Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Shiitake & Walnut Pasta On Sweet Potato Noodles

Lately I have become obsessed with sweet potato noodles.
Ditching grain/rice/quinoa noodles and leaning in to cooking with veggies (part of my wedding health regime) means I've tried plenty of different noodle types.
Zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash... all are good, but if you want a true pasta replacement, sweet potato noodles are the best. They cook up to a nice al dante, giving you the best faux-noodle texture!
So when I had the opportunity the other night to make myself a fancy dinner-for-one at my parent's home, these noodles were top of my list. 
(Why was I staying at my parents? My building super ripped out my toilet. true story. On the bright side my parent's have a nicer kitchen than I do and their home backs on to Lake Ontario so it was a gorgeous spot for dinner!) 
So my noodles were picked, but that's really just the BASE, I had to decide what to put on top. 
Sticking with the veggie theme, I opted to make my own red sauce with some chilli peppers for kick. Forgoing meat, I decided on some shiitake mushrooms and walnuts, and a smidge of goat cheese as a treat to me.
Holy cow! do we EVER have a winner. Not only was dinner delicious, but it was pretty to boot (Oh, and healthy. We can't forget healthy)
This dish takes about 5 minutes to prep, and 20 minutes to make (if you're patient enough on the simmer!). I promise you'll be feeling full and fancy by the time you've cleaned your plate. I know I did!
Shiitake & Walnut Pasta on Sweet Potato Noodles (serves 2)
  • 2 cups sweet potato noodles
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 hot chilli pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme (plus a sprig for garnish)
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts (plus some extra for garnish)
  • 2 tbsp goat cheese
  • coconut oil for cooking
  1. Start by prepping your vegetables (slice, dice, and mince!) While you do that, put your noodles on the stove in a non-stick pan with 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Cook over a medium-low heat (closer to low) for about 10 minutes, stirring very occasionally and VERY gently! after 10 minutes remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large pan over medium-high heat, add shiitake mushrooms and 1 tsp coconut oil and cook about 4 minutes (until reduced in size). Remove from pan and then add the garlic and pepper to the pan with another tsp coconut oil. Stir until garlic begins to brown and then remove from pan, setting aside with the mushrooms.
  3. In the same large pan, add your diced tomatoes and reduce heat to medium. Dash in a splash of white wine (optional, but encouraged) and let cook for 8-10 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down. Then stir in your tomato paste and 2 tsp of fresh thyme, set the range to low and let simmer on the range for 5 minutes.
  4. Fold in your mushrooms, peppers, garlic, and then add 2 tbsp of chopped walnuts. Once mixed in, let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Ready to serve! Spoon your noodles out on to two plates, and then top with a generous helping of your sauce. Garnish with some extra walnuts, 1 tbsp of goat cheese per plate, and a sprig of fresh thyme.
  6. Eat! preferrably with wine! Bon appetit!

A note on why I chose to cook with

shiitake mushrooms and walnuts: 

Since my dad was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, we've been learning a LOT about food (and we were already a family of food nuts... pun intended). Not only because of the immediate need to change his diet due to his Whipple operation, but also because the foods you eat can have a big impact on how cancer reacts in your body.
When it comes to food, shiitake mushrooms were at the top of the list for "must eats" for dad. studies show that they can boost your immune system, as well as inhibit tumour growth, especially when tumours are present in the stomach, pancreas and liver. 
Similarly, studies are being done (though it is early days!) showing that walnuts may not only inhibit tumour growth, but may actually help in the process of killing cancer cells. They also help with detoxification in the liver; so when your liver isn't working at full capacity due to illness, walnuts can help alleviate some of the stress.
I've been focusing more and more on cooking with health in mind, and specifically the health-related concerns that directly impact my family. This is why the all veggie, shiitake and walnut meal came to be on my plate. Moving forward, if I cook meals in the future with particular health aspects in mind I'll be sure to include a note on the post.

But now a question for you: How do you cook with your health in mind? do you have any foods that you rely on for health and detoxification? How do you prep them and include them in your meals? I'd love to know!
xxox - Laura