Zucchini and Olive Pasta Bake

It’s SUMMA TIME and there’s an abundance of zucchini! Zucchini is delicious fried, roasted, in a fritter, and in salad, but today we’re using it in a Pasta Bake. Our guest star is the olive, which adds so much dang flavour into the sauce. If you’re not a fan of olives you can leave them out, but you don’t know what you’re missing. Don’t be a party pooper and just throw them in there!

We’re using my fave kitchen tool again- the amazing veggie peeler- to create little zucchini rolls for the bake.

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The pasta that I used was Go Go Quinoa brand macaroni, and it usually takes about 4 minutes on the stove top to cook. I baked it in the oven for 10 minutes, and it was just slightly past al dente. So if you’re using just regular wheat macaroni or small shells (you don’t want to go any bigger with your pasta selection) that normally take 7-9 minutes to cook in boiling water, I bake them for 10-15 minutes for an al dente texture. My recipe below doesn’t account for that, so just keep in mind what kind of pasta you’re using when baking this bake.

And that concludes my Ted Talk about how great this pasta bake is! DEFINITELY try it out and let me know what you think because it is now officially one of my favourite recipes. Here it is!

Zucchini and Olive Pasta Bake

Serves: 3-4

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 200 ml can of sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup Go Go Quinoa Macaroni **see note above if using a different pasta**
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the sliced onions and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the beans, olives, tomatoes, basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar, chilli flakes, and some salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat to low and cook for 25 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering, use the veggie peeler to create as many zucchini ribbons as you can. The centre part of the zucchini, where the seeds are, won’t make nice ribbons, so you can dice it up at toss it in the sauce, making sure it has at least 10 minutes to cook in there.
  3. Add the macaroni into a small glass loaf pan or baking dish. Roll up each zucchini ribbon into a little rosette and place evenly spaced out in the pasta, like this:
  4. Once the sauce is done simmering, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add the 1/2 cup of water to the sauce and bring it to a hard simmer before removing it from the heat. Scoop enough of it into the baking dish so that the pasta and zucchini are fully covered, about 2-3 cups of sauce. You may have some sauce leftover that you can eat with the pasta after it’s baked or save for later.
  5. Cover the glass dish with foil (shiny side down) and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Hope you like this pasta dish! See you Wednesday;))

Yours Truly,

Olivia;)

Tuna and Avocado Poke Bowls

I’m so excited about this recipe! You don’t even know. Obviously with the pandemic going on I haven’t been eating out as much, and yesterday I was just craving something different. Something that made me feel like I’m at a restaurant somewhere. The ingredients that I had on hand didn’t seem very restaurant-quality (canned tuna isn’t exactly a star protein), but I came up with something that HIT. THE. SPOT.

I love tuna poke- I love raw fish of any kind, really, but getting a big chunk of tuna steak is kind of expensive and it’s not the kind of thing that I just have lying around in my fridge. HOWEVER, I do have a large quantity of canned tuna. I mixed it with mashed avocado, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and ginger to make an amazing mixture that definitely reminds me of delicious poke! Plus I formed it into little balls to serve, which really brought the restaurant vibe!

For the other components of this bowl, I tried to get creative and really have fun. We have some HOMEMADE pickled veggies people! Homemade!! They’re so simple to make and sooooooo tasty! Plus you have some wild rice, which contains tons of good-for-you vitamins, spinach, thinly sliced cucumbers, and a sprinkle of hemp hearts. Delish!

I really hope you give this bowl a try! It’s so fun to make and eat, and makes for a slightly-fancy at home dinner for when you can’t go out. Enjoy!

Tuna and Avocado Poke Bowls

Serves: 2

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Tuna:

  • 1 can of light chunk tuna, drained (I used yellowfin)
  • 1/2 a ripe avocado
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

For the Pickled Veggies:

  • 1/2 a large carrot, cut in half width-wise and shaved into thin strips with a veggie peeler (see Thai Ribbon Salad)
  • 1/4 of a red onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

For the Bowl:

  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • A couple of handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 a cucumber, sliced thinly
  • Hemp hearts or sesame seeds for topping

Directions:

  1. Combine the wild rice with 1 cup of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, until all of the water has evaporated. Then remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, and let stand for 5-10 minutes.
  2. After the rice starts cooking, mix the vinegar, garlic, and chilli flakes in a small bowl. Add in the shaved carrot and thinly sliced red onion, trying to make sure that most of the veggies are covered by the pickling liquid. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a least 35 minutes to pickle.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mash the half avocado and stir in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, sesame oil and tuna.
  4. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the rice vinegar. Split the rice up into two serving bowls, and top with the pickled veggies, cucumber, a handful of spinach, half of the tuna mixture each, and some hemp hearts or sesame seeds.
  5. Enjoy!

Hope you’re all having a great week! See you Friday;))

Yours Truly,

Olivia

4 Essential Pieces of Kitchen Equipment

Hey there! To be honest, today I was going to post an omelette recipe, but it turns out we have no eggs. So I thought it would be a great opportunity to post about some kitchen equipment that I use really often and that I think are SUPER important.

You don’t need a ton of fancy equipment to be a good cook, but there are a few things you can buy that make a great investment. These kitchen tools are all really versatile and take care of both very simple and more complex tasks that you might have to do. I use at least one of these things every day, and more often than not I’ll use two or three. Most of them are a big part of the recipes I make.

When buying these items, it’s also important to make sure that they’re good quality. I’ve bought some dollar store can openers and garlic mincers in my time, and you can definitely tell the difference in how they preform compared to higher quality ones. While it might be a bit more expensive to get better tools, it’s DEFINITELY worth it in the long run.

So yeah! Hopefully this list is helpful to you as you build your artillery of kitchen tools:) The omelette can wait, let’s get into the post!

A Good Set of Knives

This might seem like a given, but having a good set of both plain-edged and serrated knives is ESSENTIAL in making pretty much everything! Having good quality knives, and keeping them sharp, makes everything easier. Bigger knives are great for cutting things like squash, sweet potatoes, and meats; serrated knives work well for tomatoes and bread; and the smaller knives in between cut everything else. I would say that these are your MOST important pieces of kitchen equipment.

Garlic Mincer

I love garlic, so having a good quality garlic mincer is important to me! This little gadget also saves a lot of time, because you don’t have to mince the garlic by hand. I’ve bought some cheap ones before and they didn’t work well at all, so be sure to buy a metal one!

Veggie Peeler

Veggie peelers might me the most underrated piece of equipment in your kitchen. They not only peel veggies, but they can make beautiful veggie ribbons like in my Thai Ribbon Salad. I peel sweet potato so often that this one is a necessity for me!

Blender/Food Processor

This is definitely one piece of equipment that you don’t want to cheap out on! Cheaper blenders or food processors just can’t do the things that good quality ones can. For blending tough or hard foods, you need an awesome machine! I have a Vitamix, and I use it for everything from smoothie bowls to soups and sauces to nut butters. It’s so versatile and useful in the kitchen!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you Wednesday!

Yours Truly,

Olivia

Thai Ribbon Salad

Hey there! Today I have a quick and easy recipe for you guys that you can just throw together and top with whichever protein you’d like! This Thai Ribbon Salad looks super fancy, but all you need is a veggie peeler and some veggies and you can whip it up in a snap!

In this salad I used zucchini, which is one of my favourite summer vegetables, along with cucumber, carrots, and bell peppers. Top it all of with some spinach, crispy quinoa, sunflower seeds and a protein of your choice (salmon goes amazing in this salad), and you’ve got a perfect summer salad!

Did I not mention the dressing yet? Because it’s AWESOME. I used the peanut dressing from my Asian Kale and Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing. I had to put the dressing in the name because THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS. I’ll link to the recipe in the ingredients down below. In the meantime, lets get to the salad!

Thai Ribbon Salad

Serves: 2

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp quinoa (optional)
  • 1 batch of Peanut Dressing
  • Protein of your choice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Using a veggie peeler or mandolin, slice the zucchini, cucumber, and carrots into thin strips. Start by dragging the peeler down the outside of one side of the veggies so that you don’t get a piece of all skin in your salad. Then continue to drag the peeler down lengthwise to create thin pieces. Once you’ve reached the middle of the vegetable, you can turn it around and repeat on the other side. It might be hard to get all the way through the middle of the veggies, so you can save that part for a lil snack later;)
  2. Toss the veg with the peppers, spinach, sunflower seeds, quinoa, and dressing. Top with a protein of your choice (or leave as is) and enjoy!

Hope you like this simple summer salad!

Yours Truly,

Olivia