What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: On Top of Tahoe Spaghetti | TahoeDailyTribune.com

What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: On Top of Tahoe Spaghetti

Ah, Sizzler. How I loved our Sizzler restaurant located near Stateline. Let me count the ways … One summer day, after sitting on the beach, shopping for hardy cactus to put on the deck, working out with free weights and walking the dogs, it was time to fix dinner in my Old Tahoe-style cabin. The temperature was too hot to cook up a home-cooked meal. And Sizzler was calling out my name. No swirl cookie lines, quick gratification. I dished up a salad at the salad bar and teamed it with hot pasta and marinara sauce. It wasn’t exactly the way I’d do it at home, but it worked and gave me more time to play.

Fixing these fixings yourself does have its convenience and health merits. It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s inexpensive, except the cheese can be pricey, but keep in mind you can use it for other meals and use it sparingly. Instead of marinara sauce at a restaurant, you’re getting it with a mountain of fresh veggies. The chunkiness gives a nice texture to the sauce and al dente pasta is also healthier for you. Sure, we had to say goodbye to our Sizzler but cooking up your favorite dishes at home is a win-win deal.

1/2 cup fresh zucchini, chopped

1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup fresh Romano tomatoes, sliced

1 cup tomato and basil marinara sauce with olive oil

4 ounces whole grain thin spaghetti, cooked

1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Nutmeg and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, combine vegetables in water; cook until tender but do not overcook. Then stir in marinara sauce (add a dash of savory nutmeg and pepper) and heat until hot. Add uncooked pasta to boiling water. Cook 5 to 7 minutes until al dente, drain. Pile on the chunky vegetable sauce over pasta in a baking dish. Top with fresh parmesan cheese, grate it yourself. If you crave protein, try including sauteed jumbo shrimp or lean turkey meat. Be sure to cook meat thoroughly. (I did this one Thanksgiving and it sufficed for me and my bird dogs). Serves 2.

Pasta, marinara sauce and veggies are a simple, good complete meal in one to serve on a warm, busy holiday. Don’t forget warm croissants for that Mediterranean feel.

What’s more, this meal is heart healthy. According to the American Heart Association, and as I continue to note in “Callie’s Cabin,” vegetables and fruit are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and low-cal. That means eating our seasonal produce may help you to control your weight and your blood pressure. Plus, unrefined whole-grain foods – like pasta – contain fiber that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you stave off hunger pangs, which may help you to you’re your weight in check this summer and year round.

Cooking Callie’s spaghetti – enjoy it outdoors or by candlelight at dusk – is like having your own mini Sizzler at home, sort of. The upside, you control the ingredients. The only thing that’s missing is that irresistible gizmo where you can put your change into it (again and again) and try to snag the adorable stuffed animal.

Going down memory lane, I realize that my fave dessert at our late Sizzler Restaurant was the fresh, red watermelon and frosty, creamy vanilla ice cream. To celebrate Independence Day, my recommendation is to pick up a seedless melon. Slice it or scoop out melon balls and put in a bowl. Serve with a 1/2 cup of all-natural vanilla ice cream topped with fresh blueberries. Happy Independence Day!

– Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.

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