March 4, 2015

I Love Pasta!

The other night, I made a big heaping pot of pasta and then smothered it in spicy roasted red pepper and tomato meat sauce. And I had bread, too.

I didn't eat a lot of pasta growing up. Dad was a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so that's what Mom cooked. I can still remember eating my first plate of Spaghetti alle Vongole (with clams) at Cantina Italiana in the North End. To. Die. For. I think I may have even licked the plate it was so good.

However, during my year-of-better-health, pasta had to step aside so I could get a handle on my diet. I didn't miss it at all at first because I was experiencing new tastes and foods. And as my health improved and I felt I could start to introduce some of my favorites back into the mix, I piled on the pasta. Just in smaller piles.

I'm a big believer in eating foods they way they were intended. If you're going to eat sugar, eat sugar, not a sugar substitute. Foods in their purist form are, to me, the healthiest way to eat. Just cut back on the not-so-healthy stuff and you'll be okay. However, I backed off this theory just a bit when I started to drink decaffeinated coffee. I swore I never would, but I do indulge in (maybe) a cup of it a week because I love the taste. I will treat myself to a decaf vanilla latte from Starbucks once in a while (quite a few times last month), but I'm still very aware of how much and so-called decaffeinated coffees or teas past 3:00 in the afternoon and certainly not every day.

So when I indulge in a food, or a drink, I eat/drink the real thing (usually, as I just confessed about decaf). But what about pasta? Does wheat, gluten-free, fiber-enriched, rice, or any other kind still taste good? Is it really necessary to cut it out entirely? Do you have to treat pasta like any other carb? And if so, there's a whole lot of people in Italy who might have a say in the matter.

So here's to pastain any way, shape, or form.

Spaghetti alle Vongole
Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Sausage Ragu
Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
Linguini with Pancetta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes

1 box of pasta. I prefer to use thin spaghetti for this light dish.
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
Salt to taste

Cook pasta al dente and set aside. (Add a pinch of salt to the water after bringing it to a rapid boil.)

Add olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat and then add the tomatoes. Toss them around the pan a bit with a pinch of salt and cook until the tomatoes soften and start to crack, approximately 5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook for one minute. Be careful not to brown the garlic. Toss again and then add pasta to the pan. Once it's all mixed together, toss in a several basil leaves, cut thin (chiffonade: roll basil leaves together and slice; you'll be left with long, think strips) and leave the rest for garnish.


Photo: Gwendolyn Richards