Peruvian Style Pesto

Peruvian Style Pesto


I have mentioned in a couple of posts that I come from a multicultural family which makes things pretty amazing where food is concerned.  My dad is from Peru but because he left at such a young age, we weren’t taught a whole lot about the culture.  He has always been proud of his heritage and there are a few traditions that he carried on.  One of them being the food! There were a hand full of Peruvian dishes that my dad would make at home and we all loved it when he did.

One of those dishes is Tallarin Verde; spaghetti tossed in a basil based sauce.  In our house it was always called green spaghetti. I never even knew it was called Tallarin Verde until I started going to Peruvian restaurants! This dish is usually served with a big old steak on top.  So good!  My dad stopped cooking years ago and then my mom would make it from time to time.  We even switched the noodles to gluten free once we could find ones that tasted good and then my sister went paleo and I went semi paleo and my mom gave up!  The sauce is basically a pesto so it does call for cheese.  My dad would use like a quarter pound of feta cheese in his sauce!

My dad was so funny when he would cook too.  The whole kitchen had to be left to him.  He didn’t want anyone is his way and then there was the mess afterwards!  Once my mom was out and my dad was making green spaghetti for dinner.  He was mixing up the sauce in the blender and had left the lid off!  There was green sauce all over the kitchen and the ceiling! Thinking about it cracks me up.  I think of it almost every time I use my blender which makes me triple check that I put the lid on!

Obviously there are a lot of memories around green spaghetti, but the flavor is all in the sauce.  Since I try to stay away from cheese and don’t eat much pasta nowadays I decided to paloe-ify my dad’s Peruvian style pesto.  I’ve seen many recipes that include pine nuts like a traditional pesto but he never used any of that.  I did need to add a bit of nuttiness to replace the flavor of the cheese though.  I tried a few different combinations and they were all good, but I think this one tastes the most like my dad’s sauce.  It is super simple to whip up in a blender or food processor and you can use it on just about anything!  I love it on veggies, spaghetti squash, sandwiches, and meat too.


Peruvian Style Pesto 02


Peruvian Style Pesto 01



1/2 tsp vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

3 cups fresh basil

1 heaping cup baby spinach

1/4 cup undalted cashews

1/4 cup walnuts

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper



Pour vegetable oil into a pan and heat the pan on medium heat.  Add the chopped garlic to the pan and cook on medium/low heat until the garlic turns golden.  Remove from heat.

Add the garlic and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor or blender.  I use my vitamix.  Blend until it becomes a thick creamy sauce.  Enjoy it on some avocado toast or meat and veggies.  The sauce freezes well too so you can always freeze it for later.  I had mine on spaghetti squash this time and loved it!  I hope my dad’s Peruvian style pesto brings you guys as many sweet memories as it has brought me!


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Smokey Chicken Spice Rub (paleo & gluten free)

Smokey Chicken Rub

It was a Thursday night, we had just returned home from gymnastics class and I had to make dinner pronto!  I had taken some chicken legs out of the freezer that morning to let them defrost so I went digging through the spice cabinet for a spice rub to coat them with.  I found a smokey bbq rub that the hubs had picked up but when I checked the ingredients it wasn’t gluten free.  After getting really annoyed and hollering about why there doesn’t need to be gluten in a spice rub, I decided to make my own.  I got all of the spices out and went to work!  The idea of smokey and sweet flavors sounded really good and that’s what I was aiming for.  I also didn’t want it to be too spicy or overpowering because of the kiddos.

Grilling up dinner makes life so much easier for me especially since right now we have extracurricular activities scheduled pretty much every day .  Between school, homework, and all the sports and things it can be difficult to squeeze some time in to put together a healthy meal  .When we grill, I can prepare the meat ahead of time which is great and who doesn’t like bbq? If we’re grilling chicken, I prefer legs since they tend to be more tender. They take 45 minutes to an hour on the grill though, so if we are having them on a weeknight I have to be sure to get them on the grill by 5:30pm.  Need to make sure the little ones have dinner on time!

On that particular Thursday evening, my husband had gotten home from the office earlier than expected which worked out great for me!  I made the spice rub and he prepped the chicken for the grill.  We ran a little short on the spice rub so I had to improvise and just sprinkle on some extra spices.  I made a note to increase the amount for the next time.  It needed a bit more flavor too, so I increased the amount of garlic and onion powder.   The smokey spice rub was great on chicken the first time, but after a few simple modifications it tastes even better now! I used it for some chicken breast that I sauteed in the pan too and loved it.  It’s really simple to put together whenever you need it, but can be made ahead as well.  Just keep it in an air tight container and you’ll have a simple and delicious spice rub without all of the unnecessary ingredients!



2 Tbs coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 Tbs paprika

3 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp onion powder

1 Tbs sea salt


Smokey Chicken Rub 01



Pour all of the ingredients into a small bowl and mix together with a fork or with your fingers.  If you’re using brown sugar, make sure to break up all the little chunks of brown sugar.  Store it in an air tight container and throw it in the spice cabinet for later or sprinkle it on some chicken and you’re ready to go!

Hope you guys enjoy this as much as we did.  You can rub it on some chicken right before you cook it, so you don’t need to prep the chicken ahead of time.  Although I have put it on some chicken legs and let them sit in the fridge until we put them on the grill and that worked great too!

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Zucchini Pancakes with Piri Piri Aoli (paleo & gluten free)


Zucchini Pancakes
Zucchini Pancakes

Back when we were dating, the hubby came back from a trip to London raving about Piri Piri sauce. Pronounced Pee-ree Pee-ree, it is actually the African bird’s eye pepper. It was used by Portuguese settlers who found it while exploring in Mozambique and fell in love with it as we have.  A few ethnic markets near us started carrying Piri Piri hot sauce from time to time and we would stock up whenever we saw it.  Once I tasted it, I realized what all the hullabaloo was about!  The flavor in that stuff is off the charts!  It is not your typical hot sauce.  Now I pour it on eggs, veggies, and everything in between.

I met some friends for brunch this past weekend and somehow Piri Piri sauce came up.  We were talking about all the things you could do with it.  I don’t know why we were talking about food while stuffing our faces, but I feel like I’m always talking about food! When I got home I remembered that I had picked up a bottle of Piri Piri spice blend from the Savory Spice Shop in San Diego.  I believe you can order online from them as well.  I also had a ton of zucchini in the fridge and was thinking I would make a frittata or maybe a crustless quiche this week.  Smaller versions of things always seem more appealing, so I decided on zucchini pancakes.

Now, how do I incorporate the Piri Piri spice and trick my husband into eating a whole lotta zucchini??  There’s a recipe for making hot sauce on the bottle but I wanted something creamy.  Plus, I already have a bottle of the hot sauce in the fridge.  Aoli sounded perfect!  A little mayo, a little olive oil, some of the Piri Piri Spice, and done.  My husband had seconds!  The kids opted for ketchup as the Piri Piri aoli has a little kick to it.  If you’re worried about too much heat, I would recommend adding half the amount of Piri Piri spice and then tasting it to see if you want to add more or not.



Zucchini Pancakes

2 eggs

1 lb zucchini, grated

1/2 cup almond flour

3 Tbs amaranth flour

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

Cooking oil


For the Piri Piri Aoli

3 Tbs mayo

2 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp Piri Piri seasoning


Zucchini Pancakes 03


Pat the grated zucchini down with a paper towel, or two in needed to help reduce moisture.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs then add the remaining ingredients for the zucchini pancakes.  Blend together with a fork until combined.  Heat about one tsp oil in a large frying pan on medium/high heat.  With a large eating spoon, place a scoop in the pan and flatten the zucchini with the spoon if needed so it takes on more of a round shape.  Repeat until the pan is full, leaving a little space between each pancake.  Cook until both sides are browned, around 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Remove from pan and repeat until all the mixture has been made.

Zucchini Pancakes 04

In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the aoli together.  Mix it well, and pour right on top of your zucchini pancakes or on the side.  If there is any aoli leftover, it keeps well and tastes great on everything.  I put some on my eggs and toast today!


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Garlic Soy Chicken Glaze

Garlic Soy Glaze 01

Garlic Soy Glaze 01

We got serious about grilling a few years ago and between the hubby and I, I think we’ve got it covered.  I usually conjure up a marinade or rub and he grills.  With beef or lamb you can get away with putting a rub on it before it goes on the grill, but with chicken I feel like marinating ahead of time is a must.

I tend to forget to marinade the chicken I’m planning on throwing on the grill, and then I have to figure out something else for dinner last minute.  Oops!  So I was very excited to learn that there is such a thing as a glaze.  A glaze only needs to be brushed onto the meat while it’s on the grill, thus there is no need to marinade ahead of time!  I always use this glaze on chicken legs.  It has plenty of flavor and gives the chicken a nice crispy coating that makes biting in even better!

We grill a lot in the summer.  Everything from kabob to sausages, but this Garlic Soy Chicken recipe is a regular on the menu.

Happy grilling!



* Enough for 10 chicken legs

3 Tbs soy sauce

1 tsp honey

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 Tbs sesame oil

1/2 Tbs veg oil

2 tsp sea salt

2 Tbs gluten free flour

2 cloves garlic, diced or crushed

3 green onions, chopped

pepper to taste

1 cup water



Place soy sauce and honey in a small mixing bowl and stir together until honey is blended.  Add next 8 ingredients and lightly stir.  Add gluten free flour and stir with a whisk until dissolved, then add water and lightly whisk together.  Believe it or not, that’s it! The trick is to continue to brush the glaze over the chicken while it’s on the grill.

Garlic Soy Glaze


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