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italian girl stir-fry.


I don't know about you guys but winter to me means eating carbs, lots of carbs, preferably Italian carbs. These frozen bones need some padding, and a crispy garden tossed salad in a light vinaigrette simply won't cut it. Unfortunately.

Wanting to avoid the April freak-out when I realize that my arms are chunking out of my cap sleeve spring dresses and my knees look doughy (I wish someone would have told me that after 30, even your knees gain weight!), I needed a way to cheat the system a bit. What could I chow down on that would be filling and comforting, yet won't reside rent-free on my hips for the next few months? 

Foie gras. Out. Heavy meats. Out. Lasagna. Sad to say it: out!

And then I did a little experiment...

And you know what? It worked!

I actually figured out a way to trick my brain into believing that I ate a steaming bowl of delicious pasta...sans pasta.

This is a little something that I call the Italian Girl Stir-Fry.

I generally don't do recipe posts, but this cheat is too good (and too easy) to not share with you on this icy weekend in January.

Here's what you're going to need:

1 bag of fresh spinach (one bag of the prepackaged spinach serves one) or a pound
1 medium sized onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon of chopped or minced garlic
2 tablespoons of good olive oil
1 tablespoon (or more) grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Dice up onions
2. Wash spinach well
3. Put in cute bowls (optional)
4. Trickle olive oil in a large sauce pan on medium heat and saute the garlic for about a minute.
For that extra taste of ye homeland, 
I use my own infused garlic and basil extra virgin olive oil.
It gives it that mamma mia kick but it's not required.


5. Toss in onions and cook until golden.
6. Add spinach and lightly stir with a wooden spoon 
until all the leaves are wilted.
7. Distribute tomato sauce evenly over spinach.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

9. Sprinkle graded parmesean.
10. Mangiate, mangiate.

It's not the most attractive dish, I know, but the taste makes up for its sloppy presentation. Also, you can add whatever veggies tickles your fancy; mushrooms, peppers, fresh tomatoes, or sub out the tomato sauce for an artichoke-based pesto (which I tried yesterday - delishville)...the options are endless!

This has been my go-to recipe during these past few cold weeks that has kept me full and fueled. Now that the pasta cheat is tried-and-true, any suggestions on how to cheat my latest love, raclette?

Test it out and tell me what you think!

Bon week-end!

39 comments:

  1. What a simple meal! I believe my pathetic chambre de bonne kitchen can even handle it. Thanks for the tasty inspiration :)

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    1. As a chambre de bonne alumni, I promise that your kitchen will be able to handle it! Just make sure you have a wide enough pot because the spinach is super fluffy before it cooks down and my leaves kept falling out and burning on the flames.

      Enjoy!!

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  2. Yummeeee. I will be making this and my thighs will thank you for it.

    Sad news: no rapini at the market this morning (although I did find red blette and purple cauliflower) but I will keep looking...

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    1. Please do and tell me what you think and if you've come up with some creative additions to throw in the pot!

      No cimo! Why is it so hard to find here? I thought it was just a Paris thing but I guess it's hard to find everywhere in the country. I guess I'll JUST HAVE to go to Italy! Thanks for keeping your eyes peeled for me.

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    2. Ella, I finally made this today and you are my new hero because I LOVE it. It is one of those things that I wonder WHY didn't I think to make this before? I didn't try with the chicken and chou romanesco (though will another time) but just put fried egg on top and THAT, my friend, was perrrrfect.

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  3. Am totally gonna try this... Damn, I just bought a box of penne from Monoprix. Maybe I should return it? Ugh. Going back to Monoprix to buy the spinach!! LOL

    Milsters

    (http://www.littlepiecesoflight.com/)

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    1. Keep the pasta. It's always good to have a box of pasta in the cupboard and a bottle of champagne in the fridge. : )

      Let me know what you think of it! Have a lovely Sunday!

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  4. Sounds yummy, although don't know if it will fool my pasta receptors... Have seriously been living off cannellini bean soup recently - soften garlic and lemon zest in olive oil, add beans, stock (chicken or vege), lemon juice and rosemary, simmer for a bit, blend and serve - v yummy, warming and filling!

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    1. I thought the same thing, how could spinach possibly replace the taste of a bowl of pasta? Impossible, I declared! But it did. I eat this a few times a week now. I'm completely hooked.

      Try it and let me know if it worked for you.

      Cannellini bean soup! Delish!!! I'll check out your recipe next week when we go grocery shopping! Thanks Gwan!

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  5. Oh, along this theme, you can also make a kind of lasagne using spinach as the pasta layer, lean beef mince with tomato sauce/onions/garlic and herbs for the meat layer, and making your cheese sauce from vegetable stock instead of milk, and a combo of low fat creme fraiche and low fat cheese like cheddar (although not sure how 'in' to low fat things like that the Parisian supermarkets are!)

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    1. Thanks Katy! That's a great suggestion! I've heard of this swap out with lasagna. I'm missing a lot of kitchen necessities like a deep and wide pan to bake lasagnas in. Once I'm fully equipped, I'll give this a whirl!

      I don't do low-fat here, I just use less of the real thing. : )

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  6. This looks and sounds delish! You had my mouth watering at 7am. I even asked husband to pick up some Spinach after work:) I know what our dinner is going to be tonight!

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    1. Thanks Alyson! I hope you tried it and enjoyed it! Let me know how it came out! By the way, I loved your latest blog post. Heading over to comment now. :)

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  7. I've been using spinach or arugula in place of pasta forever. I usually use regular pasta sauce. After a while, the greens taste normal and the pasta tastes heavy. Enjoy!

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    1. It's a great alternative that I can't believe took me so long to figure out. I wish I had been doing this forever, my buns would definitely be a size smaller! Thanks for commenting!

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  8. Oh! That sounds delicious! I think I might have to give it a try this week!

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    1. Try it! Try it! Try it! I even made Seb a bowl and he inhaled it. It's dude-approved which means it doesn't taste at all "diety". I hope you love it as much as I do!

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  9. I was eating a spicy Moroccan galette while reading this post, ha!

    This recipe looks and sounds delicious- I am looking forward to making it within the next few days. Thanks!

    Recently, with my similar pasta-crave but not wanting to eat pasta, I've bought gluten-free corn pasta, which I usually eat with a guacamole sauce, topped with cilantro.

    I'm off to make a Thai curry dish with rice noodles (another pasta-avoiding meal!).

    As long as your fairly active, I suggest to let yourself indulge once in a while; whether it be a cheesy dish or a pasta dish. I find that if I limit myself too much I end up craving these foods even more, and that leads me to either being stressed (thus gaining weight) or impulsively grabbing something unhealthy (thus gaining weight). Another suggestion: eat healthily all day and let yourself have a a slice or two of whole wheat baguette with some cheese after your dinner (once again, keeping your cravings at bay.. plus this baguette lasts a few days, so you don't feel pressured to eat it all at once). :-)

    That said, I'm not that thin, but I don't gain weight either.

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    1. Hmmmm Moroccan galettes. Nom Nom Nom!!!

      In the winter I think indulge too much, so this is how I'm curbing my carb craves and it's working out better than I thought because I'm actually enjoying the dish. Tonight's Sunday pasta has been replaced with Sunday spinach! We bought 3 kilos at the market yesterday...

      I hope you enjoy it, please let me know how it turns out!! Happy Sunday!

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  10. Gotta try that! Sounds wonderful and I was looking to add new recipes to my tired repertoire:)

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    1. It's really good. I'm not like pretending it's good because I'm trying to cut calories, it truly is filling and tasty! I splurge on the more expensive pasta sauce (no generic Leader Price brand) because the sauce is what makes the difference. Also, this recipe would be good for you because the prep/cook time is 10 minutes. I know you don't have tons of time to spare. :)

      Bon app!!

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  11. Great tip! i have been doing something similar. Usually whatever we have leftover from the night before (usually something soupy/saucey which I like better than dressing) I just heat up in the microwave and throw it over some lettuce. It seems more substantial than a plain salad, plus it is warm so it feels more like a meal too.

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    1. Thanks a great idea! The options are endless. You can put anything on a bed of lettuce and make a delicious salad. Thank YOU for the tip! :)

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    2. I do that with chili sin carne! It's wonderful!:)

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  12. Eat your heart out Rachel Khoo!

    Must try this.....when I can get to the shops that isLOL! Snowed in!

    Love Denise

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    1. Snowed in! Lucky gal! I'd love to be snowed in! I want one more storm here in Paris but I don't think it's going to happen...oh well, until next year.

      I hope you like the recipe!

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  13. LOL. I came up w/a pasta replacement meal rhis winter, too.... I make a rich, hearty pesto. Its heartier than my summer recipe because I add a large bunch of spinach!!! Instead of serving on pasta, I put it on cod filets. Tricks the teen into loving fish while also making sure she gets her favorite dish while I don't run into thise carbs!

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    1. Ooooh served on fish! That sounds delicious! I like anything smothered in pesto! It's so sort of my kryptonite. Great idea, Sylvia! Thank you!!

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  14. This is such a good idea! I never would have thought of it. I'm definitely going to be trying this soon!

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    1. Hi Meredith! Give a try! It's super simple and quick when using the pre-packaged spinach. Enjoy!

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  15. Ive also heard of using an unrolled leak as the pasta sheets in lasagne - maybe worth a try too?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/skinny_beef_lasagne_87277

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    1. This looks good too. I need a deep dish pan to make lasagnas and such, but once I have one, I'll start experimenting! Thank you Felicity!

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  16. Wow. That sounds awesome. I'll definitely try that soon. I love spinach.

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    1. Isn't spinach the best? I can eat it with every meal. As a matter of fact, I'm off to make some now for lunch. : )

      Enjoy the recipe!

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  17. Pinning it and making it! x

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  18. Yum! This sounds delicious. Even though I frequently add spinach to my sauce, I've never had the brilliant idea of going carb free. You're so clever!

    I can't wait to see how you reduce the calories in raclette!

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  19. This recipe is really easy to me. I will try this at weekended. I like Italian culture, tradition, Italian food etc . I have taken various courses to learn Italian language and now i can speak fluently. Last summer I have visited Italy as well as I have visited Italian restaurant.I have enjoyed Italian food very much.

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  20. A year late, I know, but I make fake "lasagne" by using sliced eggplant. You can put spinach and mushrooms in between the eggplant layers as well. I alternate the vegetables with arrabbiata, cover with foil, bake at 200C for about 45-60 minutes (depends on oven) and wolf down. I use an eggplant per serving. The only secret is using a very flavorful sauce, since the veggies won't really give it much zing.

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