I cannot tell you how happy I am that carb-phobia has died down. I hated feeling like a felon every time I reached for more bread at a restaurant, bought potatoes or rice at the store, or served pasta to my family. I never gave it up, but I was tired of justifying my carb-loading (read: regular diet) to myself in my constant struggle to follow food fads. Bring on the bread!
Friday night, after tucking the kid into bed and allowing myself that moment when you say to yourself, ‘thank god she’s gone’, before the guilt sets in for having thought that, I heated up some pasta sauce I had made a week earlier, put a pot on to boil, and came up with the following:
Top 10 Reasons to Eat Pasta for Dinner
- It feeds a crowd
- It’s quick
- It’s easy
- It’s satisfying
- It’s cheap
- Everyone likes it
- There are so many different ways to prepare it
- Easy clean-up
- Can be prepared in advance
- Leftovers (when there are some) can be heated up at work the next day
I think the biggest hurdle for me in my carb-consumption is knowing when to back away from the table. There really is no limit to the amount of pasta I can consume. My belly can be stretched beyond capacity, I can feel physically uncomfortable from eating so much and still, I can’t stop myself. And of course, afterwards, I end up lying around like a beached whale, clutching my gut wondering why the hell I ate so much but that’s all part of the process: I cook… I eat… I feel gross and wish I were bulimic. Bim, bam, boom.
Recently, I’ve decided that I could forgo that rock-in-the-gut feeling. Knowing my crackhead tendencies when it comes to pasta, I’ve taken to just cooking less of it so there’s none leftover after my 2nd helping to pick at. Genius moment, right? I know, give me a break. 85% of “dieting” or “cutting back” is the mind games you play with yourself. And really, it’s all about the sauce anyway. And the extra bit of parm on top… can’t forget that!
Marinara (with the kids)
Canned, peeled, whole tomatoes (look for San Marzano, the best!)
I made this with my 3 ½-year-old nephew who I put in an old tank top of mine and an apron. I took the stems out of the tomatoes — because I’m anal like that – before dumping them into a huge mixing bowl. He stuck his hands in and had the best time squishing the tomatoes with his hands. To be honest, it’s the best way to get the right consistency… not too chunky, not too thin. Juuuuuuust right. And what kid doesn’t love to squish stuff with their hands?!
While he did that, I heated up some olive oil and cooked up the garlic. I dumped in the tomatoes, added some basil leaves and let it simmer for a bit. That’s it!
This sauce can be used as is, as a base for other red sauces like amatriciana, siciliana, bolognese et al., or on pizza. I freeze it by the quart!
Amatriciana (Red sauce with pancetta and onions)
Render some chopped pancetta in a little bit of olive oil. Dump in some chopped onions and let them soften. Add some chopped garlic, cook for a minute or two. Deglaze the pan with some white wine, let it reduce. Dump in some marinara and let simmer.
Siciliana (Red sauce with eggplant)
Heat some olive oil in a pan before adding chopped eggplant. Make sure the oil is hot before you dump it in or the eggplant with just soak up all the oil like a sponge. Cook several minutes until the eggplant starts to soften. Add some chopped garlic, cook a minute or two. Dump in some marinara and let simmer.