Monday, February 7, 2011

Meatless Monday: Linguine with Spinach, Tomato, Basil and Pine Nuts

Welcome to my first weekly blog edition of Meatless Monday ( My husband and I eat almost exclusively vegetarian (I say "almost" because there have been rare occasions where I eat a little fish). While I don't believe in pushing our values on other people and never try to push anyone into a vegetarian lifestyle, I think Meatless Mondays are an excellent idea for anyone willing to give it a try. Meatless Mondays are pretty self-explanatory, and they're catching on among everyday Americans. People who want to participate simply don't eat meat on Mondays. It's good for the environment, good for health, and it introduces participants to new ways to cook.

As an lacto-ovo (milk & egg) vegetarian, I thought it would be helpful for me to post a meatless recipe every Monday so that people who want to try it out have a place to start.

My favorite meal that I made this week is one I based off of a recipe from our grocery store. It's linguine with spinach, tomato, basil and pine nuts. Here's a photo of this week's recipe:

The recipe makes four 485-calorie servings and contains 24 grams of protein a serving. It cost me less than $20 at the grocery store, so the dish costs less than $5/person. The pine nuts are the most expensive part of this meal (about $8 for a 4 oz container), so keep this recipe handy for when pine nuts are on sale to make it more affordable. My store was out of whole-grain linguine, so I substituted whole-grain spaghetti this time, and it still turned out great.

Here's the ingredient list:

1/2 (16 oz) package whole-grain linguine
1 cup (4 oz package) pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, diced
3/4 t dried red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
12-16 ounces chopped spinach leaves
3/4 cup chopped basil
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 roma tomatoes, chopped

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute pine nuts until golden (stir frequently so they don't burn)
Remove pine nuts and set aside.
3. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and saute garlic and pepper flakes for one minute. Stir in spinach and toss over high heat until wilted, 2-3 minutes.
4. Drain pasta and put into a large bowl. Add remaining olive oil and stir in the spinach mixture. Stir in the basil, tomatoes, pine nuts, and cheese. Voila!

Usually, I use fresh spinach, but this time I had a 16 oz package of frozen spinach, so I used that instead. I microwaved it for half the time the package called for and then let it sit in a strainer in the sink for about 10 minutes before continuing with the recipe. Because it was much wetter than fresh spinach, it caused the oil to splatter, so be careful if you use this method. It tasted just fine, though, and it's a cheaper option for those who are watching their budgets.

If you're at a loss for what to eat for other meals on Meatless Monday, here are some ideas for you to try for breakfast:
*A yogurt parfait made with fresh fruit and granola
*A bagel breakfast sandwich made with an egg, cheese, tomato and spinach or an egg, cheese, and a vegetarian sausage patty or vegetarian bacon (these can be found in the frozen aisles of your usual grocery store. I recommend trying Morning Star Farms brand or Boca brand)
*Cereal or oatmeal
*Toast with peanut butter
*A fruit smoothie (try blending 8-12 oz of orange juice with half a banana, yogurt, a handful of strawberries with no stems and ice)

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