I was having one of those powerless days earlier this week. I woke up kinda sad, I guess melancholy is a better word, and I couldn’t get it together to help myself feel better. I felt out of control of everything I did, saw or thought about, including my family/other job (when I’m not doing this, I take care of my elderly grandmother with Parkinson’s), my relationship, the weather, the fact that my feet were cold and my hair. My hair, even! I had a terminal case of Bieber-bangs going on, so bad they were obscuring my vision, which I felt powerless and sad about. When you become a victim of your bangs, things have gone too far.
That night, though it was tempting to just make a peanut butter sandwich and mope about that too, I kicked my ass into the kitchen with a mission to make something good. It turned out to be this pasta. At first I was just going through the cooking motions, but as I went it got more fun, more engrossing, and I forgot to feel sad. Pretty soon I was not only happy but exerting power left and right, deciding how to chop things, what to add, what to leave out, if it tasted just the way I wanted or it needed a little sumpin sumpin. I used Power Greens in it, which immediately led to me thinking of it as power pasta, but it’s power pasta for more than a cheesy brand association. Low and behold, I was able to break out of my slump. I was able to feel happy and creative and *gasp* powerful, even though I was just making pasta! If something so simple could make me feel so good, maybe my life isn’t so epicly sad after all.
The pasta was really good! I feel like I got it just right, and all the ingredients came together in savory harmony, with just a little bit of tang to hit the high notes. It’s pretty hard to go wrong when you start with those Baby Bellas (I could just call them creminis, but Baby Bellas is more fun), and to me they make every meal taste like a sir. And there I was, eating a meal of my own creation that tasted like a sir, when just an hour before I felt powerless to make anything more delicious than peanut butter toast.
I guess if there’s a moral here, it’s when you feel sad and powerless, try messing around in the kitchen. Everything might seem a whole lot brighter afterwards. Postscript: I used my electric razor to hack off a few inches of bang. They look good in a hiply irregular way, and I can see again.
Linguine with Baby Bellas, Peppers and Greens (Power Pasta)
makes 4 powerfully generous servings
2 Tbs olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped (a coffee grinder makes this quick)
1/2 an onion
about 2 cups red/orange/yellow sweet pepper
3-4 cups cremini mushrooms (sometimes sold as Baby Bellas or baby/mini Portobellos)
1-2 Tbs Mrs. Dash (I used Garlic and Herb)
a 14.5 oz can diced salt-free tomatoes
1 Tbs sugar
1-2 tsp Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy or some hot pepper flakes, however many you want to put in there
5 cups assorted fresh spinach and greens, roughly chopped (I use Cooking With Spinach Plus Power Greens)
about 4 oz. whole wheat linguine
1. Put the olive oil and chopped garlic into a large nonstick cooking pot. Turn the heat to medium. Slice the onion and add it to the pot. Keep an eye on the garlic while you’re working on the onion, stirring it occasionally.
2. Turn the heat down a little and keep sauteing the garlic and onion while you seed and slice the peppers. Add them to the pot and get them started cooking while you quarter the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms and stir everything together. Saute for a few minutes. You might need to turn the heat up or down occasionally, depending on how things are going in the pot.
Start boiling a pot of water to cook the linguine in.
3. Add the Mrs. Dash and stir that around for a few seconds. Stir in the canned tomatoes and sugar and let everything cook together for a few minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. Add some Extra Spicy seasoning or red pepper flakes, cook for a minute or so and then taste. Add more if you like. Add a dash of salt if you feel like it needs it, but no more than a dash. Put a lid on the pot and keep the heat somewhere around low, stirring occasionally.
4. When the water’s boiling, throw in the linguine. Chop up your greens while that’s cooking. When the pasta’s done, add a ladleful of the pasta water to the sauteed veg before draining. The starch in the water helps everything sort of cling to the pasta, as Nigella explains it. Drain the pasta. Throw the chopped greens in on top of the sauteed veg. Dump the pasta in on top of the greens. Toss everything together. Serve. Drown sorrows of the day in pasta gloriousness.
Per serving, about 341g: 347 calories (79 calories from fat); 8.7g fat (13%)(1.0g sat, 0g trans); 0mg cholesterol (0%); 119mg sodium (5%); 58.0g carbohydrates (19%); 9.5g fiber (38%); 11.3g protein; Vitamin A 71%; Calcium 9%; Vitamin C 150%; Iron 21%