I tend to eat a lot of pasta all year-long, but my noodle intake really seems to spike in the cold months. It’s the comfort food I crave to warm my belly when it’s freezing. Also, when it’s cold I don’t want to walk to the good grocery store for better ingredients and it’s so easy to pull together a quick one-pot meal with pasta. Lazy wuss: that’s me.
But then I realized I was heading to Vegas this weekend where the weather is warmer and the clothes are tighter. I simply can’t have carbs for every meal. My solution is to make sure the protein/veggie parts of the meal are so good that I won’t miss the pasta. Well, I’ll still miss it (I’m human), but it’ll be bearable if I have a good meat and veg to look forward to.
The first pasta-free meal was a turkey meatball salad. The meatballs came from the freezer section of Trader Joe’s and are probably meant to be served with a toothpick as a cocktail appetizer. I can confirm they are just as tasty when used in an entrée. They take about 30 minutes to cook on a baking sheet and when they’re done just place them on a bed of heirloom red spinach, sprinkle to grated parm over the top, and drizzle a lemon vinaigrette (lemon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon) over the whole thing.
I had never heard of heirloom red spinach and always love how Trader Joe’s introduces me to interesting products and ingredients like this. It wasn’t quite as thick as regular spinach and a bit milder in flavor. I admit I much prefer it to regular spinach when it comes to salads. Considering it took me 29 years to even know it existed, I’m going to guess you won’t find it right away at your grocery store. In that case, I would substitute arugula. It has a much stronger flavor, but if anything can stand up to it, it’s meatballs.