Whole Wheat Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce


It’s my second Meatless Monday dish, and I’ve been very excited to find new recipes that do not feature meat as the star. I almost think of this as a detox day to get in as much veggies and fruits as my body can muster.

This pasta sauce coincides nicely with both themes I am following this month, meatless (Mondays for sure only) and unprocessed (except for the pasta :/). The combination of the mushrooms, carrots, and eggplant really make this hearty so that if you are a die hard meat eater, you will not miss it in this dish.

After the fact, I added some raw sugar to the sauce as I felt like it was a little too sour. You could of course totally skip this if you want, but my taste buds haven’t quite gotten over the fake sweetness often added into dishes. What you are left with is a nicely balanced, FRESH sauce. You could even saute the veggies or maybe even roast them before putting them in the hot tub (aka slow cooker). If you do not like the veggies used, swap them out for something you love. And use whatever pasta you like. I just happened to have whole wheat shells on had. Use what you have! The possibilities are really endless…

Enjoy,

♥ G

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 10 ounce mushrooms, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound whole-wheat penne
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Preparation

  • 1. Mist a slow-cooker insert with cooking spray. Combine butter, onion, celery, carrot and garlic in slow cooker. Add eggplant, mushrooms and 1 tsp. salt. Stir in tomatoes, cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours. Stir once or twice during cooking.
  • 2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook penne until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta, toss with sauce, sprinkle with basil (and grated Parmesan, if desired) and serve.

ALL YOU
Issue 10, October 21st, 2011

Review: Panda All Natural Licorice

These babies are from Finland. Who knew Finland had gourmet licorice….with a panda on the box! How awesome is that. My favorite animal was a panda bear when I was little – for no reason in particular mind you. I just liked them. So when I saw these in my grocer, I knew I had to pick them up…but only if they met the kitchen test. We came pretty close….Here’s the breakdown:

  • molasses (processed)
  • wheat flour
  • raspberry puree
  • citric acid (natural preservative most notably found in fruits like lemons, limes…)
  • natural raspberry flavor (suspicious)
  • black carrot juice (more like light maroon)
  • licorice extract

Panda real licorice features all natural ingredients, no added colors, salt, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Panda real licorice is fat free, Kosher certified, and suitable for vegan and vegetarian consumption. However, they are not gluten free – contains wheat flour.

And I know you are wondering – do they have other flavors other than raspberry? Why yes, yes they do! The flavors range from raspberry, cherry, regular black, and blueberry coming soon. Panda also makes other candies, but that may have to hold for another post. You can find this product in your organic/health section of most of your grocer’s ($3.50+).


Let’s see these are, um…what’s the word…NATURAL looking. No waxy, shiny coating here. There’s nothing but beautiful dark goodness inside these little nibbies. I must admit at first, I didn’t think they were that appetizing. I was expecting that same sugary, sweetness that often accompanies licorice. But the sugary sweetness is replaced by something a little more fresh. Like raspberry puree and carrot juice. I know, CARROT JUICE! This isn’t your regular orange carrot juice. They use juice from black carrots (black carrots appear more light maroon in color. This undoubtedly assisted these nibbies in creating their gorgeous deep color). In licorice….hrm. I wasn’t too sure about this combo either, but I thought what the heck. The sacrifices you make for the unprocessed journey right? I have been eating a few here and there everyday, and I am starting to like them more and more. Their flavor is sweet, slightly tart from the citric acid, and fresh because of raspberry puree. You do hint a small addition of the carrot juice but nothing overwhelming. This element is what really makes this item unique.

What is your favorite worldly, UNPROCESSED treat?

***G’s rating: B

*Disclaimer: I’m not popular enough for sponsored posts…just yet. You know what that means?! Me = $$$

Meatless Monday: Baked Kale Chips w/ Parm

Aside

Welcome to Meatless Mondays! If you are not familiar with “Meatless Mondays“, it is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet.


I thought I would kick off the series with a recipe I saw on Wishful Chef and that would be Baked Kale Chips with Parmesan. This is my 2nd, yes 2nd time making this because these can burn very easy and very fast.

These are definitely not for everyone. I would like to say this is a great way to sneak in some nutrition to your kidlets, but these Kale chips are definitely a grownup treat.

I prefer the Kale to be soft in the middle and slightly crunchy on the outside. When the chips come  out this way, they retrain a juicy salty center. It’s quite good if I do say so myself! These are in no means a replacement for potato chips, but it’s a great way to use leftovers and help take away your salt craving.

WARNING: You must like Kale ALOT to like this.

BAKED KALE CHIPS WITH PARMESAN

(adapted from Wishful Chef)

  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp grated Parm
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut leaves off the thick stems into large pieces. I just ripped the leaves off of the stem into smaller pieces and then rinsed the leaves under cold water. Dry well with a kitchen towel. In a large bowl, mix together the kale leaves, olive oil, salt and parmesan.

Spread leaves out on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes total, checking it after about 8 minutes to make sure there is no burning occurring. At that point, turn leaves over so they bake more evenly.

Total time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 serving