Really?! Chocolate for Dinner? And It's Good for Me?!
That's right, this recipe is inspired by chocolate. One of my favorite guys at the Carlsbad Village
Farmers' Market (Bisogno Pasta) asked me if I wanted to try one of his specialty lentil-based pastas. My answer to this question is generally yes. When I learned that this pasta was chocolate flavored, the answer quickly became "Definitely!".
More and more research is coming out about the health benefits of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate without a lot of other added ingredients like sugars and fats. Regular consumption of high-quality chocolate (not just a Hershey's kiss a day) has been shown to lower blood pressure, lessen the occurrence of strokes, reduce UV damage to the skin, and improve insulin resistance. This evidence suggests a square of chocolate a day may be helpful in preventing and managing heart disease and diabetes. Some even consider a square of chocolate a day to have a similar effect in the body as an aspirin day. New research suggests that eating chocolate is even good for your gut micorbes!
So, heck yes, I would love to try a recipe with that chocolate-infused lentil pasta! I mixed in a Berry Chipotle salad dressing from Skinny Dipz, a bunch of veggies, a couple of organic strawberries from Blue Heron in Fallbrook, a good handful of nuts, and a few fermented veggies from Happy Pantry. And let me tell you, this was the most delicious meal for a date night dinner on the beach!
During my residency, I experimented with many different recipes for making "cheeses" from nuts. There are so many variations to try! Most are pretty simple, once you start trying them. This site gives a lot of ideas for getting your creative (and digestive) juices flowing. The instructions below for the toasted almond patties are a pretty easy way to get started making nut cheeses.
Even without the chocolate-flavored lentil noodles, this recipe will be delicious with any gluten-free pasta. Hope it is a little inspiration for some new flavor combinations from your local market also! This dish is best enjoyed paired with some great conversation.
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
- Charles M. Schulz
Summer Pasta Inspired by Chocolate
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
1 cups soaked raw cashews
3/4c water or non-dairy milk
2t lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1c of chocolate-flavored lentil noodles (or other gluten free noodles)
4T coconut oil
4 small summer squashes or zucchini cut in a variety of shapes about 1 inch each
2c mixed greens (kale, chard, etc.)
4T Berry Chipotle salad dressing
1/2c raw walnuts
1/2c organic strawberries, cut in quarters
1/2c mixed fermented veggies (sauerkrauts and kimchi)
In this recipe, I used fermented brussel sprouts, Beetnik Kraut, Karma Kraut, and California Kimchi from Happy Pantry.
Prepare the almond toasted almond patties:
Soak raw almonds in filtered water for at least 2 hours. If the outer skins have not already been removed, make sure to remove them.
Preheat the oven to 200F.
Drain excess water from almonds and place in blender with lemon juice, 1/2c water or non-dairy milk, and salt to taste. You may need to add a little more water in order to blend smoothly, depending on how long the almonds have soaked.
Fold a cheesecloth on a small plate and pour the mixture atop. Wrap the cheesecloth to cover the almond cheese and cover with a second small plate. Place a light weight on top to allow the excess liquid to drain.
Allow to drain for 5-10 minutes.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and arrange the almond cheese in small 1-inch patties.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes on each side.
Prepare the pasta:
Heat a large pot of water to boiling over medium high heat.
As water is coming to a boil, clean and cut the squashes/zucchini, greens, and strawberries.
In large frying pan, heat 2T coconut oil over medium heat. Add zucchini/squashes and saute until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add noodles to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat and immediate rinse with cold water.
Rinse out the large pot used to cook the pasta and return to stove. Add 2T coconut oil and heat over medium. Add greens and cook for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add noodles and 2T Berry Chipotle salad dressing. Lightly toss noodles, greens, and salad dressing together. Cover and heat over low heat for 2-3 minutes.
Blend 1/2 avocado with 2T Berry Chipotle salad dressing until smooth.
Build the dish:
Place 3/4c pasta & greens in bottom of dish.
Add 1/4-1/2c zucchini/squash.
Sprinkle with 2T walnuts.
Add a few strawberry quarters.
Around edge of dish, add a 2T dollop of avocado spread.
Garnish with 2-3T fermented veggies.
Top with 2-3 toasted almond patties