Thursday, May 10, 2012


A batch of guacamole for our Cinco de Mayo feast:

2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 c canned diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 limes, juiced
pinch salt
dash pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl, then mash/stir with a fork until blended and still slightly chunky. Serve immediately with low-sodium tortilla chips.

Serves 4, 90mg sodium per serving (not including chips)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cheesy Pasta Bake, Revisited

I've been in the mood for comfort food, so we decided to give the cheesy pasta bake a second look. This dish used to be in regular rotation - it is easy to prepare, tastes great, fills you up, and makes good leftovers - but since the sodium restriction went into effect we haven't tried it many times. Our previous attempt at converting this recipe was not a bad effort, but it wasn't quite as wonderful as we had remembered. Something was missing, and it wasn't hard to define: this recipe just isn't the same without real smoked sausage. Out of all the adjustments, substituting raw homemade (and unsmoked) sausage for the Andouille had the biggest effect (in terms of sodium and flavor/texture).

Last night we cooked this dish with Thomas Ragin Cajun Andouille Sausage. Yes, it has 550mg of sodium per 2.5 oz, but I found a way to manage this and keep the sodium per serving of pasta at 700mg. I followed our previous recipe (other than the sausage) with these modifications:

1. We started with 3/4 of the package of sausage, saving the remainder for use in omelets and such. This left us with 10.5 oz (2310mg sodium).

2. After browning, I separated about 1/3 of the cooked sausage and did not return it to the cooking pot. This left only 7 oz of Andouille in the pot (1540mg sodium). The reserved portion of meat was added at the end to my husband's portions only. My servings had less of the salty meat, but it was enough to provide the correct flavor and texture. PDM certainly didn't mind taking one for the team and eating the extra Andouille.

3. With less meat in the dish, I increased the amount of pasta (16 oz instead of 12 oz) and low sodium organic chicken broth (3.75 c instead of 3 c).

While noticeably less meaty than our traditional version, this revised recipe had ALL of the yummy texture and taste of the original. Unless we get a smoker and start making our own real Andouille, this will be the "go to" version of the recipe, and the cheesy pasta bake will be back in the regular rotation.  Happy!