Sometimes, I like to cook. Most of the time, I don’t. Even when I like to cook, I’m pretty lazy, and won’t bother with any recipe that has too many ingredients. I went through a phase of loving to cook that lasted several years, and during that time, I invented some dishes that have become staples. Since I’m always looking for fast and easy recipes, I thought I’d share them here. Most of them are vegetarian, some can also be adapted to vegans, all are easy to make. Here’s the first one:
Pasta with Carrot sauce
Who doesn’t love carrots? They’re crunchy, sweet, delicious and so very good for you! Even my dog and her best doggie friend love them. Studies have shown that eating just one serving of cartenoid-rich foods per day (such as sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens and broccoli) per day can reduce your risk for heart attack by 60%! High cartenoid intake has also been linked to a reduced risk of many cancers, including postmenopausal breast cancer and lung cancer.
This recipe might not at first sound very appealing to you, but trust me; this inexpensive and simple recipe is a winner. The first time I made this for my husband, we were staying with my family in Sweden. He loves this dish, but admitted that had it not been for the presence of my parents, he would have refused to even try it that first time. So give it a shot, you’ll be surprised!
Ingredients (for 4 people)
2 cans of diced or stewed tomatoes*
1 yellow onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 container of Crème Fraiche*
Salt & pepper
Pasta (I like to use Farfalle)
Sambal Oelek (optional)*
1. Grate the carrots on the smallest side of your grater. A bit time consuming, I know, but I’ve tried the largest side of the grater as well as the food processor to try to cut down on prep time, and neither come out as good.
2. Chop the onion and the garlic.
Do not add more garlic than the recipe calls for (unless you double the entire recipe). This is the one dish I have ever made where you actually can add too much garlic and it tastes horrible. I don’t know if it has something to do with the combination of carrots and garlic – whatever the reason, you don’t want to experience it.
3. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron pot (I use a big, heavy Le Creuset for this) and add the onions. Sautee on low heat until they are completely soft and translucent, stirring every now & then (tip: if you don’t want your onions to burn, add some salt as soon as you put them in the pot).
4. Add the garlic, tomatoes, carrots, dried basil, salt & pepper and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered anywhere from 20 – 40 minutes (this is a great recipe to entertain with, since if you’re guests are not on time, just leave it simmering until they show up).
5. Cook the pasta while the sauce is simmering (or wait until your guests arrive).
6. When the sauce is done, add the entire container of Crème Fraiche (8 oz.) and simmer for 5 more minutes. If you can’t find Crème Fraiche*, or prefer a vegan dish, you can omit it, the sauce is different, but still delicious.
7. Turn the heat off, stir in some fresh julienned basil and serve with the pasta.
If you like to add a little heat to the sauce, stir in ½ teaspoon of Sambal Oelek. Or offer it on the side so everyone can spice up their own food as much or as little as they like.
If you can’t find Crème Fraiche in your store, you can easily make it yourself: Combine 2 cups heavy cream (pasteurized, not ultra pasteurized or sterilized, and with no additives) and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a pie plate, cover, and let sit in room temperature for 24 to 48 hours. Once you’re satisfied with the thickness, stir it well, put in a glass jar and refrigerate up to 10 days.
Canned Tomatoes: Most cans contain a chemical called bisphenol A, BPA for short. It’s a hormone disruptor that can be found in almost everybody, and animal studies have linked it to breast and prostate cancer, and infertility. Canned tomatoes are especially bad because the acidity in the tomatoes makes the BPA leach out from the can. Eden Organics state that they do not use cans with BPA for their beans; however, they do not guarantee that their canned tomatoes are BPA free. To be on the safe side, buy tomatoes in glass containers, or paper cartons (tetrapak), or if you’re very ambitious, make your own stewed tomatoes when they’re in season and save for the winter months.
Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian chili paste, often found in Swedish recipes. I am quite addicted to it and add it to almost everything savory. When I first moved to the US, I couldn’t find it anywhere and had to stock up whenever I went home to visit, but you can find it in some stores here, and the internet has of course made things easier too. The kind I get in Sweden is by a company called Lucullus, and I still can’t find that one here in the US, but here I use the Huy Fong brand. I still buy Lucullus brand whenever I’m in Sweden – it’s not quite as spicy as the Huy Fong so you can eat more of it without your mouth burning up.
Vegan version: Omit the Crème Fraiche.
Non-vegetarian version: N/A
Do you have a favorite carrot recipe you’d like to share? Send it in!