Pasta is a filling, comfort food that always pleases. The varieties are endless and can suit all tastes and preferences. In order to increase the protein value, one should preferably choose whole grain varieties that pack not just satisfying “carbs” but contains the essential building blocks for good nutrition: protein as well as healthy fiber.
The variety of different pastas includes those geared to gluten free diets which eliminate wheat, an offending agent for some. These types of pastas can be made from rice, corn or quinoa. They also offer to everyone an interesting medley of flavors and textures… so try them! If your family does not appreciate the whole wheat grainy flavor and texture which is more hearty than the white pastas, perhaps as a compromise they would like the “DeBoles” brand. This company uses wheat and artichoke flour. It has a lighter taste than the whole grain variety and is pleasing to the palate and contains a good amount of protein. My family prefers the angel hair spaghetti which is thin and delicate in flavor as well as the lasagna noodles and spirals.
To compliment pastas, all already prepared tomato sauces can be enhanced by lightly sautéing in a very tiny amount of spray olive oil, fresh basil, diced onions, peppers (try all four colors), mushrooms and chopped garlic. Mix and heat together with the amount of sauce required for that particular meal. Some purists, who have the time, will make sauce from scratch using fresh or canned Roma tomatoes and paste. Many use fresh herbs and cook the sauce slowly for hours to obtain an unmistakably superior culinary flavor.
My personal suggestion is to use no oil or very little oil in preparing a healthier tomato sauce as this eliminates extra calories. It also avoids the oily beady residue that appears on the surface of the sauce. This technique also holds true for soup preparation. A little water added to the sauté pan can substitute for the oil and practically does the trick. The latest research by heart experts believes that any and all oil can be hazardous to one’s health. Check out Dr. Esselstyne and Dr. MacDougal’s publications for more information on this subject.
I was amazed to find that there are over a hundred varieties of basil depending on the country of origin and the types of dishes prepared. Many are used in Asia in Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indian (called “Holy Basil”) cuisines. This recipe will concentrate on “Sweet Basil” which is mostly found in Italian and Mediterranean recipes. The word BASIL comes from the Greek and it denotes “the king of herbs”. The fresh variety is incredibly full of flavor and bears little resemblance to the dried variety. I prefer ORGANIC basil purchased as fresh plants which can be transferred to your garden, or keep in pots. To make a large amount of pesto, buy organically packaged basil in plastic bags for ease of preparation.
Vegan Pesto Recipe
2-3 cups basil leaves (stems trimmed off)
5 med. Garlic cloves (or to taste)
¼ cup pinola nuts (also called pine nuts)
¾ cup walnuts
¼ cup of the finest imported virgin olive oil (note: extra virgin and first- pressed cold variety is preferred)
¼ cup vegan grated cheese (soy or rice based)
Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until the nuts are well chopped but still retain some texture and the basil is well incorporated. Blend until almost creamy. Divide into 2or 3 batches. Freeze some for later use.
Some folks add some fresh spinach which they say helps to keep the pesto greener in color. A small amount of fresh cilantro can also be added to the basil which adds a wonderful flavor. Experiment and be creative! Dilute the pesto mixing with a small amount of hot water to allow more even coverage to the pasta. Some enjoy it undiluted as a spread on bread.
As our Italian cousins say…”Bon Appetito” !