This past Saturday I had the food network on while I cleaned the house. The theme of the weekend, “comfort food.” Shows like Diners Drive-In’s Dives, Giada, and others were all dedicated to enriching everyday foods with all things “comfort:” cheese, cream, bacon, and butter. Which then got me to thinking, why is comfort synonymous with heavy, saturated foods?
Triple D showed the ultimate comfort food, two grilled cheese sandwiches on the outside of a double bacon cheeseburger. I hope I’m not the only one who didn’t get turned on by this or other types of ridiculous food. That just doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m not even talking about the hamburger part. Two grilled cheeses and a burger? No thanks, having to loosen my pants and popping an antacid isn’t comforting to me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love treats. Cupcakes, brownies, creamy pasta all make me a very happy person and I enjoy them often. However, whats’ most comforting to me, is making a delicious, indulgent-tasting meal for others to enjoy. That also happens to be free of cholesterol, tons of fat… and bacon! Because, I love my family and friends. And while I want to make them feel good about what their eating, I also want their bodies to feel happy with their choices.
Which brings me to DK’s Comfort Food. Creamy fettuccine with lemon, basil, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Every bit as decadent as a traditional cream pasta without all the next-day bloat.
Creamy Lemon Basil Fettuccine
1/2 cup cashews, soaked at least 1 hour in water
1 cup + 2 tbsp. vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 large lemon
1 large handful basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. Earth Balance butter
salt/pepper to taste
8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or fettuccine
3 garlic cloves, sliced
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook to al-dente. While the water boils, prepare the sauce. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid and the drained noodles.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable broth and 1 tbsp. E.B. butter to the skillet. Add the garlic and stir constantly until the garlic becomes golden. Don’t burn!
Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the pan. As they begin to cook, press down on them lightly with a fork or potato masher until they “pop”. Allow them to soften, about 5-10 minutes. While the tomatoes are cooking, make the cream sauce.
In a blender, combine the drained cashews, 1 cup vegetable broth, and the zest and juice of 1 large lemon. Puree on high speed until all the cashew is creamed and no grainy parts remain. Depending on the power of your blender, this could take 3-4 minutes. Add to the pan with the red pepper flakes. Stir the cream sauce into the tomatoes and continue to stir until the sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes.
Stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll like a cigar and thinly slice from the end down until you have basil “ribbons”. Add this to the sauce with the reserved pasta and pasta water. Stir to combine and serve!
Serves 4. Per Serving: 218 calories, 12g fat, 4g fiber, 8g protein.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
I love batch cooking but sometimes another bowl of soup just isn’t going to cut it. I made a big batch of chili this weekend, and by Monday I was already bored with it. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I tossed the leftovers with a creamy cheese sauce and whole wheat macaroni. Perfect fun food without all the additives.
Leftover chili or DK’s Vegetarian Chili
Whole wheat macaroni noodles
3/4 cup cashews
1 cup milk (I used hemp milk)
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt/pepper to taste
Soak the cashews for at least one hour in 1 cup water. Drain the cashews and mix in a blender/food processor with milk, yeast, and spices. Blend until very smooth and no grit remains.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. In a separate sauce pan, cook the cheesy cream over medium heat until it begins to thicken. Add the leftover chili, and stir together to combine. Add the cooked macaroni noodles to the chili/cheese mixture and a 1/2 cup of pasta water.
Stir together and ta-da! Better than anything in a chef boyardee can!
Serves 6 if made with 4 cups cooked noodles and 6 cups leftover chili: about 450 calories and 11g fat per serving.
What’s your favorite childhood meal?
There always seems to be a dish or two that I will forget to post in a timely matter. I made this for Christmas dinner this year, adapted from The Millennium Cookbook. We were supposed to make homemade pasta to go along with this sauce, but by the time dinner rolled around we were too hungry to wait! The braised garlic reminds me of my grandfather who would eat a few cloves of roasted garlic a day. I love this roasted spread on a piece of toasted bread. No need to worry about vampires or Twilight fans when you make this dish.
Tomato & Peas Carbonara
3 cups soy milk (original)
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp. white miso
2 tbsp. fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground fennel seeds
4 large heads garlic
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp. rosemary and/or fresh thyme
1 lb. pasta
1/2 package sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), julienned
1/2 cup fresh peas or thawed frozen
Preheat oven to 350. Cut off the top 1/2 or so from each head of garlic so that the bulbs are exposed. Place the bulbs in a shallow baking dish. Add the vegetable broth, thyme and rosemary to the dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 90 minutes. Once cool, squeeze out the garlic of the top of the bulb. You should have about 1 cup.
In a blender or food processor add the garlic from above and the rest of the ingredients starting with the soymilk and ending at the fennel seeds. Transfer to a sauce pan and heat on medium heat until warm, stirring frequently.
Heat a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Once you begin to warm the sauce in the sauce pan, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water. Add the cooking water and the drained pasta to the warmed sauce. Add the peas and sundried tomatoes and gently toss together. Season with salt/pepper if desired.
Serves 6. Calories 368., 6g fat., 4.5g fiber., 17g protein
Our first course was this wild mushroom soup that was incredible. Also from The Millennium Cookbook
Cashew cream, chanterelle, lobster and oyster mushrooms, vegetables… how can you go wrong?
What did you make for Christmas Dinner?
A veggie delight twist on a Giada dish.
Roasted Vegetable Eggplant Timbale
2 eggplants, sliced flat and thin
1 carrot, sliced thin
1/2 onion, diced
3 summer squash, sliced in half moons
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup nutrition yeast
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 pound smoked tofu, diced
pinch sea salt
1 lb. whole wheat penne, cooked and drained
Toss the carrots and squash with 1 tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees.
Start the sauce. Sweat the onions and garlic in 1 tbsp. olive oil. Add the green pepper and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables, smoked tofu, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, yeast, and pepper. Cook over low heat or a flame tamer for 30-45 minutes.