DISCLOSURE: This post is brought to you by Safeway. However, all opinions and the meal I created are of my own choosing!
Baby, it's cold outside!
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My nerves are still shot from our epic snow-laden trip in the RV. And since we’ve arrived in Portland, it’s been nothing but rain and freezing temperatures.
That means one thing to me.
We don’t eat too much pasta, we’re more rice eaters, but from time to time, especially when it’s cold, I love a big bowl of the stuff!
Most of the time we do pasta with good French butter and soy sauce. That’s it. Nothing else, maybe a little bit of black pepper. It's a crazy umami thing I discovered and love. Don’t believe me? This NY Times article will change your mind.
But my absolute favorite way to eat pasta is with a thick meaty red sauce. We don’t eat a lot of meat either, so when we do, I want the good stuff. We only buy organic and I’d rather have lamb than beef.
Last month when we were staying near Zion National Park, it got really cold. Not minus-seven-your-pipes-are-going-to-freeze cold, but cold enough that I started craving that pasta.
I wanted lamb. We went to two grocery stores searching for it but came home with organic ground turkey. It doesn’t have the depth of lamb so while the meal was enjoyable, it didn’t quite hit the mark.
As Valentine’s Day is at our doorstep and the weather continues to be chilly, I’ve decided to try again. I love to support local restaurants, and I can’t wait to get out there and support Portland’s amazing food scene, but one thing years of foodie experience has taught me is that I never want to be in a restaurant on a holiday, especially Valentine’s Day! I’d rather be at home in a stress-free environment with good food made from great ingredients…and that isn’t just the introvert in me talking!
We’re still getting our bearings in the new neighborhood: where to get coffee, find wifi and shop for groceries. I popped into our local Safeway and was pleased to discover that they had exactly what I needed in the meat department, fresh organic ground lamb.
I usually seek out the O Organics® line of products, I’ve got plenty of their spices in my cabinet and their milk meets my standards for tasty dairy. I’m kind of picky when it comes to milk and eggs.
I’d never had the Open Nature® brand, so I picked up a couple of packages of their ground lamb to try out. Open Nature® is only sold at Safeway, I like it when brands do that. It shows they take care when curating their product portfolio. In this case, the lamb is grass-fed and free-range with zero antibiotics, hormones, or preservatives. Happy lamb makes for tasty lamb.
That's something I learned while living in France. You can taste the happiness of animals in the end product – eggs, dairy, poultry, etc. Trust me, it's true!
While shopping I also grabbed dried pasta (I like fettuccine over spaghetti, although my favorite is bucatini), fresh herbs, tomato sauce and paste as well as garlic – all the makings for a big bowl of comfort!
I got lucky. My Valentine a.k.a. Mr. Misadventures made a big batch of Italian white beans for us to nibble on during the week. He makes it au naturel with just chicken broth and herbs and then makes a great tomato sauce on the side. I like to add a big scoop of red sauce to my bowl of beans, but the hubby doesn’t always like do that.
So why does that make me lucky?
A third of my Valentine’s dinner was already created for me!
All I had to do was to sauté the lamb with herbs, add it to the sauce my hubby made, boil the pasta and voilà! I warm a comforting bowl of pasta for dinner.
In the RV kitchen, we go for simplicity. Use as few pots and pans as possible, prepare nothing that requires an oven, and avoid making things that require too many steps.
But that doesn’t mean we skimp on flavor or ingredients.
In fact, the best meals are those made with the simplest ingredients that you don’t mess around too much with. It’s the cornerstone of Italian cooking, something we discussed at length with our food tour guide in Florence.
Less time at the stove or the sink means more time cuddled up with my honey.
And who could ask for more for Valentine’s Day??!!
That big bowl of fettuccine with the (organic) lamb red sauce was just what the heart desired. Add a nice glass of wine and nothing could be better. And don't mind our RV wine “glasses,” that's how we roll!
If I wanted to make our dinner ambiance a little better, I could add a beautiful flower or table arrangement from the debi lilly design™ collection (which they carry at Safeway).
After all, red is my favorite color!
How about you? Do you have a special meal planned for Valentine’s Day?
Recipe – Fettuccine with Red Lamb Sauce (serves 4)
Forgive me, I am not a recipe blogger, here's my best effort to write out what we did!
Mr. Misadventures' Red Sauce
– One large yellow onion
– 16 oz can of the best quality stewed peeled tomatoes you can find
– 6 oz can of the best quality tomato paste you can find
> Brown the onion
> Add the tomato paste and cook together for about 10 minutes
> Add the can of stewed tomatoes and let simmer for an hour
> Take a hand mixer and blend it all together
Making it a Lamb Sauce
– One medium yellow onion (I ran out and used red!)
– 1 lb of Open Nature® organic ground lamb
– 1 Tbsp of garlic paste (I use Gourmet Garden)
– Fresh sage chopped up
– Fresh mint chopped up
– Salt and pepper
> Brown the onion with the garlic paste
> Add the ground lamb, sage, mint, salt, and pepper
> Saute until browned, draining as needed
> Add the mixture to the red sauce and simmer for an hour.
Now you are ready to make the pasta. When we don't have fresh we use Barilla.
Once your pasta is ready, place it in a serving bowl, add the sauce on top and if you want a little French flair, don't forget a little pat of butter!