Lotsa Giada Pasta
Wow, it’s been a few weeks since this blog has seen a completely “normal” meal! But that’s just what this one is—nothing sprouted or soaked, no hemp oil, nothing raw, and real, actual, pasta (not “pasta”). And extra cheese, please!
In the spirit of taking a week off from running (I get back to it today, see below), I figured it would be fun to cook my favorite kind of food, Italian, since I haven’t done that in a while. I wanted to make a pasta dish with lots of zucchini and squash, since we have a small glut of it in the house. We picked some up at the farmers market last weekend, and Erin’s garden has (finally) produced some!
This has been the strangest summer for the garden; everything seems to have gotten a slow start. In fact, the two zucchini we just picked are the very first produce this summer! That is, if you don’t count the baby jalapenos we’ve been eating, their lives cut short by our dog Linus and his penchant for peppers—he ripped the plant out of the ground! I’m not sure what it is about jalapenos, but he loves them. We find half-eaten ones in the yard all the time! Erin has been trying to revive the sad plant, but I don’t see it working out.
Anyway, I found this recipe on the Food Network’s website, from Giada De Laurentiis. I don’t make much of Giada’s stuff, mainly because she scares me. Something about her head. But this one was exactly what I was looking for, so I got over it.
You’ll see that it has tons of vegetables (healthy), and loads of cheese (not healthy). If I’m making something really special, I don’t worry about how healthy it is, but for weeknight dinners like this, I do what I can to make it better. So I skipped out on the final part of the recipe, where you’re supposed to top everything with Parmigiano-Reggiano and melted butter. I’m sure this would have been delicious, but with a cup and a half of different cheeses already in the recipe, it kinda seemed like overkill. So I just saved some of the other cheeses to sprinkle on top before I put this dish in the oven. Those other cheeses, by the way, are nothing to shake a stick at—smoked mozzarella and fontina! Make sure you get smoked mozzarella; it adds such a wonderful flavor.
I used organic whole wheat pasta, and for the marinara sauce, I realized at the last minute that I didn’t have enough. Luckily I had a can of San Marzano tomatoes in the pantry, so I drained their liquid and cooked them over medium heat with some salt and basil for 20 minutes to make my own! Much better than the sugary crap you get in the store.
Giada’s Faulty Math
Also, I used twice as many mushrooms as Giada calls for. She wants four mushrooms, halved. So eight halves total. The dish makes eight servings (it says six, but it’s more). So if we assume that the eight mushrooms are uniformly distributed throughout the pasta bake, then a quick calculation tells us that the chances of some serving have no mushrooms at all are [1-(7/8)(6/8)(5/8)(4/8)(3/8)(2/8)(1/8)] = [1-7!/(8^7)] =99.76%. Of somebody having no mushrooms!
Oh no, Giada, this will not do.
To take care of the problem, I doubled the amount of mushrooms. (Strangely, I don’t recall getting a mushroom in mine. Ah, the limits of science.)
Statistical improbabilities aside, this meal was really good. I’m going to say 4 cows out of 5, easy. The best part is that it was pretty cheap—the cheese was the most expensive part—and it was really easy to make, requiring just a little bit of chopping and 40 minutes total baking time. Plus with eight servings, we’ll be eating this until it’s coming out our ears.
Return the Road
After a full week off from running, save for one three-mile test of the blister, I’m back at it tonight. I have a track workout scheduled (6 x 800 meters), and I’m anxious to see how I’ll do. I had to abort last week’s because of the blister, the one before that I worked out with some friends and did their workout, and three weeks ago I was recovering from a 5K race so I didn’t do the track workout. So even though I’ve been anything but idle, it’s been four weeks since I’ve legitimately completed a track workout. I should be fine, but still it’s a little scary.
I’ll be back tomorrow to let you know how it goes. Happy hump day!
The Kickstart Plan includes:
- A 7-day meal plan, built around the foods worth eating every single day
- 14 of our favorite recipes that pack in the nutrition, taste great, and are easy to make
- Focused on simplicity and speed, to minimize stress and time commitment