15-Minute Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

Pesto makes a great sauce for this quick vegetable “pasta” dish, topped with sautéed fragrant garlic, lean shrimp, nutritious spinach and nutty Parmesan cheese. I love big batches of homemade pesto when I have an abundance of basil in my container garden or CSA share. I freeze 1 tablespoon portions in mini-muffin tins to set and store in freezer safe containers to enjoy year round. Simply toss frozen pesto with warm spaghetti squash strands or pasta and stir as it melts and evenly coats.

Ingredients:
1 medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 ounces or 2 cups tightly packed baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons pesto
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:

  1. Place a damp paper towel on the bottom of a microwavable dish and place squash cut side up. Microwave on high for 12 minutes, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Saute garlic until soft and fragrant, about a minute. Add shrimp and sauté for another minute, just until it they start turning pink. Add spinach, stirring to combine and continuing to cook for a couple of minutes until wilted.
  3. Remove from microwave and when cool enough to touch, use a fork to remove the spaghetti squash strands into the dish. Add pesto and toss to evenly coat. Plate pesto spaghetti squash and top with shrimp and spinach. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Servings: 2

CABBAGE BOWL WITH THAI PEANUT SAUCE

Tender cabbage coated in mildly spiced peanut sauce replaces noodles in this delicious Thai bowl. Carrots and bean sprouts add color and crunch to this veggie packed dish paired with your favorite protein. It is really quick to make and you can even turn this into a 10-minute meal if you grill your protein and make your sauce in advance. Leftovers are delicious the next day if you are lucky enough to have leftovers.

Ingredients:
½ cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
½ lime, juiced
3 to 4 dashes of Sriracha hot chili sauce
2 large or 3 medium carrots
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium head of cabbage, cored and finely shredded
2 green onions, thinly sliced
4 ounces bean sprouts
Grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu
Optional: chopped peanuts

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, curry paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, juice from lime and Sriracha hot chili sauce. Process until smooth and creamy.
  2. Trim and peel carrots. Cut carrots into noodles using a spiralizer and set aside.
  3. In a wok or large skillet, heat sesame and canola oil over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and cook stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.
  4. Pour ⅓ cup sauce over cabbage and cook for an additional minute. Serve cabbage in bowls topped with carrots, green onions, bean sprouts and grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and drizzle a little extra peanut sauce if desired.

Servings: 4

Shrimp and Kale Quesadillas

Kale is one of my favorite vegetables, because it is so versatile and delicious for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For a quick meal with a Mexican twist, sautéed greens pair perfectly with pinto beans, fast-cooking shrimp and cotija cheese. If you’re not serving four, reheat kale mixture the next day and serve for breakfast with a fried egg on top. Add a warm corn tortilla to the bottom of the dish for a different take on huevos rancheros.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 (15.5 ounce) can pinto beans
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
8 ounces raw peeled and deveined shrimp
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
4 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
Salsa

Directions:

  1. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop leaves. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add kale and water and sauté until wilted.
  2. Drain and rinse beans and add to the skillet with the kale. Add taco seasoning and stir to combine. Push the kale mixture to the edge of the skillet with a spatula and add shrimp the center of the skillet. Sauté until shrimp are pink and cooked through.
  3. Lay tortillas flat and add ¼ of kale, bean and shrimp mixture to one side of each tortilla. Top with 1 ounce of cotija cheese and fold in half.
  4. Lower heat to medium and place two quesadillas in the large skillet and cook for about three minutes on each side. Flip and continue cooking for another minute or two until both sides are golden brown. Continue cooking remaining quesadillas. Cut into four wedges, drizzle with salsa and serve.

Servings: 4

Seafood and Bean Stew with Pesto

Fish, shrimp, beans and pesto make the most delectable combination in this heavenly bowl of soup that will have you reaching for leftovers. Go ahead, it is comfort food with a conscience packed with three types of lean protein and juicy tomatoes. When basil is in season and my CSA box is full of this aromatic green goodness, I make batches of pesto and freeze tablespoon-size portions using mini-muffin tins. I store them in a freezer-safe container and enjoy during winter months in recipes like this. Don’t have fresh pesto on hand? Store-bought pesto will also work well and taste delicious in this dish.

Ingredients:
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons pesto
8 ounces any firm white fish, such as cod or halibut, cut into bite-size cubes
8 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp
1 (15 ounce) can no salt added cannellini beans
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons pesto

Directions:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until brown and crispy, stirring occasionally. Remove pancetta with a slotted spatula and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Add onion to the stock pot and sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.\
  3. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth to the stock pot and increase heat to medium high. Bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and add the fish and seafood to the soup. Cover and simmer for about five minutes.
  5. Remove lid and add beans, pancetta, salt, pepper and pesto to the soup, stirring to combine. Cook for two to three additional minutes and serve.

Servings: 4

Shrimp Vegetable Stir Fry

In less than 10 minutes, you can have a delicious plate of kohlrabi, bok choy, mushrooms and shrimp on the table. Earthy mushrooms compliment the farm-fresh, asian greens and kohlrabi in this low-sodium stir fry. For a vegetarian meal, substitute tofu for the shrimp. For a gluten-free option or to amp up the veggies, go for cauliflower rice instead of brown rice. This meal for two can be doubled to serve four and if you can’t find kohlrabi with greens attached, just add more bok choy.

Ingredients:
1 medium kohlrabi bulb with leaves attached
1 medium or two small bok choy or tatsoi
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
3.5 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces raw shrimp, defrosted if frozen
2 teaspoons coconut aminos (gluten-free choice) or low-sodium soy sauce
Brown rice, prepared

Directions:

  1. Remove leaves from kohlrabi bulb and roughly chop. Peel and dice kohlrabi bulb. Roughly chop bok choy or tatsoi, separating the light green stems from the darker top leaves. Set vegetables aside.
  2. Heat oils in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Add kohlrabi bulb and bok choy or tatsoi stems and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, tossing with a spatula. Add kohlrabi and bok choy or tatsoi leaves and mushrooms. Continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, until vegetables are tender and leaves are wilted.
  3. Push vegetables to the sides of the wok or skillet and place shrimp in the middle. Cook for about three minutes, flipping to cook both sides until shrimp are pink.
  4. Add coconut aminos or soy sauce and stir to evenly coat and mix shrimp with vegetables. Serve over brown rice and sprinkle with a little more coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce if desired.

Servings: 2

Quick Kale Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits are one of my favorite southern duos. This dish is often prepared with heavy cream and can take some time to make with slow cooking grits. I created this lighter, quick-cooking version, which is ideal for summer evenings when you want a delicious homemade meal in less than 15 minutes. Fast meals like this one free up time to dine on the patio and enjoy warm summer evenings.

After dinner, I love watching the sky change colors as the sun sets and fireflies start to shine, listening to birds singing and reminiscing of summers spent outside as a child. I may have an ice cream cone or watermelon for dessert, something that takes me back to fond summer memories. Oh how refreshing and relaxing it can be spending outdoors. Cheers to spending less time in the kitchen, while still making delicious and nutritious meals this summer.

Ingredients:
½ cup quick cooking grits
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons half and half

Directions:

  1. Prepare grits according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute, until fragrant. Add kale and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until wilted. Add bell pepper and stir to combine.
  3. Push kale and pepper mixture to the edges of the skillet, creating an empty space in the middle. Add shrimp to the center of the skillet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice. When shrimp becomes pink on the bottom, flip and continue cooking until both sides are pink and shrimp is cooked through. Stir vegetables and shrimp together to combine.
  4. When grits are done cooking, remove from heat and add grated parmesan cheese and half and half. Stir until cheese is melted and grits are thick and creamy. Add grits to serving plates and top with shrimp and kale mixture.

Servings: 2

Note: For the roasted red bell pepper, you can use freshly roasted bell pepper or jarred roasted red peppers rinsed and diced.

Twice-Baked Shrimp Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

These twice-baked potatoes are the perfect balance of sweet and savory. I created this recipe, using leftover baked sweet potatoes, for a fast weeknight dinner for one (just double to serve two). It’s also a great meal for work week entertaining. Simply triple or quadruple the recipe and bake the potatoes the night before. The evening your guests arrive you will only need about 10 minutes to prepare your meal before baking. You can leave the stress at work and welcome your company with a cocktail as your dinner bakes. I like to pair this dish with a simple green salad, topped with fruit and nuts.

Ingredients:
12 frozen medium peeled and cooked shrimp, defrosted
½ cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, baked
2 tablespoons feta cheese crumbles
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse and chop the shrimp. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach.
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for about one minute, or until fragrant. Add shrimp and spinach and cook for another minute to allow flavors to meld.
3. Slice baked sweet potatoes in half and carefully scoop out the inside of the potato with a large spoon, leaving a small rim of potato lining the skin to keep it intact.
4. In a medium bowl, mash the sweet potato. Add shrimp and spinach mixture, feta cheese, salt and pepper. Stir to combine ingredients.
5. With a large spoon, evenly fill the empty potato skins with the sweet potato, shrimp and spinach mixture. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake for 20 minutes.

Note: Leftovers make a great breakfast topped with a fried egg.

Servings: 1 ~ Serving size: 2 potato halves