I hope you’ve had a great weekend. The weather here in Auckland is getting sunnier by the day, so it’s super exciting that summer is just around the corner! In gratitude of the warmer weather, this week I wanted to share with you the first of a series of easy, mid-week plant-based dinners. A number of you have told me that one major thing you struggle with is easy, go-to ideas for healthy mid-week dinners. Whilst you might be keen to start incorporating a few more healthier plant-based options in your week, you’re not exactly sure where or how to start.
In comes this week’s recipe, a delicious yet simple Pesto Potato Salad, made complete with a smattering of chickpeas and green beans. With the goodness of energy-sustaining slow-release carbohydrates from the spuds, high quality protein from the chickpeas, healthy omega 3 fats in the pesto, and your essential greens in the beans and herbs, it really is the perfect plant-based meal in a bowl. Platter up a serving of this with some simple leafy greens and you’ve got an excellent mid-week meal, with enough for lunch the next day!
The Perfect Plant-Based Plate
When you’re considering how to construct the optimal plant-based plate, I like to think along the lines of the following:
- 1/2 plate = veges (green, red, orange, purple)
- 1/4 plate = complex carbohydrates (wholegrains, root veges)
- 1/4 plate = plant protein (beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts or seeds)
- A shot glass of healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, plant oils)
While this is not set fast in stone, it is a great general guideline to follow for your lunch and dinner meals. Snacks and breakfast will likely be a bit different, as most of us prefer to eat more fruit (rather than veges) at these times. If you’re an active male or growing teenager, I would recommend adjusting these quantities to 1/3, 1/3, 1/3, but for most women these amounts work great for energy, satiety and optimal nutrition.
Now of course if you laid your plate out like this (measured into halves and quarters), life could get pretty boring. So I’ve illustrated above how this perfect plant-based plate might translate into a regular weekly meal. On the left you’ll see the ingredients laid out in quarters, while on the right you’ll see a much more exciting (and appetising) meal, with all those elements combined.
I highly recommend making a double batch of this pesto too, as it tastes lovely swirled through some pasta with kale and peas the next day (I’m in love with this delicious soy bean spaghetti here). I’ve used half extra virgin olive oil for a classic pesto flavour, with the other half chia seed oil. Chia oil is a lovely cold pressed oil with a very mild taste, and is one of the world’s highest sources of omega 3 essential fatty acids (you can find the one I use in our store here). You could also use flaxseed, sacha inchi or hemp seed oil, all of which have similar omega 3 profiles, but have much stronger tastes so that will come through in your pesto. My favourite is the chia seed oil for this – I definitely recommend you try it out!
So there you go, an easy mid-week plant-based meal. I do hope you’ll give it a go and love it as much as I do. And if you make yourself a pesto potatoey masterpiece, feel free to share it on Instagram; just tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics so I can come stop by.
Sleep tight dear friends, and here’s to including one more plant-based meal in your upcoming week!
Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
- 1.5 kg potatoes scrubbed, skins left on
- 500 g green beans
- 400 g chickpeas (1 can)
Fresh Herb Pesto
- 2 c packed fresh herbs parsley, chives, basil, coriander ~80g
- 1/2 c cashews soaked 1 hour, rinsed & drained
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c chia seed oil or sacha inchi/flaxseed oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp capers (2 tbsp capers, 1 tbsp brine)
- Zest juice and flesh of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- Top with extra capers and herbs
- Chop potatoes into large inch-sized chunks and put in a pot. Add 2 cups of boiling water (from the jug), a large pinch of sea salt, bring to the boil, then reduce to low and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes.
- Make the pesto: while potatoes are cooking, throw all your pesto ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until fully combined, scraping down the sides half way if you need.
- Next trim the tops of your beans and cut them in half. 4 minutes before your potatoes are done, throw the beans on top and lid back on letting them steam for the last 4 minutes. If your pot isn’t big enough, you can do these in a separate pot with just half a cup of boiling water (steaming them again with lid on, as opposed to boiling them). When the potatoes are done (you can put a knife through but they’re still crisp) and beans are just turning bright green, drain them in a colander and leave to cool. You might like to rinse your beans under cold water if you’d like to retain that bright green colour.
- Drain your chickpeas (I save the brine and add to a soup or curry later in the week, or you can freeze it) and rinse them in a colander.
- Now carefully in a bowl add your potatoes, green beans, chickpeas and pesto, and fold gently to combine. I often layer them (a layer of potatoes, green beans, chickpeas and pesto, then repeat the same again three or four times), that way you don’t have to stir too much to combine and therefore don’t break up the potatoes. This isn’t necessary (just makes for prettier photos and presentation!).
- Top with extra capers and herbs, and serve warm on a bed of salad greens with a squeeze of lemon and extra sea salt and black pepper. Or pop in the fridge to serve cold the next day – will last up to 5 days in the fridge. Yummola!