Thursday, March 20, 2008

March 20: Whole Wheat Linguine With Caponata

The diet continues. Sometimes, like tonight, we can't stand our own cooking anymore, and we go out for a tiny little dried-out grilled chicken breast and a baked potato, no butter, no sour cream. Food has become less than the feast for the senses that it was four weeks ago.

But, it's worth it. I'm still not losing much, but Dan is losing like crazy. I couldn't be more proud of him, although the drastic reduction in calories has made him incrediby grumpy. I told him he's bringing new meaning to the phrase "lean and mean."

Some days are better than others when it comes to what we eat. Like I said, it's not the feast for the senses that used to be, but the Type-A control freak in me likes the little rush I get from eating 350 calories for dinner, and then stopping. Oooh, that sounds disturbingly like an eating disorder, doesn't it? Yeah, I wouldn't worry just yet.

One of the first cookbooks my mother ever gave me is a pasta cookbook. I don't make pasta very often, but I like this one because it gives recipes for lots of different kinds of pasta, and sauces to go with them. I have made the black pepper linguine with red clam sauce dozens of times.

This pasta sauce is paired with whole wheat spaghetti, which I don't like well enough to make for myself. I like it well enough to eat it because it's healthy and for me, because I really love pasta, whole wheat pasta is better than, like, no pasta at all, but that's about it. Nevertheless, this sounds good, and healthy, and like I wouldn't totally hate it. Nothing's perfect, but my mind is open. Mostly.

Whole Wheat Linguine with Caponata

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 celerey rib, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed through a press
1 pound fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup halved and pitted Greek or Sicilian olives
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons drained small capers
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound whole wheat linguine or spaghetti, cooked according to box directions

In a large nonreactive skillet, heat the oil. Add the eggplant, onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, olives, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, thyme, and hot pepper flakes. Cover and simmer, stirring often, until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the basil, parsley, and capers. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, until roughly half the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss hot cooked pasta with sauce. Serve immediately.

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