Native Cooking

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You all know that I am not a "purist" when it comes to all-Native recipes.
I love to pass along good-tasting food that is healthy for the most part.
Now and again I'll share something borderline, but always with an
ingredient that is indigenous.

You may have noticed, too, that I hardly ever do a recipe that is Italian.
Well, it seems to me that it's all right to stick in a recipe for pasta
occasionally because as food around the world evolves, the Italians seem to
have taken more of our ingredients and done the most good with them. For
example, pizza and sauce, the squash dishes, peppers and other fine foods.

We all buy so-called spaghetti sauce (made with our tomato) and pasta
products, not just because they are reasonably priced and feed a lot of
people, but also because they taste good. If you are diabetic, pasta does
contain refined carbohydrates so you should only eat it in small amounts;
however, you can substitute amaranth or quinoa pasta, which are starchless
and higher in protein and fiber.

If you like a meat sauce, use ground buffalo in place of beef; it's better
for you, anyway. Hey, we all get tired of things like rice and potatoes, so
pasta is just another option once in a while. Kids like it, so it can be a
refreshing change now and again.

Pasta & Pepper Puree

1 lb. pasta, cooked and drained (keep hot)

1 12-oz. jar roasted sweet red peppers in olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Use a food processor or blender to puree peppers, then add basil, garlic,
salt and pepper. Heat in a saucepan for 3 to 4 minutes, pour over pasta and
toss. Add extra olive oil if necessary.

When you serve a pasta dish, heat the plates beforehand and always have
some grated cheese to pass around. Freshly grated Parmesan is best, but use
any hard cheese you have.

Pasta Sauce

2 cans (28-oz. each) whole, unpeeled tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Use a large, heavy saucepan to heat the oil enough to lightly brown the
garlic. Add the tomatoes and use a potato masher to crush them. Add the
herbs, cover and simmer on very low heat for about 45 minutes or longer.
Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

If you want to add chopped onions or peppers, mushrooms or other
vegetables, add them along with the herbs.

Vegetables & Pasta

1 lb. angel hair pasta (or other), cooked and drained

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup red or orange bell pepper, chopped

1 cup green summer squash (zucchini), chopped

1 cup yellow summer squash, chopped

1- cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

4 scallion, sliced thin

1 teaspoon each: oregano, basil, garlic powder

2 cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned

Set pasta aside and keep warm. Pour broth in a large saucepan and bring
just to a boil. Add all the vegetables (except tomatoes) and seasonings and
cook over medium heat until veggies are just tender, about 5 minutes. Pour
in the tomatoes and stir until heated. Serve on top of the pasta and
sprinkle with cheese if desired.

This recipe feeds a lot of people: eight to 12, depending on size and
appetite. You can make it anytime, but it's a good one if you grow a lot of
summer squash. You can increase the amount of pasta and/or vegetables to
yield more servings. A variation on this recipe would be to add shrimp or
cooked meat like chicken or pork, cut up and added just before the
tomatoes.

Notes and Tips

* Everyone likes rice and beans, but beans and pasta make a great combo,
hot or cold as a salad. Leftover pasta can be used the next day with a
different sauce.

* Cooked pasta sauce can be frozen. Put in a heavy plastic bag, gently
squeeze out the air and flatten. Place the flat bag on a cookie sheet until
frozen. It takes up less room in the freezer and is easier to defrost.

* I have good luck freezing "ready to bake" pans of lasagna and eggplant
parmesan. It's easier to make these dishes in batches. Then I put the
finished products in both company- or individual-size pans for those nights
when you just don't want to cook. You can count on fresh taste for up to
six months in the freezer.