Zucchini Pesto Pasta with Lentils
By far the most health promoting element of a plant based diet is the amount of non-starchy vegetables being consumed. The goal of two cups of non-starchy vegetables with each meal is, in theory, very achievable but that doesn't always mean it is achieved. This "pasta" dish utilises zucchini spirals instead of regular pasta spirals as a means for both increasing the vegetable component of the meal while helping to avoid excessive carbohydrates.
You'll notice I suggest soaking the lentils for between 4 - 8 hours and then rinsing them before using. All you need to do is empty the lentils into a bowl, cover them with filtered water, let sit and rinse & drain again prior to using. This process helps break down the phytic acid within the lentils which then assists digestion (by reducing risk of bloating) and nutrient availability. Ordinarily I would also recommend soaking the walnuts and pepitas, so you can apply the exact same principle here if you find seeds or nuts hard to digest. For more on digestive health I recommend you read The Gut. Explained.
This is a perfect mid-week meal. It's quick, easy and nutritious! Be sure to tag me in any piccies when you do get around to making this :) @nutritionelly!
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Ingredients (serves 2)
2 medium zucchinis (courgettes), spiralised
150g baby tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
1 can of brown lentils, soaked (ideally for 4 - 8 hours), rinsed and drained
4 tbsp hemp seeds
½ tbsp cold pressed avocado or extra virgin coconut oil
1 - 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 cup basil leaves, washed
1 cup spinach leaves, washed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 heaped tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 small clove garlic
10 tbsp water
To begin, prepare the pesto. Place walnuts and seeds in a blender and pulse until a ‘meal’ forms.
Add the other Pesto ingredients (excluding water) and blend until a paste forms.
Slowly add water 1 - 2 tbsp at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. It should be creamy, but runny enough to coat zucchini spirals.
Next, begin to prepare zucchini noodles. Heat avocado or coconut oil in a fry pan over high heat, add the zucchini spirals and keep moving for a few minutes until the noodles begin to soften.
To the same pan, add the lentils, baby tomatoes, Pesto and stir through.
Top with hemp seeds and additional Nutritional Yeast (if desired) before serving.