Archive | September, 2013

Roasted Pasta Sauce

21 Sep
Roasted baby peppers!  yum!

Baby peppers! Perfect for roasting! Yum!

Tonight I made pasta for dinner. I roasted the sauce. Yes, that’s right. And it was fabulous. Absolutely fabulous!

Here we go. I had a taste for pasta Primavera. A Primavera sauce is a vegetable sauce usually associated with fresh, or seasonal, chunky cut vegetables. I wanted a light supper.  Nothing heavy and fatty. I needed bright, light, and colorful.   Something not only packed with flavor, but loaded with beneficial nutrients too.

And as you know, I love to use what i have on hand. That is my creativity springboard.  For some reason, that absolutely energizes me.  I started pulling vegetables out of the fridge and pantry.  For a special flavor twist, I decided to roast my sauce instead of cooking it on the stove top.  I cut up my veggies  and dumped them into a big mixing bowl.  Next I sprinkled them with pepper, both red and black, salt, herb de Provence, olive oil, and a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

A good starting point.  Chunky chopped vegetables!

A good starting point. Chunky chopped vegetables!

Next, I gave the mixture a good minute of stirring with a big wooden spoon.  Then I put it into a glass roasting pan that was about 2″ deep.  I sprinkled the vegetables with a little more salt and pepper, and tossed the pan into a preheated 375 degree oven.

In the meantime, Denis popped open a bottle of wine.  We sipped a glass of a yummy big bold red, and chatted with my son a bit.  The boys set the table.  I put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.  We had fresh pasta that was in the freezer, and that cooks pretty quickly.

Into the oven it goes!

Into the oven it goes!

In 30 minutes, I pulled the veggies out of the oven.  They had cooked down, so there was a good bit of what my grandmother called “vegetable liquor” in the pan.  There was just enough liquid for a perfect sauce.  I poured it over the cooked pasta, and voila!  A super yummy light dinner was ready.  Onto the table it went with some crusty bread.  It was a colorful healthy vegetarian dinner.   I am sharing my recipe with you, but customize it using your own palate as a flavor compass.

Amy’s Pasta Primavera

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Then start cutting…

1 large zucchini, cut into chunky quarters

1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 large container fresh bella mushrooms, sliced

1 large container button mushrooms, sliced

3 large or a dozen small bell peppers, deseeded and sliced

6 green onions, sliced in 1/2 inch intervals from the whites to the tip of the green

8 ounces arugula (2 big handfuls)

8 ounces baby spinach

1/4 cup olive oil

3-4 T. balsamic vinegar

2 T. Herb de Provence

salt and pepper to taste

Mix together in large mixing bowl.  Add salt,  pepper, red pepper flakes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Herb de Provence and any seasoning to taste.

Pasta of choice-cooked (I used fresh ricotta penne)

Bread of choice

Toss this on the table for an incredibly mouthwatering meal loaded with flavor and packed with antioxidants and nutrients!  The great thing about this recipe is that it can be totally customized.

I am a moody garnisher.  Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don’t.  It depends on the flow of my day and, as always, time allowed.  Sometimes my creative juices and energy match, other times I just need to get something, anything, on the table.  But with this beautiful bounty of vegetables, my creativity ran wild,  and I garnished with chunks of creamy mozzarella cheese, some shredded zippy parmesan cheese, and fresh from the garden basil with a chiffonade cut.  It was simply wonderful!

This is the dish headed to the table.  Pasta with roasted sauce.  Super Yum!

This is the dish headed to the table. Pasta with roasted sauce. Super Yum!

Simple side

17 Sep

Fall is in the air, but I am still savoring the end of summer.  I have made one last big batch of summer barbecue  and slaw, but I could not resist adding a twist to my tried and true barbecue menu.  It was so delicious and refreshing that I am now adding it to my list of favorite simple sides.

Fresh delicious side!  Loaded with flavor, packed with nutrition!

Fresh delicious side! Loaded with flavor, packed with nutrition!

Just look at that!  Beautiful on any picnic table, dinner table, or brunch table!  It was a snap to make, and a healthy side dish.  I like crisp textures, a visually appealing presentation, and natural pure  tastes.  Here is my recipe:

Amy’s Fresh Greek Melon Salad

  •  1/4 of a watermelon, about 2 cups,  chopped
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, about 1 cup, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, chopped
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 T. chopped mint

Keep ingredients refrigerated in separate containers until serving time.  Just before serving, toss together.  Serve.  It is that easy.  And this is a fantastic recipe to adjust to what you have on hand, to fit into a certain budget, or for the personal taste of who will be eating it.

Personally, i enjoy the taste of fruits and vegetables together,  There is nothing like a good fall lettuce salad with chopped apples or pears.  You may not think that you will like the cucumber mixed in with the melons, but cucumbers are mild and sweet, and the pairing just works.  Give it a go, add your own flair, and enjoy!

Precious Time

15 Sep

The beginning of the weekend is ripe with opportunity.  My weekends are spent working, grocery shopping, studying, cleaning, socializing, and tackling the never ending laundry piles that teenagers generate.  But Friday afternoons let me dream a little bit.  I think of other things, fun things, frivolous things, that can fill my weekend.

I love to think about getting cute cloths on (do I still have any?) and heading out for dinner with friends, amazing them with my well rested charming self.  Uummm, yup, that’s not gonna happen!  Friday nights bring exhaustion, something easy tossed into the oven, and an early bedtime (if I am lucky!).  Not what I fantasize about while sitting at work Friday!

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  This Saturday morning brought a sweet surprise.  My teenage daughter wanted to take a brisk cardio walk with her old mom.  What a treasure of time.  Walking with my daughter on a crisp fall morning was healthy for our hearts and good for our souls!  We walked fast enough to raise the heart rate, and slow enough to chat.  She didn’t even seem to mind that my  running pants made me look like Bozo the clown.

We talked about everything,  like how the sun on our skin was generating healthy Vitamin D.  Cute boys at school.  A bonfire that she was going to Saturday night.  An upcoming golf match for her school golf team.  My nutrition classes.  The upcoming holiday season.   It was a sweet treat to have these moments on Saturday to connect with one of my children in such a low key way.

Sunday morning coffee and paper reading are a cherished part of my weekend.  That first cup of piping hot coffee with the front page prior to heading out to worship is truly delish.  But even that paled in comparison to my Saturday morning with my daughter.

We often forget to just take time for the gentle moments that life offers us.  But they are ripe with spiritual renewal and must be savored!  These moments, too, hold a wealth of positive health benefits for us if we let them.  Relax, step back, and forget about the vacuuming, the errands, and the obligations.  Let the pure organic time unfold, and just take a walk!