Pass the pasta

Pasta has gotten a lot of bad raps lately for being a carbohydrate.  Thing is, our body survives because of carbohydrates.  The metabolism of our cells is started by a molecule of glucose.  Which is why, as many may have experienced, when you get rid of ALL carbs (including good ones) you feel a little loopy and drained. 

The amount and quality of carbohydrates are what make the difference.  The USDA recommends  6-7 servings of grains a day, with at least half of them being whole grains.  Whole grains are things like brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, oats and bulgur. 

Pasta has changed a lot more recently with the increase of whole wheat being added to products.  Please note, however, that if the package does not say “100% Whole Wheat”, you could still be eating “enriched wheat flour” – which is essentially just white flour and has been stripped of almost all nutrients.  Multi-grain and whole wheat products may have more whole grains than white bread, but they are not the real McCoy.  When I look for pasta, I look for “100% whole durum”, usually it is listed as the only ingredient – ding! ding! ding!  We have a winner! 

Why whole grains?  Your colon will thank you and treat you kindly!!  Whole grains contain all the nutrients that help your body function, including B vitamins and fiber.  However, some people are sensitive to gluten, so the whole grains must be altered in the diet to avoid wheat. 

This recipe is surprisingly easy and so delicious!! You can roast peppers on your own if you like the flavor better, but I find the jarred variety to be a comparable shortcut. This recipe is perfect for two, but can be double for more! The dried shiitake mushrooms, spinach and roasted peppers add some great flavor!

Poached Salmon in Orzo Broth

From Betty Crocker’s Cooking for Two Cookbook

Ingredients

1 cup hot water

6 dried shiitake mushrooms (1/2 ounce)

2 cups chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons uncooked orzo (rosamarina) pasta

1/2 pound salmon fillet, skinned and cut into to pieces

1/4 cup sliced, drained roasted red bell peppers

1 cup thinly sliced spinach leaves

3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

2 medium green onions, sliced diagonally

Shredded Parmesan cheese, as desired

In medium bowl, pour hot water over mushrooms. Let stand about 20 minutes or until soft. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Rinse with warm water; drain. Squeeze excess moisture from mushrooms. Remove and discard stems; cut caps into 1/2-inch strips.

 Strain mushroom liquid through fine wire mesh sieve or coffee filter into 4-quart Dutch oven. Stir in broth and garlic. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo; reduce heat. Add salmon. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Carefully remove salmon with slotted spatula; keep warm.

Stir mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach, basil and onions into broth mixture. Cook about 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted and orzo is tender.

 Place a piece of salmon in each individual bowl; spoon vegetable-orzo broth over top. Sprinkle with cheese.

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