I never thought I would say this, but I miss our vegetarian meals. Normally, I try to plan 2-3 vegetarian meals a week for our family dinners. This practice has proven to benefit both our waistlines and our budget. However, I got away from it for awhile and now I really, really notice the vegetarian void. It seems like all we have eaten lately is meat, meat, meat. Ugh. I am completely sick of eating beef and pork!
For the past couple of weeks, I have foregone some of our vegetarian meals so I could use up some of the animal-based protein items I had stored in my freezer. This meant less room on the weekly menu plan for meatless options. The worst part is that I have really noticed a difference in how I physically feel. I just don't seem to be as healthy or energetic (read: my pants are tighter and I am tired more often). So, this week will be dedicated to getting back on the vegetarian bandwagon, and eating healthier overall.
I think I have four vegetarian dinners planned for this week, so that should get us back on track. For the rest of the month, I am hoping that I can get back to my standard vegetarian plan of the "three times per week" habit. When I do decide to cook some type of animal protein, I am going to make an effort to stick with poultry or fish. Hopefully, that will get us back to eating a more balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Of course, there is always room for flexibility...I just wanted to lay out some goals for the coming weeks and months.
Tonight is a hybrid recipe. It is literally just cooked, whole wheat spaghetti and a tomato-based sauce. I am going to make the exact same sauce from the Simply Recipes website, that I used for making Spinach Ricotta Gnocci. Then, I am going to pair it with my cooked pasta and call it dinner. It should be super-simple and very, very yummy. Best of all, it uses one of my favorite cheeses...goat cheese (just a wee little bit). I think we are just going to pair this noodle dish with a side salad and call it an evening. I am sure that this will satisfy my need for a light and tasty meal.
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Tomato Goat Cheese Sauce
Adapted from: simplyrecipes.com
1 package of whole wheat spaghetti pasta
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (or whole tomatoes that you shred as you add to the pan)
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Salt to taste
2 ounces goat cheese
Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Remove and discard the garlic. Add the tomatoes (include any juices from the can) all at once (careful, they may cause the oil to splatter as the tomatoes hit the pan). As soon as the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt. Stir occasionally. Use a potato masher to break up any solid pieces of tomato (you want a rough purée).
Once the sauce reduces to a medium thick consistency, add the goat cheese, stirring until it is well blended. Add more salt to taste. Serve over pasta with a some grated Parmesan cheese.
This was good, but I think the sauce went soooooo much better with the gnocci in the original recipe. Also, I think it could have been saucier. It seems like our pasta just soaked up the sauce. Overall, this dish was what I wanted, since it was light and healthy. Plus, it had the all the flavors that I wanted...so really no complaints. I love that it was easy to put together, but I guess my final opinion is that it was just okay. Certainly not as good as I had hoped, since the original dish was fantastic. I just think that I was spoiled by having this sauce with the Spinach Ricotta Gnocci first. At any rate, I definitely needed a lighter, vegetarian meal for dinner last night. I already feel much better today!