Friday, February 24, 2006

Busy Days, Easy Dinners

My aunt, Gwen Morlan, gave me the recipe for this pasta dish when I visited her in Los Gatos, California in 1979. I had just graduated from college (I was a December grad from Texas Tech), and took off for a two-week road trip. Following some skiing in Colorado and Tahoe, I stayed with Gwen and my uncle John for a few days. In addition to showing me the sights of San Francisco and Santa Cruz, she shared some great recipes with me. Gwen and John eventually moved to Kawaii, then to Ewa Beach on Oahu, and now live on the big island of Hawaii. I’ve been cooking this recipe, Four-Taste Pasta, for 25 years now. It’s a favorite with DH and both of my kids, and it makes fantastic leftovers that can be easily zapped in the microwave. Normally I have it with garlic bread or breadsticks; last night we had some crusty French bread.

Gwen’s Four-Taste Pasta

12 oz. thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta
2 cans tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
1 t crushed red pepper
1/4 c dried parsley
1/4-1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese

(Yes, I know that’s six tastes–I guess she doesn’t count the olive oil or Parmesan!)

Cook pasta in boiling water till tender. While pasta is cooking, combine tomato paste, garlic, olive oil, red pepper, and parsley in a large bowl. Add drained, but still hot pasta to tomato paste mixture. Use two forks to combine the mixture with the pasta. Add Parmesan, combine, and serve immediately. Sometimes I have to zap it in the microwave to get it hot again. This is meant to be a thick pasta–it’s not a sauce, but more like a coating. You can add more red pepper flakes if you decide you want it spicier. Serves 3-4

Tonight’s dinner was fairly quick to make, but was pretty “fancy.” I bought several pork tenderloins at Costco yesterday, and decided to cook one using a new recipe. (And I don’t remember where this recipe came from!)

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
1/4 t salt
1/8 t ground black pepper
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 t Splenda brown sugar blend

Preheat oven to 375˚. Rinse pork under cool running water. Trim excess fat. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat; place pork in skillet. Sear each side to brown entire surface. Remove meat from pan; set aside on a warm plate. Add vinegar to skillet, stirring to scrape any cooked bits of meat from skillet. Reduce heat to medium; stir in brown sugar; mix well to make a glaze. Return tenderloin to skillet; spoon glaze over meat. Place skillet in oven. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove pork fromoven; allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing. Drizzle any pan juices over top.

I served this with some Rice-a-Roni--I still use it, since DH likes it so much. I also made a mixed green salad, and threw together some dressing. Normally I like balsamic vinegar on my salad, but we were already having it in the pork dish, so I had to come up with something else. This tastes a bit like a French dressing.

Red Vinaigrette

1/2 c red wine vinegar
1 T Splenda granular
1 T sweet paprika
1 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c vegetable oil

Combine vinegar, Splenda, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Let stand at room temperature. Re-whisk before using. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

[No photos for a few days–I left the camera at the office!]

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Randi said...

cyndi, i cant see all your posts. I can see a little bit of your beef curry photo and thats it. Also, Im not in Charlotte, NC. I live in Exeter, Ontario, but I'm from Long Beach, California.

re: mushrooms. I bought shiitake's and i havent checked the frozen ones yet. I'll let you know. I have a post about the frozen avocado's. I chunk them up and squeeze fresh lime juice over top. I make small baggies full for single servings and a larger tupperware full for quacamole( which unfortunatly isnt as popular here as it is in Cali)

The Cookbook Junkie said...

As Randi said, there's still something funky going on, on the bottom of your pages in IE. It's fine on Mozilla.

Ruth Daniels said...

Delish sounding meals, and so simple.

Now I have to do on a hunt for rice-a-roni. I used to love it, but haven't thought about it for quite a while. I hope it's still available up here in Toronto, Ontario.

Anonymous said...


These all sound fantastic! The pasta dish and the vinaigrette dish in particular are making me very hungry right now. Thanks for sharing the recipes!

The Cookbook Junkie said...

Your page looks fine today.

Hey, they have whole grain rice-a-roni now. Same price but the box is half the weight of regular rice-a-roni.