I invented this recipe the other night with leftovers (as one does with quarantine cooking—I cook in order of which produce needs to be used first) and it’s now a household favorite—like eating spring in a bowl! This is an easy quick dinner, particularly once you have everything prepped—about 15 - 20 min. of cooking time.
Note: We try to stay away from wheat, so we used “Banza” shell pasta (made from chickpeas—2x the protein, 3x the fiber, and 30% fewer net carbs of regular pasta), but feel free to substitute the pasta of your choice.
Serves 4, depending on how hungry you are!
1 box Banza shell pasta
Good olive oil, a lot
1 sm. yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves slivered garlic
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 bulb fennel, topped and tailed and thinly sliced
4 oz. cubed pancetta
1 bunch asparagus
1 c. fresh English peas
⅓ c. simple basil pesto sauce (if you use store bought, make sure it’s made with olive oil and not canola or safflower oil)
½ lemon, juiced
½ c. heavy cream
¼ c. grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 springs fresh mint
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Fill a large pot with water, salt generously and bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to instructions (I use 10 minutes for the Banza shell pasta). When timer dings, drain immediately and shock with cold water to stop cooking, then add back to the pot and set on the back burner.
Meanwhile, heat 1 T. olive oil in a large, heavy skillet then add one small yellow onion, thinly sliced, stir. After about a minute, add the fennel and slivered garlic. Continue to stir till all is wilted and turning a lovely golden color. Next, add the cubed pancetta to the pan, stir. After about a minute, add the asparagus and peas, stir and season all with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for about 7 more minutes on medium heat, stirring often, adding more olive oil.
Then, add the pesto, lemon juice, and Parmigiano Reggiano, stir. After about a minute, turn heat to low and add in the heavy cream, stir and taste, adjusting seasoning if needed.
Lastly, add all ingredients of the skillet to the pot of drained pasta and place on your low-heat burner. Stir well and heat through, adjusting if needed (more olive oil, cheese, splash more cream, etc.). Remove and serve immediately, garnishing with fresh mint. Enjoy!
We've been doing our bit to help fight COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place. That means a LOT of cooking at home. I've been cooking though all of my favorite recipes and developing new ones as well to share. This is my absolute favorite new recipe, and, like most interesting recipes, was discovered by accident (dressing up boring butternut squash that HAD to be roasted—there was just so much of it!).
Squash: First, I roasted two large butternut squash. Here’s the easiest way to do it (and the tastiest since you roast them skin on): Wash the squash then slice down the middle and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the four squash halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place, cut sides down, on cookie sheets, add water to the bottom of the pan, and put into a preheated 375 degree oven. Roast for 45 - 50 min. or till you can easily pierce the squash with a fork.
Marinara: Meanwhile, let’s get your sauce going. If you’re short on time (or simply don’t feel like it), feel free to use a good quality jarred marinara. Otherwise, take 1 28-oz. can of whole San Marzano tomatoes and get to work! To make this Italian old-school style, pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and break them up with your hands or a potato masher. Make sure you get all the juices out of the can. In a large skillet, heat ¼ c. good olive oil, then add 6-7 sliced garlic cloves. When garlic is sizzling, add the tomatoes and juice (add water if feel you need a bit more juice). Then add crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano and salt, stir.
Now, here are two tricks—place an entire basil sprig on the sauce and let it wilt, simmer with sauce till sauce is thickened (about 15 min.). And, add just a bit of fish sauce! Remove basil and discard and season to taste: I like everything very spicy so, in addition to adjusting the salt and pepper, I add: cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and a bit of dried thyme.
Meatballs: While the sauce is hanging out at a very slow simmer, start your meatballs. In a large bowl, combine 1 lb. grass-fed organic ground beef. 2 eggs, ¼ c. milk (I use goat milk), 2 T. arrowroot powder (a gluten-free substitute for breadcrumbs), garlic (about 3 minced cloves), minced jalapeno (one), minced yellow onion (one small or ½ large), and fresh parsley (fine to sub dried). Mix all with your hands then form into large balls. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the large meatballs to the sizzling oil. Get a slight crust on all sides.
Assemble: Now, to bring it all together! Take your squash out of the oven, scoop out the flesh and place in bite sized chunks in a large oven-proof casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Next, pour your homemade or jarred marinara over top. Then, add your meatballs. Take a wooden spatula and loosely break up the meatballs and mix with the squash and marinara. Top with a generous portion of shredded organic mozzarella and pop back into the oven at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Serve with a generous portion of torn basil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Insanely good with a glass of good Chianti. Enjoy!
Two large butternut squash
Good olive oil
Cracked black pepper
1 lb. grass-fed organic ground beef
¼ c. milk
2 T. arrowroot powder (I use instead of breadcrumbs)
1 jar organic marinara sauce OR *make your own!
Shredded organic mozzarella
The need to assist people affected by the pandemic grows greater every day. Like you, I am most concerned with those who are sick, disabled, quarantined without pay, elderly, food-insecure, housing-insecure or homeless, and those who are undocumented. Not to mention those outside our borders: most specifically refugees and those without access to clean water (to that end, I am a strong supporter of WaterSchool).
We're in a new reality with COVID-19, and while we all know to wash our hands, wear a mask, and practice social distancing, what else can you do proactively to pump up your immune system during this time? I've aggregated the best tips I've read and included them from you below (from a variety of sources including Dr. Christian Barney, Dr. Joseph Mercola, and epidemiologists whose names I can no longer recall as I've now read so many articles and blogs! Captions, and any errors, are mine):
+ You're Sweet Enough Already: Avoid excess sugar and processed foods as these can create inflammation in the body and suppress your immune system’s ability to fight off potential infections. Focus on vegetables and clean proteins.
+ Sweet Dreams, Darling: Try to consistently get 8 hours of quality sleep to allow your body proper time for recovery and optimal immune function
+ Move It, Baby! Exercise helps boost the function of the immune system which will help your naturally fight off any potential infection.
+ Nature, Baby! Time in nature can not only restore one's soul, but can also offer protective benefits when it comes to reducing stress and bolstering one's immune system.
+ Chill Out, Cutie-pie! Stress is one of the biggest things that weakens your immune system. Using things like meditation or anything else that helps you de-stress can significantly increase the function of your immune system
Beyond these basic hygiene and lifestyle recommendations you can also use the following things to naturally boost your immune system and make your body better able to fight off any ‘bugs’, including viruses.
Here are the top performers:
- Zinc: Supports "effective function and proliferation of various immune cells," lowering mortality in the elderly by 27%. Also keep zinc lozenges on hand at the first sign of a sore throat.
- Vitamin C supplementation: A LOT. I like time-released 1000 mg per day. I take 2 with each meal, for a total of 6000 per day. Increase further if feeling under the weather (see: Dr. Marik's Sepsis Treatment Protocol).
- Vitamin D supplementation: 5000 IUDs per day (preferably in combination with K2).
- Beta-glucan: Reduces severity of influenza infection severity and lowers influenza mortality in animal studies.
- N-acetylcysteine: Encourages glutathione production, thins mucus, lowers your chances of influenza infection and reduces your risk of developing severe bronchitis.
- Elderberry extract: Known to shorten influenza duration by two to four days and reduce the severity of the flu.
- Spirulina: Reduces severity of influenza infection and lowers influenza mortality in animal studies. In a human trial, spirulina significantly lowered the viral load in patients with HIV infection.
- Moringa: This superfood supplement is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help treat cancers, prevent disease, and protect your brain.
- Glucosamine: Upregulates mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS), reduces severity of influenza infection severity and lowers influenza mortality in animal studies.
- Lipoic acid: Helps boost type 1 interferon response.
- Quercetin: A powerful immune booster and broad-spectrum antiviral.
If you can only afford a few or you hate taking supplements, based on my research (NOTE: I am not a doctor), I recommend prioritizing Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Quercetin, and Beta-glucan.
It's also a good idea to have an oral thermometer as well as a fingertip pulse oximeter (blood oxygen saturation monitor) at home so that you can monitor both if you do start to feel sick. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Harvard Medical Center: Coronavirus Resource Center
Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization
To your health! Let's all love and support one another through these trying times. XOXOKate
Certified Professional Coach Kate Buckley is committed to facilitating personal growth and systemic transformation. An intuitive and deep listener, she specializes in helping both individuals and organizations reframe their stories in order to reclaim their life—creating meaningful strategies to transform circumstances in order to thrive!