BLT Salad with Avocado and Garlic Butter Croutons

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I’m not much of a salad girl. I usually think that salads taste like rabbit food – I’d much rather have a bowl of macaroni and cheese or a great burger. But after a weekend of eating heavy food with my best friend Holly (she came to visit Boston from L.A. a few weeks ago), we realized we were actually craving salads. Bizarre.

So this was my version of a non-salad salad: a bacon, lettuce and tomato salad with avocado and garlic butter croutons. Check it out!

For this recipe, which makes enough for one salad, you’ll need:

2 handfuls of spinach

3 slices of thick-cut bacon, fried and broken up into pieces

4 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 avocado, diced

10 chunks of french bread

2 T butter

1 clove garlic, minced

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

First, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Then melt the 2 T of butter in the microwave and mince the garlic. Add the garlic to the melted butter and brush the garlic butter onto the chunks of french bread with a pastry brush (you can drizzle the butter, too, if that’s easier). Arrange the bread on a pan and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes or until golden brown, flipping the croutons halfway through.

Meanwhile, dice the avocado, cut the tomatoes, fry and breakup the bacon, and put those ingredients, with spinach, in a bowl. Grab the croutons from the oven once they look golden brown and throw them onto the salad, then dress it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Easy, (kind of) healthy, and delicious – a win, win!

Enjoy!

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Jenni’s Healthy Pasta Carbonara

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Tonight I made one of my favorite dinners – pasta carbonara. When I was little, I used to ask my mom to make spaghetti carbonara every year for my birthday because I liked it so much. When I lived in Italy a few years ago, I discovered that my mom makes the American version of my favorite dish, not the Italian version.

If you’ve never had it, carbonara is a pasta dish that came into being because chefs would make it after a long night cooking with the things they always had in the kitchen: eggs, bacon, pasta water and cheese. It’s like breakfast in a bowl!

When you get carbonara at an American Italian restaurant, or in my mom’s kitchen, it will likely have heavy cream in it. It’s delicious, but incredibly fattening, so it’s not something that I can incorporate into my weekly menu. When I went to Italy, however, I discovered that Italians did carbonara better – and healthier – by eliminating the heavy cream (heck, you can’t even find heavy cream on the shelves at an Italian grocery store!).

So here is my version of carbonara, based off of the many, many bowls of it that I consumed in Italy. Bon appetit!

You’ll need:

1 cup of pasta, cooked and drained

1/4 cup of pasta water, reserved

1/4 onion, cut into small strips

1 strip turkey bacon

1 egg, whisked

1 handful of spinach

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1 t nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Cook your bacon and remove it from the pan, adding the onions to the pan to caramelize in the bacon drippings. Once the onions are caramelized (this usually takes about 10 minutes), add spinach to the mixture and let it wilt.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta and reserve 1/4 cup of the water. Pasta water acts a a natural thickener, so you’ll need it to create a sauce.

Crumble the bacon and add it to the pan with the spinach and onions. Then dump the pasta noodles into the pan along with the reserved pasta water. Turn the pan to low heat and add to the mixture the egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper, parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Stir consistently for 3-4 minutes until the egg mixes with the water and become saucey, but don’t let it brown. This can take some practice, so (oh no!) you may have to make the recipe multiple times. Garnish it with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Love,

Jenni

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