Avoca-don’t miss out on this unique pasta salad!

I want to make mention of something that may come up in conversation about the Instant Pot® (IP).  Yes, it’s definitely an appliance that helps you prepare mostly hot dishes.  However, there is ample opportunity to use it as a tool to prepare part of a cold dish.  The recipe that follows is a great example (using the IP to make pasta), as is this recipe (cooking sorghum), as well as this recipe (hard-‘boiling’ eggs).  Hoping you’ll enjoy the interesting pasta salad I have in store for you today!

Pesto pasta salad with crunchy chickpeas and avocado
Serves 6
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Ingredients:

Chickpeas:
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon salt

Pesto:
2 cups basil, stems removed and roughly chopped
¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, chopped (add more if desired)
¼ cup olive oil (add more if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pasta:
8 ounces of any desired high-fiber pasta (we try to use legume-based pastas [like Banza®] as much as possible in our home)
32 fluid ounces water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon any oil

Additional ingredients:
10 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
⅓ cup red onion, diced
1 large avocado, cubed
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Chickpeas:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. Rinse and dry chickpeas and spread onto baking sheet.
3. Drizzle with olive oil.
4. Sprinkle salt, paprika and nutritional yeast on top.
5. Bake chickpeas for 20 minutes (or until slightly crunchy).

Pesto:
1. Place pine nuts on baking sheet and lightly toast (doesn’t take very long, so be careful you don’t over-toast or burn them).
2. Place basil and cooled toasted pine nuts into food processor and pulse a few times.
3. Add garlic and cheese and pulse a few more times.
4. Stream in the olive oil while the food processor is running, occasionally scraping down the sides of the processor bowl.
5. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
6. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

Pasta:
1. Place pasta, water salt and *oil into IP pot.
(If whole-wheat OR legume-based pasta – cook on Manual High Pressure for 2 minutes
If whole-grain pasta – cook on Manual High Pressure for 5 minutes
If brown-rice based pasta – cook on Manual High Pressure for 6 minutes)
2. When cooking cycle is complete, carefully release pressure in small increments until all pressure is released.  Remove IP pot and drain pasta. Rinse with cold water and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

*Oil is added to reduce foaming within the IP

Complete salad:
1. Add tomatoes, onion and crunchy chickpeas into cooled pasta.
2. Mix 6 tablespoons of the pesto into the salad mixture.
3. Carefully fold in the cubed avocado.
4. Add lemon juice, salt and/or pepper to taste.

So, once again, we find ourselves with a dish that is nutritionally a complete meal.  That being said, you could certainly make the meal even more substantial by serving a delicious roasted vegetable (i.e. asparagus) on the side.  Or maybe even a slice of my healthy garlic bread found here.

I’m really delighted to talk about today’s Nutrition Highlight.  It is one of the healthiest foods and is also incredibly versatile.  I’m talking about everyone’s favorite guacamole ingredient. . .

THE AVOCADO
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Avocados contain:

Copper: Involved in antioxidant function and critical for growth of connective tissue, energy production, metabolism or iron and neurotransmitter function
Fiber: improves digestion and/or decreases blood cholesterol
Folate: critical in the synthesis of genetic material (i.e. DNA) and cell division
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (‘MUFAs’): improve risk factors for cardiovascular disease
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): Critical in fatty acid synthesis and degradation
Vitamin B6: necessary for many metabolic enzymes in addition to brain and immune function
Vitamin C: acts as an antioxidant (protect cells from damaging molecules [‘free radicals’]), is a requirement for collagen production, and is important for some neurotransmitter synthesis
Vitamin E: acts as an antioxidant (protect cells from damaging molecules [‘free radicals’]), is important for cell-to-cell communication, immunity and proper blood flow
Vitamin K: critical for blood clotting and bone structure

So, that’s all for now.  Please feel free to ask questions about my experience with the IP, Weekday Vegetarianism, avocado, general nutrition or whatever! See you next time!

References:
1. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5
2. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/copper
3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-Consumer/
4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/mufas/faq-20057775
5.https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/PantothenicAcid-HealthProfessional/
6. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-Consumer/
7.https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/
8. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/
9. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-Consumer/

Disclaimer:
Any content you find on Sunny Seeds Nutrition Blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.

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