Culinary Corner

Healthful fettuccine with lentils dish can help keep you healthy

Special to The CambrianJanuary 28, 2013 

I have given up the uphill battle on some word usage which has been in the common realm so long that it may always remain. That’s the confusion over healthful and healthy, which are now so prominently misused. Remember this adage to keep it straight: “People can be healthy if they eat healthfully.” For instance, a Mediterranean diet is not healthy, but rather healthful, because the combination of those good foods is conducive to good health.

The other error which makes me cringe is transposing nauseated and nauseous. A person may be described as nauseated when he or she feels ill. But nauseous is causing others to feel ill, so when I hear a certain comedienne say she is nauseous, I do agree, but only because she makes me feel ill every time she makes the mistake. I am nauseated knowing that it will never be corrected, and I hope I will never be nauseous to others!

Speaking of the Mediterranean diet, I will share a delicious recipe from Sue Coyle using an ancient nutritious ingredient in a main dish mentioned in the Scriptures. Try this delicious variation, which Sue adapted from her “Vegan Planet” cookbook, and vary it according to your own taste:

Fettuccine with Red Lentil Sauce

3/4 to 1 cup dried red lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 carrots, sliced diagonally thinly

2 celery ribs, diced

3 tblsp. olive oil (divided use)

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

6 ounces tomato paste

1 pound pkg. fettuccine

2-4 tblsp. fresh basil en chiffonade, or Italian parsley

We found the red lentils at Trader Joe’s, but you may substitute the brown ones — the nutritious legumes are loaded with protein, iron, vitamin B-complex, and calcium, and do not require soaking. Place the lentils, carrots and celery in a stewpot and cover with at least three cups of water; salt to taste, bring to a boil and turn to simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, until tender. Drain, but reserve two cups of the liquid.

Toss the lentils and veggies with one tablespoon olive oil and set aside. Heat the other two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté just about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and simmer two more minutes to marry the flavors.

Add in the reserved lentil cooking liquid, stirring and blending until smooth. Add in the lentil mixture, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer to blend all the delicious flavors while you cook the pasta. If it evaporates too much, add more water.

Cook the fettuccini in a large pot of salted boiling water about 10 minutes until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain, and divide into four shallow bowls or individual plates. Spoon the sauce over each, sprinkle with the basil, or substitute parsley, and serve piping hot.

I used to decry overcooking zucchini until I had this method where it is called by its continental name and used in a carbonara sauce I found in a Sicilian cookbook. Since I had to convert from metric measurements, you may adjust according to your taste:

Macaroni with Courgette Cheese Sauce

4 pounds fresh zucchini

1 stick of butter

2 tblsp. olive oil

1 pound soft cheese grated (Fontina is great)

1 large egg yolk, room temp

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

16 oz. pkg. semolina pasta (I used whole wheat rigatoni)

Wash and scrub the zucchini; dice and brown in butter and olive oil for about 20 minutes in a medium pan over medium heat (adding a little water if necessary). Meanwhile, in a large tureen or dish in which this first course will be served, mix together the yolk, Fontina, salt and pepper until creamy.

According to package directions, boil rigatoni, tortiglioni, fusilli or any other macaroni which will have plenty of surfaces for the sauce to adhere, until al dente. Quickly drain and add into the creamy egg mix, stir in the courgettes, and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Mix well to allow the egg to “cook” and cheese to melt. Serve immediately.

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. It appears on the second, fourth and any fifth Thursdays. Please send recipes and ideas to Consuelo, c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to cambrian@thetribunenews.com.

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