Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce + Beans and Greens

After a weekend of cupcakes and wine, and it is time for some clean eating.  As a Libra, I'm always searching for balance, and so after a weekend of total indulgence, I like to reign things back in once the week begins.  This week, I'm keeping things vegetarian, and focusing on whole grains and fresh vegetables. One of my favorite easy weeknight dinners is whole wheat pasta with slow-roasted tomato sauce.  The flavors are gorgeous, and the recipe couldn't be easier.  We've been getting incredible local cherry tomatoes, so I simply rinse about a pound of them and put them in a baking dish, throw in 6 whole cloves of garlic (okay, 7.  okay, 8... but if you can't roll with garlic like my family, keep it to a half-dozen cloves or less), drizzle the whole thing with olive oil, sprinkle it with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and toss it in a 350 degree oven for about 90 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bubbling and oozing.  In the meantime, I boil a pot of salted water and cook a pound of whole wheat pasta (I'm really digging angel hair at the moment, but spaghetti, orchiette or penne would be lovely as well).  You can really just toss the tomatoes with the pasta, generously douse the whole thing in parmesan cheese and call it dinner.  However, to really take it to the next level, I've been doing two things: adding about a cup of chopped fresh basil, and buying this amazing marinated mozzarella salad at our local Italian specialty shop, chopping up all the little bocconcini and other little goodies in there (which appear to be marinated red onions and some fresh herbs) and tossing that in as well, along with the oil that salad has been marinating in.  This little bit of fat adds calcium and keeps things from getting too virtuous.
I'm also craving dark green veggies, but not so much in a salad way, so tonight I did a little variation on our usual beans and greens to go along side the pasta.  I bought beautiful rainbow chard and chopped it into ribbons.  Then I chopped a whole mess of, you guessed it, garlic (3 cloves?  okay, 4.) and sauteed that in some olive oil. I added a drained can of chickpeas and sauteed them over high heat until they started to get crispy, then added the chard and tossed it until it was wilted.  I finished the dish with salt, fresh ground pepper, and the freshly squeezed juice of one lemon. This would also benefit from a healthy sprinkling of roasted red pepper flakes, but one of my customers this evening has a tender palette and prefers things not so spicy, so I left it simple... but if you are cooking for a house of iron tongues, go for it. 
We've got protein, we've got fiber, we've got vitamins galore, whole grains, and healthy fats.  I feel redeemed already.  And they say red wine has health benefits as well...

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