Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Zeus’s Personal Recipe for Healthy Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic Sauce

This is based on a classic dish- pasta with olive oil and garlic- but with a few twists for extra flavor and color. With the fresh tomatoes coming in from the garden this is a favorite dish for this time of year. This dish is filling without being heavy. I probably make this once a week- it's that good!! This a fantastic dish that’s yummy, easy to prepare, and good for everyone- Kids, diabetics and even fitness buffs!

We’ll need:

Pasta- I use Barilla Multi-grain spiral rotini, but sometimes I use the thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta as well.

1 head of garlic

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Get a good brand like Bertolli or the Whole Foods house brand- Avoid brands like Crisco

Fresh tomatoes

Black olives

Can of tuna (optional) albacore is nicer than the regular tuna

Sea salt and fresh black pepper

Start with the garlic because that takes the longest

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees- toaster ovens work fine for this.

Turn the head of garlic on its side and slice all the way through it, taking off the 'top' and exposing the cloves inside.

Then tear a piece of foil that is big enough to wrap a couple layers around the entire head of garlic. If you use heavy duty foil, one layer is fine.

Put the garlic in the middle of the square of foil and gently fold it in around the garlic, but leave the top open. This is to catch any excess olive oil. Now pour the olive oil onto the head of garlic. It may take 2 or 3 drizzles to get the head covered in olive oil. Let is settle/soak in for a few seconds between rounds of oil. Then after the garlic is sufficiently covered in oil oil, finish wrapping the foil around the garlic and loosely twist or fold the top of the foil closed- sort of like a Hersey’s kiss.

Put it in the oven and set the timer for 30-40 minutes.

Roasted garlic is very different from fresh garlic. Roasted garlic is smooth and creamy and is so good you can spread it on bread and eat it just like that!

MMM Food of the Gods.

I'm pretty sure Roasted garlic was either invented by Zeus, or as a tribute to him.  It really adds great flavor to any dish that calls for garlic. You get all the good garlic flavor without any bitterness and the overwhelming taste of fresh or sautéed garlic.

While the garlic is cooking start the water boiling. If you add a splash of olive oil to the water it will keep it from boiling over. The water will come to a boil quicker if you have a lid on the pan- even a loose piece of foil will work.

The Barilla pasta takes about 10 minutes to cook.

While the water is heating, go ahead and dice your tomatoes. I'm lucky to have fresh tomatoes from the garden for this, but if you have to use store bought tomatoes, make sure you get some good ones. Roma tomatoes have good flavor and are usually among the less expensive choices if you're on a budget. Another good choice are the tomatoes that come still on the vine.

Open your can or jar of black olives, and slice them if they aren't already sliced.

When the garlic is done, pull it out of the oven and let it cool off for 10 minutes.

While the garlic cools off, take a sauce pan and start heating up the olive oil for the sauce. The olive oil doesn't need to be really hot and shouldn't be anywhere near smoking temp. Medium heat should be fine, you're just going to sauté the tomatoes a little bit and then heat up the roasted garlic. I use about 2- 4 ounces of olive oil for about 10 oz. of dry pasta.

So when the oil is warm, add the tomatoes and let them sauté for just a minute or two. Then add the garlic. If you're careful, you can fold back the foil and use it to hold the garlic while you squeeze it out. BE CAREFUL- THE GARLIC IS FULL OF HOT OIL AND CAN BE EXTREMLY HOT! DON"T GET THE HOT OIL ON YOUR SKIN. I also use a disposable latex glove so I don't get the garlic infused oil on my hands. Once you get good at this, you can pull the glove off while you hold the foil and empty garlic husks and as you pull off the glove, it will turn inside out and envelope the oil/garlic husk / foil package and allow for super easy clean up and disposal!
The individual cloves of garlic are very softy after being roasted and will easily pop right out when you squeeze the head of garlic. If your pan was too hot and the garlic starts to turn brown, take it off the heat and swirl it around a bit to dissipate the heat. I add a little bit of sea salt at this point. I pour it in my hand and then add about 3 or 4 pinches to the pan.

After you add the garlic, turn it down to a very low simmer- about where you set it to simmer rice, put the lid on the pan and let it simmer for about then minutes while you cook the pasta.

One of the neat things about the Barilla Multi Grain pasta is that it's a very healthy substitute for regular pasta. It has a low gylcemic index which means it better for everyone- including diabetics.
It’s basically just chock full of good healthy stuff, but doesn’t taste like sawdust like a lot of whole wheat pastas do. In a pinch you can substitute the spaghetti or angel hair pasta for the rotini in this recipe if you wanted to.

Now, hopefully everything finishes cooking at the same time.

Drain the pasta and put the servings on the plates. Add tuna to each plate and then pour the warm olive oil over the tuna. Add the black olives and your all set!. You can also add a little bit of parmesan cheese- but that add some fat to the recipe- you can also add some red pepper flakes- either add them to the sauce as it cooks, or add it after it's plated. You may want to add a little more sea salt, and then give the plates a couple twists from your pepper mill.

You now have a healthy, wholesome meal that everyone can eat and enjoy. You have the awesome antioxidants from the olive oil and garlic, combined with the healthy protein and carbohydrates from the multi grain pasta, plus the fresh tomatoes! The whole grains and dietary fiber contribute to heart health and reduce your cholesterol. With the fiber and protein content in the pasta, the carbohydrates will absorb slowly, causing a gradual blood sugar impact. Like I said- packed full of awesomeness.

This dish is pretty versatile... you can leave out the tuna if you don't care for it. You can also leave out the tomatoes and black olives if you need a dish that's less expensive.

It goes perfectly with a good, cold, crisp green salad or Greek salad as a first course. Skip the iceberg lettuce ( it’s all water with no nutrition) and get a good salad mix like baby spring greens or baby spinach and spring greens. Top it with a good Italian dressing ( I like Marie’s brand dressings- you can find them in the produce section) or top it with just olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar.  By the way- extra virgin olive oil is almost a super food by itself! It’s packed with antioxidants, it helps lower cholesterol (It’s on the Mayo Clinic’s list of Top 5 Food to Lower Your Cholesterol!!!) AND you can even rub it on your skin as a moisturizer! The extra virgin grade of oil is less processed and isn’t chemically treated the way a lot of the cheaper/lower grades are. They’ve also documented the wonderful long term effects in huge clinical study done in Europe, so this is all well proven information . Olive oil is good for your heart and your skin- and everything in between.

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