknight meal :)

    Have so much fun on our travels!

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    1. Thanks Gabby - and it is definitely perfect for weeknights because it is so quick!

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  7. Teehee, whereas before I left I was madly trying to eat all my candy, chocolate, cacao butter, nuts, and coconut sugar. ;)

    Squeeee honeymoon of amazingness!!! xoxo

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    1. Ah well, those are important too :D If I'd had to work my way through our full pantry before a longer trip, my eating may have looked different! xo

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  8. I'm not a big fan of ricotta.. it feels heavy to me. When we make lasagna, we use regular mozzarella (not vegans) but sub out the ricotta for tofu and it is SO much better!

    Have fun on your honeymoon. Looking forward to pictures!

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    1. Thank you! And I am definitely a convert to tofu instead of ricotta now - I can see it appearing again.

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  9. This looks delicious! Have fun on your honeymoon :D

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  10. Hope it's a great holiday! I finally found the tofutti in the supermarket - think that would go well in a "creamy" pasta :) or zucchini!

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    1. It would! Although, to date, I've only managed to use tofutti for desserts :P

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  11. Have an awesome trip Kari... and I really do hope there are a few photos on the way.

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    1. Thanks Brydie, and I suspect there will be :)

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  12. Awww, just thinking about you and the joy you two are experiencing just makes me grin from ear to ear. Can't wait til you come back to Earth and tell us all about it, complete with photos.

    This dish looks really good and one we'd all enjoy.

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    1. Oh, thank you Maureen! Now I'm smiling too :) I think there will be some posts along the way even as we're still floating above Earth!

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  13. Your zucchini salad looks nicer than the one we made. Have an awesome time in Madrid!!!

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    1. I thought your zucchini salad looked great :)

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  14. We did the same thing before our trip this year, loaded up on fruits and veggies and I think it really helped with jet leg when we arrived. We generally try to load up on fruits for breakfasts on vacation since that seems like the easiest meal to eat healthy while travelling.

    I totally fell in love with sweet chili sauce over there (so did NutriDude). We topped numerous wraps and even a salad with it! It's just so delicious! I actually tried looking for it here two days ago with no luck :(

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    1. I hadn't realised sweet chili sauce was an Australian thing! How funny. I suppose it's Asian really and we probably have closer links to Asian cuisine than Americans do. What a shame for you!

      I'm with you on the fruit for breakfast approach too :)

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  15. i love fruits and veggies, but spinach when it gets baked into and on top of things...oh man, it is awesome! i'd sooo be down for this one...it looks amazing! :)

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    1. Thanks Cait! I'm glad you like the look of it.

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  16. I love trying to sneak veggies into meals like this - looks like a great way of getting your greens in! Hope your honeymoon is going really well.

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    1. Thank you Cara :) We're having a great time!

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  17. Have a great vacation, and taste everything you can!

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  18. I always crave vegetables after traveling! That salad looks great!

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  19. I love the idea of using sweet chili saw with the fettuccine. I have never heard of that before but I bet it's great. Have a fabulous trip!

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    1. It really works amazingly - such a simple thing but so good! And thank you :)

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  20. aw mannn I'm so sorry I missed THE ACTUAL DAY of your wedding! So I'm here saying a late congratulations Kari!! I hope you're having a fantabulous time and enjooyyyyyyy!!! eeeeek :)

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    1. Thank you so much Ellie! Much appreciate :)

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  21. Good luck on your travels, and good luck finding fresh produce on the go! Fruit for breakfast is an easy, if boring, option.

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    1. It is indeed and I am utilising it well :) It's made less boring by Spain having summer fruit - it's the trips to countries with only apples that are hard!

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  22. What a great way to eat before jetsetting off - no doubt you will be pigging out overseas! LOL Have a safe trip and congratulations!

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  23. What a creative way to sneak veggies in! I have a block of tofu in the fridge right now that would be perfect for this :)

    P.S Your Spain pictures are spectacular!

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