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Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

Do you remember the first real meal you tried to cook all alone? I mean something homemade, a full dinner. I do. It was the summer after my freshman year of college. My parents had left me home alone for several days and were returning on Sunday afternoon. I decided I would make a nice, Sunday dinner. As I was preparing it, my aunt called that she and her husband happened to be in town and would be coming by, too. Thankfully, I had bought a lot of food.

At the time, I loved Rachael Ray, so I found some recipes from one of her cookbooks – chicken breasts with goodness rolled up inside and pasta with zucchini. My mom ended up helping a bit when she came home, mostly because I didn’t pound the chicken thin enough, so it took about 5 years to cook. But the food was good, and everyone was impressed at what I had accomplished on my own.

Since that day, I’ve obviously tackled a lot of recipes. I’ve honestly never tried that chicken again, but the pasta has stuck with me all these years. I love how simple it is but still has great flavors. It was also one of the first times I enjoyed zucchini. It is great for a quick summer dinner, and also works well as a side dish along some grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta (Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side)

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

12-16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (see notes)
2 zucchini
½ tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of water. Cook pasta according to package directions, without adding salt or oil.

2. While pasta cooks, grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater onto a pile of paper towels. Squeeze out excess water with paper towels.

3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add garlic and grated zucchini. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until zucchini begins to soften and is heated completely through.

4. Drain pasta (reserving some cooking liquid) and add to skillet with zucchini. Toss together. If pasta is dry, add pasta cooking water ¼ cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Toss with parmesan cheese and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving as a main dish):

Calories: 401
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 77 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 134 mg

Recipe Notes: I always find whole wheat pasta in 13.25 ounce packages. Use whatever size package you can find. Any type of long, thin pasta works. I’ve done spaghetti, linguine, and fettucine. This isn’t a “saucy” pasta dish. But since we don’t have a lot of cooking oil, there isn’t much to coat the pasta, especially if you are ambitious at wringing out your zucchini. Just add a little water if some of the noodles look too dry.

Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray

Low Iodine Adjustment: Omit parmesan.

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Quick, Chewy Breadsticks

I have a cookbook of recipes my mom collected over the years, which includes a recipe for “chewy breadsticks”.  I was hosting a spaghetti dinner party once, and my mom suggested I make those.  I don’t know if I did something wrong, but the end result was definitely chewy, borderline like eating cardboard. They didn’t have any of the fluffy, bready goodness we associate with breadsticks, most likely thanks to pizza delivery places and Olive Garden.  It was a disaster

These breadsticks are a much better balance.  They are not the airy, fluffy breadsticks many of us are accustomed to eating.  They definitely are slightly crispy and chewy, but they still are soft enough to soak up any delicious saucy remains on your plate after a pasta meal.  And even better, they are really quick to make.  You can make these in the same amount of time it takes to whip up a quick pizza or pasta dinner at home.  No planning ahead for hours of rising time.  Hooray!

Enjoy!

Quick, Chewy Breadsticks (Makes about 16 breadsticks)

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1 ½ cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
3 ½ – 4 cups white whole wheat flour
¼ cup olive oil
½ – 1 teaspoon garlic powder, per taste preference
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar, yeast, olive oil, and salt. Gradually mix in flour until a soft dough forms. Let dough rest and raise for 10 minutes.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a large rectangle/square, about 16×16 inches. (See note below). Lightly brush dough with olive oil. You may not need all of it. Sprinkle with garlic powder and parmesan cheese.

3. Cut dough into 1 inch strips. Fold each strip in half (making the strip shorter, not skinnier). Gently twist each strip a few times to make it look pretty. Place on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Let raise for 15-20 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Nutritional Information (Amount per breadstick):

Calories: 155
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 102 mg

Recipe notes: I frequently cut this recipe in half with great results. You can use as much whole wheat flour as you want. I’ve done all whole wheat and half. Both taste good. I definitely let this be a softer dough than if I’m making loaves of bread. You can always knead in a little extra flour when you are rolling it out. My dough is usually a little more of a rectangle shape.  I like to get as many breadsticks as I can out of this.  To compensate, I kind of stretch the breadsticks as I twist to make them a little longer.  Go easy on the olive oil. A little really can go a long way. At most you will use ¼ cup, but you could probably get away with only 2 tablespoons. We like garlicky bread, so I generously sprinkle the garlic powder. It can be a little strong, so be warned.

Source: adapted from Let’s Dish Recipes

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