Looking for a way to hold on to the flavors of summertime and feed your family a nourishing dinner, all at once? For me, nothing represents late summer more than juicy heirloom tomatoes, fresh from the farmer’s market. I’m lucky to belong to the most wonderful CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), One Straw Farm, which grows the best (and pretties) heirloom tomatoes!
My family’s weekday schedule is back to its usual craziness – school, after school activities, and weeknight obligations all require proper nourishment for us to stay on top of our game. Luckily, I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve for making fast weeknight dinners which are delicious and make use of fresh, local ingredients. As long as I have some components of the meal prepared in advance, in this case – my Spinach Hemp Pesto, I can usually have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. And while I’m cooking the evening’s meal, I’m often prepping ingredients for the next day at the same time. Beneficial multitasking!
An easy way to cut cooking time is to use a pre-cooked source of protein. Smiling Hara Hempeh is my choice for adding a dense source of plant-based protein to my meals. Do you like tempeh? Most tempeh is the traditional Indonesian fermented soybean variety; it can have a bitter aftertaste and many people don’t care for its texture. However, Smiling Hara’s Hempeh is altogether different. First, it’s made from cultured (aka fermented) hemp seeds, which are an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well natural trace minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, iron, and fiber. Secondly, Hempeh is soy-free, which makes it a great alternative to other tempeh products, tofu, and many other plant-based proteins widely available. Smiling Hara Hempeh is fully cooked when it’s packaged, due to being fully cultured, so it can be eaten right from the box. However, I prefer to give my hempeh a quick sauté with some sunflower seed oil, to get the edges nice and crispy!
Despite eating a nearly grain-free diet, I do still enjoy eating a bowl of gluten-free pasta once in awhile. Note, there are plenty of grain-free pasta options, including chickpea pasta and lentil pasta, but for this recipe, I used my favorite Jovial Gluten-Free Brown Rice pasta. Use whatever pasta you prefer for this recipe – organic wheat, brown rice, or legume-based pastas are all excellent options for making quick and hearty dinners that everyone enjoys!
Attentions Mom’s Organic Market shoppers: Smiling Hara Hempeh is on-sale for the month of September for $5.99. Stock your refrigerator (or freezer) with my favorite plant-based protein, then check-out the Smiling Hara website for other easy and delicious recipes that I have created!
Double Hemp and Burst Tomato Pasta
Ingredients: (note – use organic whenever possible)
1 T sea salt
1 pound dry pasta (I used Jovial Foods Gluten-Free Penne Rigate)
2 T sunflower seed oil
1 package Smiling Hara Smoked Salt + Pepper Steak Hempeh, cut into 1/2” cubes
1 pint heirloom grape tomatoes, cut in half
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat 4 quarts of water in a large pot to boil. Add 1 T sea salt to boiling water and then the pasta. Cook until pasta is al-dente, according to package directions. Save 1 C of pasta cooking water before draining pasta in a colander. Return pasta to the pot.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the sunflower seed oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the hempeh cubes and cook until edges are browned and crispy, stirring occasionally. This should take approximately 5 minutes. Add the grape tomatoes and toss gently to cover them in the hot oil. Continue to sauté until tomatoes are softened, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss. If the mixture seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water, 1 T at a time, until a creamy sauce is coating the pasta. Add the sautéed hempeh and tomatoes to the pasta and toss gently to combine together. Taste, adding additional sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.
Recipe yields 4-5 generous servings
Leftovers keep well, chilled, for 2 days. Reheat gently to serve.
Add a handful of chopped fresh basil or Italian parsley to the top of the pasta for even more summertime flavor.