April 10, 2005

Spring Cleaning, starting with vodka (Penne alla Vodka)

I should note, to start, that I'm using the vodka neither to make cleaning more fun (although it's a heck of an idea!) nor as an actual cleaning agent. The vodka became involved by dint of being a major player in a notorious little Italian-American pasta dish Penne Vodka which was my recipe o' the week - and not incidentally, dinner on Saturday night.

It's a simple dish. While you heat up the water to cook a pound of penne pasta, you simmer 4 cups of simple tomato sauce with a cup of vodka. By the time the penne hits the boiling, salted water, your sauce will have reduced slightly, and you add a cup of heavy cream. Just before the pasta is al dente, drop a half-cup of grated parmesan into the sauce, give it a stir, drain the penne, stir it into the sauce, and allow to simmer on low for a couple of minutes more to absorb some of the sauce and give you time to devour a salad. A little black pepper, and you're done.

A pound of pasta, generally speaking, will serve four people as a main course, which evens this out as a 1/4 cup of vodka, 1/4 cup of cream, and 1/8 cup parmesan per person. Not exactly light food, but neither is it of the heart-attack inducing alfredo sauce calibre. It tastes very rich, though. Rich enough, that in these early days of Spring, it makes you contemplate taking up jogging, or lettuce.

I've never been an advocate of starvation diets. I've been known to try a few cleansing programs, such as the cabbage soup cleanse, but with my - er, let's say "abbreviated" - innards, such haphazard approaches to eating can be quite detrimental. I am feeling inspired to eat a little more healthily, though. Fortunately, I have a giant bag of chicken burritos in the freezer, but that would get fairly dull after a few days. I am resolved to make an effort to cook dinners that leave me feeling energized instead of tired, though. Light, clean meals. Out come the lentil soups and the vegetarian dishes, for a dusting-off, scraping off of the barnacles, and refitting of the hull. Foods where there are no oils or other added fats, where the intrinsic nature of the ingredients is a little healthier. A week or two of that, and I should be able to fend off the next Cheezies attack.

Final pronouncement on Penne Vodka? Very tasty, a little rich, and a little monotone on its own; would make a fantastic side dish to chicken piccata, though.

No comments: