Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I like it raw.

Last night marked my first attempt at a raw meal. Well, that’s not technically true, because uncooked fruit and veggies are raw. Salads are raw, except if you add canned beans or something, I suppose. I digress. Last night I cowboyed up and tried something that weirded me out: raw pasta.

Raw pasta sounds pretty awful. When I was a kid, every time my mom made spaghetti I would grab a stick of uncooked pasta and nibble it little by little. I have no desire to do this now, but that’s what I think of when I hear “raw pasta.” Yet, faced with a boatload of zucchini and 30-Minute Vegan’s recipe for Raw Pasta Puttanesca, and very hungry from working out, Red and I agreed to try it.

Our first hurdle: julienning all that zucchini. Red has the mad sous-chef skillz, so it fell to him to pastafy the produce while I watched. I can safely assume that we would never have tried this if not for our newest kitchen acquisition: the Titan Peeler. You’ve seen this thing on TV, being hawked by an old British dude who shreds and slices a metric ton of vegetables with a flick of his wrist. He’s not kidding, either. When we came across the Titan at Bed Bath & Beyond (the final destination for As Seen on TV products, including the accursed Snuggie), we figured it couldn’t be too awful, and we had a gift card, so what the hell. Imagine our surprise when it actually worked! (Full disclosure: cleaning the bits of zucchini out of its little blade teeth was a pain in the ass.)

Armed with his trusty Julienne Peeler of Destiny, Red made quick work of two zucchini. It was a little tough julienning the very center as it’s got all the seeds, but he soldiered on. And when it was over, we had a lovely pile of zucchini noodles—excuse me, raw pasta—waiting to be dressed and devoured. The dressing itself was easy: a couple of diced tomatoes chilled out in a dish while I threw some basil (frozen, from my mom’s garden), garlic and kalamata olives into the chopper. (The chopper is my backup sous-chef.) We mixed all that up with some olive oil, salt, and dried Italian herbs, then let it mellow for a few minutes. The kitchen smelled like we had been carpet-bombed with garlic, but in an awesome way. We divvied up the noodles, topped them with the dressing and a few sunflower seeds, and chowed down.

First reaction to the raw pasta: weird. It was tasty, but very cold, which is not what I usually associate with noodle dishes, and wetter than I expected. It was nothing but vegetables, so of course it was wet. But more than that, it was very good. Salty and tangy, and surprisingly pasta-like. Zucchini doesn’t taste like much by itself, so it’s a good noodle stand-in. It was light but filling, and I brought what little there was left over for lunch today (along with some extra avocado-basil pasta). Red enjoyed it, though I don’t see it replacing grain pasta in our kitchen anytime soon.

I like the idea of going raw for a few weeks, just to see how I feel. I probably should have tried it a few months ago, when summer produce was booming and I could just eat watermelon all day, but oh well, I’m a busy burnout. We have a juicer that I’ve been meaning to christen, so maybe I’ll explore the exciting world of juicing. Hilarious story about how we got the juicer: Red’s parents like to give presents. It is an excellent trait to have in your in-laws and I highly recommend it. One day, Red and I were out shopping (at Costco, if you must know), and I eyed a fancy-looking juicer. We couldn’t afford it and had no room for it. No big deal. Not five minutes after we got home did his parents appear with a brand-new juicer. In the box and everything. As fate would have it, they had one lying around and thought we might like it. Two thumbs up for the in-laws!

Behold, the mighty Titan in action:

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