Now, you have to understand that the whole notion of going without meat was pretty much unheard of in those days. It was even considered unhealthy by many. I remember having a discussion once with someone who advised me that I should never have children if I intended to feed them meat-free meals of any kind.
All I can say is that my four sons did just fine with my “meatless marvels”. We did not eat exclusively vegetarian, but mostly so, and their health most definitely did not suffer.
And herbs like cilantro, for example, were entirely unknown to most of the U.S. population until relatively recently. That seems hard to imagine for the young among you, but it’s true. The changes in food choice and offerings have increased dramatically in recent years, one of the positive effects of globalization.
So I’ve made changes to many of my recipes over time. This one was originally basil and parsley, and it was very good that way, but I really prefer the cilantro. I’ve also made it with arugula fresh from our garden, and I enjoy that version as well.
In terms of the pasta, this recipe can be used with any variety you choose and can afford. Regular pasta works as well as linguini, so go with that, if you prefer. I do recommend whole grain pasta for its lower glycemic index, its higher fiber content, and its higher protein content. But it is often more expensive than regular pasta. So, by all means buy whatever suits your budget.
This is a fast meal to put together, and can be on the table in about 35 minutes, start to finish.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 6-8 servings
Prep Time – Approx. 35 minutes
Start to finish meal time – Approx. 35 minutes
Total recipe cost – Approx. $8.00
Total per person cost for meal, including tossed salad and whole grain bread – Approx. $1.65
1 pound whole grain or high protein linguini, spaghetti, or pasta of your choice (approximately)
2-6 tablespoons canola or olive oil, or combination of the two
1 tablespoon whole black or yellow mustard seeds
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño, jalapeño relish, or other spicy relish
1 large bunch fresh flat Italian parsley
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, arugula, or any leafy herb or green of your choice
1 29-32 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 29-32 ounce can tomato puree (or 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste mixed with 2 cups of water)
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Fresh Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)
Recipe continues after photos
- Put on a large pot of water for the pasta. Cover it, place it over high heat and bring it to a boil.
- Meanwhile, peel and mince or chop the 6 cloves of garlic.
- Wash the parsley and cilantro by holding the bunch upside down in large bowl of water and swishing it relatively vigorously back and forth to loosen any garden residue. Empty and rinse the bowl and repeat the process with fresh water as needed.
- Chop the parsley and cilantro/other herb relatively fine to make at least 2 packed cups. More is fine, too.
- Coarsely chop the jalapeño pepper to make one tablespoon. Or simply measure out 1 tablespoon of jalapeño relish.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds and stir constantly for about 1 minute, or until they begin to pop. Add the chopped or minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds – 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the jalapeño peppers or relish and cook for 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
- Add the chopped herbs or greens to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the tomato product, and the ½ teaspoon of salt and the 1 teaspoon of pepper, and stir to blend well. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Cover and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer over medium-low temperature for about 10 minutes. Longer is fine, too. Stir often.
- Break the linguini or spaghetti in half, if desired, and add it to the boiling water, stirring it to prevent it from sticking. Resume boiling, reduce the heat and partially cover. Set the timer for the suggested cooking time on the side of the package. Stir occasionally.
- When the linguini is done to taste, drain it in a large colander in the sink and rinse it with warm water. Allow it to drain completely.
- You can combine the sauce and pasta all together in one pot by scraping the sauce carefully into the linguini and tossing it. Or you can ladle the sauce over individual portions of pasta on each plate. Top with fresh parmesan and Romano cheese, if desired.
- Serve the linguini with the tossed salad, along with fresh or garlic bread, as desired.