Zucchini Noodles with Spicy Tomato Eggplant Sauce

Vegetable noodles are a great alternative to pasta! I’ve grown to love them. When they’re made well, you don’t miss the carbs or starchy texture of regular pasta. I prefer to eat my noodles raw but you can soften them up by sautéing them for about 3-5 minutes in olive oil spray. When zucchini noodles are overcooked they release a LOT of water. This can water down your sauce and make for messy eating. Thin, raw zucchini noodles have a similar texture to al dente spaghetti (but with a fraction of the calories and carbs!). You will need a spiralizer to make the noodles at home. You can also find premade zucchini noodles at stores like Whole Foods. Sweet potato noodles, carrot noodles, or even beet noodles are great substitutes for zucchini noodles. I have an OXO brand spiralizer that sits on the counter top and easily makes noodles in about 2 minutes with little mess. Make sure you pick a firm, medium sized zucchini and pick the thinnest setting for the noodles. Don’t salt your noodles ahead of time or while cooking because that may draw more water out. Vegetable noodles are also great for making coleslaw or as a topping for salads. They can be used as a substitute for Ramen noodles or Pad Thai noodles as well. There are endless options and sauces for these healthy, guilt free noodles! I’ve gotten in the habit of making them instead of pasta but this bright, spicy pasta sauce goes well with regular pasta as well. It’s the perfect balance of spices, acid from the citrus, and rich eggplant. If you make this recipe make sure to take a picture and tag us @thefriendlyepicurean !

My trustworthy spiralizer


Zucchini Noodles with Spicy Tomato Eggplant Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 45 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized eggplants (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 (28oz) can of organic diced tomatoes
  • 2 large zucchini (about 1 lb)
  • 1.5 tbs olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (plus more for garnish)

Directions

Heat olive oil in a medium sized saucepan or Dutch oven. Add garlic and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Add eggplant and sauté for about 7-8 minutes or until eggplant starts to brown and soften. Add tomatoes, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and oregano. Simmer for about 8 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken. Add nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and basil and stir well. Use a spiralizer to make thin zucchini noodles. Add the noodles to sauce and stir well to coat evenly. Noodles will soften in sauce. Or top raw noodles from each zucchini with sauce and serve immediately. May store sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories for 1/2 the sauce and one spiralized zucchini: 280 cal
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Quinoa Fried Rice with Tofu and Vegetables (with video)

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First things first: I love my wok! It’s something that I will use for years to come. It’s a great investment that will stand the test of time. I use it at least once a week. Stir frying in a wok is one of the quickest ways to prepare hot and healthy food. I prefer a stainless steel type wok since non-stick coatings are typically not safe for high heat cooking. Woks heat up very quickly and the shape of the wok allows food to cook quickly and evenly. It’s always better to cook protein in the wok first and then remove it. This allows it to cook evenly vs. competing with the vegetables. I like to add the vegetables that take the longest to cook first. It’s also helpful to add some water if your food is sticking or if you want to cook a vegetable like broccoli with some steam. It’s important to chop all of your vegetables into bite sized pieces. It’s best to have all of your ingredients and sauces prepared and within reach because you’ll need to stir constantly and add each ingredient in quick succession to prevent burning or sticking. This is also known as “mise en place”. Although it does take a few extra minutes, mise en place or preparing your ingredients ahead makes the cooking process go very smoothly. I do recommend using a wok for this dish but but a large saute pan will also work. You can substitute your favorite vegetables or use brown rice instead of quinoa. The sauce is similar to teriyaki but I prefer not to add any sugar. The rice wine adds a very subtle sweetness and balances out the flavors of the fresh ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. This dish is even better the next day and makes a great “desk lunch”. Make sure you watch the 40 second video below! And if you make this recipe, tag us @thefriendlyepicurean and post a picture!

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My trusted wok!

Quinoa Fried Rice with Tofu and Vegetables

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (or 3 cups cooked quinoa)
  • 1 (14oz) package of extra firm tofu, water drained and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tbs)
  • 1 tbs minced, fresh ginger root
  • 2 thai green chili peppers, seeds removed and minced
  • 1 medium sized zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 tbs water
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs rice wine
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs coconut oil or peanut oil
  • 3 tbs sesame seeds
  • Sriracha sauce to taste (optional)

Directions

Rinse quinoa. In a medium sized sauce pan heat quinoa and 2 cups water on medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer on low heat until all of the water is absorbed. While quinoa is cooking, wrap tofu in a clean towel for about 10 minutes to absorb excess water. Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Cut all vegetables ahead of time and whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine together in a small bowl and set aside. Next, heat 2 tbs oil on high heat in a large wok. Add tofu and stir fry until tofu is golden and firm (about 8 minutes). Make sure to stir constantly so that tofu cooks evenly and to minimize sticking. Remove tofu from wok and set aside. Add onions and 1 tbs oil to wok and stir fry on high heat until onions are golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add garlic, ginger, and chili pepper and stir fry for another 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add bell pepper and zucchini and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add broccoli florets and 2 tbs water and stir fry until broccoli is softer on the outside but still crunchy on the inside (it will continue to cook through). Add tofu back into wok. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine mixture and stir to coat evenly. Add cooked quinoa and stir fry for about 3-4 more minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Add Sriracha sauce and more soy sauce to taste, if desired. Serve hot. May store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate Calories per 1/6 stir fry: 320 cal

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Watercress and Arugula Salad (with video)

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Spring is a great time to try new things. This week, I signed up for Core Power Yoga. I’m terrible at yoga and much prefer pilates but one of my good friends talked me into trying it again… wish me luck! I also decided to try some new ingredients this week. I eat a lot of salad and get bored with it easily. Browsing through the produce aisle at the grocery store gave me the inspiration to put this salad together. I saw some really fresh looking watercress and dill. Both of these sounded delicious. I like my salad to have a variety of textures and colors. I also like to have more “toppings” compared to greens. By toppings I mean fresh vegetables, herbs, legumes, nuts, and maybe even some fresh fruit. It’s so easy to buy great, vegan salad dressing at the grocery store but there’s something really satisfying about making your own at home. Salad dressing is so easy to make and the leftover dressing can be easily stored to be used throughout the week. The dressing for this salad is surprisingly simple yet tasty. Using high quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vingar will makes this dressing even better. The video below shows how to put this meal together easily. I like to wash and prep all of my vegetables the day I bring them home. Otherwise, I lose motivation to prepare them during the week. Making a salad every day is so easy when everything is ready to go when you’re ready to eat. I’m a huge fan of how the French serve meals at cafes – greens are included with everything. I try to eat greens at least once a day, every day, whether they’re in a smoothie, salad, or sauteed with vegan protein. I hope you love this salad as much as I do! Be sure to tag @thefriendlyepicurean if you make it and don’t forget to watch the 1 minute how-to video below!

Watercress and Arugula Salad

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Time: 25 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

    For the salad:
  • 2 cups (about 5oz) watercress (thick stems removed)
  • 6 cups (1, 5oz package)  baby arugula
  • 1, 16oz package mini heirloom tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 4 to 6 small radishes, sliced
  • 1 medium sized cucumber, sliced
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegan ricotta cheese (such as Kite Hill brand)
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 fresh dill weed (thick stems removed)
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions


Prepare the dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and black pepper.
Prepare the salad:
In a large bowl, toss arugula and watercress with about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup dressing depending on preference. Top with tomatoes, radishes, cucumber, edamame, avocado, vegan ricotta cheese, pistachios, and dill weed. Serve immediately. May store extra dressing in an airtight container for 5 to 7 days. Makes 1 cup dressing. Makes about 8 cups salad.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per cup: 222 cal
  • Approximate calories per 1/6 salad: 295 cal