“Test Kitchen”: Low fat Spicy Tomato Arugula Angel Hair Pasta

 

This is my first in what I will call my “Test Kitchen” Series.  I’ll be trying out recently published recipes from blogs or magazines and following them exactly as they are printed.  Then I’ll post my notes and give it a “will try again” or “will not try again”.

I found this recipe on the Facebook scroll of Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s blog last week.  A  link to the recipe here.   It sounded really good, healthy, loaded with veggies, and I had all the ingredients on hand.  And while the recipe was easy and it stored well, I really doubt I’ll make it again.  It tasted like any random pasta with tomato sauce made of canned tomatoes, and I never normally use canned tomatoes, and now I know why.  I don’t like the taste of canned tomatoes unless they are used in a  large pasta  sauce recipe and then simmered for several hours with a lot of other ingredients, herbs and spices.

I initially tried this dish with a new kind of quinoa angel hair pasta which after making it, I realized, it wasn’t very good.  I have another brand of quinoa pasta I use and like, but for whatever reason, this particular brand, or maybe just quinoa angel hair pasta, was not good this evening.  So I used my back up multi grain whole wheat pasta which I know to be good

Spicy Tomato-Arugula Angel Hair Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 yellow tomatoes, diced
  • 3 red tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 lb of dried angel hair pasta (I used multi grain pasta)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 3 shallots chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of chopped arugula
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  •  Anaheim chiles, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Place the yellow tomatoes and red tomatoes in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with the sea salt and let sit for 40 minutes
  • Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes.  Strain and rinse.  Set aside
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the garlic and shallots and saute until the shallots are softened.  3 to 4 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 5 minutes
  • Toss the sauce with the pasta, the salted tomatoes, the arugula,pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes and chiles and heat until warmed through.  Season with salt and sprinkle with the Parmesan.  Serve immediately.

My notes if making this again: Use a lot more arugula or spinach, omit canned tomatoes, used more fresh tomatoes, use some chopped up yellow and orange bell peppers sauteed with the garlic and the shallots, use more herbs and spices, angel hair pasta does not taste good made with quinoa.

My conclusions: I have so many other tomato pasta sauce recipes I like that I would probably not make this again.

 

 



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Moroccan Quinoa Pilaf

I first made this pilaf with chef Rebecca Katz , author of the “Cancer Fighting Kitchen”, during a cooking class  of hers I attended last February at the Draegers Cooking School.  The photo above  was taken at that class. The pilaf was served with orange citrus chicken and kale with sweet potato.

I was only recently introduced to quinoa a few years ago,  and this is my favorite  recipe.  Quinoa is a really great source of protein, as that  it is a “complete” protein, containing all the essential amino acids we need to get through our diet.

I love Middle Eastern and Northern Africa flavor profiles, and they  work especially well with quinoa. This dish would be a great side to my North African Lamb Chops recipe.  The cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and turmeric spices take me back to the first time I ever tried Moroccan food when I was young.

I make this all the time, because its fast, easy, and a great snack to make ahead and keep in the fridge. I used carrots, fennel and yellow crook neck squash in this particular preparation, as that those were the veggies I had on hand today, but this recipe tastes especially good with toasted almond slices, onions and raisins.  To really brighten up the final product, I squeezed half a lemon on it and sprinkled a little fresh mint. Chef Rebecca was kind enough to give me permission to to reprint this recipe in full.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Thanks Rebecca!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots finely diced
  • 1 medium size fennel bulb
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 1 cup dry organic quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 3/4 cups of filtered water or vegetable stock
  • sea salt to taste
  • Optional: 1 yellow crook neck squash
  • Optional: 1/4 cup of fresh chopped mint or parsley

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and then add the shallot, fennel, carrot, and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occasionally with a spoon for about 3 minutes until the vegetables start to sweat.
  2. Stir in the quinoa, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and cardamom, then stir in vegetable stock or filtered water, a pinch of salt and bring to a boil
  3. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
  4. If you decided on using the crook neck squash: saute the squash in olive oil over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes until tender.  Set aside until quinoa is done cooking
  5. Remove quinoa from heat and fluff with a fork, then add the optional squash and parsley or mint
  6. Do a quick taste and if you want, add a quick squeeze of lemon juice to add some acid or “amp” up the flavor
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Will stay fresh stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days
  • Nutrition Per Serving:  Calories: 270; Fat: 10 grams; Carbohydrates: 39 grams, Protein: 8 grams


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Quinoa Pasta with Spinach, Rainbow Swiss Chard, and Tomatoes


Quinoa pasta is made with a combination of quinoa, a grain from the “Incan time” which is rich in protein, and corn flour instead of wheat. The pay off is that its gluten free, and in my opinion tastes just as good as regular pasta.

In this particular dish, I cranked up the nutrition and flavor with lots of veggies and fresh herbs I picked up at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend and then tossed the pasta together while it’s warm, saturating the pasta with all the yummy flavors. The result is a fun pasta dish with major flavor; a gorgeous, colorful appearance with nice texture, high flavor, and high nutrition. I make this sometimes in large batches ahead of time and keep in the fridge since it reheats well, and is a nice make-ahead, healthy snack to have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8 ounce package gluten free quinoa spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 12 ounce containers of yellow, red or multicolor cherry tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves pressed
  • 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • 1 8 to 12 ounce package of baby spinach
  • 3 – 4 cups (approx) of Rainbow Swiss Chard, ribs removed, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped or dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped or dried thyme
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh or dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Addtional: 6 tablespoons of finely grated or shredded Parmesan
  • Optional: 2 pieces of low fat organic uncured turkey bacon, chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite , stirring occasionally to make sure pasta does not stick together during the cooking process.
  2. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid.
  3. Heat oven to 425 degrees
  4. Mix the cherry tomatoes in a bowl with a dash of olive oil, and a pinch of the herbs
  5. Oil cookie sheet with olive oil and spread tomatoes out evenly over the pan
  6. Place in oven and set timer for 12 to 15 minutes; cook until the tomatoes have just softened, and remove
  7. In a large heavy skillet heat oil over medium heat, add the red onions, garlic and some fresh salt and pepper. If you’re using the turkey bacon you can add this now too.
  8. After a minute or two add pinch each of the each of the herbs. Continue to stir and infuse all the flavors together for about 30 seconds.
  9. Add the 1/4 cup pasta liquid and stir, scraping up browned bits
  10. Add about 1/2 cup of the roasted tomatoes (leave the rest for later), and the Spinach and Swiss Chard in small batches until just barely wilted and warmed
  11. Add in 2 tbsps of the cheese and the remainder of the herbs, and crushed red pepper
  12. Turn the heat off or down to warm
  13. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with tongs quickly until the spinach, the Swiss Chard and all the prior ingredients are evenly mixed through
  14. Transfer to larger family style serving bowl or dish and add tomatoes to the top of the final dish
  15. Sprinkle with the remaining part of the cheese and serve family style; along with additional cheese

Serving Info: Serves 4, 375 Calories per serving, 13 grams of “good fat, and 7 grams of fiber

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