Chocolate Pasta

#chocolate pastaIn a recent class we taught on Ayurveda for families, we made a “chocolate butter” (as in peanut or almond butter) demonstrating one of many examples of healthy snacks for children. With some of that chocolate butter remaining, Valentine’s Day approaching, and the inspiration of children still in my heart, I thought I’d get playful and try out the chocolate butter as a sauce for pasta.

#Valentine's Day Pasta

Thus emerged this Chocolate Pasta, a delight both easy and quick to make. I think it took all of ten minutes.

The sauce is made with cacao, so has all the health benefits of dark chocolate. If you are making this for adults, use cacao nibs. It gives an accent of bitter that really works. But if you are making this for children, cacao powder will better integrate the flavors.

#chocolate pasta

You could serve this as a side, or add your choice of protein and make it a one dish meal. I added fresh green peas as my protein, mixing them in at the very end so they would hold their fresh aliveness.

chocolate #pasta

#chocolatepasta

Once served, you can dress it up however you like. I added chives, but chopped spring onion would be great for that burst of pungency. I also like toasted or roasted sunflower seeds, but you could garnish with toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pepitas. It needs that nutty bite. Best of all, I sprinkled cacao nibs over each serving. It ‘s more than a theme note, its gives the pasta a rich contrast in color, texture and taste.

VDay Chocolate Pasta

I think it worked, but would love to know what you think.

Chocolate Pasta
Serves 3-4

2 quarts water
1 cube veg broth
1 T sesame oil
1 fistful soba noodles
1-2 cups seasonal greens, shredded
1/2 t ginger powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t red pepper (the slightly milder aleppo is my preference)
gf tamari
toasted or roasted sunflower seeds
sesame seeds
chives or spring onions, chopped
red pepper flakes, optional

Chocolate Sauce
2 T Almond Butter
3 T raw cacao (powder or nibs)
1 small pear, cored and chopped
1 T Raw Honey (or 2 Medjool Dates)
pinch pink salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch cardamom

Start with the chocolate sauce. Put all the ingredients together in an electric blender and mix until well integrated and smooth. If you are using cacao nibs rather than powder be sure to mix until the nibs break down, but don’t worry if some remain solid. It will give a nice texture to the sauce when added to the pasta.

Meanwhile, boil 2 quarts of water in a saucepan. Chop up your greens and set aside. When the water comes to a boil, add the cube of vegetable broth. Stir until it dissolves, then spoon in the sesame oil. Stir in the ginger and garlic powders and red pepper. Add the soba noodles and your greens. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Gently spoon in the chocolate sauce, stirring lightly so you don’t break the pasta. Season with tamari. Taste, and a pinch of pink salt, if needed.

Chocolate Pasta VDay

Since there are at least six good reasons to celebrate with chocolate, for dessert we have many choices ~ there is this amazing Chocolate Pâté, this extraordinary Flourless Chocolate Cake, or this Chocolate Pudding, all to remind us to celebrate love not just today, but every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Taste of Love: Chocolate Pâté

Chocolate PateThink about something you love for a moment.

How does that thought make you feel? If you could taste it, what would be its flavor?

Sitting in an Emergency Room earlier this week waiting for my husband to be wheeled off for a CT scan followed by an MRI, I thought about that, the taste of love, and noticed on that day that love’s taste was bitter.

Narayana and Lakshmi, Cosmic Lover and Nature’s Love Goddess

Of course, we normally think of love as sweet, associating it with what we call “comfort” foods ~ Mom’s Mac Cheese, home-baked cookies, warmed milk ~ or with a romantic “diner à deux” with a rich menu of courses, wine, and a sumptuous dessert.

But on that day, under stark hospital lights, love tasted anything but sweet. What if they find a tumor? An aneurysm? Could this unbearable pain he has had for two weeks now be a symptom of something fatal? Or, not fatal but also not curable, not knowable, never-ending?

According to Ayurveda, the sweet taste is the taste that gives us strength, patience, endurance, health. Love is like that, isn’t? It fortifies us. It is grounding, pacifying, reassuring. It makes us more accepting, more generous. It helps us feel whole.

Bitter, on the other hand, is the taste associated with the emotion of loss. Grief has a bitter edge to it. This is not bitter as we usually think of it. Not the bitter of frustrated resentment as in, “My, how bitter she has become since her divorce.” The taste of that emotion would actually be sour, as in “sour grapes.” Combining the elements of fire and earth, sour feelings are like fire buried underground, a subterranean seething.

Cacao Pods

Bitter, instead, relates to letting go, surrender, releasing the old. Its taste combines the elements of air and space. Foods that taste bitter help us lose weight, loosen Ama, unclog the system, lighten up, eliminate toxins, clean wounds, purify the tissues.

Which brings me to Chocolate. Of course.

In its essence, chocolate has a bitter taste. It is almost unpalatable without the leavening of something sweet like sugar, milk, maple syrup, or honey. Chocolate, or choco-late, is cacao, a pure bitter, and “late” meaning milk, a sweet.

Monday helped me understand more fully why chocolate then, is the food of love. True love, enduring love is sweet. It strengthens, affirms, uplifts and expands us.

Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love

But deep, pure love is also like a fire. It lights us up. It purifies. It burns away our false, constructed ego, eliminating the toxins of selfishness, defensiveness and pride. It restores innocence, unclogs channels of self-expression and authenticity, renewing energy.  It puts our priorities into proper perspective. It forces us to face our interdependency, bringing to the surface buried fears of inadequacy, loss, annihilation. In this sense, deep love has much in common with the taste of bitter and its effect on us. It purifies.

Bitter and Sweet, chocolate helps us dissolve our mental strategies and resistance to life’s flow, restoring trust so we can melt back into the heart, allow connection, strengthen our bonds of oneness and remember what is true.

Chocolate Love

After Monday, my love for my husband is prioritized. Gone is anything that distracts. It feels clearer, stronger and purer than ever. Best of all, we are fortunate that the thumping, sleep-depriving, shrieking pain was only the result of a pinched nerve. A very pinched, very distressed nerve, but one that is now calmed and finding its way back to normal.

So we have a lot to love and to celebrate this Valentine’s Day. I am going to splurge and make a Chocolate Pâté.

Chocolate Pâté

The simple recipe for this sumptuous dessert lets the chocolate speak for itself, and it doesn’t just speak, it resounds. Loooooooooovvvvvveee ~

Chocolate Pâté

168 grams of 100%  Cacao (Ghirardelli and Scharffen Berger make the perfect Bar)
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup ghee
1.5 tablespoon Jaggary, or Evaporated Cane Juice

Ingredients

Put all ingredients into a medium size pot and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes, once chocolate has mostly melted, turn off the heat. Continue to stir until the consistency is smooth and even.

Line the bottom of a small loaf pan with a large piece of cellophane, or parchment paper, leaving excess wrap to hang over the sides. Give the chocolate mixture a few minutes to cool, still stirring, then pour it into the loaf pan. Cover with the wrap, and refrigerate 5 to 6 hours, until firm. Before serving let stand at room temperature one hour, then turn out onto a plate and sprinkle with cocoa or cinnamon powder. Garnish with figs, blueberries, blackberries and serve with Crème Fraîche.

A Dusting of Cinnamon adds Spice

This is such divine succulence from the Mother. With food like this, her eternal, delicious love is hard to deny!

~ Happy Valentine’s Day ~


La Molina

Sally Bernstein has many great ideas for Valentine’s Day over at Sally’s Place, including loads of recipes and gift ideas. That is where I discovered La Molina Gianduja Spread, inspired by La Molina, the chambermaid and chocolatier to 17th century Queen Marie-Therese. Nothing like the love of a good woman!