Monday, January 14, 2008

Light Macaroni Salad

The inspiration for the following recipe came from two sources. The first, being a cooking show on PBS. (A cooking show on PBS? Who'da thunk it?) And the second, from my desire to be the biggest possible sponge on my parents whilst I can, by bringing my lunches to work instead of going to booster juice and spending $10 a day of my own money.

Now more on the PBS show. It was a lazy saturday morning and I was in the basement watching tv. My father came downstairs and stole the remote from me. He flipped channels until landing on PBS, which was airing a cooking show. Since I am obsessed with food, I tolerated this. The hosts were just about to embark on a macaroni salad. And though i've never really liked macaroni salad all that much, the recipe inspired me. Over a week went by and I couldn't get the macaroni salad off my mind. I'm not sure of why that is, but I am glad for my fascination, because this salad came out great.

I think the reason it got to me was that the host added the spices before adding the mayo. She claimed that it was more important to flavor the pasta, then flavor the sauce. It seems like such a simple idea, but I had never seen anything like it before.

So I took that nugget of knowledge with me as I finally embarked on making this salad. Though as I stated, I've never felt that much love for a macaroni salad. This one was different though. I just knew it.

And was I right! This tasted so much lighter and fresher then most macaroni salads. Unlike the traditional macaroni salad, these little noodles were not swimming in mayo, just slightly tossed in it.

So here is my modified recipe of macaroni salad. I adjusted it a bit, adding a few more flavors and a lot more lemon. Hence the name of this recipe. I also used miracle whip instead of mayo. Since I prefer it in my sandwiches, I thought "why not in my salad as well?" I'd also like to point out how ridiculously easy this salad is to make!


Light and Lemony Macaroni Salad

1/2 box of Macaroni, cooked al dente and cooled
2-3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced plus zest
2 cubes frozen parsley (this was all I had, if you are using fresh then i'd go with a few tablespoons, then adding more to taste if needed.)
1 tsp chili powder
dash of salt and pepper
1/2 cup of miracle whip, or mayonaise.

Cook and drain the macaroni. Rinse with cold water, and transfer to a large bowl. Add chopped celery, onion, garlic, lemon zest, parsley, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge for about half an hour. Take the pasta out and toss it with the miracle whip and lemon juice.

I really loved this salad. It was easy, light, and so flavorful. I know it will be one I will fall back on in the future for lunches. My wallet is quite pleased because of this.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mushroom Tomato Cream Pasta

Tonight was one of those nights where I got home late, and after not having dinner at a decent time was forced to rummage through the kitchen to find something quick and edible. Sometimes, when I am lucky, this kind of night has much more pay-off then pain. As was tonight.

So I got home and tried to figure out what to make for dinner. My sister had already eaten, and my mom opted for left over pizza. My dad decided to wait it out and said he would eat whatever I put in front of him. While I considered serving him dog food just to see what would be come of it, I instead decided to create something. So I set to work.

As always, our pantry was stocked with pasta. Then I totally lucked out when I found half a bag of mushrooms and a zucchini in my fridge. Plus, I even had sauce in there! Once I came upon these staples I had settled with the idea to add the veggies to some pasta with some plain ol' tomato sauce. Nothing too crazy, but it would serve it's purpose.

So I was about halfway through making dinner, when I realized there was much less pasta sauce in the jar then I had anticipated. Hardly enough to cover the pasta. Since my vegetables were near done their sauteing I had to act quick. I scoured our lazy susan for some canned tomatoes, tomato paste, anything sauce like. It was then I found the perfect addition. A can of mushroom soup! It would be the perfect addition to bulk up the sauce!

So that is how this dish came to be. Keep in mind that since this recipe was made on the spot, the measurements may not be exact. But this is the type of dish where it really won't matter. Also keep in mind that the quantities can easily be changed to feed more or less hungry mouths.


Mushroom Tomato Cream Pasta
Yields 2-3 servings.

1/4 box of pasta (I used Smart Spahgetti.)
1/2 can low fat mushroom soup
1/4 cup of water
1/3 cup of tomato pasta sauce (I used Healthy Choice Garlic Lovers)
1-2 cups of mushrooms, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 tbsp of oil
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
parmesan cheese (to garnish, optional)

Start a pot of water boiling for the pasta. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, clean and chop the veggies. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium frying pan. Add veggies once pan is hot and coat with freshly ground black pepper. A few teaspoons would be a good place to start. I really love my pepper though, so I added a few generous tablespoons to the veggies. Once the veggies have cooked down, add half the can of mushroom soup, and the water. Mix well so that the consistency is nice and smooth. Once your pasta is done, add the veggies and mushroom sauce, as well as the tomato sauce. Garnish with some parmesan, Mix well to coat, and serve!

This dish came out great. It was hearty and filling and tasted amazing. I know it will be one dinner that I see myself coming back to time and time again. Although next time I think I will add some garlic and maybe some parsley to the veggies.