Go Green for St. Patrick's Day!

This Friday, millions of Americans will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades, special foods, and by wearing green of course! Serve up a fun and festive spread by going green with your food as well.

  1. Go Green with leafy greens

Among other nutrients, dark leafy greens are rich in antioxidants including beta carotene, the precursor for vitamin A, and vitamin C. These antioxidants can help remove free radicals from the body and protect against cancer and the aging process. Darker colors mean more nutrients, so get creative by choosing a variety of greens for different colors and textures. Try adding watercress to your sandwich or wrap, or arugula to the top of a homemade pizza. For a crisp texture and nutritious kick, make salads with Romaine lettuce instead of iceberg lettuce. And don’t forget spinach! Add it to smoothies, soups, salads, sandwiches and more.

  1. Go green and festive

Cut green bell peppers crosswise near the pointed end to make slices shaped like shamrocks. Use your “shamrocks” to top mini pizzas with English muffins, pizza sauce, and low fat cheese. You could also try a lucky leprachaun rainbow theme! Serve a variety of fruits and vegetables of all colors for a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals.

  1. Go green without the artificial food coloring

Vegetables and herbs can provide the perfect green color for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities without the addition of artificial food coloring. Try using herbs such as basil to make a pesto or add pureed leafy greens, avocado, or broccoli to dips and sauces. Packed with whole grains, vitamins, and minerals this Broccoli Pesto Pasta recipe is sure to get you in the spirit this St. Patrick’s Day!

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Yield: about 8 servings

Ingredients

- 1 lb. broccoli

- 1 lb. whole wheat pasta

- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

 - 2 tbsp. olive oil

 - 1 small onion, finely chopped

 - 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

 - ½ tsp. red pepper flakes

 - 1 tsp. salt

 - ½ cup Greek yogurt

 - Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 - Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions

  1. Chop the broccoli crowns into florets.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer skins of the broccoli stems, and chop the stems into ½-inch discs.  Steam the broccoli in a steamer basket above boiling water until fork-tender. Remove to a bowl.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1½ cups of the pasta water and then drain the pasta well.  Set aside.
  3. Return the pot to the heat.  Add the butter and olive oil to the pot over medium-high heat, heating until the butter is melted.  Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes more to heat through.  Season with pepper to taste.
  4. Transfer the broccoli mixture to a food processor or blender. Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add in the Greek yogurt and process until smooth.  If needed, add the reserved pasta water a little bit at a time just until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce.  Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/03/07/broccoli-pesto-pasta/?cook_view=9158.

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