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Posts Tagged ‘italian’

Hello hello!

School is going well, but busy. I just had my first exam of the new semester this week – whew! But I am so happy to finally be delving into the “meat” of the nutrition courses! This semester I am taking Methods in Nutrition Education, Energy Nutrients, Nutrition of the Life Cycle and Management in Dietetics; all of which are interesting in their own ways. Energy Nutrients is going to be toughest one because it is nutrition, chemistry and biology all coming together to talk about metabolism. Nutrition of the Life Cycle is the most interesting as we cover so much and get to do some case studies and “pretend” to be dietitians. I also started a new job at the local VA hospital as a diet aide. (I did the same thing previously, just at a different hospital, and for less money.) Three weeks in and all is well there too. Keeps me out of trouble, right?

And I am *trying* to be a good chairperson for our local support group. I have so many things I want to do with and for the group, but they all take time. Which is in short supply these days. And so I am working to improve my time management skills.

So, to honor that, I’ve been cooking, just nothing fancy. This is one of those easy and quick, no-recipe meals. An old friend of mine made this for me many years ago when I came to visit her (Hi, Jessi!). I’ve probably changed her recipe unknowingly over the years, but in spirit it is still her recipe.

Oh, and if you have some extra zucchini lying around from your overflowing garden, here’s another recipe to use up a couple of them!

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Italian Chickpea and Pasta Skillet

Adapted from Jessica’s recipe, as remembered by me

8 oz pasta, cooked

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, sliced thinly into rounds

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 small zucchini, halved and sliced

1 Tbsp oregano

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

1 can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups of fresh, chopped tomatoes

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste, (or nutritional yeast for vegan)

Cook the pasta according to the directions. (Tonight, for the first time, I tried Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Quinoa fusilli pasta. It was pretty good but be careful, it overcooks quick. I set the time for 6 minutes and it was already past al dente.)

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium.Add onions and carrots and cook until the carrots begin to soften. (It will depend on how thinly they were sliced.) Add garlic and zucchini and cook until zucchini begins to soften. Stir in oregano. Then add the chickpeas and tomatoes. Add 1/4 cup water and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir in salt to taste.

Serve over the pasta with grated Parmesan cheese.

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This dish was part of our Meal Plan a couple of weeks ago. Since I linked up to the original recipe, I wasn’t going to report on it here again but then I realized that over the years I have changed up the recipe to suit our needs better. So here is our version. Don’t be afraid of the polenta, it is super easy and this is one of my favorite ways to make polenta as it stays quite soft and creamy.

And I am sorry that the picture isn’t more appetizing – it really is delicious! Serve with a tossed salad to get in your green vegetables.

Italian White Beans with Polenta

Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

1 tbsp olive oil

1-2 medium onions, chopped *

1/8 tsp red pepper

4 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup water

2 – 15 oz cans of white beans, drained and rinsed *

1-1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar *

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

Polenta:

4 cups water

1/2 tsp salt *

1-1/4 cup cornmeal

1 Tbsp butter

1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add onions and saute until they are beginning to soften. Add pepper, garlic and bay leaf. Saute 2 minutes. Stir in the water and beans. Cook until the beans are heated through. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf and serve over the polenta with parmesan on top.

To make the polenta, bring the water and salt to a boil in a large, deep pot. (Polenta  will bubble and splatter.) Reduce the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the cornmeal to avoid lumps. Whisk until it thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter and cheese and serve.

Notes:

* Onions – we like a lot of onions. You can use less if you’d like.

* White Beans – I use either Great Northern or Cannellini beans. Both work.

* White wine vinegar – It can be found with the other specialty vinegar at your local grocery store. We like vinegar¬† and we like to taste it, so I use a lot in this dish. You can use less if you’d like.

* Salt – I don’t always salt my polenta water. It won’t affect anything if you don’t use it.

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