I love pasta! One of my favorite childhood memories is watching my Nonna rolling out long sheets of homemade pasta from her hand cranked pasta machine. Over and over again, through and through, until the pasta got just the right thickness; cannelloni, raviolli, fettuccine, spaghetti-you name it, she made it. She would drape the long sheets of pasta over the back of a chair until she was ready to cut them and fill them. It was magical. Once the heaping bowl was placed in front of me, I would eat as much as I could in hopes that I would never forget the taste and smell of my Nonna's kitchen. Luckily, every time I go home for a visit, there is undoubtebly, pasta waiting for me.
So, it's true that my every day pasta experiences aren't so romantic, but I still do love a good pasta dish. There are about as many sauces you can put on pasta as the number of pasta varieties, but there is something so comforting about a thick, rich red sauce. I love using lentils as a meat substitute because they are hearty and so nutritious that once mixed with the other flavors, you don't even really know that you're missing the meat. You can put this sauce on virtually any pasta shape; semolina or gluten free-it will still be delicious! I hope you enjoy it!
1 lb pasta of your choice; reg or g/f
3 garlic cloves; minced
1 small yellow onion; diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1-14 oz can brown lentils; drained & rinsed
salt & pepper
Fill a large pasta pot with water and set to boil. Heat a dutch oven or medium size sauce pan on medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and add onions, along with a generous pinch of salt. Saute the onions for 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the oregano, tomatoes and another pinch of salt and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Add the lentils and stir together. Note: if you have any red wine on hand, feel free to add 2-3 tablespoons to the sauce at this point. It will add a nice depth and richness to the sauce and the alcohol will cook out.
Let the sauce simmer together for about 15-20 minutes. Once the pasta water is boiling, add a heavy handed dash of salt. Remember, your pasta water should taste like the ocean-that's how it gives your pasta it's flavor! Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Taste your sauce and adjust seasonings if necessary. Your sauce should have reduced down a little bit and may be a little thick. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water to the sauce until you achieve the desired consistency.
Once the pasta is done, use tongs to gently shake the pasta and put it directly into a pasta bowl-DO NOT RINSE YOUR PASTA, PEOPLE! You will wash away all of the beautiful starch and flavor that work into the sauce! Add the desired amount of sauce to the pasta and enjoy! Sprinkle with a little nutritional yeast or vegan parm!
So last week my husband and I did a juice cleanse. Now, let me start off by saying that although I love juices, green drinks, smoothies and the like, I am a big fan of actual food. In fact, most of my day is centered around what I'm going to eat next-true story. So, when my husband asked if I'd like to join him on a 5-day juice cleanse, I was a little hesitant. Would I be able to go 5 days without eating solid food? What if I got so hungry I passed our in the car? What if I got such bad headaches, I actually lost my mind? What if the world imploded?!?! Ok, so I'm being a little dramatic but similar thoughts did run through my head. Luckily for me, there was a 3-day program that I was able to wrap my brain around. We went with Juice Crafters here in Los Angeles; which has probably the most delicious juices and smoothies on the planet. We often grab a drink or two when we're at the Brentwood Farmer's Market, so my faith was growing in my ability to do this cleanse. My husband went for the ambitious 5-day Master Cleanse where as I opted for the 3-day. (Note: this Master Cleanse is no relation to the other Master Cleanse where in you only intake lemon juice/cayenne pepper/maple syrup water for 10 days. I tried that for a few days many years back and was utterly offended and nearly did loose my mind, but that's another story). Anyhow, each day we had 8 drinks-8-I mean, it's a lot of liquid! And since I still started my day with my cup of green tea, by the time I even started juice 1, I was having a drink almost every hour and a half. The flavors were so thoughtful and unique and yummy, by the way! And the best part was, I actually wasn't even hungry! I know, me, not hungry!?!?! But it was true. My blood sugar was stable and I was surprisingly in a very good mood. Even my kids seemed surprised! The hardest part about the whole cleanse was getting dinner ready for my kids. It wasn't so much that I was hungry but the ritual of eating with them and the smells of the food cooking was hard to resist. But, it was only 3 days so I tried to suck it up. And I'm glad I did. It was a great experience. The best thing about this cleanse is that it isn't a "weight loss" cleanse. So many times I see people do cleanses and then shed a ton of weight but then once they get back to eating food again, the weight just creeps back on. Neither myself or my husband wanted to loose weight. We just wanted to kind of press the restart button after indulging and being sick over the holidays. We kind of wanted to give our immune system and metabolism a little jump start. Because the drinks had a fair amount of calories, neither one of us lost weight but we both finished the cleanse feeling lighter and leaner and our transition back into our whole foods plant based diet has been seamless. It kind of gave us the recharge we were looking for to kick off the new year. Anyhow, that's my experience. Have you ever done a cleanse? What was your experience like?
The raw almond milk with dates & vanilla bean was my favorite flavor and new favorite drink. An absolutely delicious & deceptively nutritious treat!
Are you ready for a super simple, fat free, warm, comforting Fall dish? Did I mention it has 7 ingredients and takes only 5 minutes of active cook time? It's true! The best part of this meal is that all you have to do is put all the ingredients into the rice cooker. Yes, that's right, I said rice cooker! It's amazing. I know, people have been using slow cookers for awhile now, but I don't have one, so I'm always pretty impressed when I can cook something without even being home.
So, I admit, lentils and rice may not be the sexiest dish, but it's definitely hearty and soul satisfying. I remember my Grandma Mary making this all the time, but she spend much longer standing over the stove cooking it. Of course as a child I didn't appreciate Italian peasant food, but over the years I have come to adore this dish and I feel like I'm giving my kids a little piece of my heritage each time we make it. My poor little rice cooker has been with me since high school but it's a trooper and always performs. Since brown rice and brown lentils have similar cooking times, I thought this just might work. And it did! The rice still had a little bite, the lentils were soft and the stock I used, kept everything moist and flavorful. Not to mention that this dish is loaded with protein, fiber and folate. And since it's made without oil, there is no added fat. This dish will help you stay full and satisfied for awhile. I hope you try this recipe at home.
Rustic Lentils & Rice