Spaghetti Puttanesca with Matchstick Zucchini


Spaghetti Puttanesca



“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

Have you every noticed that there seems to be a day or a month for just about every thing? There’s Take Your Kid to Work Day, Secretary’s Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day. There are also month long celebrations, too. October happens to be National Pasta Month, so along with the Recipe Redux I am ready to cook up some pasta.

Let’s face it, pasta has been getting a bad rap lately. With the craze of the Paleo diet that eliminates starch, the new CDC diet recommendations calling for more vegetables, and more people eating a gluten free diet, I could be wrong, but it seems to me that there is less space for carbs like pasta. Well, pasta is great! Why give up something that is so enjoyable to eat? Really. Whole grain pasta is a good source of tryptophan that helps convert to seritonin, which is key to fighting insomnia, depression, and irritability. And whole grains help a person to feel full longer.

My solution is to have the pasta and eat it too. Add some vegetables into the mix for a more balanced diet. In this way you still get the wonderful taste pasta, with all the of benefits of whole grains and vegetables.

This recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca with Matchstick Zucchini is a quick and easy meal to make for the busy family. My favorite way to eat it is paired with a side salad, and for heartier fare it can be paired with chicken or beef for a delicious protein rich healthy meal. Omit the anchovies for the vegetarian and vegan options.

References: – whole-grains-good-mood-food – whole-grains-and-other-complex-carbs-elevate-calming-serotonin

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Matchstick Zucchini

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

5 Servings

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Matchstick Zucchini


  • 10 ounces dry whole grain pasta
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons pitted and chopped black olives
  • 1 can anchovies, about 6 filets, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cappers, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 cup cooked homemade tomato sauce, or your favorite brand
  • ¼ pound feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Wash the zucchini and cut off the ends of the so they measure about 5 inches long.
  2. Use a mandolin, or a knife and your good judgment to eyeball where you make your cuts, and slice the zucchini to 3/8 inch thickness (a little less than ¼ inch).
  3. Stack up a few slices of the zucchini and slice along the length to make long matchsticks. Set the zucchini aside.
  4. Put on a small pot of lightly salted water to boil. (Later you will lightly boil the zucchini.)
  5. Cook the pasta.
  6. While the spaghetti is cooking, Place 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet and then add the garlic, stir for 15 seconds and then add the red pepper flakes, anchovies, black olives, green onion, oregano, parsley and tomato sauce. Stir well to mix and then turn off the heat.
  7. Cook the zucchini in the boiling water just until tender, about 40 seconds, and then strain. Add the zucchini to the tomato mixture.
  8. Strain the pasta when the spaghetti is at the al dente stage, still slightly firm to the bite. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl, and to it add the zucchini tomato mixture. Stir well to mix. Serve in pasta bowls and top with the crumbled feta cheese.

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Mediterranean Garden Lasagna

Mediterranean Garden Lasagna


Last week we had family in town and I felt inspired to make a vegetarian dish that my husband appropriately named Mediterranean Garden lasagna due to of all the vegetables in the dish that are typically used in the Mediterranean region. Winter is not the same if I don’t make at least one lasagna, and this year, despite the warm weather we’re having in AZ, I managed to make two of them. This because the men in my family were calling out for la-sa-gna! la-sa-gna! La-sa-gna!

The thing about lasagna is that if you have a really really big pan, say 11.5 x 16, you can make a meal for about 16 people. Depending on how many times the relatives go back for a seconds you may have leftovers for another one or two meals. I know it’s time consuming to make a good lasagna. That’s true. But, consider that you won’t have to cook at least one other day, you’ll enjoy a wonderful meal, and you’ll get to reap the rewards of praise for the extra tasty dish you made. And if you have more lasagna left-over than you can eat you can just freeze it until a day comes along when you don’t feel like cooking—(yay, reserves!)

Some of my readers like to know the nutritional fact about the recipes that I make and post, so I have started to use the calculators on and to help my readers know if a dish is right for their diet. This information will always be posted at the bottom of each post. How about you? Is there something you would like to see on this blog? Perhaps you have a particular dish you would like to see me post? Leave a comment telling me.

Mediterranean Garden Lasagna

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 16 pieces

Mediterranean Garden Lasagna


  • 2 boxes of lasagna noodles – I use the Barilla brand with the curly edges
  • ½ large onion, chopped into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing or spraying on the vegetables
  • 1-1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • ½ pound fresh spinach, washed, stems discarded
  • 1 pound zucchini
  • ½ pound asparagus (See **notes; use an extra ½ pound of spinach if you don’t want asparagus)
  • 4 red bell peppers, roasted (recipe follows)
  • 1-1/4 pound 2% cottage cheese, or ricotta (the nutrition facts are figured with cottage cheese)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 pound part skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 6 cups white sauce (recipe for béchamel sauce follows in procedures)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • For the Béchamel Sauce:
  • 6 cups non-fat milk, or 2% milk
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt


    Roast the Bell Peppers:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400° F. Slice the red bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Line a jelly-roll pan, or a bar cookie pan with tin foil. You many need to join 2 sheets of foil together. Lightly spray the foil with olive oil, or brush the oil on. Arrange the peppers on the pan cut side down and bake for 25 minutes. After this time flip the peppers over and bake another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the skin comes off easily. Remove them from the oven and place them in a plastic bag for 20 minutes. This will make it easier to peel them. After 20 minutes remove and discard the peels. Slice each ½ pepper into 2 or 3 pieces.
  2. Cook the Mushrooms:
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot onions and cook them until they are nearly translucent. Add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes, and then add the mushrooms and cook them until they have released their moisture and they are fully cooked. While the mushrooms are cooking you can start heat the grill for the zucchini.
  4. Grill the Zucchini:
  5. Slice the zucchini lengthwise and brush them lightly with olive oil, and then sprinkle them with a little salt. Arrange them on the grill and cook them until they have nice grill marks but they are still a little firm. Flip them over and continue cooking until you see the grill marks, but they are only three-quarters cooked. They will finish cooking in the lasagna.
  6. Steam the Spinach:
  7. Wash the spinach and discard the stems. Place the spinach in a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of water, and lightly salt it. Cover with the lid and cook until the spinach is cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. You will have to repeat this process at least one more time, even more times if you are omitting the asparagus and using twice as much spinach. When the spinach is thoroughly cooked rinse it under cold water and then squeeze the spinach into a ball making sure you have squeezed all the moisture out. Let the ball rest for 2 or 3 minutes and then squeeze again the get all the moisture out. Set the spinach aside.
  8. Cook the (optional) Asparagus:
  9. You can either steam or grill the lightly salted asparagus until it is three-quarters cooked and then cool it under cold water, or plunge it into an ice bath of water and ice. Set it aside when it is ready.
  10. Combine the Cheese mixture:
  11. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and discard the shells. Add the cottage cheese and 5 tablespoons parmesan cheese. Stir well and set this aside.
  12. Make the White Sauce:
  13. Heat the olive oil and the shallots to medium low heat in a large thick-bottomed saucepan and cook the shallots until they are translucent. Add the flour stirring it frequently, until it turns a golden sandy color, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  14. Turn up the heat to medium and whisk in milk a little at a time. After all the milk has been added, drop in the bay leaf and continue whisking the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring often for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce is medium thick and no longer tastes of gritty flour. Remove the bay leaf and season with the salt and nutmeg. Keep the sauce cover until you are ready to layer the lasagna.
  15. Cook the Lasagna Noodles:
  16. Bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Since you will be cooking nearly two boxes of noodles it’s best to cook them in 2 batches—18 noodles in each batch. Cook the noodles until they are about three-quarters of the way done. They will finish cooking in the oven. The cooking time on the stove top will take 6-7 minutes once the water comes to a boil. Place them on a tray and spray them lightly with olive oil so they don't stick together before you can get them into the pan.
  17. Pre-Layer the lasagna, and preheat the oven to 400°:
  18. Spread 2 cups of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 11.5 x 16 inch pan
  19. Layer 1:
  20. 7 lasagna noodles topped with 1 cup white sauce, and then ¼ the cottage cheese mixture, ¼ of the mozzarella, and ½ of the cooked spinach
  21. Layer 2:
  22. 7 lasagna noodles topped with 1 cup white sauce, ¼ the cottage cheese mixture, ¼ of the mozzarella and all the cooked mushrooms
  23. Layer 3:
  24. 7 lasagna noodles topped with 1 cup white sauce, ¼ the cottage cheese mixture, ¼ of the mozzarella the red bell peppers and the optional asparagus
  25. Layer 4:
  26. 7 lasagna noodles topped with 1 cup white sauce, ¼ the cottage cheese mixture, ¼ of the mozzarella and the remaining spinach
  27. Layer 5:
  28. 7 lasagna noodles topped with 2 cups white sauce sprinkled with 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese.
  29. Bake:
  30. Cover the lasagna with tin foil and place the lasagna on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake 35 minutes, remove the foil, and then bake another 25 minutes.

**Notes - If you decide to use asparagus please be advised that it can be a little tricky. Look for an asparagus bunch where the stalks are all of a similar length and circumference. You will pre-cook them until they are 3/4's done, but if they are of different sizes some may not be cooked to the right point and then they could be undercooked in the final product.

Mediterranean Garden Lasagna 2

Weight Watchers Points: 14 points per serving and there are 16 servings.

(Points are calculated using the Weight Watcher’s Recipe Builder.)

Nutrition FactsThis recipe is posted at at Hearth and SoulSimpleSupperTuesday,  Tuesdays Table, Totally Tasty TuesdaysTuesday Talent ShowFreshFoodsWednesday, Food of the World, and Wonderfully Creative Wednesday

Whole Wheat Penne with Vodka Sauce

Whole Wheat Penne with Vodka Sauce


It’s hard to believe we’re already a week into February. This calls for whole wheat penne with vodka sauce. I don’t know—any excuse will do, right? It’s also Ina Friday and that’s the real reason I chose to make this recipe.

Ina Friday falls on the first Friday of the month when a group of bloggers come together to blog about one of Ina’s recipes and make the food from the original recipe. Another option we have is to create or modify one of her recipes after being inspired by it. I’m taking the second road and developing a healthier recipe based on one of Ina’s, that she got from Chef Joe Realmuto, of Nick and Toni’s restaurant in East Hampton. It’s called penne alla vecchia bettola, but I call it whole wheat penne with vodka sauce, a vegetarian meal. Find the original recipe in Ina’s book Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust.

Some of my friends have asked me to come up with dishes that taste like you’re cheating, but have less calories and fat. What did I do with this recipe to make it healthier? I cut out the cream, and reduced the Parmesan cheese by 75%, used fresh vegetables instead of canned, reduced the olive oil by 50 percent, and used whole grain pasta instead of white. You might be wondering it if a dish could still taste good after all the cuts—believe me it does. The freshly cooked vegetables add a lot of flavor, and the pine nuts I add to the recipe add good fats the body craves. The flavor of parmesan is important too, to make you feel like you’re indulging, so I mix a small amount of the cheese with bread crumbs for more volume. It’s delicious. Serve it along with a big green mixed salad.

Related Amazon Products: Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven, and Collapsible Colander Large
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are companies that I have found helpful and trustworthy. 

Don’t forget to check out what the Ina Garten food bloggers have come up with.

See the links after the recipe.

Whole Wheat Penne with Vodka Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 5 servings

About 1-1/2 cup

Whole Wheat Penne with Vodka Sauce


    For the Pasta and the Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, dried
  • 1 tablespoon flour (white or whole wheat)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tomato, about ½ pound
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt
  • For the Topping:
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 13.25 ounce box whole wheat penne (I use Barilla)


  1. Heat the olive oil to an 6-quart pot and then add the onion and celery and sauté for until the onion is transparent. Next, add the garlic and stir for one minute.
  2. Add the ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and then add the flour and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the vodka and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until it is reduced by half. Next, add the oregano, chopped peppers, chopped tomatos and the 2 cups of water. Cook until the peppers are very tender, about 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently.
  4. Blend the pepper/tomato mix. I like to use an immersion hand blender, but a regular blender works fine, too. Blend until the sauce is creamy.
  5. Cook the pasta following the manufacturers directions on the box, and then place it in a large serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir well.
  6. Mix the parmesan cheese with the bread crumbs and sprinkle this over the pasta along with the toasted pine nuts and the parsley.

Weight Watcher’s Points: 14 per serving

Penne Nutrition Facts

Be sure to check out what the other Ina Friday bloggers have come up:

Alyce @ More Time at the Table, Anna @ Cheese with Noodles, Ansh @  Spice Roots , Barbara @ Moveable Feasts,   Bhavna @ Just a Girl From AAmchi Mumbai, Chaya @  Bizzy Bakes, Linda,  @ Tumbleweed Contessa, Mary @ The     Egg Farm, Minnie @ The Lady 8 Home, Mireya @ My Healthy Eating Habits, Patti @ Comfy Cuisine, Peggy@ Pantry Revisited, Rocky Mountain Woman @ Rocky Mountain Woman, Veronica@ My Catholic Kitchen


Whole Wheat Penne with Vodka Sauce 2

This recipe is also posted at: Whimsy WednesdaysFull Plate Thursday, Showcase Your Talent ThursdayWeek-end Re-treatFoodtastic Friday, and Foodie Friday

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs with San Marzano Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs with San Marzano Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs with San Marzano Tomato Sauce


Yesterday, if you asked me what my favorite vegetable was, I might have answered bell pepper, spinach, or corn. Today, as I considered the tomato, the vegetable for this week’s Power Foods blog group, I realized that the tomato has been my favorite vegetable all along. We consume it baked, grilled, roasted, and served in salads, soups, stews, vegetable pies, tarts, dips, condiments, and other ways I’m sure you have in mind.

What you should know about tomatoes is that they are high in lycopene, which gives many fruits and vegetables their red color. Lycopene offers excellent antioxidant protection to help reduce to risk of several types of cancer including prostrate, and breast cancer, and it also supports the cardiovascular system and bone health. Cooked tomatoes offer more lycopene than raw tomatoes.

In the Real Estate business it’s location, location, location; in the food business it’s ingredients, ingredients, ingredients. If you’ve never had pasta sauce with San Marzano tomatoes, you’re in for a treat. This recipe for spaghetti and turkey meatballs with San Marzano tomatoes is delizioso! These tomatoes grow mainly in the area of Napoli and Solerno, Italy. Real San Marzano tomatoes must have a D.O.P label on it (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta) so you know that you’re getting the real thing. You will see the D.O.P on the front label and certification seals on the side of the label. However, just like prime location costs a pretty penny, so do prime ingredients. A 28-ounce can ranges from $5 to $6 in most supermarkets.


Servings: 7 to 8          Prep Time: 20 minutes        Total Time: 2 hours



For the sauce:

1 onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic

1-½ tablespoons olive oil

2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano Tomatoes

½ cup fresh chopped basil, or 1/3 cup fresh chopped oregano

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon natural cane sugar

¼ to ½ teaspoon salt

For the pasta and the meatballs:

1 lb. whole wheat pasta (I use Barilla)

1-1/3 lbs. ground turkey

3 large cloves garlic, minced

½ cup onion, minced

1/3 cup chopped parsley

½ cup fresh ground breadcrumbs, or dry crumbs

1 egg

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper



1. Start the tomato sauce by getting out an 8-10 quart stainless steel, or ceramic stockpot, and then sauté the minced onion in 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic after 5 minutes, and then cook the mixture until the onions are translucent. Blend the tomatoes and add them to the pot, or use a handheld blender and blend them directly in the pot. Cook over medium-low heat one half hour, stirring regularly.

2. Prepare the turkey meatballs while the sauce is cooking. Sauté the ½ cup onion with the minced garlic in a little olive oil, until the onion is translucent. Set it aside to cool, and then mix the onions with the other meatball ingredients and shape them into balls about 1-1/4 inch large. Split them into two batches and brown them, one batch at a time, in 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil. (Don’t cook them all the way through, just brown them lightly.) Set them aside until the sauce has cooked one hour.

3. After the sauce has cooked about for an hour, add the turkey meatballs to the sauce along with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cane sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the ½ cup chopped basil. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened, about 40 to 50 more minutes. Check seasonings.

4. When the sauce and meatballs are almost done, heat a pot of water to cook the pasta. Follow the instructions on the box and cook to the al dente stage.

Serve with a large green salad and enjoy!



Power Foods: 150 delicious recipes with the 38 healthiest ingredients


If you are a blogger and would like to take part in our group blogging about Power Foods: 150 Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients, (from the editors at Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine) we’d love to have your company. Contact: Mireya(at) for details.


Check out what these other bloggers have cooked up!

Alanna – Kitchen Parade Veggie Adventure – Alyce – More Time at the Table, Ansh – Spice Roots,  Casey –SweetSav  Jeanette – Jeanette’s Healthy Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks Martha – Simple-Nourished-Living, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits

This recipe is also posted at  Pennywise PlatterFull Plate Thursday, and Whole Foods Wednesday, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday


Vegetarian Pad Thai


On Wikipedia I read that CNN conducted a reader poll and Pad Thai listed at number 5 on World’s 50 most delicious foods. So when Jess asked if she could do a guest post featuring Pad Thai, I said  “Of course!” 

Guest Post by Jess Collins

Pad Thai is easily made vegetarian by not adding meat and swapping fish sauce with soy sauce. This dish is great for people on the go as it is quick and easy to make. It takes just under 30 minutes to prepare. The main mistake people make is to over-cook the noodles but with this step-by-step recipe, hopefully you can make a tasty dish with noodles that have that perfect chewy texture.


Servings: 2

Preparation Time: 30 minutes


Thin Thai style rice noodles, around 200 grams (to feed 2 people)

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

4 crushed cloves of garlic

3 cups bean sprouts

3 spring onions, finely sliced

1/2 cup coriander

1/3 cup peanuts (or cashews), crushed

1/8 tsp. ground white pepper

1-2 minced red chilies (optional)

Vegetable oil

2 Lime wedges


2 tablespoons of warm water with 3/4 Tbsp. tamarind paste dissolved in it

3 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce (increase depending on your taste)

1-3 teaspoons of Chilli sauce (increase depending on level of spiciness)


Begin by putting the noodles in a large pot of pre-boiled water. Leave them to soak until they are soft enough to be eaten. Drain away the water and rinse with fresh cold water.

The Pad Thai sauce is made by mixing all the ingredients together in a cup. The brown sugar and the tamarind paste needs to be dissolved well so ensure to mix the sauce well.

Turn on the heat to medium-high and heat up a large frying pan or a wok if you have one. Add the garlic along with 1-2 Tablespoon of oil. Add the minced chilli at this stage if you are using it. For 30 seconds stir-fry it all together.

Mix in the sauce and noodles. Using 2 spatulas gently lift and mix the noodles around. Stir frying the noodles this way helps stop the noodles from breaking. Continue doing this for 1-2 minutes. If the wok gets dry, add a little vegetable oil to the pan.

Add in the bean sprouts and sprinkle with pepper. Continue cooking the noodles, by lifting and mixing them around, until they are cooked. The aim is to get the noodles to be chewy and sticky. Depending on your desired taste, add more soy sauce and mix it in well.

Remove the noodles and place them in a bowl or on a plate. The crushed nuts, spring onions and coriander are now added on top of the finished dish. Put a wedge of lime on the side of the dish, which is to be squeezed over the dish before eaten.

Author Bio

Jess Collins is a regular contributor to Spicy Buddha, a Thai food and travel site. Currently based in Koh Samui, the ladies responsible for Spicy Buddha are always up for a chat on Twitter @TheSpicyBuddha about cooking and getting the most out of a visit to Thailand.

Fusilli with Hot Hummus Red Bell Pepper Sauce

Rotelli with Hot Hummus Red Bell Pepper Sauce

Fusilli with Hot Hummus Red Bell Pepper Sauce


Each week a group of health conscious foodies blog about a selected recipe from Mark Bittman’s “The Food Matters Cookbook.” To be honest, I wasn’t very excited about this week’s recipe choice, hot hummus. Most people know what that Mediterranean garbanzo dip tastes like, and it doesn’t take much to imagine eating it hot with cooked vegetables. But then my neighbor was going out of town and he gave me a small bucket of hummus. So I thought, “Well, I might as well have fun with it.” I recently saw that my friend Heather, at Girlichef, made pasta with a bell pepper dip, so why not make pasta with hummus? It’s a dip too, and you can flavor it with anything. The result was “Fusilli with Hot Hummus and Bell Pepper.” What a quick and easy meal! It’s healthier than a cream sauce as it’s very low in saturated fat, and it’s gluten-free and dairy-free —good for the lactose intolerant and vegans. It’s not as creamy as a dairy cream sauce because it feels a little granular on the tongue, but hey …it works!

These days many people have hummus on hand for appetizers, or for using as a sandwich spread. With a just a few ingredients and some of your favorite pasta, you can easily make this quick meal. To see Mark’s hummus recipe, check out Erin’s blog Naturally Ella; she is the host this week for The Food Matters Project.

Servings: 2

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


1/3 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 roasted bell peppers, skin discarded

½ cup hummus, homemade, or ready-made

8 ounces whole wheat fusilli, rigatoni, or penne pasta

Salt and pepper to taste


1) Fill a large pot with four quarts water and add 1 teaspoon salt. When it comes to a boil start to cook the pasta.

2) Sauté the onion and the garlic in the olive oil until it is very tender.

3) Use a blender and process the roasted bell peppers with the onion and garlic until the mixture is smooth.

4) Heat the hummus in a ten-inch skillet and add the bell pepper mixture to it along with ¼ cup of water. Stir until it is warmed through.

5) Strain the pasta through a colander and add it to the sauce. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste, and add water as needed to thin the sauce to a creamy consistency.

Baked Fusilli with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese

Baked Fusilli with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese

Baked Fusilli with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese


It’s great fun being part of a group that is dedicated to promoting healthy recipes and healthy eating habits. We’re blogging about the recipes from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matter’s Cookbook, and each week we all cook the same recipe, as he wrote it, or with our own twist. To be honest, after I read the title of the recipe, “Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese,” I thought that I should opt out for the week. Fortunately, I stuck with it.

As I started to put the dinner together, my 14 year-old saw the figs on the kitchen counter said, “No way, I’m not eat’n that!”  And of course, I retorted with the typical mom talk, “Yes you will. You’ll eat it and you’ll like it” … not being sure if he really would. At that point I wasn’t even sure if I would. The conclusion was that both my husband and I, and even my 14 year-old loved it, loved it!!

I followed the recipe as Mark wrote it, except that I used fusilli, ½ the amount of dried figs, and used more nuts. After making this recipe, there is one thing I changed to make this healthy recipe even healthier. Mark’s procedure has you add the Brussels sprouts to the pasta in the boiling water; but vegetables lose their nutrients by boiling. I’ve changed the recipe so the pasta and vegetable cook separately and are then added together with the other ingredients before going into the oven.

Stop by Marcia’s at Twenty By Sixty for the original recipe, and to see what the other bloggers have come up with, check out the page for the Food Matters Project


Prep Time: 30 min

Baking Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4



1 tablespoons olive, plus more for greasing the pan


8 ounces fusilli, whole wheat preferably

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped

4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, or other mild blue cheese, crumbled

½ cup figs, chopped into small pieces (top stem cut off and discarded)

1/3 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ cup chopped pecans, or almonds


1) Heat the oven to 400° F. Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with a little olive oil. And bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

2) Get a steamer set up and steam the Brussels sprouts until they are ¾ cooked. You will cook them until they near done, but still require a bit more cooking. Start the next step as soon as you get the Brussels sprouts going.

3) Add the pasta to the boiling pot of water and cook until it is about three-quarters done. It should be tender but still have bite to it in the center. When the pasta is done, drain it and reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. (Note*- If the pasta finishes before the Brussels sprouts, put the strained pasta and 3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid into the large bowl—from step 4—and stir in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together).

4) In a large bowl, put the fusilli, Brussels sprouts, figs, blue cheese, salt, black pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and about 3 tablespoons of the pasta water, and mix it together well. Check the seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed. Pour this mixture into the 9×13-inch greased pan and top it with the chopped nuts.

5) Bake, checking once or twice and adding a bit more of the cooking water if the pasta looks too dry, until the mixture is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.

 Baked Fusilli with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese may become your new casserole go to.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Linguine with Clams

Linguine with Clams

Linguine with Clams


Recently, we had some friends over for dinner–no, my husband and I didn’t eat our friends. We invited them over to the house to eat whole wheat linguine with clams with us–in our company. Linguine with clams is stunning when served, and when your guests see it on the table their eyes will just about pop out of their sockets in anticipation. Not everyone likes clams though, so you’ll want to check ahead to make sure that your guests enjoy eating them.

Always being concerned about the nutritional value of foods I did a little checking into clams on (a great resource for nutritional value of foods) and found that clams are an excellent source of iron, and a very good source for vitamin b-12 and manganese and a multiple of other minerals. The downside is that though clams are low in saturated fat they are high in cholesterol. But, if you don’t have high cholesterol and you keeping up with your healthy eating habits, you shouldn’t have to worry about this point too much.

This particular recipe is dairy-free as it’s made Spanish style, called almejas a la marinera, and uses olive oil instead of butter. If you’re not concerned about dairy, you may want to sprinkle a little Reggiano Parmigiano cheese over the top of each serving.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Cook Time: 5 to 7 minutes


1 package Whole Grain Barilla Linguine (13.25 oz)

1-1/2 pounds manilla clams

1-1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup white wine

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 lemon, quartered

*Optional – Reggiano Parmigiano cheese


1)  Put a of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.

2)  Wash the clams very well and set them aside.

3)  Put the pasta in the water and stir frequently as it cooks.

4) After two minutes, place the garlic and the olive oil in a 12 to 14-inch skillet on the cooktop and begin to saute the garlic over medium-low heat. After two minutes add the clams and the red pepper flakes and stir. After 20 seconds add the wine and 1/2 cup of water. Cover the pan and allow the clams to steam.

5)  After three minutes, open the lid and add the salt and 1/4 cup of the parsley to the liquid, and stir the clams. Close the lid and allow the clams to finish cooking. The clams are done when they have opened.  If a clam does not open it is dead– throw it away.

6) Strain the cooked pasta into a large bowl and pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the pasta and stir it around. Use a large serving spoon to remove the clams from the pan and place them decoratively on top of the pasta. Check the flavor of the clam liquid. If the flavor is too strong add water and bring it back to a boil. Check the salt and add more if necessary. Pour the liquid over the clams and pasta being careful not to pour sand on the pasta which may be at the bottom of the pan.

Garnish – Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley over the top of the pasta and place the lemon on a plate to squeeze the juice over the pasta.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil


Whole wheat spaghetti with garlic and olive oil,  known as spaghetti aglio e òlio in Italian,  is a fabulously delicious and inexpensive dish to enjoy anytime,  and especially in an economic downtime. If you love garlic,  this dish may become one of your favorites. It’s a favorite among many students at the end of the month when they’re waiting for the next paycheck.

According to Green Mountain Garlic,  “Ancient Egyptian slaves were given a daily ration of garlic to build strength and fight illness.” So,  eat up and stay healthy this winter.


Cook Time: 10 minutes

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Servings: 6-7 servings




1 box Barilla Whole Wheat pasta

1 head garlic,  all of the teeth peeled

¼ cup chopped parsley (flat-leaf or curly parsley)

1/3 cup olive oil

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Sea salt to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Optional – grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


1.  Bring six quarts of water and one tablespoon of sea salt to a boil.

2.  While the water is heating,  process the garlic in a food processor until it is minced. This will only take a few seconds.

3.  Cook the pasta until it has reaches the al dente stage (cooked,  but with a little bite).

4.  While the pasta is cooking,  place the 1/3 cup of olive oil and the minced garlic in a large flat bottom skillet and cook over a medium flame until the garlic turn a whitish color. Be careful not to burn the garlic. This should take about two minutes. Add the red pepper,  black pepper,  and sea salt.

5.  Add the cooked pasta and the parsley to the pan and stir well to incorporate the garlic,  oil,  and parsley.


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