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Put Some Spring in Your Step with These Fresh-from-the-Garden Meals

By Susan Kitchen | March 11, 2016, 11:05 a.m. (ET)

peachesEnjoy the best that spring has to offer and boost your training game with this easy-to-make entrée and dessert, optimized for swift recovery. Packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, this pasta dish and seasonal dessert, created by a top chef from the Culinary Institute of America, provides the perfect showcase for two of the season’s tastiest vegetables, arugula and asparagus.

Why It’s Perfect for Triathletes

Not only is this dish satisfying, it provides the perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein and heart-healthy fat.

When to Make It

Make this in time to dig in right after a workout or up to three and a half hours before an easy to moderate-intensity training session. Delicious right off the stove, this dish also makes for tasty leftovers, so be sure to save some for later.

Tips

For an extra vegetarian-friendly protein boost, swap the pappardelle for edamame pasta. Pine nuts can be substituted for walnuts, and if you aren’t a fan of asparagus, no problem — opt for three fresh zucchini cut very thin lengthwise. You can do this by hand or, for a thinner, more precise cut, with an inexpensive mandoline. 

Pasta with Arugula, Walnuts and Tomatoes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of walnuts 
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces of wheat pappardelle or edamame pasta
  • 1 pound of asparagus cut into 2-inch sections
  • 1 pound of ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup of halved grape tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces crumbled Ricotta Salata (a pressed, aged cheese with a slightly salty flavor)

Preparation

  1. In a small skillet, toast the walnuts over moderate heat until they begin to turn golden. Remove from the heat and set aside. 
  2. Combine the arugula, olive oil, grated cheese, walnuts and garlic in a food processor until you achieve a paste-like consistency. Season this arugula pesto with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Cook the ground chicken in a skillet until browned. Set aside.
  4. Boil the asparagus in 5 cups salted water for 1½ minutes. Drain and set aside.
  5. Cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until al dente. Drain. 
  6. Combine the pasta, pesto, asparagus, lemon juice, tomatoes and chicken in a large bowl. Gently toss to distribute the ingredients.
  7. Plate the pasta and garnish with Ricotta Salata.

Grilled Peaches with Blueberries, Yogurt and Mint

Taking advantage of juicy stone fruits, antioxidant-packed blueberries and fresh mint, this dish is quick, easy and provides an extra boost of flavor by grilling the peaches.

Serves up to 4

Ingredients 

  • 2 large, ripe peaches, halved with the pit removed
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons mint, cut in very fine strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. Brush the inside of each peach half with olive oil. 
  2. Grill the peaches flesh-side down over high heat for 2 minutes to achieve a dark grill mark and caramelized flavor.
  3. Plate the peaches with the grilled side up, and add a healthy dollop of yogurt over each peach.
  4. Spread fresh blueberries over the peaches.
  5. Top off with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a ½ tablespoon of mint.

Sam Knoll, a top honors graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has over 25 years of restaurant experience and created the recipes in this article. Susan Kitchen, MPH, RD, CSSD, is a Registered Sports Dietitian, Certified USA Triathlon and IRONMAN Coach. Follow her at www.racesmart.com.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.