Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December doesn't have to give you a heart attack.

By now, you must have noticed that I’ve been using this Safoco brand multi-colored vegetable macaroni when I whip up regular day pasta dishes. For one, it’s really cheap.  The last time I checked, it costs 31 pesos (less than a dollar) per 200g. Also, it cooks real quick (about 5 minutes in boiling water) and the texture and taste is just great and goes well with any sauce base may it be tomato, cream, or oil. Lastly, it’s made of vegetables! 

I’m crazy about pasta. It’s one of those home staples I couldn’t do without. There are just so many possible ways to turn it into awesome dishes so it never gets boring and it can easily be made into a complete meal.

I remember having this talk with some friends about how when we were kids, everybody ate spaghetti with rice or with sliced bread especially in parties. It used to be okay before carbs became the supreme villain. It turns out that as we get older, we couldn’t eat everything we want to anymore. I am (or was recently declared) healthy despite the fact that I am overweight but some of my friends who have normal weight are clinically hypertensive. Some are even diabetic, it’s shocking. So I thought that it must be the lifestyle we continue to lead that could be toxic. Now in my late 20’s, I couldn’t help but think about changing my ways. I know that drastic changes never really work in the long run so I’ve decided to take baby steps. It’s tough to make the right decisions every single day but I guess if I just start all over after I failed, things will eventually follow through.

When I worked awhile in that Greek restaurant, I learned a few things about the basics in creating different kinds of sauces and even though I loved all kinds, my top favorite are the cream-based ones and those are what I’ve always made at home even after I left that job. I have also learned healthy cooking in that lovely place.

Here’s a personal favorite recipe derived from there but made with easy-to-find and not-so-deathly-expensive ingredients. It could be a healthier and more exotic alternative from your usual holiday spaghetti.



200g Safoco vegetable macaroni (or you can use some other macaroni of your liking)
250g Chicken leg, boiled, deboned and cut into bite-size pieces
150-200g fresh Spinach leaves
1 cup fresh Milk or evaporated Milk
1 red Bell Pepper, cored and julienned
1 green Bell Pepper, cored and julienned
1 small Red Onion, chopped finely
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tbsp Cooking oil (or 4 tbsp Olive oil if you have)
½ cup grated Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Cook pasta in boiling water for about five minutes or until al dente. Drain out boiling water, soak pasta in iced water for 5 minutes, and drain well. Add a little bit of edible oil and mix. Set aside.

2. Blanche your fresh spinach leaves in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Strain out the leaves and let it soak in iced water for another 5 minutes. Purge your blanched spinach by taking fistfuls of leaves and squeezing it into balls. Chop the purged spinach and set aside.

3. Heat oil and sauté garlic, onions and bell peppers. Sprinkle a little salt and add the pre-cooked chicken and sauté this for about 3-5 minutes.

4. Add the chopped spinach and mix well. Turn the heat low and sauté for another 3 minutes.

5. Add the milk and let it simmer. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: Remember to season lightly because there is still cheese to be added (which is a bit salty).

6. Turn up the heat to medium and add in the pasta.

7. Add in the cheese while slowly mixing or tossing the pasta until the sauce is reduced and has become creamy.

This dish will serve 4-6 persons.

The combination of flavors in this is superb. The sauce is creamy but light with just white meat. And for those who aren’t so fond of vegetables, the spinach added in this isn’t overpowering at all, its aroma complements just right with all other ingredients especially the bell peppers which made the dish extra savory. It's a perfect not-so-sinful comfort food for a perfectly cold weather.

Happy Holidays!

Till the next eats everyone!

Chef Shak ♥

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