How is your love month coming along? Hope you’re having a blast like I do =D
After watching the movie Old Fashioned, I got inspired and suggested to my husband that we ‘Get Lost’ for hearts’ day. We did got lost and I discovered that my husband get very uncomfortable in such situations. Nonetheless, he lovingly played along until we found ourselves in Pinagrealan Cave. Visit the blog San Sa ‘Pinas?, for a sneak peek. As for us, we were definitely not prepared for what it has to offer but the experience was a pleasant surprise! I believe we burned up some serious calories too with the two-kilometer spelunking journey.
Speaking of calories, the recipe featured here is truly diet-friendly. According to My Fitness Pal, the reliable free online calorie counter I’m using, 20 ml of all-purpose cream carries 55 calories while 125 g of yogurt carries 73 calories. That means that half a cup of all-purpose cream has 340 calories while the same volume of yogurt only has 73 calories. Significant difference friends! Yogurt is now therefore my go to ingredient for creamy pastas. It will surely be yours too after trying this out. Now, why didn’t I think of this before???
It’s my first time to encounter the use of yogurt for pasta when I watched a vlog collaboration between Brandi Milloy of POPSUGAR Food and Donal Skehan. They made this Guilt-Free Creamy Chicken Alfredo and I was strongly intrigued. I had to make a yogurt-based pasta too! In fact, I was so excited about this concept that I made this recipe way earlier than I was able to write anything for this post =p.
Apparently, I LOVE PASTA! I love eating it and making it. I remember when I was younger; I’d make this easy breezy Ketchup Spaghetti whenever my younger sister and I can’t find anything to snack on. I would usually find some macaroni in the kitchen because my mother stocks up on this to make Milk Chicken Noodle Soup. Then, I’d sauté some garlic, onion and pour Banana Ketchup in. I would add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste and mix in the noodles. IT WAS A TREAT! So simple but so yummy and we enjoyed it a lot.
With that, I’d say pasta is the first dish I’ve ever learned to make. Rightly so, it’s easy to pull off, so forgiving and versatile. You can add just about anything you have on hand to the noodles and come up with a lovely dish for yourself and your loved ones.
I remember another time when I helped make this very simple pasta dish while volunteering. I used to work in Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation and they have an annual Bayani (Hero) Challenge where people come together to build houses for the poorest of the poor. I said volunteering because even employees come to the challenge at their own discretion and cost. It was 2010 and the challenge was in Rio Tuba, Palawan, a mining community. It was a remote place and we had to make our own food. One of my colleagues took on the cooking for our team and I helped him out. He showed me how to make this incredibly simple pasta dish. It was made with just roasted garlic and semi-ripe tomatoes. Wow wow wow! Everyone in the group LOVED IT! That recipe changed the way I make my tomato-based pasta sauce. Roasting the garlic really brings out a pleasant sweetness and using semi-ripe tomatoes gives a refreshing taste.
So you see, I am kind of passionate about pasta. I actually have lots of pasta stories and memories but I’ll end with those above for this surely won’t be the last pasta recipe I’d share with you. For now, I’d say discovering new ways of doing it really excites me. Using yogurt is enlightenment!
There are actually already tons of recipes out there. However, I like cooking with what I have so I made my own recipe according to what is available. We have homegrown basil so I asked my husband to pluck some for me and so the dish became a pesto variation. I know not everyone has access to fresh basil so go ahead and use dried basil instead; but I totally encourage you to grow this herb at home. SO DELICIOUS!!! Anyhow, dried ground basil is widely available and will not cost much. You can also opt to use commercial pesto sauce, which is essentially made of basil and nuts. This is a little more expensive though.
All in all, this is a very simple and healthy recipe with no meat and is very affordable too. You can definitely adjust the flavors (saltiness, sweetness, spiciness and ‘herbiness’) according to your taste. Also, expect the sauce to be a bit tangy or sour. I added a little more sugar and salt to balance this out and I observed it decreases with cooking.
By the way, am I the only one who used to think that technically, Spaghetti is a kind of pasta sauce rather than a kind of a noodle? Although in reality or at least in the Philippines, it has become acceptable to call the sweet tomato-based pasta dish with sliced hotdogs that Filipinos love, as just Spaghetti. I believe there is actually no other name for it than that. Moreover, I do not really know which is which in terms of Italian Pasta Sauces. Honestly, I don’t really care as long as my tummy is happy =p but in the spirit of learning, I finally I did some research to educate myself on the differences of at least those I have encountered and of course share it with you in my post: Different Kinds of Pasta Sauces and Noodles
At this point, let me just point out that there is actually one thing that lets me down when it comes to pasta – soft and soggy noodles =(. I believe that it is the texture of the noodles that makes or breaks a pasta dish. So please make sure your noodles are al dente (literally, to the tooth) or firm to the bite. Keep watch while cooking and check your noodles constantly. For more information on cooking noodles, please visit Lifehacker.com. They outlined three different ways of cooking pasta noodles.
Do you add salt and or oil to your water? Do you have any idea why? I do add salt and vegetable oil to the water I cook my noodles in but I have to admit that I am not sure why. Since I committed to explaining the science behind cooking, I had to look into this. Let me just say that I love how this blog is helping me look closely into the things that I do and share it with you.
So I found out that salt adds flavor – saltiness to the noodles. Such a very obvious explanation indeed =p. On the other hand, a lot of people recommend against adding oil. Even before this, I understood by logic that the oil added onto the water, which stays on top since it has a lower density, would help prevent the uncooked noodles from sticking together. I imagined the individual noodles being coated by oil as you pour it in. However, this is the very reason why many strongly advise against this. This is because the oil coating will subsequently prevent the sauce from adhering to the noodles and we don’t want that. To prevent the noodles from sticking, you simply have to stir within the first couple of minutes of adding it to the boiling water and use a generous volume of water. Easy peasy =). I shall not add oil ever again.
PRICES & WHERE TO BUY INGREDIENTS (Philippines)? Find out here.
No Meat Yogurt Pesto Macaroni
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For the Noodles
- 16 cups (4 l) Water
- 2 tbsps (48 g) Fine Salt
- 500 g Elbow Macaroni Noodles
For the Sauce
- 20 g Basil
- 50 g Peanuts (chopped)
- 3 tbsps (45 ml) Olive oil
- 6 cloves Garlic (chopped)
- 1 small Red Onion (chopped)
- 2 cups (500 ml) Creamy Yogurt
- 205 g Black Olives (pitted whole)
- 1 tsp Liquid Seasoning
- 1 1/2 tsp Fine Salt
- 1/2 tsp Fine Pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsps Sugar (washed brown)
- 1/8 tsp Chili Flakes
- 1 tsp Italian Herbs
For the Noodles
- Boil 4 liters of water with 2 tbsps salt
- Cook in 500 g elbow macaroni noodles until al dente
For the Sauce
- Make the Pesto: Grind 20 g of fresh basil* and 50 g peanuts
- Heat 3 tbsps olive oil on a sauce pan
- Sauté chopped garlic (6 cloves) but do not brown
- Saute in chopped red onion (1 small) but do not brown
- Mix in 2 cups of creamy yogurt and let it simmer
- Stir in the Pesto, 205 g pitted whole black olives, 1 tsps liquid seasoning, 1 ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, 1 ½ tbsps sugar, ⅛ tsp chili flakes and 1 tsp Italian herbs
- Let this simmer for about 5 mins or until much of the tanginess disappears
- You can use the more readily available dried ground basil if you do not have access to fresh basil leaves
- You can adjust the flavors according to your own taste
- You can top pasta with any shredded cheese you like and as much as you want but this will of course increase the calories
The BuckEAT List http://www.thebuckEATlist.com/