Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Not Pasta . . .NOODLES!

My mom's go to dish growing up was noodles. Not pasta. Noodles were simpler things, striped of all pasta pretence.

On worn out, tired evenings, mom pulled out the ramen - top ramen.

When she was feeling particularly indulgent she might even sprinkle on a microscopic amount of the chemical seasoning packet. But mostly, she boiled the quick cooking noodle brick till just under done, drained, drizzled with a bit of melted butter, and topped with diced tomato and green onion. I always wished she would keep the tomato and green onion and just go for the foil packet of MSG. Ah how my tastes have changed.

Now that I'm the mom, I try to remember the pain I went through as a child suffering my mother's green onion addiction. Still, I find that I have inherited the same habit and love of quick cooking no fuss food.

How do I reconcile my family's tastes without making different meals for adults and children? After all, I'm no short order cook and I want to teach my kids to eat what's for dinner even if it's not customized to their specific tastes. The key - add ons!

The solution:

1. Whole Wheat Egg Noodles - These noodle heros are just as quick cooking as ramen but have a heartier texture and nuttier flavor plus A LOT more fiber and nutritional value. Simply boil til tender in salted water.

2. Olive Oil - Subbing olive oil for the less than healthy animal fat (aka butter) is a good choice for both child and adult. Drizzle a few tablespoons into a deep skillet over medium heat.

3.Grated Garlic - Gives the oil that perk you might miss from butter. Plus grating the garlic makes it cook up quick. If you don't have a fine grater, no problem. Just dice, mince, or whatever you want to do and lengthen cooking time appropriately. Add to warmed oil and stir making sure not to burn the garlic. Quickly add the next two ingredients . . .

4. Diced Tomatoes and Spinach - I have a girl that hates tomato sauce. Dicing the tomatoes rather than cooking the crap out of them not only preserves their nutritional value but allows the most critical of pallets to simply pick them off. They can eat around the spinach too if they absolutely must. Still, it is going on the kids' plate and sooner or later they may just accidental eat one! Add several handfuls of spinach (they'll wilt way down so be liberal) and a couple diced tomatoes to the olive oil over medium and heat and saute just until spinach is wilted.

5. Kosher Salt and Lemon- Kosher salt is beautifully coarse and less sharp than regular table salt. It's great flavor that will also perk up the flavor of the olive oil if you truly are missing butter. A squeeze of lemon will brighten up the entire dish and aid in digestion. Add a couple pinches of Kosher Salt, add the noodles to the pan and squeeze a lemon over the top. Fold together then dish it up.

6. Kalamata Olives and Diced Green Onion - Adult Add-ons! I finish my dish off with olives and green onions since no one else in my family appreciates them.

Finish each dish off with a conservative sprinkling of Kosher salt just for looks and voila, you've elevated simple noodles into pasta! Still, call it noodles.

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