Fresh Pasta for the Soul

Weekends filled with yoga time and shopping (at the mall and the grocery store) are the best. I took advantage of the last day of tax-free shopping on Saturday and spent Sunday with family and time in the kitchen.

A couple of weeks ago, while vacationing on Vieques Island, my sisters and I had a strong craving for pasta. Don’t get me wrong – the meals we had were quite delicious (mahi mahi, conch, paella…), but we were all craving a nice, big bowl of pasta with a hearty meat sauce.  I think it was from some commercial we saw on TV.

I made some Barilla pasta when we got home, but it didn’t really hit the spot. *Enter lightbulb moment* How about some fresh pasta instead??

And so, I made some fresh pappardelle pasta with a delicious meat sauce. The pasta was quite difficult to make since I don’t have a pasta maker. Lots of rolling and use of my strong muscles!

Fresh Pasta (Courtesy of Mario Batali)

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups of flour
  • 4 eggs
  1. Place the flour in a mound on a flat surface – it can be a clean countertop, a cutting board, etc.  Make a little well in the middle for the eggs.
  2. Crack the eggs in the middle of the flour mound.  Start kneading ingredients together with your hands.
  3. Continue to knead until the flour and the eggs are fully mixed.
  4. Roll into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature.
  5. Roll and form as desired.IMG_5688

 

Meat Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can of peeled plum shaped tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1 lb, 85/15 ground beef
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped (extra for garnish)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, drizzle olive oil.  Add garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes.
  2. Add ground beef and saute until cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add tomatoes and carrots to the mixture.  Mix throughly.  Set on low to simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
  4. Add basil leaves and any additional seasonings.
  5. Serve over pasta.

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Another Wonderful Pasta Substitute

I’m such a sucker for Trader Joe’s marketing.  I was grocery shopping over the weekend and picked up a bag of their seafood blend in the frozen section.  Right above the price tag, in a bright neon yellow sign says, “Try it with our Arrabiata Sauce!”  Without hesitation, I grab the sauce that is so brilliantly placed right above the seafood blend and go on my merry way.  A few aisles later, I’ve tossed a bunch of other things into my cart (not on my shopping list) and end up spending way more than expected.

So, what else do I need to purchase to serve with this seafood blend and Arrabiata sauce?  Pasta, of course!!  But, how can I make this a more nutritious meal?  Zucchini pasta!  I bought this amazing julienne peeler from Home Goods for only $2.99.  It’s the perfect tool (small and easy to use) to make zucchini pasta instead of spending money on another clunky tool to add to the mix of kitchen appliances.

Tonight’s dinner features 3 main ingredients, with a few additional spices to enhance the flavors.  It does take some time to prepare, so I wouldn’t call it an easy and quick weeknight dinner, but something to try if you have ~45 mins in the kitchen!

Zucchini Pasta with Seafood & Arrabiata Sauce

Serves 2

For the zucchini pasta:

  1. Using the julienne peeler, strip the zucchini down to the seeds.  Place julienned zucchini into a large bowl.  Season with some sea salt and mix well.
  2. Prior to cooking, squeeze the zucchini pasta to get rid of the excess water.
  3. In a medium sized pot, add butter and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes.  Add zucchini pasta and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from pot and set aside.

 

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For the sauce:

  1. Using the same pot, add butter and garlic.  Saute until the garlic becomes tender.
  2. Add seafood blend and saute for an additional 5 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. Add half a jar of arrabiata sauce.  Add red pepper flakes (optional).
  4. Simmer on low for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over zucchini pasta.

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And here’s a picture of Ziggy, chillin’!!!

 

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Food Cravings

I love food.  I love eating food.  I love cooking food.  I love talking about food.

The best thing about cooking is the freedom to experiment and try new things.  When a friend tells me about a food craving, I can not only picture it in my head, but I’m thinking about the thousands of possibilities on how to create the perfect dish that they are craving.

My little sister, Tiffany, is home for spring break, which means enjoying mom’s home cooked meals for seven days straight.  Honestly, dining hall food at her school is not THAT bad, but c’mon, at the end of the day, it’s dining hall food… chewy bacon, rubbery chicken breast, and sad attempts at stir fry and Asian cuisine.

One of the dishes that Tiff was craving was a hearty pasta dish with a creamy tomato sauce.  I’ve never made a creamy tomato sauce before, so I was excited to try something new!  I tried to keep it on the lighter side, which meant that the sauce didn’t come out as creamy and cheesy as she wanted, but she was still satisfied (or maybe she was just hungry?).  I think next time, I’ll use cream cheese instead of half and half.

Pasta with “Pink” Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. package of pasta, cooked (I used Colavita Mezzi Rigatoni)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 strips of uncured bacon, chopped
  • 28 oz. can of peeled plum shaped tomatoes, dice the tomatoes and keep the juice
  • Fresh parsley and basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup, half and half
  • 1/4 cup, freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Follow instructions to cook pasta, drain, and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, over medium high heat, add bacon.  Saute for a few minutes, until edges turn crispy.  Add onion and garlic and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add canned tomatoes and fresh herbs.  Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add half and half and freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Continue to stir until sauce becomes a nice pink color.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Toss in cooked pasta and mix well.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

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Fresh and Natural Ingredients

It’s pretty sad how one of the main drivers of obesity is the convenience factor of food.  Everyone tends to live such busy lives; there’s never enough time to make a fresh meal and there definitely isn’t such a thing as “quick and healthy”, only “fast and greasy” in today’s society.  When you do find some down time at home, instead of spending it on the couch or lounging around the house, spend some time in the kitchen learning a new recipe or perhaps cooking a huge meal so you have leftovers to last you into the busy work week.

Over the weekend, I decided to make homemade pesto sauce.  I was craving it and wanted to try a new recipe.  The ingredients are simple enough and man, it was good.  Bjorn and I could eat spoonfuls of just the pesto sauce.  I vow to never buy jarred pesto sauce ever again.  Even if I’m in a hurry and if it’s convenient.  Also, just for kicks, I decided to look up ingredients of what’s in a bottle of jarred pesto sauce.  I’m not even sure what some of this stuff is…  So, back to my initial thought above, things that are convenient are not always the best option; if you have time and energy to make something from scratch, do it, and your body will thank you.

In case you are interested… Here’s what’s included in Classico’s pesto sauce: Basil, Soybean Oil, Garlic, Romano Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Olive Oil, Spice, Salt, Lactic Acid, Torula Yeast, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors (Soy).

Even worse, here’s what’s included in Knorr’s Pesto Sauce packets (just add water and olive oil!): Salt, Sugar, Corn Starch, Garlic Powder, Basil, Spinach, Monosodium glutamate, Parsley, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Parmesan Cheese (Milk, Salt, Cheese Cultures, Enzymes), Maltodextrin, Guar Gum, Whey, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Nonfat Dry Milk, Yeast Extract, Spice, Disodium Phosphate, Mono & Diglycerides, Wheat Flour, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Natural flavors, Malic Acid.

Basil Pesto Sauce

Makes approximately 8 oz

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (sorry, not Paleo!)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Add basil leaves, pine nuts, and garlic to food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add oil and process until smooth.
  3. Add Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and process until mixed in.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  4. Serve atop grilled chicken breast, as a sauce with pasta, or as a spread in a sandwich.

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