Good Taste: The raw deal

In contrast to last week’s Good Taste column on sustainable meat-eating, I hereby deliver a dispatch from my current raw foods reality. Feeling headspun? So is my partner, Laura, who got together with a libertine equal opportunity foodie and now sits across from a veggie-juicing gal who rolls up a big piece of nori around sprouts, red pepper slices, and romaine lettuce, and calls it dinner. What happened to the woman she fell in love with? Well, for one thing, I’m 15 pounds lighter (after one month) and people say I’m glowing. The last time I was glowing, I was knocked up, and this is a much less involved way to exude a bit of a shimmer, don’t you think?

I still make Laura the yummy dinners she’s used to — on Valentine’s Day, I whipped up a mean tortellini bolognese, which was enjoyed by Laura and my son Nathaniel. My daughter, who hates tortellini, got a hamburger. And I ate the aforementioned nori roll. I guess that makes me a willing short-order cook. (I also had a few spoonfuls of the sauce, because I aim for mostly raw, while also enjoying smidgens of the cooked stuff. Like when I was visiting my brother recently in Hoboken, he had a crock pot full of BBQ pulled pork going on, and I had some. How often do I visit my brother? How often do I have a chance to taste his awesome food? We both got the cooking gene, so I felt it was appropriate.)

One (mostly) raw dish that Laura and I both love is Asian Sesame Noodles. I bring it to potlucks, and everyone goes crazy for it. If you love sesame noodles and want to eat a towering pile of them without guilt, this is the dish for you.

The noodles are actually zucchini, run through a Spirooli. You can also use a cheese grater to create a noodle-like pile of goodness. Just run the long side of the zucchini against it.

I’m also going to include the bolognese recipe, because even in the midst of my passionate affair with eating raw this recipe is so delectably good that I don’t want to keep it to myself. I know, you’re saying, tomato sauce, yawn. But this is devilishly good and very time-efficient. Besides, you could serve it with zucchini noodles if you want to enjoy a righteous Italian meal without a bowlful of unadulterated carbs. Right?

Raw Sesame Noodles

3 zucchini
1 carrot
1/2 red bell pepper (if you have it)
3 scallions, thinly sliced longways
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons tamari sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
juice from half a lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon peanut butter (or more to taste)
¼ cup peanuts, chopped coarsely in food processor

1. Cut the zucchini, carrot, and pepper in long noodle shapes (use a Spirooli or a mandoline, or even a grater).

2. Mix together the 3 different varieties of “noodles” and scallions in a large bowl.

3. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

4. Toss the noodles in the sauce.

My Foodie Valentine Bolognese Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
2 slices thick-cut bacon OR salami, diced
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
[Note: I threw the veggies in the food processor, which saved time and also made the veggie bits uniformly unobtrusive—bigger than minced, smaller than diced]
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
2 14-ounce cans beef broth (or equivalent with bouillon)
2 cans diced tomatoes, pureed in the food processor or blender

Serve this with the pasta of your choice. We used cheese tortellini but other great options would be pappardelle or shells—anything that would help to capture the chunky sauce.

1. Heat up the oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Throw in the bacon or salami. Sauté it until it begins to brown, just a few minutes. Add the veggies, garlic, and thyme, and sauté, tossing everything in the pan to ensure heat, oil and flavor distribution. When the veggies begin to soften, add the meat, breaking it up with the edge of your spatula, and brown it for about ten minutes.

3. Add wine and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and then add the broth and tomato puree. Bring that up to a bubbling simmer and then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Let that baby come together for about an hour — then serve it over your pasta or fauxsta.

Candace is the co-editor of Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women (Seal Press, 2010), and Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On (Seal Press, 2009). She is currently working on a memoir-with-recipes for Seal Press called Licking the Spoon. Candace is also the features editor at Mothering magazine, mama of two, and enamorata of smarty-pants Laura, her live-in recipe tester. Follow Candace on Twitter @candacewalsh.