Whole Living Daily

Lunch Bunch: Quinoa Pasta, Baby Kale Salad, and Flourless Chocolate Cookies

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Even we Whole Living editors are guilty of frequently inhaling our (not-always-healthy) lunches over our keyboards. So, we've decided to make a communal effort to eat at least one virtuous midday meal a week. Each Monday, two or three of us bring dishes prepped at home, and we all take the time to sit and enjoy them together. Even better? We've challenged ourselves to create a menu that's completely vegetarian and gluten-free.

Because we've had so much fun experimenting with different ingredients (quinoa pasta, anyone?), we want to share these recipes. Check out today's menu after the jump, and let us know if you have any suggestions or successes of your own!

TODAY'S MENU

Quinoa Pasta with Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes
Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta is wonderfully gluten-free yet tastes almost exactly like regular pasta—and some of us think it's even more delicious. The only bummer is that it's harder to find, but most Whole Foods stores seem to carry it. This recipe was more than enough for 12-15 people.

1 1/2 pounds of quinoa spaghetti or linguine
3 cups halved yellow and red grape tomatoes

For the pesto:
8 cups basil
3 cups olive oil
3 cups lightly toasted pignoli (pine) nuts
2 cups grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. To make the pesto, pulse basil, salt and pepper in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Gradually add oil, nuts, and cheese and blend until smooth.

3. Pour 1/2 cup pesto in a large bowl. Add pasta and toss to coat. Just before serving, add the rest of the pesto and mix in tomatoes. If desired, garnish with a sprig of basil.

Baby Kale Salad
We're all obsessed with this relatively new baby green (especially the kind from Earthbound Farm). This recipe makes enough for about 12 generous servings.

15 oz. baby kale
2 cups walnuts, chopped
2 apples, thinly sliced (we used Pink Ladies)
1/2 lb. goat's milk gouda (or any other cheese you love), cut into small cubes
1 bunch chives, chopped into 1-inch pieces

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place walnuts on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in an oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, tossing halfway through.

2. Combine baby kale, walnuts, apples, gouda, and chives in a large bowl.

3. Mix dressing ingredients and toss with salad.

Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies
This Martha Stewart recipe makes about 20 deliciously rich, chewy cookies.

3 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or any other nut)
4 large egg whites (at room temperature)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in chocolate and pecans. Add egg whites and stir just until incorporated.

2. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookie tops are dry and crackled, about 20- 25 minutes. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool completely. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)

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