I’m not really one for making new year’s resolutions. Sure, I probably made some when I was younger, because I thought it was the “thing” to do, but it seems to me that more often than not, new year’s resolutions are about eating better, getting in shape, losing weight or something along those lines. Anyone who has ever frequented the gym knows that trying to get a workout in during January is all but impossible – really, it’s better to just wait ’til February, when the herd thins out – and I think that kicking off the longest, coldest, worst month ever (come at me, January fans) with a pledge to purge your diet of all things sweet/salty/carby/boozy is just a form of masochism, and I want no part of it.
In light of my resolution hangups, and as a tip of the hat to all of you who don’t share this mindset, I think I’ve found something that qualifies as both comfort food and a (quasi) healthy alternative. Also, it’s vegetarian-friendly, so, yay for that.
This recipe on food52 was the basis for my creation. I went hunting for it after impulse-buying a container of plain Greek yogurt, deciding in the middle of the dairy aisle that I’d use it in a recipe. (I’m particularly guilty of impulse buying foodstuffs, books and scarves. It is for this reason that Target and I are frenemies.)
I decided pretty much immediately that I needed to make this dish, mainly because I didn’t want to waste my cup of yogurt and because caramelized onions are the bee’s knees. I also decided that I wanted to add a little more to the meal. It was a solid foundation, one I’m sure stands just fine on its own, but something about the recipe just beckoned me to add more stuff to the pot. Like the mushrooms sitting on the shelf in my fridge. And the spinach in my freezer.
I have a feeling that tons of things would work well with this recipe, if you’re not particularly fond of fungi or spinach. If you need your meat fix, add some cubed chicken. Or bacon. Try different greens. Toss in some asparagus. Use goat cheese or mozzarella instead of (or along with!) the parmesan. Roast up some garlic and stir that in. I love dishes like this, that are malleable and work well with any number of ingredients. The original recipe is great for nights when your pantry is pretty bare, but also lends itself to the evenings where you’ve got a hodge-podge of leftovers threatening to go bad.
Pasta with vegetables in a creamy yogurt sauce (adapted from food52)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped onions (I used red, because they’re pretty)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed
6 oz plain Greek yogurt
1 cup grated parmesan
1/2 box pasta
Heat your olive oil in a large saucepan, then add your onions. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently and seasoning with salt to taste as you go, until the onions are soft and golden, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a pot with well-salted water and bring it to a boil. Add your pasta and cook according to package directions. Strain your pasta and return it to the pot. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
When the onions are just about done, add your mushrooms and spinach, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the spinach is warmed through and the mushrooms start releasing their liquid. Add your vegetables to the pasta. If you want to go vegan, you can really just stop here.
Mix 1/4 cup of the reserved water with your yogurt. Continue adding small amounts of water, mixing all the while, until you reach your desired thickness. Pour your sauce over the pasta, then add your grated cheese, and toss to coat.
Happy eating, and happy 2014!