Re-thinking portions

When I was young, the family meal at dinner was always a buffet. My Mother’s instructions were that you had to try a little of everything. Once that was accomplished, second pass was whatever you wanted, or whatever was left. By default, we got most of what we should be eating and least of what we shouldn’t, because the meal was designed that way.

Now that I am at the helm of meal planning, it is very difficult to make sure we are all getting the correct balance. Made more challenging with one super picky eater, one semi picky eater and 2 of us that will eat just about anything. The picky ones prefer vegetables to be raw, if at all and I draw the line at eating the same few things, day after day – without any novel preparations.

So that leaves me to constantly be on the search for new recipes. I’ll come across a book with great tasting things, good balance of food groups, but the attention to grams of fat is non-existent. Or I’ll find a low-fat book that seems like a good idea on paper, but the taste is not there. And then I already have a plethora of books focusing on cuisines from far away lands, requiring much time and costly ingredients.

Tonight I had a great idea. The food stuffs had to be local, (beets, potatoes, Italian sausage) or already present in my kitchen. What do I call this? Pasta hugging sausage bits with fresh fingerling potatoes and yellow baby beets. Too wordy I think.

  • 250g corkscrew vegetable pasta
  • 1 clove finely diced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 8-10 baby yellow beets, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 5 fingerling potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 350g mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  1. Boil the potatoes slowly in salted water in a non-stick frying pan. Once cooked through, drain off most of the water and add the olive oil. Keep the lid on askew and toss the potatoes until they are golden and crispy.
  2. In a small saucepan, boil the beets in salted water until they are el dente. Drain off water and squeeze over lemon juice.
  3. Boil pasta according to package instructions. Drain off water, add garlic and oil, stir.
  4. Remove casings from sausage. Cut into rounds. Fry in a little olive oil with the oregano and paprika, until golden. Add balsamic and some water to make a little gravy from the brown bits in the pan.
  5. Assemble in layers with pasta first, then sausage, then beets and parsley on top. Potatoes place on the edge.

To the portions – maybe not quite enough vegetables. But a much better balance than what we have been used to. And for my family, better than if each item was on its own.

But most important, it tasted great and everyone liked it! A vegetable eaten and enjoyed is better than one left on the plate.

3 thoughts on “Re-thinking portions

  1. The challenge of cooking when you were a kid was this – we didn’t have access to nearly as many ingredients, either because they simply weren’t imported into our part of the world, or they weren’t available at the grocery stores in small communities. (Plus your mother was not nearly as interested in cooking as you…) Yellow beets, Italian sausage, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chopped parsley would not have been readily available. Hence, you ate a lot of carrots and broccoli!

    • We got plenty of veg when we were kids, sneakily presented so we didn’t even realize how much we were eating. It is difficult to balance what is good for us to eat with what we all like to eat. Now throw in all these “heritage” ingredients that I have never even seen before! That is another post.

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