Double Spaghetti Dinner

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There are a few things I try to ALWAYS have in my kitchen. They aren't the normal "staples" others may consider useful in their kitchens, but "Courtney's Staples" are definitely a must in mine. If you try this recipe, I bet you'll start keeping this list of goodies nearby.

1. Olive Oil - I very rarely ever use any other kind of oil, and you know what? I strongly disagree with all this talk about Canola oil being the new healthy oil. I'm checking my credentials at the door when I say this because, well, I don't have any. But Virgin oil from fresh olives to me, is the most natural oil you're going to get. Where does Canola come from anyway?! And don't get me started on Vegetable Oil. But, yes, you will find it in my pantry. 'Tis true. I try not to use it, but you gotta have it sometimes.

2. Minced Garlic - Eh, sometimes I'm lazy, who isn't? It's the perfect flavor in a hurry. Try not to buy the kind packed in oil. And the roasted minced garlic in a jar is great on bread under the broiler for a few minutes.

3. Fresh Garlic - My Italian Grandfather used to cut the top of a garlic bulb, pour a little Olive Oil and bake. Once all the little cloves are soft, he'd squeeze the garlic-mush onto bread. Best garlic bread I've ever had. Swear. If you always have fresh garlic on hand, you'll always find a way to use it in food. Plus, despite the odor, it's good for you!

4. Pine Nuts - Love a little crunchy-nutty-protein surprise in my veggies - try them on asparagus or green beans too! Sauté them in a little oil and set aside, then sprinkle on top of your dish. Too easy!

5. Grated Parmesan Cheese - Not the kind in a bag, the kind in a little container. Or better yet, grate it yourself. Either way, it's so versatile and a must when making a quick pasta dish.

6. A Whole Wheat Grain (Pasta, Quinoa, Rice, etc.) The pasta/grain never has to take center stage of your meal, it should be a side dish.

7. Dried Minced Onion - Obviously if you've read this far, you know I like strong flavors (and bad breath, right?!) But, minced onion is another quick and lazy way to get a little more flavor or spice into your food. I just sprinkle it in when I think I need it ... and sometimes I just have a-what-the-heck-moment and sprinkle it when I probably don't need to, still tastes good to me!

**8. And, starting this summer, FRESH Basil and Parsley from a small pot I use on my back deck. What did I do before my bount-ilicious pot full of fresh herbs? I've been using fresh basil on summer tomato sandwiches, in salads and tonight, in the pasta. I'm going to try to keep an indoor herb pot this winter, but I'm still trying to figure out how to make it look okay in my kitchen. Will need input from friends. =)

This recipe is another great one from Teresa Giudice. It came out of her book Skinny Italian. I'm excited to share this recipe with you for two reasons: Zucchini is in season and it's healthy!

Sauteed Zucchini "Spaghetti" with Pine Nuts

Makes 4 servings

2 TBSP Pine Nuts
3 Large Zucchini, scrubbed and ends trimmed
1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove, minced
1/4 TSP Salt
1/4 TSP Ground black pepper

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. add the pine nuts and cook, stirring often, until toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
2. Using a mandoline, plastic V slicer, or spiral slicer, cut the zucchini into long thin julienne strips. Do not use the seedy center of the zucchini, as it can be too soft and will ruin the look and texture of the strips.
3. Heat the oil and garlic together in the skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is tender, about 1 1/2 minutes. Increase the heat to high. add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, just until it is heated through and still al dente, about 1 minute. Don't overcook the zucchini, or it will get mushy. Remove from heat and stir in pine nuts, salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Courtney's Quick Pasta

The ingredients below are a healthier way to eat what I like to call "Child Pasta." Do you remember going to your Grandparents house and having spaghetti, butter and Parmesan cheese? Okay, well the not-so-Italian Grandparents from the other side of our family made it for us and we LOVED it. Actually, I'm pretty sure if I made it for Picky Pants he'd love it too. But, I refuse and it's just as well because he loves his pasta the healthy way. To me, if you start cooking like this at the very beginning, your picky eaters will never know there's a much heart-attacky-greasier way to eat Quick Pasta!

Whole Wheat Pasta
Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Parmesan Cheese

1. Salt a pot of water before boiling. Boil pasta until al dente. Drain but do not rinse. Using the same pot, drizzle oil and rest of ingredients and stir. Taste. Adjust for flavor. You can also add chicken or shrimp to this dish for protein.

Mangia! Mangia and lots of XXOO!!


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