|Bobby Deen’s Light Baked Spaghetti versus….|
|Pasta Puttanesca from Ellie Krieger|
Unless you live under some media-free rock, you have likely heard of the kerfuffle surrounding the announcement that Paula Deen, the Food Network’s Diva of Southern Cuisine, has contracted Type II diabetes. The news came in a barrage of Deen-related press releases informing us that not only had Ms. Deen admitted to her much-rumoured diabetes, she had also signed on as the paid spokesperson for an insulin replacement therapy. Coupled with this shocker was the introduction of Paula’s son Billy’s new television program “Not my Mama’s Meals” in which Ms. Deen’s son would re-create his mother’s high fat, high calorie dishes into something healthier. All this was greeted with jeers from Ms. Deen’s harshest critic, Anthony Bourdain of “No Reservations” TV fame and the author of “Kitchen Confidential”. Mr Bourdain, who had earlier attacked Ms. Deen calling her “the most dangerous woman in American”, jumped into the fray with the following Twitter post: He said: ‘Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.’ My own take on Ms. Deen’s diabetes was similar to hearing the news that the Marlboro men of cigarette fame, carried oxygen tanks on the back of their horses. Cause meet effect.
I have actually never made a single Paula Deen recipe. As a matter of fact, I purchased her eponymous magazine only once, read through the entire thing and didn’t want to cook a single thing in it. I have been known to clip recipes from In-Flight magazines, soup cans and cracker packages. But there was not one single recipe in that sole issue of Ms. Deen’s magazine that I wanted a thing to do with. Too fat, too loaded with carbohydrates, too high in calories, too fried–too everything I try not to put on the table. But I was intriqued with son Bobby’s recipe for his mother’s Baked Spaghetti, a lavish casserole of cheese, pasta and chicken sausage. It appeared in “The Light Issue” of Food Network magazine, January-February 2012. So I made it. After all, Paula informed us that “Bobby is the most health-conscious member of our family”.
Highlighted in yellow ink, the changes that Bobby Deen made to Mama’s recipe were the following. Bobby recommended using whole wheat angel hair pasta (6 0z of the stuff) to Mama’s 8 Ounces of regular angel hair pasta. He used ½ pound of sweet Italian chicken sausage in lieu of Paula’s 1 ½ lbs of ground beef. And finally he used ½ cup of part-skim mozzarella and ½ cup of cheddar cheese replacing 1 cup of Cheddar and 1 cup of Monterey Jack. Are you getting the picture? Bobby lowered the quantities as well as the fat count. In fact he really lowered the quantity. His dish went into a 2 quart casserole. The original Paula Deen dish went into a three quart baking dish. Despite all this cutting back, Bobby only lowered the calorie count by 100 a serving. And since neither recipe included any nutritional information at all, it’s safe to say Bobby accomplished very little other than portion control. Face it, eat less and you will weigh less.
And how was the recipe? Mind-blowingly bland. But what do you expect when you put ¼ tsp. of Italian seasoning, ½ tsp. of seasoned salt in a two quart casserole? I mean if you take out the fat, the flavor carrier, please replace it with something to give some boost to your flavor profile. I confess that our dinner guest the night I served this dish more than enjoyed it. In fact he took all the leftovers home with him mostly because Andrew and I had had quite enough of our Light Baked Spaghetti. But what to make in it stead? That’s when I poked around and found Ellie Kreiger’s recipe for Pasta Puttanesca, a wonderful Roman dish adapted by Ms. Krieger, a dietician and host of the Food Network’s “Healthy Eating”. She has a master’s degree from Columbia University and an inate understanding of how to make healthy foods terrifically appealing. Here’s a quote from Ms. Krieger: “I crave food that is bursting with flavor and aroma, food that draws you in and leaves you satisfied and guess what? That food can also be healthy”.
Serves 4. Preparation Time 17 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the parsley, olives, capers, anchovy paste, oregano and crushed red pepper to the skillet, and saute for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the arugula and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly. When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the skillet, tossing it with the sauce to combine. Top with grated cheese.