Tag Archives: pasta

Way Rad Bowl of Pasta

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I didn’t know what else to call it. It has so many preparation-detailed ingredients that the full name would be something too long and annoying. So way rad bowl of pasta it is, because that’s what it was.

Sooo yeah. Remember how I said I wasn’t eating carbs and I missed them oh so much, but I refused to eat them? I kicked myself in the ass and told myself “moderation and portion control, betch” and then made this way rad pasta dish. And I would make it again, too.

I made this the night before our treadmill finally made its appearance in our basement gym, when I knew I would be running like mad the minute the delivery guys left my house. So I decided it would be best to pretend like I was running a marathon thereby validating a big bowl of pasta.

Although the base of this recipe comes from Cooking Light, I had to make some changes so it could fit into my “let’s be friggan’ healthy” lifestyle.

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For instance, I used whole wheat pasta, used a lighter cheese, and since we needed some kind of protein in there other than cheese, I threw grilled portobello “steaks” on top. So my version was born and was received well by both me and the man of the house.  I can’t get over the smokiness and spicy flavor this dish had, but tossing it all together with seared tomatoes and fresh spinach in a chili garlic sauce? Fuhgettaboutit.

Make it. Moderate it. Portion it well. Eat it. Delicioso. Fin.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Fettuccine with Chili Garlic Sauce and Portobello Mushroom
 
Prep time
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A robust bowl of whole wheat pasta, seared tomatoes and fresh spinach tossed in a chili garlic sauce, then topped with sliced portobello “steaks”.
Author:
Recipe type: pasta, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. whole wheat fettuccine, or long pasta of choice (linguine would be yummy)
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (use ¼ if you prefer less spice)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-oz. can organic tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 oz. part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, de-stemmed and gills scraped out
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions, about 7-9 minutes, or until al dente
  2. While the pasta cooks, spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Arrange tomatoes cut side down and cook 1 to 1½ minutes or until tomatoes start to soften or burst. Remove from skillet, transfer to bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, add the 1½ tablespoons olive oil over low heat.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes and sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and salt, stir and cook 5-7 minutes or until warmed through.
  7. While the tomato sauce simmers, the pasta should be done so you can drain and set aside.
  8. Get your grill pan ready or a separate pan and grill up portobello caps until browned and grilled well.
  9. Slice mushrooms and set aside.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the spinach, cheese, and drained pasta and toss well to coat.
  11. To serve, add mixed pasta to bowls, spoon a few grape tomatoes around the outer edge of bowls and top each bowl with sliced mushroom.

One Day in Venice

After we left the delightful city of Paris (and I promise I’ll include photos of the actual city, soon!) we jetted off to Venice. Literally.

We landed into Marco Polo around 9 p.m., and had to take a bus to the island of Venice. Then from there, we had to take a water bus to the stop by our hotel.

We were pretty loopy since it wasn’t the longest flight, but it felt like a long day. The airport is actually located on the main land and if you’re going to the island of Venice, you need to take water buses around once there. You can take a water taxi but we found out those are €90! Much too much money if you ask me. It would be a private ride, but that’s just too much. So, we took a water bus…which was an adventure figuring out where they line up and which one we needed to take. Since we got there so late, a lot of the buses we thought we had to take weren’t running anymore and no one seemed polite enough to help us out :\

We were staying in Canareggio area aka the Jewish Ghetto. It’s one of the older parts of the city and it’s also in the eye of the city. In case you never noticed, the island of Venice is shaped like a fish (now that I know this, this is all I see LOL) and we were staying near the eye. It’s also the area closest to the terminal that takes you to the main land.

After we got to the San Marcuola stop, we had to figure out how to get to the hotel. When nightfall comes, there are no lights in Venice. What we learned the next day from our guide, is that it’s up to the owners of the building if they want to have a lamp post or light outside their building. Apparently a lot of people opt out of this, making it very hard to read street signs and/or maps ;) We finally made it to our hotel and realized we were starving! Once again we hadn’t eaten for a few hours and needed some sustenance, no matter the hour. So we walked down our little street and found the first restaurant that was still open and decided to sit in. Lucky for us, we found a restaurant with two hilarious waiters who kept things fun and telling jokes.

REB and I were really excited to eat, too. We knew we were going to have pizza, which is a big deal. Neither one of us is Catholic, but we always give up something during Lent just to see if we can give up something we love to eat or drink or whatever. And one of our favorite things to eat is pizza. So, we gave up pizza. And then we were in full-fledged health mode before the wedding, so we made a deal that until we got to Italy, we wouldn’t eat any pizza.

So in case you missed that, we hadn’t had pizza for 6 months before we got to Italy.

We. Were. STOKED.

Vegetarian pizza

So yes, I got the vegetarian pizza. REB got the cheese pizza. And they were both so freaking delicious. Now that we’ve been to Rome as well, I can honestly say that I prefer Venetian pizza over Roman or Napoli. Roman pizza is far too thin and all the toppings just sort of slide off, which is unfortunate. Napoli pizza is slightly thicker, but again, the sauce is so watery that the toppings are kind of swimming in it and they just fall off. But Venetian-style pizza was a thin crust, that was firm, topped well, seasoned well and baked to perfection.

The next day, REB had gotten me a real treat. As an early birthday present to me, he arranged for us to have a private walking photography tour with a professional, around the city of Venice! It was unbelievable! The tour was super early that day; from 8-10:30 a.m. Normally I hate getting up early on vacation, but I was actually very excited. Most people know that the best times to take photos is really early in the morning or around sunset when the light is best.

Venetian sunrise <3

We were almost late meeting her at San Marco’s Square, but we made it just in time. We also realized that no one else had signed up for the tour so it was just us and her. So perfect.

I will say this here and now: Venice in the early hours is so beautiful. It’s so quiet, peaceful and not crowded. I’ll be honest, we weren’t the biggest fans of the city once everyone came to the island. It seemed like an amusement park to us. No one lives on the island and at 10:30 or so, it just becomes this ridiculous, crowded mess of people. Every two feet is a souvenir shop, people trying to sell you something, waiting in lines to get into stores, see the bridge, whatever. It just wasn’t our cup of tea. And then promptly at 8 p.m., everyone leaves the island and it becomes totally dead. But in those early hours when the city is starting to wake up, it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Eve, our photographer tour guide, was an amazing guide. She showed us these cute little streets, alleys, waterways, and houses that we wouldn’t have found on our own.

She also taught both of us how to take pictures at different angles, which I realized I don’t do nearly enough! She also showed us her favorite spots in the city where she likes to take photographs.

Like this bridge solely to look at the water for the reflection:

Or this water street for the bridge, colors and perspective:

REB held onto my shirt so I wouldn't fall into the water. Luckily there was a wall to help lean my camera

There’s no denying the entire city is filled with charm, beauty and old-world style.

So quiet in the morning

We learned some neat little facts about the city from Eve as well. Like how an area we were in was the red light district called “Casi no” or as you and I know it…casino. It literally translates to “bad house” or whatever. It basically meant that gambling, prostitution and other saucy things were taking place in certain buildings. And the way you knew if a house was bad was if there were wooden shutters on it. That was usually a good indication that prostitutes might be hanging out up there calling down to the boatmen.

casi no

Other things she taught was about the wells that were situated in areas around the city. The wells were the way people got water back to their house.

Or if you were rich enough, you had a courtyard in your home and a well of your own. Only a few of these houses still exist in the city today.

I love the light in this photo. So warm :)

So the tour lasted 2 1/2 hours but it felt like it flew on by! She showed us some fantastic parts of the city and even suggested some things for us to do on our own for the rest of the day. Anyway, we couldn’t navigate the narrow streets of Venice the way she did, but we did finally find the Rialto bridge and then….we saw this….:

I’ve never seen such a beautiful view! I had heard stories of the Grand Canal being pretty cool, but when you seen it in person it’s just as busy as the photo shows. But again, it’s only like this once the city wakes up. I kind of wish I could have seen it in the wee hours of the morning. But either way, it was just magnificent!

Walking around the city really worked up our hunger. We didn’t eat breakfast since we had to get to the Square so early for the tour. The best solution? Pasta!

I got the pomodoro and basil, and REB got the pesto. Both were pretty delicious

I don’t know how it happened but this place was actually a little past our hotel. We somehow got from the Rialto Bridge back to Canareggio. Lucky for us, we were in an area that Eve actually suggested for us to see that isn’t a big attraction. She told us that one of the oldest bridges in Venice was in this district. And we found it!

So searching around the city of Venice works up an appetite for an afternoon snack. What better snack in Italy than gelato!

I got the pistachio on the left there and REB got the mint chocolate chip.

Our journey continued and we decided to visit the three islands by Venice: Murano (where they do the hand blown glass), Burano (Italian lace!) and Torcello (…I’m actually not sure what it’s known for, but it’s old and pretty haha).

En route to Burano

So while we were in Burano, we actually didn’t stand around to see the lace demo. We wanted to take advantage of the 30 minutes we had on the island, so we walked around.

We may or may not have had gelato within a 3 hour span.

Coffee flavored nomz!

….but we did ;)

Torcello was a beautiful island. Really old, small and had this beautiful church on it. I think that might be what the island is known for, but I honestly can’t remember…

I looove those beams!

 

Pretty shadows <3

We also saw something I had never seen before in person: a pomegranate tree!

Hard not to pick one but I think the homeowners would have been mad...

So when we got back to Venice, it was about 6 or 7 p.m. and we were hungry again. Walking can do that to a person, I guess ;) Being a vegetarian in Italy isn’t so bad. You get to eat a lot of pasta, pizza, cheese and ice cream. However, I’m sure that can get pretty old and unhealthy. We totally indulged while we were there though! We walked along the Grand Canal to find some good restaurants and just decided to sit at one of them. REB got pizza and I had pasta (again).

Not as good as the one we had the night we got there :"

 

Arrabiata

When we were done with dinner, we had remembered something Eve had told us in the morning. The area where we were staying was apparently the Venetian nightlife hotspot. So that was exciting for us. We were ready to have a drink and just wind down before we had to get up early for our train ride to Rome. So we walked past our hotel and into the street she told us about.

The nightlife of Venice? It’s really just four bars lined up next to each other and they’re open until 10 p.m. while the rest of the city closes down at 8 p.m. as mentioned earlier. So anyway, we found this cute little bar and had a drink.

Bellini and white wine

So yeah…nightlife? Here’s the nightlife.

There it is. So the city might not be open super late and no one might live on the actual island itself, but we did have a nice time. I’m glad we were only there a day. I don’t know what we would have done if we were there for more than 2 days. Maybe go to Florence for a day (next time!) or something.

We did have a lovely time in Venice, but we were ready to keep heading south and spend the last part of our honeymoon in historic Rome. But the beauty we saw in Venice will remain with us forever. That’s for certain <3

Rainbow Pasta

Michigan has graced us with four consecutive days of beautiful Springtime weather.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal, except, this time last year it snowed for the last time for the season. And it snowed a LOT.

I know it’s coming. I know it. We always get one more dump of snow and then winter is officially over (usually) the second week of April.

I’m not going to go over the logistics; I’m thoroughly enjoying this weather and hope to continue doing so for a few more days.

In lieu of the warm weather I made a most delicious pasta dish full of roasted vegetables. It just makes me think of Spring and warm weather!

You’ll see why I call it Rainbow Pasta if you keep reading.

Rainbow Pasta starring:


•1 pound Farfalle (bow tie) pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
•3 carrots, peeled
•1 red bell pepper (or 2..they roast up beautifully!)
•1 yellow bell pepper
•1 green bell pepper
•1/2 cup grape tomatoes
•1/2 red onion (or a whole one if it’s on the small size)
•1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings (marjoram, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley)
•1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•1 cup pasta water
*S&P to taste

Start by preheating your oven to 450ºF

Peel and cut the carrots into thin strips. Do the same with all the other vegetables.

See why I call it Rainbow Pasta?? So many pretty colors! Makes me antsy for Spring!
You could also use summer squash, zucchini, eggplant…whatever you like! I haven’t met a roasted vegetable I didn’t like.

Place all the vegetables onto a baking sheet in their own little piles.

Drizzle some olive oil all over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss them carefully and lightly, but try to maintain their little piles as best you can.

Put them into the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.

While that’s happening, start boiling your water and cook your pasta. I used Farfalle pasta, or bow tie pasta. Really, you can use any kind of pasta you like. Penne would work great, or rigatoni. I just had bow tie in the house and it’s one of my favorite kinds of pasta, so that’s what I used.

After 10 minutes, check on the vegetables and stir them around a bit. At this point, sprinkle the herbs on top and put them back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

This is what they look like when they come out of the oven. The vegetables are done when 1). you can smell them (and believe me, you can!), 2). they look a little wilted, which lets you know they’ve roasted beautifully. More importantly, the carrots are tender and soft.

Let them cool while the pasta finishes cooking. You can also get your grape tomatoes ready. The ones that were bigger, I cut in half. But for the most part you can leave them whole. When they’re in the pasta, they’ll burst in your mouth with amazing flavor – so delicious!

You can also grate your Parmesan cheese.

I buy the real stuff. I’ve said it before, but it’s true: using quality ingredients makes a world of difference. I’m also a food snob when I want to be ;-)

When the pasta is done, measure out 1 cup of the pasta water. The starchy water will help mix all the ingredients together and since we salted the pasta water when it came to a boil, it’ll intensify the flavor of the dish even more! Mmm! Mmm!

Drain your pasta and return it to the same pot (no use dirtying a new dish). Pour all your vegetables (carefully!) into the pot and stir.

Pour a little bit of the pasta water and stir a bit more. Add in the cheese, tomatoes and the rest of the pasta water, and give it one more good stir.


Grate some more cheese on top – honestly, you can’t have enough cheese – and enjoy!

It’s such an easy dish to prepare and it’s colorful, fresh and flavorful. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Aparnabiata Sauce

I threw together a quick and easy arrabiata sauce for dinner tonight. It turned out so well!

Unfortunately, I did the unthinkable…and…didn’t take any pictures!

/gasp

/pout

/faint

Sorry ’bout that. I just threw this together and the pangs of hunger REB and I were feeling took over and my camera sat sadly on the coffee table. Sigh.

I’ll take a picture and throw it on here tomorrow or something, but it’s pretty idiot-proof to make. It’s not too terrible for you either. If you use whole wheat pasta or don’t gorge yourself on regular pasta, it’s even better. Oh come on. It’s the new year. I too am in the “must-lose-weight” mode. I predict this will pass in about a month or two. (kidding. …sort of…)

Aparnabiata sauce featuring:
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•2 small yellow onions (approx. 1 1/2 cups), roughly chopped
•1 cup diced green bell pepper (I took the easy way out and bought frozen veggies – win!)
•1 cup frozen stir-fry veggies (gets you the mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper and other vitamin-rich veggies you need!)
•4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
•1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes (get the plain kind; nothing doused in garlic oil or chilies or anything like that)
•3/4 of a 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
•4 ounces tomato paste
•3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
•1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/2 teaspoon dried basil
[by all mean, use fresh herbs. I just didn't have any on hand]
•Approx. 7 dashes Franks Red Hot sauce
•1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (I probably added more for that extra kick)
•1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I think I used a little more though)
[I probably should have used one of my all-time favorite condiments, Siracha, but sadly, it didn't make the cut. ...This time...]
•1/2 cup frozen Boca crumbles (totally optional. I’m a vegetarian and added this to get some protein)

It’s spice-time:

1). Fill a large stock pot with water to get it boiling for the pasta. While that gets going, heat the oil in a large skillet.

2). Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Create a small bed so your garlic won’t burn and then add the garlic. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

3). Add the bell peppers and stir-fry veggies. Since I used frozen, I really just had to cook them through. If you take the time to cut up fresh vegetables, you’ll need to cook them a bit longer so they cook properly and get tender.

4). Drain some of the liquid from the diced tomato can, then add the tomatoes and stir

5). You’ll want to salt and pepper the dish at this point – don’t use too much though!

6). Add half the herbs and stir.

7). Add the crushed tomato, and the rest of the herbs and stir well

8). Add in the tomato paste. I love this stuff. It adds such a depth of flavor and helps thicken the entire sauce. So delish!

9). Let the sauce come to mild boil (basically let it simmer) for a good 10 minutes or so.

10). Your water is probably boiling happily at this point, so salt it liberally (optional, but doing so will allow you to flavor the pasta) and add in your pasta. I used Penne regata (the kind with the lines so it holds all the nom sauce). You can really use whatever pasta you want, though.

11). Once the sauce has been bubbling away, add in the red wine vinegar, hot sauce, red pepper flakes and the cayenne pepper. Stir and taste. I had to do this a few times because I kept thinking it wasn’t spicy enough. So I added a lot more pepper flakes and a lot more cayenne pepper. Yum!

12). In the last 5 minutes, I threw in the frozen Boca crumbles so they could heat through. Tasted one more time to add any more salt or spices I needed and we were done!

What I loved about this sauce is that it’s mild when you first taste it, then you feel the kick and heat of the spices on the back of your tongue. It’s such a great combination!