Monday, January 18, 2010

Meatless Monday: Whole Grain Pasta With Vegetables And Herbed Goat Cheese

It's Monday, but for most of us in the United States, today is a holiday.

A day for us to stay home from work and reflect upon the progress that we've made since one man said he had a dream.  We've come a long way; we still have a long way to go.  So in the service of going the distance, I'm bringing you another meatless recipe.  If we all ate less meat by cutting it out one day a week, it would make a huge impact on both our health and our carbon footprint.  Remember, small steps do add up over time to a marathon.  So give it a try!

As you know, I love to mix it up, so today I'm writing up one of my favorite quick pasta recipes to throw together.  I start with whole grain spaghetti (I love the Vita Spelt variety).  Then, I stick my nose in the fridge and pull out the best organic vegetables I bought at the farmers market.  I saute them all together, throw in some sundried tomatoes for a nice tart kick, and then toss them with the pasta and fresh garlic and herb chevre (soft goat cheese).

The goat cheese melts into the veggies and pasta, making for a surprisingly light, fabulously tangy dinner.  This one is quick to make, easy to throw together, and an inexpensive way to feed an army. 

A few recipe tips:

1) Goat's milk is closer in its makeup to human milk, and thus easier to digest.  Many people who suffer from dairy intolerances, do well with goat cheese.  For my goat cheese, I have a kick-ass supplier at the farmers market called Soldad Farms.  They make literally the best fresh goat cheese I have ever tasted.

2) I'm a firm believer in seasonality, so in the winter when tomatoes are out of season and not tasting their best, I love using sundried tomatoes.  I always keep jars in my pantry, and toss them into everything from pasta, to risotto, to salads to my famous homemade hummus (a revelation!).  They pack a huge flavor punch that will up to shame those tasteless, washed-up quasi-tomatoes you see at the store.

3) A further note on seasonality, when I made this pasta, I was fortunate to have some winter corn come into stock (reminding me why I love living in California), but feel free to substitute whatever fresh vegetables you have for this recipe.  It's only a template, a mere blueprint, like all my recipes!  Let your imagination carry you.

Whole Grain Pasta with Vegetables and Herbed Goat Cheese
Serves 6 people
Cooking time: 30 minutes

1 pound whole grain spaghetti, cooked al dente
2 bell peppers, julienned (cut into thin strips)
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (can substitute frozen or another fresh veggie)
2 cups baby arugula
1 bunch spring onion, white parts chopped or 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons herbed chevre (soft goat cheese)
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat a pot of water to boiling and cook the pasta per the package instructions. Once cooked, drain the noodles, reserving a little bit of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the spring onion or shallots and saute until softened and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Next, add the bell pepper and corn and cook for a few minutes until beginning to soften.  Last, toss in the sundried tomatoes and arugula and cook for another minute, or until the arugula has started to wilt.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked pasta and goat cheese to the vegetables, and toss to combine.  Add a little reserved cooking liquid as needed to make creamy.  Check seasoning and correct if needed (salt and pepper).  Top with chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
garlic and herb goat cheese from Soledad Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic bell peppers, organic baby arugula, organic cilantro and organic spring onion from Hollywood Farmers Market

corn, organic olive oil and organic whole grain spelt spaghetti from Whole Foods

sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil from Trader Joe's

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