Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vegetables in winter provide inspiration for pasta variations

The world outside my door has been white all week with a glistening armor of ice protecting its purity. Here and there the ice breaks up as we walk on it, pound it with shovels, throw down de-icer, but the icicles still hang from the garage roof and I continue to walk cautiously when I go out.

My previously green garden is so glaringly white that it’s hard to imagine how it looked just two months ago. But when I pick up the jars of re-hydrated vegetables on my kitchen counter some of that memory returns. I wanted a quick supper to prepare last night so I turned to a long-time favorite—pasta with a mock Alfredo sauce. It’s a 15-minute recipe made with cream cheese, butter and Parmesan (yes, full of fat although you can do as I did and use a lower-fat cream cheese like Neufchatel. I can use this dish to please myself and my husband even when we might have two different cravings.

Last night was no different. I wanted vegetables and found two of them in my jars of dried vegetables. I re-hydrated beets and tomatoes to toss in with the pasta and picked out a bag of locally-grown spinach from the refrigerator for a green addition. I tossed that all together with whole-wheat linguine then added the Alfredo sauce. It looked quite appetizing, but I wasn’t finished.

I knew I needed a little more protein but didn’t want meat so I toasted walnuts to top my dish. My husband, however, is a seafood lover so I unthawed shrimp to add to his, thus giving us each a variation to make us happy.

Pasta is an easy way to please just about anyone in the family. You can even set it up as a pasta bar if you like, allowing each person to choose what they’ll throw into their mix. Re-hydrated or unthawed and warmed vegetables plus whatever might be in season can provide several variations that you can offer with chicken, meatballs or seafood. It’s fun and it tastes good, especially when you need a reminder of those good vegetables you put so much time and energy into growing and preserving this year.

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