Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tasty Pasta & Mile Cutdowns

I made two of the tastiest pasta dishes this week.  Pasta gets a bad rap and it shouldn't.  If you eat in moderation and use healthier pastas- (I used the multi-colored vegetarian variety) then you shouldn't worry : ) Plus I'm pretty sure it was great fuel for my Speed Workout yesterday.  Want to hear about it?

I did mile-cutdowns.  But not in the traditional way.  I decided to allow myself a .25 mile (400 meter) break in between.  Somehow on my commute into the city, I convinced myself that I wanted to run a sub 7 minute mile so I had that in my head.  I want to get fast in the next month.  I'm not worried about distance.  I'm only worried about speed : ) With a few more 5Ks and 10Ks on the near horizon, I know I need to concentrate on speed workouts if I want to PR.  So here it is:
Warmup- 1 mile 6.0mph (10 min pace)
Mile 1: 7:41
400 walk/jog
Mile 2: 7:14
400 walk/jog
Mile 3: 6:58!!! 
walk/jog slowly until I reached 5 miles in 47 minutes

I'm pretty psyched about this.  Of course, it was on a treadmill so that makes it a bit easier : ) ... But back to the pastas.  They were so tasty that I'm going to go out there and say they are the reason I ran so fast.  Agree?  Maybe not, but you should still make these dishes!

The first dish I made was inspired from Kevin & Amanda's Cajun Shrimp Pasta.  I love this website- Amanda's photos are gorgeous and her recipes are always delicious.  I made this healthier by using 1% milk instead of cream and adding some greens that I had on hand. Which happened to be Kale.  (Shocking, right?)  What made this dish so rich and tasty, was absolutely the Creole Seasoning I bought.  A couple shakes of the bottle gives this dish a whole new meaning.  

Cajun Shrimp Pasta
1/2 container of tricolor (vegetarian) fettuccine pasta
3/4 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 tsp cajun seasoning (or if you are like me and don't like to measure, a couple shakes)
a couple handfuls of leafy greens (kale, spinach or arugula)
Cook pasta according to package directions. Sprinkle shrimp with salt, pepper, and toss to combine. Sprinkle 1 tbsp flour over the shrimp, and toss to coat the shrimp. Sprinkle 1 more tbsp flour and toss to evenly coat the shrimp. 
Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the shrimp in a single layer and cook on each side, flipping once, until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to plate. 
Pour in the chicken broth. Cook for about 5 minutes, whisking the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium and pour in milk, whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium heat until bubbly and the sauce starts to thicken the mixture, about 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and add seasonings as desired (salt, pepper, cajun seasonings, etc.) 
Then add in greens (spinach, kale, arugula) until wilted. Add the drained pasta and shrimp to the sauce, and stir to combine. Sprinkle with Parm Cheese.

Pictures do not do this justice.  This was quick and SO YUMMY!
 I cannot wait to make this dish again.  This will most definitely be a staple in my house- I can't wait to make it with chicken and more veggies : )

The next dish I made you can pretty much call it "All my favorite ingredients in one dish" Pasta. Edamame. Kale. Salmon. Avocado.  Red Pepper Flakes.  Have I sold you yet?
Inspired by one of my favorite food bloggers of all time, Cara, this dish is another genius recipe.  The one sad thing is I couldn't find Soba Noodles.  So I used the rest of the pasta from the dish above. Saved me time and money!

People always ask me how I cook so late after such a long day.  Here's my trick. Cheat.  I cooked all the pasta the night before.  Then took half of it and put it in tupperware for this dinner.  So this dinner came together so quickly. The sauce is what gave this dish so much flavor.  Mixing tahini with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and then "massaging" the kale is what the recipe called for.  Although, I'm still not positive I "massaged" it correctly- mine didn't exactly wilt- but it still tasted flawless!

Massaged Kale and Soba Salad with Salmon, Edamame and Avocado
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2011 and Cara's Cravings
12 ounces wild Alaskan salmon fillet
12 ounces coarsely chopped fresh kale
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1teaspoon of sugar
pinch of crushed red pepper
6 ounces Japanese-style soba noodles OR pasta of your choice
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375.  Place the fish, skin side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes,  until fish is just opaque in the center. Whisk together tahini, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sweetener, and crushed red pepper. In a large bowl, pour the mixture over the kale along with a big pinch of salt. Using your hands, work the dressing into the kale for about 5 minutes, until the kale has wilted down.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta and edamame for 5 minutes. Drain and toss with the kale mixture.
(Oh since I made the pasta the night before, I used edamame that was READY to EAT.  No cooking necessary.)When ready to serve, cut the salmon into large chunks. To assemble, divide the kale-noodle mixture among four serving plates, and top with equal amounts of the diced avocado and salmon.
 Now stop reading this blog and go make these recipes.  No seriously, GO! I'm seriously wishing I had some left at home!

What's your favorite pasta dish?  What do you put in pasta to make it healthier?  I say the more veggies, the better!


  1. Holy crap that looks amazing. I love kale. I love cajun. I love avocado. I'd have to de-dairy it, but that's always easier.

    I usually shove a crap ton of spinach in my pasta when I cook it, but kale is a much better choice, because it holds up better.

  2. That first dish sounds ridiculously delicious. I use a lot of spinach or broccoli in my pasta, and use sharper cheeses like feta or goat because I find I need less than if I use regular parm.

  3. That is one beautiful looking bowl of pasta.

  4. Speedster! Do you ever do speed workouts outside? I did a tempo run outside and it was really tough with the hills and keeping the right pace.

  5. That first pasta dish with the cajun seasoning sounds AWESOME!! I need to book mark that one, BRian would love it!

    Can't believe the half is this weekend!! So excited :)

    You're a speed demon!

  6. You are definitely a speedster with PR's on the horizon! You set the bar high with this workout. I was thinking of you during my speed workout yesterday. Nicely done!

    And you can feel free to cook me a pasta dinner before any of our training runs. It is the best fuel around!

  7. Great job, speedy! You really are getting faster! I love seeing that. I see a PR in someone's future ;)

  8. Awesome speed work! I always struggle with the 5k and 10k becuase of the speed. I love veggies in my pasta and beans.

  9. nice workout!! Hooray, sub 7 minute mile! Your dishes look so good. If I eat pasta, I usually add a ton of veggies and some kind of protein - usually shrimp.

  10. Awesome workout, my dear! The sub-7 is fun to see! I actually find it harder to run fast on the treadmill, so great job.
    I love adding veggies to my pasta too...but I definitely don't know the whole "moderation" thing when it comes to pasta ;) Oh my gosh, the last dish with the salmon sounds like my perfect dinner - I want to make it for my mom, she would love it too. Thanks for sharing these!

  11. NICE JOB on that 6:58, that must've felt wonderful!

    Speed outside (not on a track at least) is really really hard! Fartleks, I think they're called? It gets discouraging when the fast intervals land on uphills and end up being slower than your average pace. But it's good strength building, I bet.

    I love love love sundried tomatoes with pasta! And a simple pesto. Yum.

  12. I like adding tons of veggies to pasta or Israeli couscous, especially in the summertime. Have a great weekend!

  13. These are both very creative. I've never had salmon in pasta, I'll have to try it!

  14. I don't know how I ended up following your blog but I have to tell you I LOVE your recipes and look forward to them everytime. This blog I don't know how I found is now my favorite. Thanks for the wonderful recipes!

  15. whoa, speed demon!!

    Glad you liked the kale/salmon/pasta dish - maybe you just need a little more muscle next time? jk! I love bulking up pasta dished with extra veggies too.