Friday, January 13, 2012

Vegan Eggplant, Portobello Mushroom, Red Bell Pepper, Tomato Sauce On Gluten Free Corn-Quinoa Pasta

This low fat pasta sauce is packed with veggies.

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Do Not Fear the Carb
I know, it's January and everyone is on a diet, joining a gym and trying to shed the pounds they gained during the holidays. But that's no reason to totally give up pasta. Just make sure you don't cover it with a high calorie sauce and limit your serving of pasta to a few ounces.

Italian Americans Love their Gravy!
Somewhere between Southern Italy and Brooklyn, my Italian ancestors decided that sauce was "gravy" and instead of using it to delicately coat and flavor pasta, they decided to use it to drown it.
I'll never forget my first trip to Italy. I was at my friend Isabella's house and she decided to make pasta. She took out a very small saucepan to make the sauce. I wondered how on earth she was going to make "gravy" in such a tiny pot! That was probably the first time I had ever eaten pasta with the "appropriate" amount of sauce. Surprisingly, it was quite good.
I still love to use a lot of sauce on my pasta dishes but instead of making fatty, meaty gravies like my grandparents did, I make sauces that are packed with veggies that are low in fat and high in powerful plant chemicals. 

Instead of meat, I use plenty of veggies in my sauce.
Eggplant, portobello mushrooms, red bell pepper and crushed tomatoes make up this delicious low fat pasta sauce.

Selecting your Pasta
Pasta is only a problem in our diets when we select brands made from highly processed flour that is low in fiber. Pasta made from highly refined flour causes your blood sugar to spike which triggers a surge in insulin. Diets high in these "high glycemic" foods can lead to type II diabetes. 
If you are not sensitive to gluten, whole wheat pasta can be a good choice as a 2 ounce serving can provide 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. If you are glucose intolerant, there are some very good brands that even a fussy pasta eater can enjoy.
My absolute favorite gluten free pasta is made by Quinoa Corporation. Their Ancient Harvest Quinoa Supergrain pasta is made from a blend of non-gmo corn flour and organic quinoa flour. A 2 ounce serving of their rotelle provides 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Not quite as high in fiber as those made with whole wheat but higher in fiber than white pasta. Most important, they are safe for those who have celiac or gluten sensitivities. The best thing about quinoa pasta is that it has a good texture and can be cooked "al dente". It doesn't fall apart like many of the gluten free pastas made from rice and other grains.

Ancient Grain Quinoa makes my favorite gluten free pastas! 
If you can tolerate wheat, select a whole grain pasta rich in fiber and protein.

Eggplant, Portobello Mushroom, Red Pepper, Tomato Sauce
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes ~ 6 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta]

1 lb eggplant, unpeeled, diced
Salt for sprinkling
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper (1 large)
1 large portobello mushroom, 1/3 pound, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt,
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 cups crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Place diced eggplant in a steamer basket and sprinkle generously with salt. Toss so the salt is distributed. Let the steamer basket sit in the sink for 15 minutes or until the eggplant sweats.  Leaving the eggplant in the steamer basket, rinse off salt and steam until cooked - about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Sprinkling the eggplant with salt and allowing it to "sweat" removes the bitterness. If you are using small eggplants that don't have many seeds (like Chinese, Japanese or Sicilian zebra or graffiti eggplants), you can eliminate this step and just steam the eggplant.

While the eggplant is steaming, heat oil to medium heat in a large saucepan and stir in red pepper flakes. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Add red pepper, chopped mushroom and salt and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until peppers and mushrooms are soft. 
Add wine and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add steamed eggplant, basil, crushed tomatoes and bring to boil.
Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. 
Adjust salt and add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Top with fresh parsley and serve on your favorite pasta.

Per 1/2 cup serving of sauce: 58.7 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0.2 g saturated fat, 23 mg ALA omega-3 and 236 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.4 g protein, 10.9 g carbohydrates, 3.4 g dietary fiber and 199 mg sodium.

1 comment:

coco said...

this one has everything i love in one plate, so i will try!
thanks for the idea.