Healthy Cooking on the Cheap: Spinach Linguine Alfredo, Baingan Bharta, and Quinoa Citrus Salad

Summer kicked into full gear here this past week and all I want to eat are light meals that fill me up without weighing me down. Go vegetarian for the week and enjoy these three healthy and delicious dinners that will please both you and your meat-loving family members. Serve chana masala or a simple red lentil daal with the baingan bharta and don’t forget the naan! Then, cool off with my fresh and summery quinoa main-dish salad; it will leave you scraping seconds off your plate, I can promise you that!

Grocery list:
Spinach fettuccine
1 lb. peas, shelled
2 lemons
1 pint cream
Butter
Red pepper flakes
1 wedge dry Jack cheese
1 large eggplant
Olive oil
Canola oil
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeño pepper
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger
One 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
Garam masala
Cumin seeds (not ground cumin)
Turmeric
2 bunches cilantro
Two 15-oz. cans black beans
1 red onion
2 large grapefruits
1 large red bell pepper
3 ears fresh corn
1 bag quinoa
1 large (ripe but firm) avocado
3 limes
Ground cumin

spinach-linguine

Spinach Linguine With Lightened-Up Alfredo Sauce
A delicious (and healthier!) version of the classic Italian cream sauce

Serves 4

8 oz. fresh or dry spinach fettuccine (I used a vegan whole-grain fresh kind from Whole Foods)
2 cups fresh shelled peas
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cream
2 tbsp. butter
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup grated dry Jack cheese

1. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water. If using fresh pasta, this will take only about 30 seconds—don’t overcook! Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, cook shelled peas in another pot filled with boiling water. Simmer peas for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain.

3. In the same pot, melt butter and whisk in lemon juice. Add cream, salt, red pepper flakes, and cheese, and stir over low/medium heat until slightly thickened. Pour over cooked pasta, add peas, and a little reserved pasta water if it seems dry. Finish with a grind of black pepper.

baingan-bharta

Baingan Bharta
My absolute favorite Indian dish, full of spicy, pureed eggplant, onions, and peppers

Serves 4–6

1 large eggplant
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeño pepper
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
One 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
3 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. cumin seeds (not ground cumin)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant lengthwise and sprinkle salt on the fleshy side. Rub both sides with olive oil and roast skin side up for 25 to 30 minutes until tender. When timer goes off, switch oven to broil and roast another 5 minutes until caramelized and golden.

2. While the eggplant is roasting, chop onion, jalapeño, and ginger. Heat canola oil in large skillet and add onion. Sauté for 5 minutes until tender, then add jalapeño and ginger and sauté another 5 minutes. Add spices and stir well.

3. When eggplant halves have cooled, scoop out flesh into a bowl and remove as many seeds as you can (but don’t stress out over it!). Add eggplant and diced tomatoes to onion mixture and stir together. Cook for 5 minutes.

4. Carefully ladle mixture into blender or food processor and process until smooth. Serve with brown rice or naan bread with cilantro scattered on top.

black-bean-quinoa

Black Bean, Quinoa, and Citrus Salad
Hands down, my favorite summer dish. Healthy and hearty, this salad will fill you up without weighing you down

Serves 8

Two 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, minced
2 large grapefruits, divided into segments and chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
3 ears fresh corn, kernels chopped off’
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 large (ripe but firm) avocado, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, minced

For the dressing:
Juice of 3 limes
2 tsp. cumin
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt

1. Bring quinoa to a boil with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and quinoa is light and fluffy. Remove from stove and let cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

2. Place black beans, red onion, grapefruit, cilantro, bell pepper, avocado, and shucked corn kernels in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

3. In small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Add quinoa to salad, then pour over dressing. Toss well and serve. Salad will keep in sealed Tupperware containers for up to 5 days in the fridge.

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