Bologna to Bolognese: Adventures With Food

Food is necessary. Food is fun. Food is an adventure!

My name is Shannon and this is my adventure, my love affair with food.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spicy Butter Bean Dip

Over the past couple weeks you may have noticed the lapse in new posts but I have been adventuring in unfamiliar territory and only now am ready to share again. That unfamiliar territory is the world of calorie counting. In the past I have tried, unsuccessfully, to keep a strict low calorie diet. Now with more restaurants offering healthier options and nutrition information on their menus it is easier to make informed and healthy choices. But what about snacking? When you have a craving for an indulgent snack how do you turn away creamy dips and crisp chips for something healthier? You make it of course and have I got a treat for you. While counting calories I have also had the opportunity to see what nutrients I am getting enough of and in what areas I am lacking. This brings us to the lovely Legume. They are a terrific source of nutrients and luckily they are awful tasty as well. So the next time you have a craving but want to keep it healthy try this scrumptious Spicy Butter Bean Dip. It not only tastes great but is high in iron, potassium, fiber and vitamin C.

Ingredients : Makes 4 servings

12 oz butter beans (1 can drained)
3 teaspoons garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp olive oil


Drain most of the liquid off the beans (reserve maybe 2 tsp) and combine with the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process for a few minutes until combined. Add the reserved bean liquid or a dash of lemon juice to adjust the consistency to your preference. I like raw veggies for snacking as long as I can dip them in something, so try this dip served with broccoli stems sliced like chips for a healthy snack.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hearty Harvest Pasta

It may not be autumn quite yet but we are on the cusp here in the Ozark hills and I couldn't resist this wonderful fall dish. This Hearty Harvest Pasta is combines delicious subtle seasonings with healthy ingredients for a dish that can be served as a main or a side.

This dish started off as a new way to cook squash. I was overseas and I needed a dish for a Thanksgiving potluck at work. I wanted something a little different and had only just started learning the joys of roasting vegetables but it sounded like a great way to prepare squash. The only squash I could find were butternut and acorn which I had only ever had with butter and brown sugar. I looked through some vegetarian recipes and got some ideas then basically smelled my way through the spice cabinet adding what seemed to feel right. Voila! Harvest roasted squash. It was a hit. Since then I have mixed it up, adding different things along the way but have found a new level of satisfaction by adding it to pasta.

Squash pairs well with pasta and is often found as a filling in ravioli. It also works well instead of adding meat and adds not only a subtle mild flavor but also good nutrients.

In this dish we are keeping the basic ingredients simple and expanding our use of spices. Many people have very few spices in their pantries but good use of herbs and spices can help you make almost any dish healthier.


1 box garden vegetable rotini
1 acorn squash
1 butternut squash
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 cup seedless red grapes



Start by slicing the squash thinly (no more than 1/4 inch thickness) and laying it out on a foil lined baking sheet. (You can peel them if you like but I enjoy the contrasting colors and unless the outside is very thick, it softens enough with cooking to be an interesting texture.) Sprinkle some of each of the spices being careful with the clove, allspice, and sage which can be overpowering if too much is used. If you need to measure I would say a 1/2 teaspoon of each and salt and pepper to taste. Next slice the onions and garlic and layer on top of the squash. Add the grapes next then drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until tender. In salted water cook pasta until aldente, drain, return to pan. When the vegetables are done combine with the pasta and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

The beauty of this dish is that roasting brings out the natural sweetness in foods and with the addition of the grapes there is no need to add sugar. The spices add warmth and offer a familiar combination that is comforting and delicious. If you wants a little more diversity of texture add some toasted pine nuts to finish off the dish.