Sweet and Savory Fall Pasta

There’s an intense feeling of pride when you accomplish something you could never do before. I am in no way a good cook. I never really learned how to cook and for a long time, most of meals came out of a box or from the freezer. Learning how to eat in a healthy way started the evolution of food for me. Now, I want to eat healthy, real foods that provide me with the nutrients I need to be fit and active. Living with Michael, who can create recipes off the top of his head, has made me excited to cook things in the kitchen.

This weekend I created a recipe all my own. I was asked by Barilla again to create something with their pasta because they really liked my last recipe creation. The reason I said yes was because I was intrigued by their new product line: veggie pasta! They have three new pastas out that are made with vegetables. The rotini is made with zucchini and spinach, the penne is made with tomatoes and carrots and the farfalle is made with carrots and squash. They sent me a box of the farfalle and that’s what I used for this recipe.

I was so fascinated by the concept. Pasta enriched with vegetable and providing a fill serving of vegetables? That’s awesome! Especially for people who may not be veggie fanatics like myself. The farfalle was orange in color and I was curious if it would taste sweet like carrots and squash.

I created this recipe with foods I already had in my house: I had a bunch of gala apples and sweet Walla Walla onions. A plan was starting to form. I went to Trader Joe’s to get some of their creamy chevre goat cheese and of course, a bottle of wine to go with dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

The original concept did not include sausage. I was going to chop up some toasted walnuts and mix that into the pasta but apparently 400 degrees was a tad too warm for roasting:

Ooops. Michael suggested we chop up some sausages as a replacement to the crispy walnuts to add some protein to the dish and to balance out some of the sweetness of the apples and onions. That was a good call. The apple chicken sausage we bought at Costco recently was delicious! I don’t know that we’ll buy anything else in the future!


The onions were caramelizing in the skillet while the sausage cooked and the pasta boiled. The aromas that were coming from the onions and apples were fantastic. According to Michael, whenever I make a new recipe I say “I hope it’s edible.” I never said that with this recipe because I could tell it was going to be delicious.

I mixed everything together in a big bowl and added the goat cheese and water from the pasta pot. The cheese melted into a creamy sauce and coated the pasta. I added a little bit of salt and pepper to balance the sweetness of the dish, as well as some dried herbs.

It isn’t often that I make a recipe that I love so much that I cannot wait to eat the leftovers. I loved my dish! It turned out so great and it made me feel confident and proud that I could create something from scratchย that actually tasted fantastic!

I loved the balancing act of the sweet and savory. The sausage had a hint of sweetness to it, but not too much and the goat cheese evened out the rest of the sugary flavors. It was not overpowering at all. I bet sauteed kale would be a great addition to this recipe, too.

Give this recipe a try, you won’t be sorry!

In addition to the giveaway I have below, there are more chances to win prizes from Barilla. Just download “Capture the Pasta” on your Android or iPhone and you can win tons of prizes! (โ€œCAPTURE THE PASTAโ€ PROMOTIONย from 09/22/2012 to 12/01/2012 (ET). Over $100,000 in total prizes. See official rules onยย No purchase or payment necessary to enter to win.)

Want to Try It?

Barilla asked me to share the love with some of my readers. I have one $25 VISA gift card to give out along with some coupons to try their new pastas. I will pick one winner on Friday, November 16th. You can enter three times to win:

1)ย Follow me on Twitterย and tweet:ย โ€œI want to create my own pasta recipe withย @BarillaUS pastaย from @lisaeirene at ยโ€ณย Then leave a comment here telling me you did so.

2) Join myย Facebookย page and leave a comment here telling me you did.

3) Leave a comment telling me what recipe you would create.

Good luck!


Create Your Own Masterpiece + A Giveaway

Recently I was approached by Barilla to create my very own summer recipe using their new pasta called Barilla Plus. It’s a multi-grain pasta rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber — all things I like. The pasta is made from semolina, oats, spelt, barley, legumes, ground flaxseeds and oat fiber. It was easy to say yes because Barilla is the pasta that I usually buy anyways. It’s tasty and affordable.

I was intrigued by this challenge because cooking is something I’ve struggled with in the past. Over the last few years I’ve been practicing trying new recipes and improving my cooking skills. I was really excited to create my OWN recipe.ย The first step was visiting my local Farmer’s Market. I wanted to get produce to go in my recipe from a local grower and the Farmer’s Market is the perfect place for that. I also wanted to use some of the things from my own garden.

I love Farmer’s Markets–especially when the booths have samples. ๐Ÿ™‚ I admit, I got a little sucked into the free sample tastings (vegan chocolate, goat cheese, guacamole, and bean dip).

But I was on a mission. I needed red onions, garlic, lemons, cherry tomatoes and zucchini for my recipe creation. I would use the tomatoes from my own garden but they aren’t quite ready to eat yet. I did use my own basil.

Then home to cook! Here is the recipe I created:


I crushed and minced the garlic and mixed it into the Greek yogurt with salt, pepper, onion powder and a dash of fresh lemon juice. Then I mixed in some of the feta cheese. This is the part where it depends on the person’s taste so I can’t be exact. I added a little bit more feta because I love the taste. You can always go light on the garlic and feta cheese.

The salmon was baking in the oven with the zucchini while the pasta was cooking. Michael was skeptical about it but started reading the box and was intrigued. He was impressed with the amount of protein that was in the pasta! Who ever heard of protein in pasta?

When the pasta was done cooking, I mixed in some of the Greek yogurt mixture with a bit of the reserved pasta water and mixed it all together until creamy. Then I added the fresh basil, halved cherry tomatoes and the chopped red onion.

The salmon was done so I cut it into smaller pieces and added it to the pasta dish. Michael and I sat outside on our deck with the cool breeze rustling the trees, the sound of the kid’s baseball practice at the school next to us, and the setting sun behind the house. It was peaceful and relaxing after a long week at work.

I lit some candles and Michael poured the wine. I used the book that my brother got me for Christmas to pair the correct wine with dinner. The book was amazing–so in depth. I was able to break it down to a pasta dish with salmon in a lemon cream sauce. Pretty specific, huh? Seriously–this book is crazy. It even lists what wine to pair with McDonald’s fish filet, Dominoes Pizza and Taco Bell’s Gordita. Too funny.

I chose the Bogle Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. I’ve had Bogle wines before and enjoyed them quite a bit. The Sauvignon Blanc went with dinner superbly. It was crisp and light, with a hint of sour apple and a sweet, tropical fruit–pineapple perhaps? It balanced the richness of the salmon nicely.

Now for the important part: how was my recipe? It turned out to be wonderful! Somehow I was able to get the vision I imagined onto the plate with success. The flavors were rich and delicious. I loved the creamy Greek yogurt sauce and of course tomatoes, garlic and basic go brilliantly with salmon. This recipe could be tweaked in any way to fit your palate: more garlic or less, goat cheese instead of feta, or chicken instead of salmon. I think all of those things would blend nicely.

I devoured my dinner and so did Michael, in fact we both kind of had second helpings….which is rare. It was just too tasty to pass up. The carb-loading helped my bike ride the next day AND the leftovers were fantastic as a cold lunch.ย The best part: there wasn’t any of that “I just ate pasta” bloating or Pasta Remorse. Maybe because of the protein content in it? Not sure, but we give that aspect two thumbs up!

Now for the fun part!

BarillaPlus asked me to share the love with some of my readers. I have one $25 VISA gift card to give out and 2 boxes of pasta. I will pick two winners!

1)ย Follow me on Twitterย and tweet:ย “I want to win a $25 gift card andย @BarillaUS pastaย from @lisaeirene ย atย″ย Then leave a comment here telling me you did so.

2) Join myย Facebookย page and leave a comment here telling me you did.

3) Leave a comment telling me what pasta dish you will create if you win.

I will pick the two winners on Friday, August 17th . Good luck!

Barilla PLUS is available nationally at most major and independent supermarkets or byย contacting My Brands, Inc. at 1.888.281.6400 to place an order.ย For additional information about Barilla pasta and sauce, or to obtain recipes and meal ideas visit