Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pasta with "Sausage" and Yellow Peppers

Between being busy at work and trying to get out every night for a bike ride or a run, I find myself eating dinner later and later. So far this week I am averaging long days at work, shorter runs and rides than I planned, and a 10:00 dinner time. Monday night was a deliberately planned menu. I made Salad Nicoise, veggie style. But last night and tonight I quickly scrounged around in the pantry and fridge to find what I could toss together for a quick meal.
Tonight's throw together was a pasta dish made with flax pasta that I buy at Trader Joes. If you've ever had whole wheat pasta, and disliked it as much as I did, you are probably hesitant to try flax pasta. But, I'm here to tell you that you should give it a go because it's much better than it's unappealing cousin. The texture is very good, and it works really well with a red sauce. Of course, it's also much more nutritious than regular white pasta. I used the rotini tonight, but have used the penne in the past.
I also tried another new product tonight: Tofurkey sundried tomato and basil "sausage". I liked it. It had a spicy kick to it which I was not expecting.

Pasta with "Sausage" and Yellow Peppers
1 1/2 -ish cups of pasta
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tofurkey sausages, sliced 1/4-1/2 in. thick
1 small yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 cups marina sauce

1. Cook pasta
2. In medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute sausage for a couple of minutes, then add pepper. Cook until sausage is lightly brown, and pepper is slightly softened.
3. Add marina sauce and simmer.
4. When pasta is cooked al dente, drain and add it to the sauce mixture. Stir it up and let it cook over low heat for a couple of minutes to let all the flavors meld.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Balsamic dijon vinaigrette

It's a rare occurrence that I buy salad dressing in a bottle. I started steering away from them a long time ago when I realized they typically had a lot of added sugar. Now, there are a lot of better brands on the market, but it's pretty easy to make your own. I have to admit though, I am pretty boring and often fall back on vinaigrettes. I make different kinds of vinaigrettes (see the Maple Dijon vinaigrette in an earlier post), and on occasion, I do venture into something vinegar free. But the fact is, I love vinegar of all kinds. And this is reflected in the way I make dressings. The typical ratio of oil to vinegar in a salad dressing recipe calls for much more oil, at least 3 times more. I reverse this ratio and am pretty heavy handed on the vinegar. So, you may want to keep that in mind if you use this recipe.

I have also taken to using white balsamic vinegar, as opposed to the traditional purple color. The reason? Many ruined white shirts. I inevitably splatter dressing on myself and have not figured out a good remedy to take out the little purple dots that have plagued much of my white apparel. I do think the taste is slightly different. I'm not exactly sure how. Perhaps one is a tad sweeter, but I can't remember which one. Maybe it's my imagination though.

The amounts in this dressing are my best guess, because I usually just go by look and taste. The key to dressing is mixing it really well or else all you'll taste is olive oil. You can either shake it up if you have a dressing container, mix it in a blender, or stir it very well with a fork if you're making it in a cup.

Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette
3 tblsp olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tspn salt, maybe a little more
1 tspn dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
a little pepper
perhaps a bit of dried basil if you'd like

1. Mix all ingredients except oil.
2. Drizzle in oil and mix really well in one of the above mentioned fashions.
3. Pour over salad a little before eating to let it settle.