Say hello to October! It is the start of October Unprocessed 2012 – the 31 day long pledge I am taking to asses how my goals are doing. The challenge can be what you want – there is no hard-line here, simply do the best you can. And while we eat this way most of the time I know we have huge areas that need improvement. Some things will slide I am sure, but I will also learn even more skills in our kitchen. If the guys want to join me, they can. But I won’t criticize them if the don’t.
Some of my goals?
No sugar, processed sugar (brown sugar, molasses, etc) or all-purpose flour. We already avoid it most of the time, so not a huge issue….
No going to Starbucks or similar, unless I am traveling and then no sweeteners unless it is honey. I am sure my wallet will appreciate it.
No eating out. Lets face it – the majority of meals eaten out are made of highly processed foods. Again, our wallet will appreciate it. A family of 5 isn’t cheap when eating out!
An unrelated goal is to dial in my grocery shopping even tighter. Not giving into weak moments. If I want something sweet, I make it. It is interesting though that much of the crap food I used to eat, even a year or two ago, doesn’t appeal to me anymore, nor does it smell good. But…I still have moments where a frappe or a store-bought organic cookie sound awesome. That has to stop!
This recipe was inspired by my weekly farmers market trip. Saturday dinners are usually inspired by what I find there. This weekend was a good one, I came home with a huge amount of vegetables and many ideas. The vegetable I found that inspired me most? These:
I found them on the table, 3 for $1. The farmer is Hispanic and doesn’t speak the best of English, but I was able to at least figure out they were sweet and not hot. I have come to realize just how little I looked at vegetables before this year. I rarely strayed out of what I knew – yes, we ate a wide variety compare to most but before? I’d never have looked at purple Tomatillos. Or at the red peppers, ugly and squat. I had no idea what they were so I googled and realized I had Round of Hungary peppers. I decided to roast them, something I had not done before. It is too easy for me to drive to Trader Joe’s and buy a jar. But what do I know of the plants used? Where they were raised? What they are packed in? Yes, it takes time. The farther I go down the unprocessed road, the more time I spend in the kitchen. I know where and how our food gets to us. And in the end? The peppers tasted like none I had before. They were candy-sweet and so tender they melted into the alfredo sauce
Roasted Red Peppers
- red pepper(s)
Heat oven to 450°, line a baking sheet with foil. Rinse the peppers and dry off, placing on the baking sheet.
Place on the top rack, flipping gently every 15 minutes, until the skins are charred and the peppers are looking done. It will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on what peppers are used.
Take out, cover with a second sheet of foil, crimp the edges to seal the steam in. Let sit until cool, the peel off the skins with fingers, discarding. Gently pop pepper open and remove seeds, discarding.
If using immediately chop as desired. If storing in the refrigerator for later use place in a glass container, cover with olive oil and seal tightly.
Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo
- 12 to 13.25 ounce package whole grain or whole wheat pasta (used shells)
- 1 pound string beans, trimmed and chopped (used yellow/green/purple)
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and chopped
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
- 6 ounces lower-fat cream cheese (¾ of package)
- 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond used)
- ½ tsp granulated garlic
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ cup roasted red peppers
- ¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil, add pasta. In the last 3 minutes add the beans. Drain.
Meanwhile, heat a large/deep skillet over medium. Add the oil, onion and mushrooms, sauté for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese until melted and smooth, stir in the milk, garlic, pepper, red peppers and ½ cup of cheese, Turn to medium-low, gently simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in most of the basil, toss with pasta.
Top each serving with a bit of remaining cheese and basil.
While this recipe mostly comes under the unprocessed heading, the cream cheese is an issue. I am hoping to explore making my cream cheese, it is achievable at home. Till then, shop carefully and read brands. Some are better than others and even organic versions often have gums, both low-fat and regular do, so there isn’t a huge difference on what you buy. Vegan cream cheese would be a no-go, it is usually a medley of odd ingredients. Ad for the grating cheese? Make sure it has a simple ingredient list, Italian imports are best. Whatever you buy, make sure it has no cellulose added.