Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

Spaghetti. I love eating it, and I should even be eating more whole wheat spaghetti than I do. I guess I'm just too traditional. I still cook whole wheat pasta for us as I know it is supposed to be better for us, just not as often as I should. This will continue to change, but slowly. I find it hard to get used to the flavour change from the regular pasta. But, it's for the better good of our health, so I just have get used to it.

For simple dishes such as Aglio Olio, I like to use regular ol' white pasta. The reason: I don't want to overpower the flavour of the sauce with the whole wheat pasta. It sounds weak, but as I said before, I am a traditional guy when it comes to pasta. Bolognese or any other big, bold sauce, yes, I will use whole wheat. If it's all you use, feel free to use it, or maybe corn or rice pasta. It's your dish when you make it, so it's up to you.

If I'm in a hurry or just being lazy, I like to make Aglio Olio. It's quick, easy and very versatile. When you add something such as a little parsley, it changes the whole dish. The whole idea with this dish is to maximize the flavour of everything in the dish as there aren't many ingredients. Timing and attention is also important. You can burn the garlic very easily or overpower it with the chilies, if you choose to use them. Personally, I like a little heat as it's a healthy thing to do (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=29). Chilies or Cayenne helps me when I'm having issues with allergies, and they also has capsaicin which is extremely beneficial to our bodies. I use chilies to either add a tiny bit of flavour to a dish or add a lot of heat. It all depends on what you are cooking and what result you are looking for. I never want to kill the flavour of something nice in a dish by pumping up the heat.

This whole dish is about simplicity and eating healthy. Don't ever think that eating healthy is a hard thing to do. This dish takes about 15 minutes to make, that's it!

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

- 3/4 pound (340 g) spaghetti
- 1/3 cup EVOO
- 2 cloves finely chopped garlic. The smaller you chop or mince it, the easier it burns. Be careful.
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or as much (or as little) as you would like,
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. 2. While pasta is cooking, heat oil over low heat in a frying pan.
3. Add garlic and saute just until garlic softens but does not brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let it burn as it will turn bitter. If you want lots of heat in the dish, add the chilies now. If you want more heat, add them earlier on. If you only want a little heat, add them as late as possible, maybe just before you add the pasta to the oil.

4. Drain the pasta, reserving around 3/4 cup of the pasta water. Adding this water to the oil after adding the pasta will help the pasta soak up as much flavour from the oil as possible and will keep it from getting dry.
5. Add parsley. Remove from heat.

*Notice the color of the garlic. It is not brown, it's just slightly red from the chilies. I actually added the water to the mix before the pasta. Better to add the pasta first. I tried something different this time, but not like this again.

6. Add the pasta to the frying pan. Mix and add the pasta water. Let cook for another minute.
7. Add salt, pepper and Parmesan to taste.

Yield: Serves 3-4

Other options: I like to also add a couple of anchovies to the oil and let them melt after smushing them with a fork. This adds another level of flavour and makes it a little healthier as well. You could also use any Pecorino or Asiago cheese instead of Parmesan.

Little O's Menu

With the addition of three new teeth, she is more likely now to start chewing things which are a little harder. Myself, I'm not too sure I would be eating anything hard as my gums would be too sore, I would think anyways. She has started to take a liking to the whole grain breads we get from Cobs Bakery (http://www.cobsbread.com/home/). The outside of the bread is covered in seeds such as sunflower, flax and even some rolled oats. She has been eating their breads along with the organic whole grain bread we have been giving her. As I have mentioned before, we have been putting spreadable cheese on the bread and almond butter. We are now venturing out to crab apple jelly, but only a tiny bit. There is lots of sugar in jellies like these, but in small doses it's not as bad.

We have backed off of the snacks like the whole grain Cheerios a little now. This is only considered a treat for O now as she seems to get pretty excited when she sees the cup which they are in. You know the face when her eyes are as big as coffee cups and her mouth is rounded and "Oooooo" is coming out of it? Yikes! We had some issues with her wanting to eat those all day and not much else. So, needless to say, enough of that for now.

For her dinners, she has still been eating some of what we eat. This is consisting of pasta with pesto, roasted vegetables and a little roasted chicken as of late. This is nice as it looks like her palate is accepting more powerful things such as a tiny bit of pesto.

Mrs. Urban Eater and I have been trying to keep the healthy eating thing going, but sometimes it's hard to do with a busy schedule. I'm not sure what she eats at work, but at home I'm doing the best I can. Every few days I'll eat a boiled egg or two for breakfast (see below). We started drinking smoothies again, but it didn't last long. We're starting again tomorrow with this. Smoothies are simple: start with yogurt, about 1 cup. Then add fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, kiwi's, whatever you can find that is healthy. Then add fresh OJ or some kind of juice which is either fresh or as low in sugar as you can find, and you only need about 6 ounces or so. You could also add some mango puree, if you have some as well. Sometimes I will even add a little flax oil or some maple syrup. Flax oil is great stuff, helps make your body work and grow properly (http://www.indianchild.com/health/benefits-of-flaxseed-oil.htm). It also is supposed to make your hair nice and silky. Women should like that on their heads and on the men they spend time with.

Here's the best way to boil an egg:

Put an egg in a pot with cold water. Bring it to a boil and immediately cover it and take off the heat. Let stand in the hot water for 8 minutes if you like it runny, 10 minutes if you like it just done and 12 minutes if you like it well done. I like it runny if I'm eating them with toast soldiers to dip in the yolk, but just done if I'm eating them alone. If you boil them like this, you will also avoid the grey line around the yolk. I don't like that as it doesn't look right. It's also a good way to see if the restaurants you are eating in boil them properly. It also might be a way to see if you are eating food from a chef or someone who likes to think they know what they are doing.

This one may have gone 11 minutes, but that's alright. I still love eggs boiled like this, actually any egg for that matter. They are a good source of selenium and protein among other things (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=92). I try to eat 3 or 4 a week and usually by organic or free range.

I was talking to D the bartender again a couple of weeks ago. First, he said he made pesto from my recipe and loved it. Then he asked me if I've ever heard anything about Pine Nut Syndrome. I said no, so he explained it to me. This happens when you buy cheap pine nuts to make your pesto or salads with. They are a little rounder than normal and can give you an almost metallic taste in your mouth. Read this link and even look it up yourself (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_nut). I Googled it and a few different links came up. Dave Lebovitz wrote a little piece on it as well (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/04/pine-nut-syndrome/). I definitely don't want to deal with this, not that it is life-threatening or anything, but it just doesn't seem pleasant. Blech!

Quote of the day:

"A day without an argument is like an egg without salt."
- Angela Carter (1940-1992)

Until next time, good eating everyone.


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