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Monday, November 7, 2011

Penne El Paso

My latest culinary experiment, inspired by the corn pasta I bought at the health food store, was a great success! Although I frequently buy whole wheat, brown rice, kamut and spelt pastas, I had never tried corn pasta before. It has a great firm consistency and slightly sweet taste. It has a similar fibre content to brown rice pasta (the whole 1lb bag that I used has 15 grams of fibre), but much less than most other whole grain pastas. Nevertheless, it's a great option if you are avoiding wheat and/or gluten.

This dish encorporates some southwestern influenced flavours and it a nice balance of sweet (squash, tomato sauce), salty (olives, cheese) and spicy (jalapenos). If you omit the cheese (I added it only to my own since Adam won't eat it) or use a non-dairy substitute, than this becomes a well-balanced vegan dish too.

1 lb whole grain short (penne, rotini, etc.) corn pasta or other whole grain pasta

1 lb butternut squash, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup sliced olives like Spanish, kalamata, sundried, etc.(I used sundried)
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
1 jar Passata (strained tomatoes)
1 bunch kale, washed and torn into pieces, tough stems removed
1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
A few handfuls fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat pepperjack cheese (or other cheese)

Roast squash in the oven at 350F for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic and spices in oil for 3-4 minutes in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add vinegar and cook a few minutes longer. Add beans, olives and salsa and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Turn heat down to low and add strained tomatoes, kale and jalapeno (if using). Simmer until kale has wilted. If sauce becomes too thick, add a few ladles full of the pasta cooking water. Add cilantro just before serving. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente and then add to skillet with the sauce. Sprinkle each serving with cheese, and additional fresh cilantro, if desired.

Casserole option: After combining pasta and sauce, turn it into an oven safe baking dish and top with the cheese and crumbled, baked corn chips. Bake in the oven at 350F for about 10 minutes until cheese has melted.