Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
TIP Many grocery stores carry shelled pumpkin seeds; if yours does not, substitute pine nuts, walnuts, pecans or any other nut.
SPINACH AND PEPITA PESTO ON LINGUINE
8 ounces linguine
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/3 cup shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1. Cook the pasta in plenty of lightly salted boiling water until al dente. When the pasta is cooked, scoop out 1/4 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, make the pesto: squeeze the spinach dry and place in a food processor along with the pepitas, lime juice, basil, cilantro and salt; process until smooth. With the machine running, add the olive oil; process until it is fully incorporated. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water.
3. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the pesto; transfer to freezer-proof container and freeze for up to 2 months.
4. Toss the remaining sauce with the linguine and cheese.
If pasta is not going to be served immediately, stir in 1 tablespoon of additional olive oil or water to loosen the sauce.
Makes 4 servings (with enough pesto for another 4 servings later).
Nutritional analysis for each serving 350 calories, 14 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 13 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 241 mg sodium
PORTOBELLO BURGERS WITH FETA CHEESE
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 large portobello mushroom caps
4 cups thinly sliced red onion
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces crumbled feta
1 cup baby arugula
4 tomato slices
4 whole-grain hamburger buns, split
1. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, garlic and vinegar in a bowl. Brush mixture over mushrooms and let stand at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sugar; cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 20 to 22 minutes. Cover and remove from heat to keep warm.
3. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet or grill pan over medium high. Place the mushrooms, gill sides facing down, and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until the lower halves are tender but still hold their shape. Turn the mushrooms over and top with feta; cook until the cheese is melted and the mushrooms are tender but meaty, about 4 minutes longer.
4. Place arugula, tomato and a mushroom cap on the bottom of each roll. Top the mushroom with onion, close the sandwich and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 421 calories, 13 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 23 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 673 mg sodium
BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS
1 (14.5-ounce) can low-salt diced tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon minced chipotle in adobo sauce
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 1/4 cups reduced-fat shredded Cheddar, divided
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Drain the tomatoes; combine the tomato liquid with the enchilada sauce and set aside the tomato pieces.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, garlic, diced peppers, oregano and cumin, and cook until somewhat softened, about 4 minutes. Add corn and chipotles; cook 5 minutes longer, until corn is crisp-tender. Add black beans and tomato pieces, and cook 5 minutes; remove from heat.
4. Spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce mixture in the prepared baking dish. Heat the tortillas according to package directions and keep them warm as you work by placing them under a dampened towel.
5. Spoon some bean mixture in log shape down the center third of a tortilla, leaving a 1-inch border at the top and bottom. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese over the beans. Fold the top and bottom of the tortilla over the mixture. Holding the folded flaps in place, roll the tortilla completely closed. Place each enchilada, seam- side down, in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
6. Bake 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are lightly browned.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 440 calories, 19 g protein, 62 g carbohydrates, 10g fiber, 15 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 814 mg sodium