Friday, February 3, 2012

Pasta with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Collard Greens: Some Like it Hot--And Spicy (and Healthy Too)

Sometimes I say yes to things without really thinking it through. For example, I agreed to do another round of the Engine 2 Challenge that I did last year with Whole Foods. If you weren't reading the blog back then, the Engine 2 Challenge is 28 days of eating a plant strong, meat-free, no oil diet. It's actually not that hard to do for me (except for the oil part) ;-) as I eat very little of most of that, and I cook vegan a good portion of the time. The challenge is that it falls during a month where I committed to several other things that don't really match those guidelines such as reviewing a book on marshmallows, participating in a cookbook spotlight cook off and review of a baking book, attending a chocolate festival at the end of the month, and a few parties and other events sprinkled in. Ah well... there never really is a perfect time so I'll be doing my best to make it work. I enjoyed the challenge last year so much (and I lost 9 pounds in the 4 weeks), that I stayed on it another 4 weeks and I have continued on eating plant strong and limiting my animal products since then. I am looking forward to a "reboot" and being inspired again by this year's experience. It's been 4 days so far and I am holding strong and feeling good despite some big temptations. I just keep the focus on all the wonderful foods I can enjoy and indulge in, rather than what I can't eat.

It was a bit difficult to pick a Tessa Kiros recipe that was spicy and didn't include meat, dairy or oil for the Some Like It Hot--And Spicy theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. I ended up adapting the simple Pasta with Tomato Sauce from Apples for Jam, adding some spice with hot paprika and crushed red pepper flakes, along with some cinnamon for complexity. I took out the olive oil and subbed in veggie broth, and I replaced the cheese on top with a mix of hemp seed and vegan Parmesan. I also added thin strips of collard greens and used whole wheat pasta to boost up the nutrients. The result is a very healthy and tasty bowl of spicy pasta goodness. My changes are in red below.

Spicy Tomato Sauce
Adapted From Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 4)

2 1/2 Tbsps olive oil (I omitted this and used 1/4 cup veggie broth)
1 clove garlic, peeled but left whole (I used 2 cloves and minced them)
(I added 1 tsp hot paprika, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon & a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes)
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted tomatoes)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
about 4 basil leaves, torn (omitted)
(I added 1 bunch collard greens, stems removed, cut into thin strips)
3/4 (16 oz) package spaghetti, or your favorite pasta
olive oil, to serve (omitted)
freshly grated Parmesan, to serve (used mix of 1 part vegan Parmesan to 2 parts hemp seed)

Put the oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. (I used vegetable broth to sauté the minced garlic and spices) When you can smell the garlic and it has flavored the oil , add the tomatoes. Add a good pinch of salt and some pepper and bring to a boil. (I added the collard greens here) Lower the heat and cook uncovered for about 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes have all merged with the oil into a sauce. Add the basil and a few drops of hot water toward the end of the cooking time if it looks as if it needs it. If you like, puree the sauce until smooth, taking out the garlic clove first. (Left the garlic in)

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water, following the package instructions. Drain the pasta and stir through most of the sauce. Divide among four serving bowls and spoon the rest of the sauce on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil, if you like, and serve with grated Parmesan.

Notes/Results: Full of good, spicy flavor. This sauce has a nice kick that plays off the sweetness of the tomatoes and the slightly bitter, earthy taste of the collard greens. The whole wheat pasta stands up well to the sauce and the greens. I liked the combination of hemp seed and vegan Parmesan as it gave it a grated cheese-like texture and the hemp seed adds a little protein too. This isn't a pasta for the delicate and faint of heart--it's a hearty bowl that fills you up. It made a satisfying and healthy dinner that fit into my Engine 2 meal plan. I would make it again.

You can check out how Some Like It Hot-and Spicy! over at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see the spicy dishes that some of the other IHCC participants made.

Happy Aloha Friday!


  1. looks great! good luck on your challenge.

  2. Kudos to you for doing this again! I have to review that book on marshmallows also and I'm already searching for a vegetarian maybe it's possible? I know they exist...somewhere.

    I love a good spicy tomato sauce, especially one with cinnamon. Total comfort food for me.

  3. Mmmmm...this looks hearty, filling, and packed with flavor! I don't know how you do it. My brain doesn't wrap around the no meat (at all) and no oil part very well. I know, I know...bad for me. Good for you, though!

  4. Great way to spice up and healthy up this pasta!

  5. Good luck with your challenge! You've done well with it here, that's for sure. I like that you added greens to the recipe.

  6. Good luck with the challenge. Plant-strong, meat-free I could do without too much trouble, but oil-free I would really struggle with. Sauteeing in vegetable broth was a good alternative here. This looks like a really delicious and hearty dish, and a great response to your challenge.

  7. This looks yummy, and I could easily give up meat, but never oil!

  8. Good luck with your program, Deb. I know you'll do well with it:) I've never went "no oil" before, but when I'm trying to cut back I do use chicken/veggie broth in it's place. It really does work well. I love what you did with this pasta. Adding greens is always a plus to me!

  9. What a wonderful challenge, especially with your other commitments. I loved how you made this work. Healthy cooking can be that easy. :)

    I look forward to seeing your other meals throughout this challenge. I agree, no oil would be the hardest to work with. Soups are great for that, though.

  10. This sounds just delicious Deb. It actually reminds me of a sauce my son made when he adopted a raw foods diet for a while. He served it over angel hair "pasta" made out of zucchini cut with a spiralizer. I agree with Sue: I have and can give up (red) meat (not fish) but I can;t imagine giving up oil.


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)