- Food and Cooking
Green Sauces for Pasta
Green Pasta Sauces
Some people love tomatoes. Some people don't. I am someone who doesn't like tomatoes, so I have been working on Green Spaghetti Sauces so I can enjoy the fun on top of spaghetti too!
Here are two versions of sauces I like a lot, and I hope you enjoy them too. They both have really healthy ingredients, one that will help your kidneys and another one that should help lower your blood pressure. But maybe it is best not to think of them along those lines first. They are just tasty sauces that you will enjoying as a change from tomato sauce on top of your pasta and spaghetti. I hope you like them!
(All images are by Elyn MacInnis)
Some people hate the taste of cilantro. I used to be one of those people, but I have discovered that I like it in sauce. So be brave and try this! If you love the taste of cilantro, you are in for a treat! And the effect of cilantro on blood pressure is legendary. So do give this one a try.
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Total Time: 10-15 minutes
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic
- put through garlic press or finely chopped
- salt to add to the ground garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger root
- 2 tablespoons cashews or peanuts or almonds
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- some stems of mint if you prefer that flavor
- 1 hot green chili finely minced if you like heat
- Blend everything in the food processor until smooth. Add some water if it is too dry. Voila! It's so easy!
How to prepare the garlic - so that it is tasty but doesn't set your mouth on fire!
The trick is crushing the garlic with some salt until it is liquid. Take whatever amount of garlic you need, and smack it with the side of a knife. Let it sit 15 minutes. This brings out all the compounds that are good for you. Then peel it, and put it through a garlic press or chop it finely. Add to a bowl or a mortar and pestle. Add a big pinch of salt per two cloves of garlic, and start grinding it with a spoon until the salt is mixed in and the garlic is basically liquid. This takes the fire out, but preserves the flavor.
If you love veggies you need a good peeler
When I was young I just used our ancient family vegetable peeler. It worked, but the blade was so dull. After I moved away from home I had to get a new one, and was I glad! Peeling is so easy if your peeler is sharp. Don't frustrate yourself... get a new one if your old blade is dull.
Three different peelers, in colors you can't lose!
Cilantro - Hate it or love it?
Why do some people hate cilantro?
Some people really dislike cilantro. Julia Child was one of them. But in China and in Latin America, it is very common to find cilantro in food.
Our like and dislike is in the brain
Brain scientists think that a large part of the problem is that some cultures never use it, so people just aren't used to the flavor. Some scientists think it is genetic. But flavor chemists have found certain compounds in cilantro that are fragments of soap molecules that have been modified, and that is why some people feel it tastes a little like soap.
Is there a solution? Yes!
Japanese scientists have found a good solution - if you crush the leaves the soapy flavor will gradually fade as enzymes in the leaf alter the molecules to flavorless substances. Perhaps this is why this cilantro green sauce is so delicious!
How to learn to like the flavor
It may have a strange smell, but brain scientists have studied that as well, and claim that if you keep eating it, over time your assessment will change. Frankly, I never thought I would like cilantro, but after many years of bumping into it in Chinese food, I have indeed begun to like it. So you never know! It is in fact a wonderful herb.
The benefits of Cilantro - also called Coriander
~ has antibiotic properties and can combat the bacteria that causes cholera.
~ has been used to treat insomnia and anxiety.
~ It is used as a digestive aid, and also as a diuretic.
~ Coriander has been used traditionally as a treatment for diabetes.
Do you like cilantro or not?
Parsley and Basil Pesto Sauce - Green and healthy
Basil Pesto is traditional, and basil is a fantastic herb that almost everyone likes. Adding parsley gives this green sauce an extra boost nutritionally. You need to try it in order to understand the beauty of the pairing.
- Prep time: 20 min
- Cook time: 10 min
- Ready in: 30 min
- Yields: 2-4 people
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed with salt
- 1/4 cup or more if you like of almonds or pine nuts - best if toasted lightly in over ahead of time
- Bunch (about 150g) of Italian flat leaved parsley - washed and lightly chopped
- Bunch of Basil - washed and lightly chopped
- Up to 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil - I like less.
- Freshly grated parmesan - according to your taste
- 1 pound pasta - or however much you need for the number of people you are having.
- Reserve some of the water that the pasta cooks in
- Take the side of a knife and smack the garlic cloves. This will help them release the good elements that help your heart and body. After 15 minutes, put in a garlic press (or finely chop) and squeeze it into a small bowl. They take a big pinch of salt and add it to the garlic, crushing the garlic against the side of the bowl. Why? When you do this the flavor comes out and the heat of the garlic fades. I am now doing this to all the garlic I use because I hate to have a really nasty fiery garlic mouth after eating.
- If you have time, toast the almonds (less oily) or pine nuts (very oily) in the oven at a low heat for five minutes or until they get toasty.
- Then use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender stick to chop the nuts finely.
- Take the basil and parsley and grind them up either in a food processor or with a blender stick, however it works best for you.
- Add in olive oil until it looks good to you - I like less oil, but many people insist on the standard 1 cup. For me, less oil is better and leaves the freshness in the flavor of the end result.
- Add in the nuts and the garlic and process a little more until everything is completely mixed. Put in a bowl, and add to the pasta. Then add a tablespoon or two of the reserved pasta water. The starch in the water you used for boiling the pasta will make the sauce seem creamier.
- Voila! A beautiful green sauce for your pasta!
Parsley is SO good for you!
Why you want to eat parsley
Did you know that parsley fights cancer?
Myristicin, a natural compound found in parsley, inhibits tumor formation, especially in the lungs, is an anti-oxidant, helps neutralize carcinogens in cigarette smoke, and helps the body fight off colon and prostate cancer.
Other good compounds - helping metabolism and fighting inflammation
Myristicin is not the only antioxidant in parsley. There are others, including lutolin, a flavonoid that also promotes carbohydrate metabolism and is a good anti-inflammatory.
Two tablespoons of parsley has 16% of the RDA for for vitamin C and 12% of the RDA of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is critical to keep your mucous membranes healthy, which will keep you from getting colds and flu. It also helps build the lining of your eyes, urinary and intestinal tracts.
The folate king, Parsley, like Cilantro, with its great store of folate (vitamin B9) will convert homocysteine to harmless compounds. Homocysteine is an amino acid that you have in your body naturally but if you have too much of it, it can encourage plaque formation in your arteries and veins. Persley and cilantro both can help in the fight against cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, stroke and hardening of the arteries.
Love that Vitamin K!
A simple two tablespoons of parsley has 153% of the RDA for vitamin K. Vitamin K is critical for strengthening our bones. It also prevents calcium build up in the body's tissues which can cause hardening of the arteries and affect the heart.
Helping your nerves
Your nerves are covered with a fat (sphingolipid) that helps maintain the myelin sheath around your nerves. The vitamin K in parsley helps your nervous system keep the myelin sheath healthy.
Green add-ins - Straight from the fridge
With a simple White Sauce, you can make all sorts of things!
Have you ever considered just making a simple white sauce and then adding in green veggies straight from your fridge?
The simple white sauce for pasta is made from flour, oil or butter, and milk or other liquids. It doesn't have to be made with milk, but can be made from soup broth, or a bouillon cube dissolved in water. You don't have to use butter if you don't like the flavor, but can use oil instead.
This photo is of what I had for dinner - spinach in white sauce with a little salt, pepper, and nutmeg over penne. It was delicious.
If you aren't familiar with "white sauce" - here is a recipe:
1 tablespoon oil or butter
1 tablespoon flour
Heat the oil in a skillet. Turn it off. Add in the flour and stir until there are no lumps.
Add in 1 cup of liquid of your choice. Milk, half milk and half water and half bouillon, or all bouillon.
Stir in until all lumps have disappeared. Then heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Then you can add your green ingredients. After your have added everything check the sauce for thickness. Too thick can be cloying - you can add water to give it just the right consistency for you.
What can you add to your white sauce to make it Green!
An avocado, chopped finely, with garlic and basil
Small pieces of green peppers, with a splash of cream
Chopped green onions and a hard boiled egg
Green olives and some chopped peppers
A big handful of your favorite herbs
Green peas and thyme
Like olives and herbs? - This one is for you!
A tangy olive and herb sauce for people who like deep flavor in their green sauce.
- Prep time: 30 min
- Ready in: 30 min
- Yields: 4
- 2 cloves garlic - put through a garlic press or minced finely
- 1 and 1½ cups fresh basil leaves - packed with stems removed
- 1 and 1½ cups fresh parsley - stems removed
- 1½ cup almonds
- 2 tablespoons capers - drained
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese - plus a little more for sprinkling on top
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
- good quality olive oil - enough to create a soft mixture
- lemon juice if you like the addition to the flavor
- In food processor, with the motor running, drop in garlic, basil, parsley and almonds. Process until finely minced.
- Save out a handful of olives and capers for the top, but then add rest of olives, capers,(and hot pepper if you like it) and process until finely minced.
- Again, save a handful of the parmesan cheese for the top of your finished dish, but add the rest of the parmesan cheese and pulse.
- Slowly add enough olive oil to create a "pesto" consistency.
- If you like tomatoes, you can garnish the dish with cherry tomato quarters and fresh basil leaves.
- You can freeze the sauce if you like, and one cup (or more) is about the right amount for a pound of spaghetti.