Search This Blog

Friday, July 22, 2011

Treat of the Week: Pasta with Marinara Sauce

We have a good friend in town.  And what do you do when a good friend comes in from out of town?  You catch up over a great meal.  This kind of thing happens everyday.  But why was last night different from all other nights?  Because I decided to be cautiously adventurous.  Cautious because I decided that we'd have pasta with marinara sauce for dinner.  Good, ol' fashioned pasta - that's what vegetarians eat, right?  Adventurous because, for the first time, I was going to prepare and cook this entire meal myself.  Absolutely unprecedented!

veg 247x300

So, I whipped out my trusty Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook in search of the perfect recipe.  What I found was a marinara sauce that is soy-free, gluten-free, low-fat, and prepared in less than an hour with ingredients that can be found at any grocery store.  Perfection!  But, putting the cart before the horse, I wanted to jazz it up a little.  I took two of their suggested variations of the basic recipe, combined them with each other and the original, and made a Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Marinara Sauce with Meatless Chorizo.  Here's how to do it:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • One link meatless chorizo (I recommend Yves Veggie Chorizo)
  • Pasta of your choice (we used one whole box of DeBoles Gluten-Free Angel Hair Pasta)
  • As much nutritional yeast as you want (a cheesy substitute for parmesan)
  1. Preheat a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Sweat 1 cup of finely chopped white or yellow onion for about 15 minutes (to sweat, keep the heat low and cover, stirring every few minutes - the onions SHOULD NOT brown).
  4. Uncover and cook for 15 more minutes at higher heat, until browned and caramelized.
  5. Sauté 1 cup of thinly sliced mushrooms.
  6. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute, until fragrant (DO NOT let the garlic burn)
  7. Add the remaining ingredients (tomatoes, thyme, oregano, salt, cayenne, black pepper), cover, and raise the heat a bit to bring to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. While the sauce is simmering, boil a large pot of water, add a pinch of salt, and add the pasta, and cook to al dente (firm but not hard - there should be some resistance in the center).
  10. Slice chorizo into thin rounds and and add to sauce with about 5 minutes left to simmer (the Yves Chorizo is already cooked so it only needs some heating up).
  11. Strain pasta and add it to saucepan.
  12. Mix well until the pasta is completely covered.
  13. Sprinkle some Nutritional Yeast on top for your Parmesan cheese substitute (optional).
  14. EAT UP!
That's it!  The recipe takes about 45 minutes of your life to prepare and leaves you happy all night.  It may look like a few more steps than you are accustomed but believe me, if I can do it, you can do it.  The pasta is light, but filling.  The sauce is perfectly spiced with a little bit of a kick from the garlic, cayenne, and chorizo.  It is slightly sweet from the caramelized onions but not nearly as sweet as the store-bought brands that are filled with sugar.  If you crave pasta from time to time (I can totally empathize), then this meal is a delicious, healthy way to satisfy your craving.  As with all recipes, feel free to improvise.  Add some broccoli or spinach to give yourself some greens or get rid of the mushrooms if you aren't into them.  It's all good!

Give it a try.  Let us all know what you think.  Become a follower.  Find me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore).  Tell your friends and family - they deserve to be healthy and happy too.  And, as always, thanks for reading!


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Mysterious A.J. Reb Materi

I am a quote junkie.  Sure, I have original thoughts in my head but, "someone else has already said it best.  So, if you can't top it, steal from them and go out strong." (from the movie, American History X)  See?  I can't help myself!  Today, I encountered this very situation.  In preparing this post, I tried to create an original quote about health and wellness that would be mind-boggling, yet thought provoking.  Turning to the internet for inspiration, I found a quote that boggled my mind and made me think.  So, I decided to steal that one instead.

"So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health."
                                      - A.J. Reb Materi

I don't know what it is, but there is something so simple, poetic, truthful, and sad about this quote.  It sums things up in a very succinct way.  There are too many people who work themselves to the bone; sacrificing sleep, eating unhealthy food from wherever they can get it (whenever their schedule allows them a few minutes to scarf), not exercising nearly enough, and putting themselves through all kinds of mental anguish for the sake of their careers - only to spend their hard earned money to remedy the maladies they created while making their money in the first place.  Fascinating.

What's almost as fascinating is this: the quote's eloquent speaker, A.J. Reb Materi, doesn't seem to exist!  I have searched and searched and have found NOTHING about this person aside from this singular quote.  Such foreboding words from such a mysterious source.  Here is your homework assignment:

There are many different ways to interpret someone else's words and these are only my personal feelings.  Please take a few minutes, digest the words, and tell us what the quote means to you.  If you agree with it, tell us why.  If you think it's ridiculous and near-sighted, tell us why.  What is your interpretation?  And, most importantly, does anyone actually know who A.J. Reb Materi is?!

Please become a follower, share your thoughts, follow me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore), and tell your friends and family to do the same!  I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July weekend and thank you for reading!