Who says you can’t whip up a delectable gourmet dinner for yourself? A solo supper can be so much more than cold leftover rotisserie chicken or a trip to the drive-through. I often crave pasta and cheese in all its glorious forms, but when I want to enjoy it with less guilt, I opt for lightening up a few of the usual ingredients, like using low-fat milk and stock instead of heavy cream or cream cheese, and reducing the amount of butter with olive oil. Trust me, this lighter version leaves nothing to be desired.
“Skinny” Mushroom Alfredo for One
I LOVE lemon sauce with pasta. Don’t get me wrong—a thick, zesty marinara is always good. But this lemon sauce is to die for. Tart, herbaceous, and nutty. Feel free to toss in your favorite protein or serve alongside a simple veggie, like the blanched haricot verts pictured here.
I never thought I’d see the day when a vegetable could pass for an acceptable pasta substitute. I was skeptical of the many spaghetti squash recipes I saw on cooking shows, but after finally experimenting with one per my New Years’ Resolution to eat fewer carbs, I was shocked—it’s pretty darn close to spaghetti! In my carb-favoring opinion, the “spaghetti” has a surprisingly firm texture and a subtly sweet and nutty flavor that I don’t mind at all. Plus, one squash yields a TON of “spaghetti,” and at only 30 calories per 1 cup serving, there is zero-guilt in devouring the whole plate.
Spaghetti Squash Marinara With Grape Tomato Bruschetta
When I think of classic comfort food, I think of Mom’s Sunday night spaghetti with meatballs and sausage. I’m talking about meatballs and sausage made with love that have been simmering in homemade gravy ALL DAY…yum! But let’s be honest: it’s a Tuesday night, you had a long day, and you want a nice plate of meaty spaghetti PRONTO. Well, here’s my short-cut to a super flavorful, comforting spaghetti dish. The trick to faking that simmering-all-day goodness is cooking the sausage in the same pot as your gravy.
Spaghetti With Spicy Sausage Gravy
With that New Year’s diet guilt creeping up again, it’s time to stock the fridge with super foods and lean protein. After indulging in every sugar-coated carb in sight for the holidays, January 1 is a sobering day for your waistline. But you don’t have to deprive yourself of a good meal to get back on track with your diet. Try this recipe that will fill you up and warm you up! Full disclosure: I’ve never been a huge kale fan, but I’m addicted to it after preparing it in my new air-fryer. In this recipe, the kale adds a crispy, salty crunch to this hearty soup.
Veggie Minestrone with Crispy Kale Continue reading
I recently signed up for one of those grocery subscription boxes—you know, the service that mails you perfectly portioned ingredients and the recipes to cook 3 meals per week. It’s a luxury for sure when one plastic-wrapped garlic clove and the smallest bottle of olive oil you’ve ever seen arrive on your doorstep every week. I justified the cost of the service as a trial to be inspired by ingredients and dishes I wouldn’t otherwise spend money on at the grocery store or at a restaurant to try. I opted into the vegetarian subscription service—not because I’m vegetarian—but because I entertain a few vegetarian friends, and in my own attempt to eat a little less meat, I wanted to explore some heartier, non-meat sources of protein. It’s been a few months now, and so far, so good! I’ve discovered I actually like mushrooms and tofu (gasp!), and there are a TON of high-protein grains I never knew about, which is a huge relief for my pasta addiction, like bulgar, red quinoa, and fregula sarda (see below). However, I usually deviate from the recipes that the service provides and make my own creations, often adding other ingredients I already have on hand and subtracting some of the ingredients that don’t fit with the flavors I’m going for. So last week, I ended up with a few odds and ends that haven’t made it into any of my dishes. Wondering what to do with these mismatched ingredients, it dawned on me: wait, this looks familiar… it’s Chopped! This long-winded story was my way of sharing the inspiration behind this “whatever’s on hand” dish that turned out surprisingly wonderful! Nutty pasta, earthy mushrooms, both buttery and crispy beans, and a touch of lemon juice and grated cheese bring it all together into a light dinner or a savory side dish. I hope this recipe inspires you to star in your own personal episode of Chopped!
Fregula Sarda with Mushrooms and Butter Beans
I’ve never cooked with Mascarpone cheese before, thinking that it was only used for Italian desserts, like a nice Tiramisu. But when I came across a few recipes using it in savory sauces, I had to give it a try. I’m happy to report that it was a success! Compared to cream cheese or heavy cream, Mascarpone is less dense and less sweet, and it emulsifies much easier than butter. With the spice of the sausage and the creaminess of the white beans, the pan gravy perfectly ties this dish together. Throw in a little pasta to soak up all that deliciousness, and you’re all set, in less than a half-hour.
Campanelle With White Beans, Spicy Sausage, and Mascarpone Pan Gravy
…I’ve got just the thing for that. If you’re like me (and the thousands of Americans) who suddenly felt the need to crash diet come January 1, you’re probably starting to lose willpower at this point, as your round-the-clock stomach pains have manifested into feelings of irritability and anger, making you lash out at people for no apparent reason. The truth this, I don’t like my hangry self, and neither do the other drivers on the road. So I devised a simple, satisfying dish that won’t wreak havoc of your FitBit calorie counter. I calculated an estimated 800 calories per plate, which isn’t terrible considering that this is a “treat” for us Resolution Dieters – baked chicken is better than fried, olive oil is a good fat for the heart, and you can substitute a healthier pasta option if you like (eg, veggie-fortified, spaghetti squash). And the best part is – it has a CARB and BUTTER.
Baked Parmesan Chicken With Lemony Tri-Color Angel Hair