Here’s today’s recipe, again from Fine Cooking. And it’s by Pamela Anderson, so it’s got that going for it. You’ll notice that the recipe uses prosciutto, which is really good if you’re into that sort of thing, but of course we made it without. The other deviations we made: substituting a canola/olive oil blend for the olive oil to get more omega-3‘s, using whole-wheat pasta (chiocciole since I can never find orecchiete), and omitting the delicious Parmigiano-Reggiano from mine since I’m still on this blasted 10-Day Challenge where I can’t have any dairy. If you are going to use cheese but don’t feel like shelling out $18 per pound for Parmigiano-Reggiano, just get a wedge of regular parmesan cheese. Although it doesn’t have the nuttiness and depth of flavor that Reggiano does, it is much better than the pre-grated Kraft stuff in a green cylinder that we all grew up with.
If you’re going to use whole-wheat pasta, which you should if you eat pasta at all regularly, make sure you get 100-percent whole wheat, not a 51-49 whole-grain blend. We bought those blue Barilla Whole Grain boxes for a long time before realizing that they are blends. 100-percent whole-wheat pastas are a little more expensive, since they’re often organic as well, but the taste is really not much different from that of regular pasta. If you tried it five years ago and still can’t get the cardboard taste out of your mouth, try it again because it’s much better than it used to be.
Another alternative, of particular interest to readers of this blog, is Barilla Plus. Barilla Plus is a multigrain pasta with much more protein and omega-3 than regular or whole-wheat pasta. Seems ideal for vegetarian endurance athletes, who are always after more protein, and to be honest I totally forgot about Barilla Plus until I started writing this post. In the past I have tended not to buy Barilla Plus because it’s not 100-percent whole-wheat, but now that good protein sources are more scarce in my diet the tradeoff seems worth it. Plus, pun very much intended (and emphasized!), it looks like the added nutrients are the result of natural ingredients rather than fortification, which means they can be assimilated easily into the body. In Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food, Pollan argues that a good rule of thumb is to avoid foods that make health claims, since often the extra nutrients are unnatural additions, disrupting the wholeness of the food source and resulting in little absorption into the body. This, by the way, is a fantastic book to read if you are at all interested in nutrition and the travesty that is the Western diet, and I’ll write a post about it one of these days.
But back to the meal. Erin did most of the cooking, and when I tried to help I knocked a cup of reserved pasta water off of the counter, so she got to hold the plate today:
And the money shot:
Erin and I agreed that this meal was good but not great. She liked it better than I did, probably because hers had parmesan cheese on it. We both agreed that more tomatoes would have been nice to balance the bitterness of the arugula. But my biggest complaint is that it was not substantial enough for marathon training, and I was hungry again later in the night. Maybe Barilla Plus would have helped with that. So we give it a generous 3 cows out of 5.
One last thing; here’s another article from Yahoo! news about the unhealthiest restaurants in the county. It doesn’t tell us much that we don’t already know, but sometimes it feels good to read about this stuff and know that you haven’t gone near it in years (or months, or at least weeks, I hope).
If you aren’t eating healthily yet, there’s no better day than today to start!