Whole Foods Redemption
On my last evening home, I was lucky enough to enjoy a sister date… to Whole Foods! You may know that I have some mixed feelings whenever I walk in this store, but my second journey on my own was much more pleasant than the first! The store I visited in NJ was much larger and easier to navigate, thanks to fewer crowds and more space. I also went in the peak of summer, meaning that locally grown produce abounded and prices were much lower. I found great deals on zucchini and yellow squash, apricots, and pluots! My sister and I literally had to walk away to keep from buying one of every kind of delicious type of fruit.
Our next stop was the pasta aisle to pick up some brown rice pasta, a wheat free pasta alternative for my gluten-confused sister. WF had a great selection not only of brown rice pasta, but also of quinoa pasta and other GF alternatives, all at a much lower price than our closest supermarket! That eased my sister’s fears of the cost of eating gluten-free, and also made her excited to try out some new products. The last item on our list for the day was nutritional yeast. I have been seeing it everywhere and was more curious than excited to try it. Nonetheless, I asked the first employee I spotted to help me find it (after circling the whole store once to no avail). He excitedly responded that he did know where it was and smiled the whole time he led us to the aisle. My sister and I reasoned that he was likely a vegan (the dreads gave him away, not to stereotype my vegan friends!) and was excited to help out another maybe-vegan (who else eats nutritional yeast, right?) We like to play people watching games and make up stories about their lives… normal, right? Not only did he lead us to the gigantic containers of nutritional yeast, but he also told us that they often have it in the bulk foods section as well. Bingo! Not wanting to invest $10 in a jug before I was sure if I even liked it, I was happy to leave with a small $2 sample bag instead! (More on this sampling to come…) Maybe Whole Foods isn’t so bad after all… it is fun when you are looking for specialty ingredients, and can even sometimes have really good deals! Maybe next time I can find one in Boston that is less crowded, or avoid it at peak Saturday hours!
My sister and I returned home starving, both because lunch now seemed long ago and we had just spent an hour oogling so many yummy looking fruits and veggies! Our dinner was inspired by a dorm-room meal I had created for my sister while visiting her in Philadelphia. During her freshman year at Duquesne, we had visited a market in the South Side of Pittsburgh and I was so incredibly disappointed that she didn’t have a kitchen so we could purchase some fun ingredients and make dinner together! She transferred to Temple, and this sister’s weekend was completed with a home cooked meal. The only problem was that her kitchen wasn’t really a kitchen… it was a 2 burner stove next to a tiny sink on top of a tiny fridge. Somehow, I still managed to pull together a pretty awesome pasta primavera with a surprise ingredient, butter beans! They are a moister cousin of lima beans, and my sister has raved about them since then. She asked me to blog about the recipe so she could know how to make it when she moves into her real apartment in a few days. Since we had pasta the night before and enjoyed some leftovers for lunch, we were both feeling pasta’d out.
I decided instead to turn that meal into a fun, summer pasta-less primavera. I used a vegetable peeler to turn the zucchini and yellow squash into “fettucine”. I tossed that with sautéed red bell pepper and butter beans, and some roasted tomatoes straight off the vine in my mom’s garden onto the grill. This turned out amazing! My sister, admittedly not the biggest fan of summer squashes, loved it. She even finished off her zucchini noodles before touching her beloved tomatoes! We both were surprised at how full we were off of an all-veggie dinner. Realizing it was the last meal I’d cook for her, she mourned me going back and recommended that I drop out of med school and come be her roommate. Realizing that was unrealistic, she conceded that I could transfer instead. Sorry, but not gonna happen! She paid me such a huge compliment though: “You make eating veggies fun!” That is my goal in life, ya know :)
3 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
8 oz clam shell cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 can butter beans
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the vegetables well. Using a vegetable peeler, take 1 strip off of the squash and discard. Then position the vegetable peeler so that most of it is over the white flesh, with only a small part stripping the skin. Use the peeler to create long noodles out of the squash. When all of the squash has been turned into “fettucine”, add to boiling salted water. Cook for 3 minutes, and then immediately drain and rinse with cold water, allowing to drain thoroughly. Either before you boil the squash or immediately after, roast the cherry tomatoes whole, for about 10 minutes on the grill or 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. The skins should be wrinkly and ready to burst. Meanwhile, sautee red pepper in olive oil until it begins to soften. Add the drained butter beans and season with garlic powder. Allow to heat through. Mix all ingredients together and season with paprika, salt and pepper. Serve warm.