Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pasta Puttanesca

This is an easy dish which I happened upon accidentally the other night at my parent's house. I thought I didn't have anything to make for dinner. I raided the pantry and was pleasantly surprised at how well everything worked together as I threw random Italian ingredients into the skillet. Its a sort of puttanesca without the seafood part. Everything is flexible...I listed the ingredients below, but they are basically guidelines. You can add or subtract ingredients as you like. I didn't really put amounts down either because it's really up to you. Just do everything to suit your tastes.

1 box whole wheat pasta (preferably short pasta like ziti or penne etc.)
1 onion
1-2 garlic cloves (or more to taste)
1 medium can of diced tomatoes
a bunch of collard greens
pitted kalamata olives
roasted red peppers
one jar of marinated artichoke hearts (i use Pastene)
crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
crushed red pepper to taste to make it spicy
1-2 teaspoons italian seasoning, or more to taste
sea salt and pepper to taste

Steps: Boil pasta, drain and set aside
Dice onion and mince the garlic, then saute onion and garlic in a large skillet
Cut out central rib in collards and cut up the leaves a bit (not too small because they shrink up a lot when cooked), if you like you can chop up the stems into green bean size pieces and toss them in the skillet too (most of the nutrients are in the stems)
Add can of diced tomatoes
Cover skillet
Slice the mushrooms, roasted red peppers and cut up the artichoke hearts and toss them in
Add the capers and olives and mix in
Add the crushed red pepper and seasonings, salt and pepper and mix in
Cover skillet to cook the collards, stirring occasionally
Once collards are cooked add the pasta into the skillet and stir to combine
Cook 5 or so minutes more and done!
Eat and enjoy!

When my mom's friend Mary read this blog entry, she wrote me an email about the lore of Puttanesca sauce. Here is the bit she wrote. "It translates to Harlot's Sauce. Supposedly the hard working ladies of the red light districts had to make quick meals in the evening. So, they would dash through the cupboards, just like you did to make the most wonderful, fragrant sauces. Also, you probably already know why you would use the shorter pasta, but since you're bloggin' for people to read, you might as impart those bits that nourish their minds as well. In case you don't know about pasta shapes: thin noodles = thin sauce; thicker pasta, like fettucine = think sauce; pasta with holes or ridges, like ziti = chunky sauces."

Good to know! Thanks Mary!

We all love to eat!

We all love to eat...unless you're weird, I mean come on, who doesn't love food?
My dilemma was having high cholesterol and after having a baby, I had some serious pounds to shed. My doctor had wanted me to go on a statin medication for my high cholesterol, which really scared me! Medication for cholesterol? I was only 25! There was no way I was going to go on meds for something that at my age, I should have in check. So my mission was to lower my cholesterol naturally and to shed those pregnancy pounds while still enjoying good food!
I thought back to when I was in college and living with my crazy hippy friends, Katrina and Chris. They were vegan (did not consume any animal products of any kind) and Katrina was always cooking. She cooked some of the best food I had ever had and it was all vegan. I mean pancakes, pizza, fried plantains, mashed potatoes with squash...all kinds of great stuff. I was really healthy then, and really thin. I wasn't vegan, just was eating a lot of the vegan food in the house, which in turn limited my intake of meat and dairy. I used to think, "I could really be vegan if I could cook like Katrina." But alas, I couldn't, and so never really jumped on the wagon.
So here I was these years later, feeling gross and uncomfortable from the weight I gained while I was pregnant. I found it hard to lose weight. It was coming off, but really, really slowly. I felt sludgy and thick inside and soft and puffy on the outside. Doesn't sound like fun, does it? One morning I was watching The View and the guest the women had on the show was Alicia Silverstone. She was promoting her new book, "The Kind Life," and discussing her vegan lifestyle. Alicia had the View ladies trying lots of different dishes from the vegan recipes in her book. I watched as Joy Behar tried the Cheesy Oozy Guacamole Bean dip. I was not surprised when she declared that it was delicious and she couldn't believe it was vegan! I knew how yummy and satisfying vegan food could be from my Katrina cooking days. So I sat there on the couch, thinking of how bad I felt and my high cholesterol and said "what have I got to lose?" I got the book and convinced my husband Adam to give it a go. I started with the recipes in Alicia's book and was cooking all the time. I realized how much I love to cook and how happy and giddy it makes me when I make something that everyone enjoys! I began this blog to share my joy of cooking with my friends and family and more importantly, to show with love how rewarding, both mentally and physically, a vegan lifestyle can be.