Lately I’ve been trying to be healthier so I can be a little svelter and overall look more fabulous in my clothes. Clearly trying is the operative word here with my posts as proof. Creamy Wild Rice Soup? Cheese Steak Egg Rolls? Popcorn Balls? Is it any wonder my clothes are a little, erhm, snug. I want to be healthier, but I’m finding doing and wanting are two different things.
I have been healthier. And skinner. Much skinner. But I as I think about my body, I cannot help but ask myself, “ Just because I can do something, should I?” Because the fact of the matter is that while I’m not as thin as I once was I still have an average shape and am well within a healthy BMI. And so begins the endless conversation I have with myself. I could be skinner. I could eat food that is lighter, and cleaner and overall less punctuated by butter and cheese. But the fact remains that I am a girl whose passion is released by food. I’m a girl who gets joy out of cooking based on whims and often these whims include sugar and chocolate and sometimes even a heavy hand of duck fat – all things I think are healthy in moderation. I’m a girl who lights up when talking about a favorite artisan cheese or when baking cupcakes for co-workers. Doing these things less frequently would probably make me skinner, but happier? Probably not.
So, I’m not sure where that puts me. I definitely have not solved this debate with myself except to say that I’m not as convinced as of the tireless pursuit of skinny as I was when I last lost weight at 24. I think moderation, for me, is probably a bit more realistic. And a lot more enjoyable if it means room in my diet for things like my Creamy Cajun Steak Pasta. Yes, you can make creamy pasta sauces that are healthier. I’ve made countless varietys from Cooking Light that serve as proof. But sometimes, only half and half or cream will do. I love the way it cuts through the slight heat in this pasta and after cooking down, beautifully clings to the pasta. And here it pairs perfectly with Cajun spices, veggies, and steak for a pasta dish that is incredibly filling and yes, indulgent.
Sure it’s rich enough that I wouldn’t consider it as part of an everyday rotation, but as a treat or special occasion meal it disappoint. I love the way the sauce it has a soft, but not overpowering heat that compliments the savoriness of the meat. The sauce is also a deadringer, in my opinion, for the sauce on the The Cheesecake Factory’s Louisana Chicken Pasta. (Okay, I know it probably makes me a little less of a foodie that I enjoy that dish, but I don’t care, on occasion it is delicious!)
Adapted from The Steamy Kitchen and A Well Seasoned Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6
-1 1-pound rib steak
-1 cup sliced onions
-1 1/2 cup sliced bell peppers
-1 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms
-2 tablespoons minced garlic
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
-1/4 teaspoon Worchestershire Sauce
-2 cups half and half
-1/2 cup Romano cheese
-1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
-1/2 farfalle dry pasta, cooked until just shy of al dente
-Sea salt, to taste
Thirty minutes prior to cooking, remove the steak from the refrigerator. Coat a grill pan with the cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Pat the steak dry and season generly with the coarsely ground black pepper.
Place the steak flat on the grill pan and sear until it has deep brown grill marks on that side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side until a thermometer inserted sideways into the thickest part registers 120 degrees for medium-rare, 3 to 4 more minutes. (Or continue to cook longer if more done meat is preferred.) Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.
Next, spray a cast iron skillet or frying pan with cooking spray and set over medium high heat. Add the sliced onion to the pan and cook until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and peppers to the pan and saute until the mushrooms have darkened in color and the peppers have softened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan.
Spray the pan again with cooking spray and add the garlic, saute for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the tomato paste through half and half. Cook until the mixture is gently bubbling, then turn the heat down to low. Cook until the mixture has reduced by half, about five minutes.
Add the romano cheese and hot sauce. Stir until the cheese is melted and well combined. Add pasta to the pan and toss, cooking 1-2 minutes longer until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed some of the flavor from the sauce. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as desired.