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My family loves predictability in our menu plans. Perhaps they love it because it is something they don’t really have? I get bored very easily with the same old thing all the time. But it’s so important for the picky eaters to get exposed to a familiar food time and again.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you know my oldest daughter is a classic picky eater. The child survives on cheese and peanut butter. She is slowly coming around. She will eat the chicken out of the stir fry now and maybe a few bites of rice. I’m sitting here trying to think of other examples but at the moment I’m not coming up with anything. Oh! She’ll eat most of the components of a salad as long as they are all separate.

For a long time Monday night has been our spaghetti night. And yes, I still serve the sauce on the side so the pickies (there are a couple of others) can eat their pasta with butter and parmesan only. Occasionally I’ll get fancy and serve oven spaghetti or lasagna instead.

BUT I’M SO TIRED OF SPAGHETTI AND PASTA WITH RED SAUCE IN GENERAL!!

We have another spaghetti recipe that’s been in my repertoire since my reporter days. It came across my desk when I was the Lifestyle editor at the Waxahachie Daily Light in Waxahachie, Texas. (It’s so much fun to say Waxahachie. Go ahead. Say it. Waxahachie. he he) The best part about the recipe is that it is a tasty spaghetti without the red sauce. It has (gasp) a sauce made with lentil beans instead. It does have a can of tomatoes but it isn’t at all like regular spaghetti. It is yummy, thick like stew, and best of all — it is different! (yea!)

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Do the picky eaters eat it? Ha ha ha. Nope. But sometimes mom has to please herself! And people can always eat all the fresh veggies and buttered bread they want. 🙂

Here is my version of Pasta and Lentils by Marialisa Calta as published in the Waxahachie Daily Light, February 17, 1999:

Lentil Spaghetti

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5 cups water
3/4 cups lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 can Rotel tomatoes (can use diced if you don’t want the heat)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 pound whole wheat (or regular) spaghetti noodles (can use vermicelli or angel-hair pasta instead)
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley or 2 teaspoons of dried

Bring water to rolling boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add lentils, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook, covered, about 20 minutes.
Add garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat again and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes until lentils are fully tender.
Break pasta into 2- to 4- inch pieces and add to the lentils. Cook, covered, at a steady simmer, stirring several times and scraping the bottom of the pot when you do. Cook until the pasta is just done, stirring more frequently as it gets closer to done. It should be thick enough to eat with a fork.
Remove from heat and stir in the parsley. Let stand about 5 minutes, covered, before serving.