I've been having fun playing with the recipe calculator on the website I use to log my food. I'm also learning a lot, like not all fruits are created equal. For example 2 whole cups of watermelon contains only 66 calories and 8 grams of sugar, while 1 medium red delicious apple has 80 calories and 16 grams of sugars. And also that I have to pee almost immediately after eating 2 cups of watermelon. Oops, sorry that's probably "tmi".
I've also been enjoying reading a cookbook by Susie Middleton called The Fresh & Green Table. The book is written very lovingly and she strives to relate all the information and experience she has to the reader. Susie is not a vegetarian, but believes in "moving the vegetables to the center of the plate" so most of the recipes in the book are vegetarian or easily adaptable - as in just leave out the bacon. Susie is very detail oriented and specific about preparation and methods. For instance, one ingredient for the following recipe is listed as:
"1 pound/455g small BROCCOLI FLORETS (from about 4 crowns), cut into pieces about 1 to 1 1/4 in/ 2.5 to 3cm long and 1/2 to 3/4 in/12mm to 2cm wide"
Chapter 10 is devoted to "Mastering the Basics" including "How to get the best results from a recipe" and "How to slice, dice, chop and process tricky ingredients". I think it's a fabulous cookbook for a beginning/intermediate home cook who wants to be a little more refined and likes to follow recipes to a "T". The book would make a wonderful wedding gift for a young couple, but there are plenty of delicious recipes more experienced cooks will enjoy as well. Susie really knows how to highlight farm fresh vegetables and make them shine so that as a vegetarian, I don't feel like I'm eating a side dish.
The first recipe that jumped out at me was this pasta dish, especially since I already had all of the ingredients on hand. The recipe states that it "serves 3 generously", but after reading it through, I thought probably not if you are trying to lose weight. After entering the recipe into the calorie calculator on the "my fitness pal" website, I found that one serving contained 773 calories, 78g carbs and 48g of fat. While I'm sure it would be delicious as written, I would need to make some adaptations to stay within my calorie budget for the day. So I modified it by cutting back on the olive oil, using dry sun dried tomatoes instead of oil packed, increasing the garlic and red pepper flakes for a little more umph. And lastly I gave it a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavors. I used a whole pound of pasta so it served 6 generously at only 471 calories, 64g carbs and 17g of fat, which was well within my calorie budget and tasted absolutely delicious!
Spicy, Garlicky Broccoli and Cellantanimakes 6 servings
1 lb dried corkscrew-shaped pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb small broccoli florets
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (dry, not oil packed)
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
juice from half of a large lemon
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente, about 9 minutes. Remove 1 cup of cooking water and set aside before draining. While pasta is cooking, place sun dried tomatoes in a small bowl, cover with water and microwave on high about 1 minute, allow to soak in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and finely chop tomatoes. In large frying pan or wok heat oil on medium, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir constantly for 1 minute then add broccoli. Cook and stir another minute, making sure garlic doesn't burn. Add 1/2 cup of pasta water and cover with a tight fitting lid to steam the broccoli. When most of water is evaporated and broccoli is softened, remove from heat. Add drained pasta, remaining 1/2 cup of pasta water and goat cheese. Drizzle with lemon juice and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place in serving dish and sprinkle with Romano cheese.
Adapted from recipe for Spicy, Garlicky Corkscrew Pasta
from The Fresh and Green Table by Susie Middleton