in defense of noodles

Tonight, I wanted a big ol’ plate of fettucine.

Which is strange, because I really don’t like pasta.  I’m sure by now, you’ve heard all of my rants and raves about how “it’s not the pasta! it’s the sauce!” that makes or breaks an Italian meal.

But over the weekend, Nicole and I had a conversation about how lovely a big bowl of piping hot noodles sauced in butter and fresh parmesan cheese can be.  With this delicious thought lingering in the back of my mind, I realized that maybe I don’t have such a strong distaste for noodles after all.

On my dinner plate, pasta has most often taken the back burner.  In a way, they allow me to indulge my inner Italian (not that I’m Italian, but don’t we all have an inner Italian, somewhere?)   I love slurping up my mom’s homemade red sauce, indulging in a creamy alfredo and enjoying a fresh, summery pesto.  And noodles can soak up the sauce in a way that only a crusty hunk of bread could hope to contend with.

Tonight, however, I felt a different air of respect towards the simple noodle.

A good hair stylist will tell you to work with your hair, not against it.  “Don’t put on so much gunk…appreciate your hair for what it is and let it just be.”  My salonist is a bit of a naturalist when it comes to things like that.  But maybe she’s right.  And maybe, in the same way, fettucine shines the most when it’s not covered up.  Left to its own devices.  Appreciated, just for what it is.

I’m kind of convinced.

Spinach Shrimp Fettucine
Adapted from Taste of Home (8 servings)

  • 1 lb. uncooked whole wheat fettucine
  • 1 package (6 oz.) baby spinach
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook fettucine according to package.  Test for al dente.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute spinach and garlic in oil for 2 minutes, until spinach is wilted.
  2. Add shrimp, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt; saute for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.  Drain fettucine and add to skillet; toss to coat.  Sprinkle with cheese. 

 Question: Have you ever changed your mind about a food that you previously loved or hated? 

in season

There’s something about eating a whole wheat bagel with lots of nut butter and a banana.  It instantly puts me in running mode.  I feel like an athlete, ready to take on the world.  Like I could knock off a marathon if I put my mind to it.

All because of a whole wheat bagel and lots of nut butter.

Anyways, my mind eventually came back to planet earth, and when it did, I laced up my sneakers for a hilly 4 miles.  

It was by far the toughest 4 miles I’ve run in a long time.  The sun was scorching hot.  Relentless.  I could have definitely used a water bottle on this run, if just for the point of being able to spray myself with it every mile or so.  On the last mile home, I kicked into high gear and gave it everything I had left in me.  And then I came home and collapsed on the front yard. 

Followed by a copious amount of watermelon. 

Shrimp is one of my favorite sources of lean protein.  Although it can come across as semi-pricey, it does occasionally go  on sale.  Especially the raw, shell-on, medium sized shrimp.  Which is fine by me, because in my opinion, these are the ones that taste better anyways.  Home-cooked shrimp is way more flavorful and tender than the pre-cooked version.  You have control over how long to cook it, and it literally only takes about 3 minutes.  Literally. 

This meal takes advantage of the garden fresh summer squash, which I love.  It’s nice finding new recipes that fit in vegetables that are at their peak of flavor right now. 😀

Summer Past Salad with Shrimp—taken (and tweaked!) from Everyday Food

  • coarse sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat penne
  • 1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 lightly packed cups baby spinach
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest + 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  1. Cook pasta according to directions, until al dente.  Drain, trainsfer to a large bowl and toss with squash, spinach, lemon zest and juice, and 1 T. oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp oil over medium high.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque.  About 3 minutes. 
  3. Top pasta with shrimp, and season with salt and pepper.

This meal comes together in minutes.  Everyone (the three of us) went back for seconds, and there is plenty left for at least another 2 meals.  Gotta love it! 😀

Afternoon Snack = latest obsession = Snyders Whole Wheat & Oat pretzels with string cheese

I saw these Snyders Whole Wheat & Oat pretzels at the store this week, and decided to pick some up.  They’re made with whole wheat flour, oats, chia seeds and agave nectar.  And they taste amazing.  I love them with string cheese, for the perfect snack on the go. 😀 

Dinner

What do you do when your fridge has three—count ’em, three!—sets of leftovers (canned salmon, refried beans, and chickpea quinoa pilaf) that are going to be thrown away if not consumed by the end of the night?  What do you do if none of these leftovers really seem to fit together into one cohesive meal?  What do you do when your economic side wins over your foodie side in such a situation?  And what do you do when you decide to throw these three random leftovers together, and there’s nothing—nothing!—aesthetically pleasing about your meal?  Nothing! 

I don’t know.  But honestly—for your sake–I almost decided not to post about dinner.

Even as I was plating it, Dad looked over my shoulder and just smiled.  And when it was time to say a prayer over dinner, he prayed that my stomach be able to handle this strange concoction that was about to enter it.  :mrgreen:  What can I say?  I hate throwing things away, especially highly nutritious foods.  It would be a shame and a tragedy and I would hate to be the cause of it all!  You know?

So here you go.  It’s not pretty, but it actually tasted kind of good.  Not that I plan on remaking it any time soon or anything. 

Oh, and my stomach totally survived.  So far. 😉

I found some goods at TJMaxx today, and tomorrow I’ll be ransacking through my closet to come up with several “new” outfits.  I need to have a casual wardrobe for the internship’s orientation, and I’m quickly discovering that I’m a little low on cute/casual clothes.  I have plenty of workout shirts, yes, but everything else is seriously lacking.  But sometimes all it takes is a few key items to come up with a whole “new” wardrobe, so I’m excited to see what I can make of it. 😀

Off to relax…G’night!

Question: What is your favorite vegetable/fruit that is currently in season?  Aside from blueberries, I’m also in love with garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers! 😀