Fettuccine with Guanciale and Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce


Sometimes your best meals are impromptu and deliciously unexpected. Adrian and I were really hungry, but weren’t sure we had anything on hand to make for dinner. That is… until we saw a bunch of ripe tomatoes and fresh basil in our garden, begging to be cooked up into a sauce!

We found that we had a partially used box of fettuccine noodles, a little bit of parmesan, and frozen guanciale from a lovely farm in Davis. Scouring our pasta recipes, we adapted one by by Scott Conant featured on Serious Eats, but simplified it a bit. I’m not kidding when I say that this is definitely the most delicious pastas we’ve ever made and possibly ever eaten (sorry Scott!). I can’t quite vouch for this being the healthiest thing you’ll eat all week, but that’s okay on occasion! A little guanciale or bacon every now and then is perfectly fine. Just serve this one with a side salad, and this Diet Assassinista says you’re good to go.


Fettuccine with Guanciale and Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 4-6
Time: 45 Minutes

Ripe plum tomatoes, 20
Olive oil, 3 tbsp
Butter, 2 tbsp
Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garlic, 6 cloves, chopped
Basil, 1 small bunch, chopped
Guanciale, ½ cup, chopped
1 lb. dry fettuccine noodles
Parmesan Reggiano, 1 oz , about ½ cup , grated

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about 5 tomatoes in the pot and cook. Let boil for about 15 seconds or until skins appear loose and promptly move them into the waiting ice water. Do this with remaining tomatoes.

Pull off the skin of the tomatoes with the tip of a pairing knife. Cut the tomatoes in half, squeeze tomatoes to take the seeds and a little juice out. Reserve juice if needed to thin pasta later.

In a wide pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and sauté until soft, 30-60 seconds. Add the tomatoes. Stir in basil, guanciale, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and season very lightly with the salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften and then use a potato masher to break them up finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Cook fettucine noodles in separate pot to 90% of doneness, reserving ½ cup pasta water. Add noodles to tomato sauce and cook for about 3 minutes, until sauce is incorporated. If dry, add some reserved tomato juice and/or pasta water. Serve pasta garnished with parmesan and freshly ground black pepper to taste.



Blackberry Balsamic Chicken


This is another recipe adapted from Leanne Ely’s Saving Dinner. I paired it here with a summer salad of garden-grown tomatoes, red onions, and a couple slices of baguette. It’s super delicious and takes just a few minutes to make. Plus, with fewer than 7 ingredients, it’s easy to meal plan. Theflavor of the chicken preserves is to die for if you haven’t had that combination. It’s August now, but these flavors are soooo making me look forward to Thanksgiving, yum!


Blackberry Balsamic Chicken

Time: 15 Minutes
Serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup chopped red onion
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
4boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1⁄3 cup seedless blackberry preserves
2tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken to skillet and saute 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm. Add onion to skillet and saute till translucent. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and thyme. Add preserves, vinegar, and salt and pepper, stirring constantly until the preserves melt. Spoon the sauce over chicken to serve.

Kale Mojito Smoothie


Per The Weather Channel, it’s quite temperate outside, but it sure isn’t at our house! We’re south-facing and the sun really hits hard for most of the day. That’s great for our garden, but not for my own hydration, so I really needed this refreshing smoothie to perk me up for my gym session in a couple hours.

To make it, I looked no further than my garden to grab the bulk of the ingredients: kale and mint. Then I added some local honey, citrus from the pantry, and finished it off with a little coconut water and ice. Yum! While just about everyone knows that kale is essentially a superfood, I’m not sure everyone knows how tasty and easy it is to blend up with just a few ingredients!


Kale Mojito Smoothie

Serves: 1-2
Time: 5 Minutes

2 medium kale leaves, stemmed
1/4 cup fresh mint, stemmed
Juice of 2-3 limes
1/2 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp honey
2/3 cup coconut water
2-3 cups ice cubes

Combine the first six ingredients in a blender. Then add ice on top. Blend on high until smooth.



What I love Most About Summer + Recipe for Steak & Arugula Salad


My calendar may say that it’s summer, but I’ve been so busy lately, I barely notice the change in season anymore. It’s a stark contrast to how I would literally count down the days to summer when I was a child, rejoicing when the final bell rang. Those long warm days in the California sun just couldn’t come soon enough!

The fact that summer is in full swing finally just dawned on me when foraging for these arugula greens. It’s a little sad that it took me three weeks to fully recognize the change in season, but mid-July is when my garden really starts to shine. I realize now that while I no longer count down to the lazy summer days of my past playing with friends, visiting the beach, or going to theme parks, I don’t think it’s a bad compromise that in adulthood, I have an incredible garden where I enjoy nothing more than counting down the days until my fruits and vegetables are ready to be harvested.

I suppose I truly have the better deal now because I really didn’t know how to cook much of anything when I was a kid. Now at least half of the food I cook up in summer is from my garden and that makes me a very, very happy dietitian. While this dish utilized the last of our arugula crop, my favorite salad greens will be back shortly with corn and pumpkins to follow. Until then, we will surely be eating our weight in tomatoes and kale!

Below is a recipe the salad, which I’ve adapted from an Epicurious recipe.


Steak & Arugula Salad

Serves 4
Time: 25 minutes

5 oz arugula
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 large sprig fresh rosemary needles
1 lb boneless top loin steak or sirloin (1 inch thick)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large shallot, thinly sliced crosswise
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Mound arugula on a large platter.

Heat oil with garlic and rosemary in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat, turning garlic once or twice, until garlic is soft, about 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, cut steak crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and toss with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add steak to skillet all at once and sauté over high heat, tossing with tongs to color evenly, about 1 minute for medium-rare.

Arrange steak over arugula using tongs, then add shallot to oil in skillet along with vinegars and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and boil 2 minutes. Garnish to taste with ground black pepper. Pour dressing over steak and serve immediately.