Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lite Bites
It's been a week for quick, light meals. Even with a busy schedule, with limited time for kitchen duty, it's still possible to eat well. Any of the following makes a great light supper, a super lunch, or any one can be part of a larger repast.
Tomato Basil Soup

This is one of those 30 minute soups that requires very little culinary expertise, few ingredients and very little attention once everything is in the pot. The fresh, clean taste, lack of synthetic chemicals, preservatives and miscellaneous flavor enhancers makes it a sure-fire winner over canned soups any day. This recipe makes six generous portions.

1/2 T olive oil, 1 large carrot, finely chopped; 1 celery stalk, finely chopped; one large onion, chopped, 8 - 10 ripe plum tomatoes, halved (or 4 tomatoes and one 14oz can diced tomatoes. Preferably Muir Glen fire roasted.) Salt and pepper to taste; 1 bay leaf; 1/4 tsp dried oregano; 3 cups vegetable broth or filtered water; 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves; 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion and
tomatoes, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add the bay leaf, oregano and broth or water and bring to a boil quickly over high heat.
3. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are completely tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup in a blender. Strain if desired.
(I like a bit of texture so I don't strain it).
5. Serve the soup with a dusting of Parmesan and a sprinkling of basil strips or add the cheese
and basil to the pot, stir and then serve.

Salad Can Be Fun
Incorporating some novel ingredients makes a salad far more interesting. This salad starts with a base of dark green Romaine leaves and some slivered Vidalia onions. Then diced mango, diced avocado and a few raisins lend color and a bit of sweetness to offset the mildly hot Peppadew pepper. A few raw sunflower seeds add a bit of crunch as well as additional nutrition. The salad is lightly dressed with a tablespoon of ranch dressing thinned out with a drizzle or two of raw apple cider vinegar. There is no added oil in the dressing to compensate for the high calorie avocado. This salad would make a great first course, or a great lunch with a bowl of soup.

Salads with protein make a wonderful one dish luncheon or light supper meal. This salad incorporates tuna and edamame to provide an ample portion of protein along with an interesting combination of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Again, there is romaine, both dark and lighter leaves, a small stalk of celery, sliced and slivers of sweet onion along with some diced mango. To add a bit of crunch and a salty tang , a few roasted peanuts are sprinkled over top. This salad is very simply dressed with a little olive oil and rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Nothing could be more versatile than the many shapes of pasta. And nothing could be faster than a one dish meal that comes together as quickly as a pot of water can boil and the pasta cooks.

Here's some pappardelle (or wide egg noodles) with frozen peas, lightly sauced with a bit of butter, some crumbles of goat cheese and a generous portion of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and for a bit of color, as well as a little acid to offset the butter and cheese, a bit of fresh tomato, roughly diced. Fast and fabulous.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, then salt generously adding 2 cups of wide noodles (or pasta of choice). Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, defrost 1/2 cup of frozen petite peas and add to pasta in pot 3 minutes before pasta is done. Drain pasta and peas reserving a bit of the water.

Return pasta and peas to pot and stir in one tablespoon of unsalted butter until melted. Then add 2 -3 tablespoons of goat cheese crumbles and 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. If pasta is dry, add a little of the reserved water to obtain the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Peas and tomatoes are a nice combination, but asparagus and corn are another pastability. Use your imagination and come up with some quick pasta and veggie combinations of your own - fast food the healthy way.

Till next time. . . keep on cooking.


Asha said...

Soup looks yummy! and the pasta dish as well.I made Pasta Primavera ,will post today at Aroma:))

Linda said...

yum - thanks for the recipe. can't wait to try this soup!