Now that the holidays are behind us, most of us are trying to shed the weight we gained during the crazy party season. For me, even though I didn’t go to too many parties, I gained the weight because both my kids were home from college and being a typical Indian mother I thought the best way of making them feel at home was by cooking elaborate yummy meals! My daughter is at a college 500 miles away from home but she always knows what I am cooking because she closely follows my blog. So when she comes home for a break, she has a long list of things she wants to eat that she missed out on during the time she was at college. My son is at a very small liberal arts college and as far as food goes, he has very limited choices. Unlike, my daughter, he can’t even eat at any restaurants because the college is in the middle of a corn field in a completely rural county, so his only choices are those available at the college cafeteria. So when both the kids were home during this past winter break, all my efforts were focused on making up for the months of deprivation that they faced at school. This year we also had two of their friends staying with us for the break – so with four young people in the house, I was constantly cooking and thereby eating for weeks on end.
Anyway, one by one all these kids went back to college. I dropped my son off this past Sunday – the last of them to go back to college. Now the house is back to being the quiet place my husband and I work out of and also our eating habits have to go back to simpler, lighter meals – no more steaks, tenderloin or burgers! But in my book, lighter does not mean bland – I can’t compromise on taste under any circumstances. So I made a simple pasta dinner last night that was loaded with lots of vegetables – snow peas, cauliflower, bell peppers and pearl onions! To pep up the taste I added some red pepper flakes, feta cubes, a little bit of bacon and some dried herbs. It was a great well balanced meal that was absolutely delicious and very satisfying, even though there was not much meat in it (in fact vegetarians can make this and just completely omit the bacon!).
1. ½ lb of dry pasta
2. 1 cup of fresh snow peas
3. ½ cup of frozen pearl onions
4. ½ red bell pepper
5. ½ orange bell pepper
6. ½ a head of fresh cauliflower
7. 3-4 slices of bacon
8. 6-8 ounces of feta cheese
9. ½ teaspoon of salt
10. ½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
11. ¼ teaspoon of dried basil
12. ¼ teaspoon of fried oregano
13. A pinch of dried rosemary
14. 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash the cauliflower and cut out the florets (bite sized pieces).
2. Dry all the florets with a kitchen towel and then sprinkle half a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on them and toss them so that the oil spreads to all the surfaces.
3. Place the cauliflower florets on a cookie sheet and roast them in an oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes (half the way through, please turn them over once).
4. While the cauliflower is getting roasted prepare the rest of the ingredients – Boil a large container of water and when it starts to bubble add ½ lb of pasta to it and let the pasta cook till it is al dente.
5. While the pasta and the cauliflower are getting done, prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a small skillet add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat it over medium heat.
9. Chop the bacon into small pieces and cook these pieces on medium heat in a large skillet. Render the fat out and when the bacon gets cooked and crispy, take it out of the pan and rest it on a dry kitchen paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
16. Sprinkle the dried herbs (basil, oregano and rosemary) on top and gently toss everything together.
17. Serve this pasta while it is hot or even at room temperature. I used it for lunch the next day and it tasted delicious as a cold pasta salad!