Zucchini Pasta & Kelp Noodles with Sunflower Cilantro Pesto

Kelp noodles are one of my favorite ingredients these days and this Zucchini Pasta & Kelp Noodles with Sunflower Cilantro Pesto dish is a happy new addition to my growing repertoire of both kelp and zucchini noodle recipes..

I LOVE to eat, and while I don’t count calories, yet there is no denying that too many of them can be unkind. Enter kelp noodles! Now the words “kelp noodles” do not conjure up visions of an unctuous and mouthwatering morsel….however they have no flavor and are basically a vehicle for amazing sauces.

The only trick however is that while they do not need to be cooked, they do need to be soaked in filter water and baking soda for at least 20 minutes to let them soften. This is not something that you will find instructed on the packaging…it seems to be underground intel that I am happy to have, and happy to share! So whether you are ambitious to make the recipe below or you just want to throw some store-bought pesto or peanut sauce on these puppies you will to be disappointed, I promise!

Kelp Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini Pasta & Kelp Noodles with Sunflower Cilantro Pesto

For the salad~
1lb package kelp noodles*
1 Tablespoon baking soda
3 large zucchini (about 1.5lbs)
1/2 medium red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

For the sauce~
1/2 packed cup cilantro leaves & stems
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup filtered water
2 Tablespoons ume plum vinegar**
2 large slices raw red pepper
2 large cloves garlic
1 large pitted medjool date
Sriacha to taste (optional)
A generous pinch of Himalayan salt

Serves 4-6

Place the kelp noodles in a large salad bowl with enough filtered water to cover and add the baking soda, allow them to soak for 30 minutes. This will soften the noodles to a silkier texture, a must!

While the noodles are soaking; Trim the ends of the zucchini and then julienne lengthwise on a mandolin or with a julienne peeler until you get to the seeds. If the seeds are small you can go as far into the center as possible. You can also use a spiralizer. Save the core for another use such as a stir fry.

Add the shredded zucchini into a bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and toss well. Set it aside for 20+ minutes to allow the salt to draw out the water of the zucchini.

Place all ingredients for the sauce in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Leave the sauce in the blender while you drain the zucchini.

After the 20 minutes; set a cereal-size bowl next to you and gather the zucchini into a pile at the side of the bowl with one hand. Tip the bowl and press very firmly on the zucchini to help the liquid that is releasing drain into the cereal bowl. Repeat again to get as much liquid out as possible. Reserve the liquid for another use such as cooking veggies or rice etc.

Drain the liquid from the kelp noodles and rinse well. Return them to the bowl, add the zucchini and sauce and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning and salt if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 10-15 minutes to marinate. Serve room temperature or you can heat gently in a sauté pan on medium-low heat.

Tips & Notes~

You can add many different kinds of raw or cooked veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus, etc. All types of nuts work also in exchange for the sunflower seeds.

*Kelp Noodles are available on line or in the International section of many grocery stores. They are good heated or served cold.

**Ume Plum vinegar is made from fermented Japanese plums, full of flavor and has many medicinal benefits. It is available in the vinegar or international section of many grocery stores. If you cannot find; replace with lemon juice or rice wine vinegar and add extra salt.

Check out this article on umeboshi plums by One Green Planet to see what they are all about!

How to Sprout Most Beans

Sprouts are fun and easy to grow and are delicious, alkaline and packed full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. These fun little projects are also a great source of vitamins E, C, B and A as well as potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and protein. Sprouting unlocks the nutrients & protein inside the plant cells more readily and makes the protein found beans as well as nuts & seeds more bioavailable and more digestible. Sprouting as well as soaking, or fermenting foods also significantly reduces enzyme inhibitors, greatly increasing the digestibility and absorption of all nutrients in food, including amino acids.

For a more in-depth look at why sprouting is so awesome, check out my guy Dr. Josef Marcela’s article. 

FullSizeRenderStep #1 Select Your Bean & Quantity:
Use organic beans such as adzuki, lentils, mung beans or chickpeas. The beans beans will at least double in size during sprouting, so only prepare as many sprouts as you can eat in about 4 weeks. The fastest to sprout are mung beans and lentils, especially if you live in a humid climate. My favorite beans are adzuki beans (shown here) for their nutty texture, high protein and iron and anti-oxidant content. Most dry beans are good for sprouting but you want to avoid black beans as they can be toxic. Note that “split” beans or peas will not sprout.

Step #2- Soak Your Beans:
Place your beans in a wide-mouthed glass jar and fill with filtered water until the beans are covered by about 4 inches of water (use this rule for any amount for beans). Allow them to soak in the water overnight, or for about 8 to 12 hours and then rinse and drain them very well as they can go off if they are too moist. I do this several times inside the jar. Cover with a piece screen from the hardware store (shown here) or a piece of cheesecloth. Leave the jar in a semi-lit place while the beans sprout (I like my kitchen near the window).

Step #3- Rinse Your Beans:
Rinse and drain the beans well 2-3 times per day. The easiest way is to add water through the screen over the top as you can fill it and drain it without having to remove it. Watch your sprouts grow over the next few days. You can stop sprouting after 2-3 days or when the tails are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long or as long as the body of the bean. You can also keep them growing up to 4 days for large, plump sprouts. Note: chickpeas or garbanzo beans get bitter if you sprout too long so you just want the very tip to be sprouted.

Step #4- Rinse and Store:
Finish sprouting by giving your beans a final rinse and then placing them in the covered jar in the refrigerator. Sprouts should last about 2-4 weeks; however, it will depend on the length of sprouting and amount of moisture on the beans when you placed them in the refrigerator. Make sure that you smell the sprouts for spoilage after 2 weeks and toss them if you are in doubt or you can gently cook them in a soup which is what I do if they are not super fresh as they still have plenty of nutritional value!

Uses~
I toss them in to salads, in a stir fry (at the end so they stay raw), right before I serve a soup or into a pasta. I also put them in to smoothies to add some living food and some extra protein! (more…)

Spicy Southwestern Kelp Noodles with Avocado & Toasted Seeds

Raise your hand if you love noodles. I DO, I DO!!! Unfortunately they tend to be on the heavy side and often carry the “guilt factor”.  I prefer not to associate guilt with food but you know what I andoaean.

Kelp noodles are as light as light can be. They are made 100% with seaweed and water and have 6 calories per serving…”light” done right, au natural! The only thing is that they need some “umpf” injected into them as they rate 0 on the flavor scale.

I love to use peanut sauce, pesto, tomato sauce– you name it. I have been on a veggie and fruit cleanse the last couple of weeks (and liver cleanse to boot = no fun). Pretty much any kind of dressing will do. This Southwestern Kelp Noodle Salad recipe is one  I created to inspire my tastebuds & carry on. Check it out!

DSC00657

Southwestern Kelp Noodles with Avocado & Pumpkin Seeds (more…)

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Sesame Oil & Lemongrass

Last Sunday I did an open house at Teena’s Pride farm. I just love, love, love basking in all the glory of such fantastically fresh and delicious produce! It is so easy to make it taste good…it already does! Much of the produce that we buy at the grocery stores are more than a week old (if not older, especially if it is from another country) and losing flavor and nutrients by the minute. This is a fantastic reason to get on board with a CSA (community supported agriculture) or to regularly visit your local farmers market.

This salad was the inspiration that came from the incredible bounty at Teena’s, easy, light, and uber fresh…perfect for the new year. You could also just blend all of the ingredients and make an Asian style gazpacho…yum!

Tom Cuke SaladTomato Cucumber Salad with Sesame Oil & Lemongrass

INGREDIENTS:

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
4 small Persian cucumbers, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
(or 1/2 English cuke cut into half moons)
1 teaspoon salt
2+ Tablespoons Umeboshi plum vinegar*
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1+ Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey (local preferred)
2 teaspoons very finely chopped lemongrass (optional)
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/4 packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste

Serves 4

DIRECTIONS:

Place the tomatoes and cucumbers in a salad bowl and add the 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss gently and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes lightly tossing on occasion. This will allow the natural liquid to seep out (allowing for maximum flavor from dressing).

After this time has passed; drain off the escaped liquid and reserve for another use.

Mix the vinegar, oils and honey, lemongrass and ginger together in a small bowl and pour over the veggies. Add the remaining ingredients, season lightly with salt and pepper (the umeboshi vinegar is quite salty so keep this in mind) and toss gently but completely. Taste and adjust oil and vinegar if needed. Serve immediately!

Tips & Notes~

*The Ume vinegar is a vegan option for fish sauce, although it has more tang as fish sauce is mostly salty. Use this is Asian dishes as a vegan alternative. It is also amazing in partnership with other vinegars in all sorts of recipes. I just LOVE this stuff!

 

Pear and Fennel Salad Rolls with Toasted Walnuts

Everyone loves portable food, especially these days. These salad rolls wrapped with Asian rice paper wrappers are so easy to work with and can turn many different foods into a something that you can take on the go. Fill them with just about any kind of salad or cooked veggie and even add some protein and VIOLA…a meal on the go!

Pear and Fennel Salad Rolls with Toasted Walnuts

Ingredients:
5oz of mixed greens or arugula (1 bag)
1 medium ripe pear or apple, cored and sliced thinly
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dill, roughly chopped (optional)
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped*
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
Asian rice paper wrappers as needed**

For the Dressing:
1+ Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

Servings varied depending on how big you make the rolls.

Directions:

Place all ingredients for salad up to the wrappers, into a large bowl. In a small bowl; whisk the vinegar, mustard and olive oil together and pour over the salad. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Taste and adjust the vinegar and seasoning if needed.

Fill a wide bowl filled with a few inches of room temperature filtered water. Have a clean cutting board or counter (preferably wood or plastic) in front of you and the salad in arms reach.

Lightly oil a serving plate with olive oil and set next to the cutting board.

Dip the first rice paper in the water for about 8-10 seconds; making sure that every bit of the paper gets wet. Remove, shaking off the excess water and lay the wrapper on the cutting board in front of you.

Starting at the edge closest to you; place a good handful of the salad on the paper in a horizontal shape but not going all the way to the edges. The wrapper will begin to soften as you do this.

When the paper feels pliable; pick up the end of the wrapper closest to you with your thumb and forefinger and fold tightly over the salad and then fold in the sides. Do not let go and continue to roll using your pinky fingers to continue to tuck the sides in so that nothing is poking out. Roll until the end wraps around and sticks to the outside the paper. This may take a few attempts so have a few extra papers just in case.

Cut the finished rolls in half and place on the oiled serving plate. Repeat until you have used all of the salad. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Tips & Notes~

This salad works well with pretty much any kind of nut.

You can use these wrappers with all kinds of salad, they make a great portable meal or a party appetizer.

*To toast the nuts~ Spread them on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake at 325 degrees until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool, and then coarsely chop.

**The rice paper wrappers are available in the ethnic section of many grocery stores or in an Asian market.

Marinated Cucumber Seaweed Salad

I used to always order a seaweed salad at a Japanese restaurant. That is until I realized that the bright green ones are artificially colored…ewww! Do not fret, you can always ask if the salad is “made in house”, if the answer is yes then likely to be the real deal. Or, you can just make it yourself…here’s how!

Cuke salad

Marinated Cucumber Seaweed Salad

Ingredients:

2 ounces dried wakame seaweed*

1 large seedless cucumber, peeled in alternate strips and sliced into ¼ inch half moons**
1/8 of a medium red onion, very thinly sliced
Thinly sliced chili such as Thai or serrano, optional
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Dressing~

4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons neutral oil such as grapeseed or rice bran oil
1 Tablespoon white miso paste
1+ Tablespoons nama shoyu or soy sauce
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 Tablespoons finely grated ginger
A pinch of salt

Makes 4 large servings

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add wakame and remove the saucepan from the heat; let stand until softened, 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze the seaweed out gently. If you have purchased the large leaves; slice thinly removing any very large tough ribs from the center. If you have purchased the “prepared”variety no need to cut.

Whisk all ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl. Add the wakame, cucumbers, onions and chili and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Tips & Notes~

Add some very thinly sliced red bell pepper or carrot for some nice crunch and color.

*Wakame is a type of dried seaweed. It comes in packages of long strips or pre-cut, the pre-cut variety will save time. Typically it comes in 1.75oz – 2oz packages, either weight is fine for this recipe.

**If using a regular cucumber, use 2 large- and be sure to remove seeds.

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