We welcome this penultimate week of March with energy and excitement galore! We do have some really fun news to share with you later in this bloggery but first, it’s ORNISH time! Yep, Tuesday, we prepared another recipe from Dr. Ornish’s book; Pasta with Red Pepper and Lentil Sauce (that's the recipe and not the book title!). We aren’t even sure how we selected this except to say that it sounded different, had a sensible number of ingredients and was REALLY easy to prepare. We understand it’s a challenge to completely change the way you eat when you are an ‘Ornisher’, so it behooves us to try to find recipes that not only adhere to the guidelines of very low fat but also offer ease in preparation and excellence in taste. Well, this recipe did NOT disappoint. Just look at this ‘mise en place’...red wine (Merlot), lentils, dried basil, bay leaves, chopped red bell pepper, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and chopped onion (the bag of tortillas seen on the far left was only involved to the extent of holding the little bitty book open to the recipe).
We did not take a picture of the box of whole wheat rotini. Seriously, three vegetable ingredients and seasonings made up this recipe's sauce. While the recipe does not specify a type of lentil, we chose a combo of the black and French lentils since they have more substance and retain their shape better than, say, the red or brown lentils. So, we cooked the lentils in boiling water with a couple of bay leaves (EASY PEASY), drained and set aside. The onions and garlic were braised in the Merlot (no fat but great flavor) until tender; then we added the red pepper.
This cooked with the addition of dried basil until the onions and peppers were very tender, placed in the Cusinart and processed. The processed peppers and onions were returned to the skillet, and the cooked lentils added along with the balsamic vinegar . VOILA! Pasta Sauce! The ‘sauce’ looked more like tapenade than a smooth sauce, and we had a moment of ‘oh-my-we-hope-this-works’ along with a palpitation or two. The pasta was plated, sauced and sprinkled with a vegan Parmesan cheese.
Now, the Vegan Parmesan is very Ornish friendly with 1g of fat per 2 teaspoons; if we used a teaspoon, we’d still be exaggerating! The total fat for a cup of pasta and 1/2 cup of sauce turned out to be a paltry .9g of fat! We found this Vegan Parmesan at Whole Paycheck.
We indulged in a slice of Ezekiel bread toast with a vegan margarine. The sauce needed a bit of salt to enhance the flavors of the peppers, onions, garlic, basil, and wine but that's really all. It was quite a lovely dinner! Now, Ornish folks, close your eyes because we are going to show you how we ‘added’ a little somethin’, somethin’ to this dinner. Yep, we included Gardein’s Meatless Meatballs (7g of fat per 3 meatballs OR you can cut them in half and have 3 halves and still be very close to your per meal fat gram intake…do the math and see what works best for you).
Or, you could add some fat-free Boca Crumbles for a little more substance, if you wish.
Now, we have some really REALLY fun news of yet another Elfin adventure. There is an awesome business in the Jackson Metropolitan area known as Feast! Specialty Foods owned and operated by Camille Peeples. According to the web-site “FEAST Specialty Foods prepares and delivers complete Dinners-for-Two to your door Wednesdays and Thursdays that are delicious, convenient, and first-rate.” Frozen selections are also available. It’s a GREAT idea for folks who are busy and need a DAY when they can relax and not worry about ‘what are we having for supper?’ Here’s the link to the website.
Examples of possible entrees are Beef Steak Tacos, Smoked Salmon Salad, Chicken Kofta Meatballs, or Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup. SSOOOO, Camille has been interested for a while now in expanding her plant-based meals options to offer her customers. Your Elf was delighted to be involved with Camille in the preparation of two plant-based test meals earlier this week, using Gena Hamshaw’s Power Plates cookbook (since we both have copies of it and, as we learned last Sunday, the recipes are SO GOOD!!). Two recipes were selected…Spanish Quinoa with Tempeh Chorizo and Home-Style Stuffed Shells. So, we hunkered down in Camille’s great commercial kitchen and cooked ours-elves silly! Camille is shown in full preparation mode and in full cookery mode!.
Here is Your Elf at this REALLY BIG STOVE, sautéing some onions, peppers, and garlic.
We really had to watch ours-elfs on that big stove! Talk about BTU power…and not burning the garlic!
And, here we are with the finished meals, already parceled out.
We shared with ourowns-elves as well a couple of selected folks who would give an honest opinion. We are happy to say that the additional samplers were very enthusiastic about the meals. So, please stay tuned as we adventure forth again next week in preparation of two new recipes!! Will have a complete report next Sunday! In the meantime, we served up our ‘helpin’ of these two dishes for supper on Monday night.
We aren’t sure which we liked the better…the Stuffed Shells or the Quinoa. We were a bit apprehensive about Big Solid’s response to both but he was most complimentary…he REALLY liked the Quinoa, so that will be on our rotation!! Plus, it was not a very labor intensive preparation, which is always good!
We have a couple of sweets to share with you…one we made and one made by Mitchell Moore, pastry chef extraordinaire at our local Campbell’s Bakery. The brownie (topped with fresh Louisiana strawberries and vegan cool whip-ish) comes from the following site. We have already made this twice!!
It’s that good but be advised that the cooking time (for us anyway) was double the suggested time in the recipe.
AND, the wonderfully not-too-sweet vegan Apple Fritter was such a delight, Big Solid and Your Elf had to split a second one last night!
Well, gosh...we are celebrating spring here in the Deep South with a real chill down! Monday, it was very warm (in the 80’s) and very humid. Tuesday, the high barely reach the lower 50’s and it was a blustery cloudy and gloomy day. So, we found something to assure us that it was truly spring in Mississippi...that most southern of blooms, wisteria.
Yes, azaleas are in abundance but to Your Elf, nothing says SOUTHERN like the grape-like clusters of purple wisteria. There is white wisteria, but that purple is just so beautiful. We do understand that the wisteria is an invasive vine but gosh darn, it's pretty! There is always a climatological tug-of-war this time of year, so in spite of the fact that we are all DYING to plant tomatoes and squash and more tomatoes, it’s just not quite time yet.
Thus, we end our little cookery adventure for the week! We SO look forward to next week with another Ornish-esque meal to share as well as the continuing Feast Specialty Foods adventure. And as we say every blog, always remember to LOOK for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. DO EPIC!