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We have been getting ready for the Back-to-School shopping, and I have already placed a few orders online at Walmart last week, but we are also planning a trip this week for back-to-school customized shopping trips – my children can be quite fussy about what notebooks to pick, so rather than ordering online I am planning to let them roam in the store picking their favorites with my husband while I do some of my grocery shopping there.
I have to say that Walmart is always on the top of my list for convenient shopping solutions to get our family favorites. My family LOVES eating pasta, and if it were up to them, we would probably have pasta for every single meal, including dessert!
I am happy to know that when I am buying Barilla pasta I don’t feel like I am just getting stuff for ourselves, I feel like every box and can of sauce that I get makes a difference in someone else’s life as this year again Barilla is partnering with No Kid Hungry organization to fund a campaign that is focusing on connecting children in need with nutritious food, as well as teaching their families how to cook healthy and affordable meals.
For every box of Barilla Blue Box pasta purchase at Walmart between 8/10/2017 – 10/31/2017, Barilla will donate $1 to No Kid Hungry, up to $50,000. That’s enough to provide 500,000 meals to kids in need. Learn more at nokidhungry.org/onedollar.
Pasta dishes are always the center of our meal prep when we are serving pasta. I find that for me pasta is almost like a blank slate – a vessel to transmit a message of freshness, memories and deliciousness. I especially love cooking with shaped pasta as it always tends to store and carry over the sauce that is used to create that burst of flavor in your mouth when you are eating it.
I know that my children often used to opt out for a simple butter sauce on pasta, and they can eat pasta as is any time, but I love to create a delicious meal based on how I feel and what is fresh and available in the market, or what I receive delivered in my weekly vegetable box.
This week we have received fresh basil and I wanted to add it to a pasta dish that I have created with Barilla Penne pasta and Barilla Tomato and Basic Sauce that I picked up at Walmart.
Fresh herbs is something that I grew up eating a lot in my childhood. Where I am from, in my family anyway, we would often have a whole plate full of fresh herbs just served for dinner as a supplement side dish that we were encouraged to simply eat with the meal. Fresh herbs often remind me of my origin, where I came from, and bring back those memories of childhood, the heat of summer, the tomatoes that are abundant and succulent, and the beauty of delicious home cooked meals to share with the family.
Our meals were never extremely expensive, and we loved eating and cooking with local ingredients, enjoying the fruits of the harvest, eating only in season, and cherishing what the land gives. Sometimes we would only buy food that was factory made, and would kind of take that for granted – we didn’t always know what was inside the product, how it was made. It is similar now for some of the things that we eat – and it works perfectly for us – I do like to use canned products that taste great, and can give me that important shortcut without compromising any flavor.
I know that in Barilla Tomato and Basil Sauce only the freshest ingredients are used, and you can certainly tell by tasting it – it is an extremely delicious sauce! When you know what goes in that sauce, the choice is obvious, and it is a great option if you are in a rush, out of tomatoes, and you know that your whole family will enjoy it, and will not even notice the difference.
It is great when we can stock up on our favorite sauce at a local Walmart, but I am not so lucky with one other family favorite. In Baku where I was born I grew up eating Narsharab, practically with half of our meals, and this is a very obscure sauce that somehow hasn’t made yet to be a typical mainstream product in any store, not even small shops that carry ethnic foods, which is a shame. The trouble for me to start with was that this sauce was so typical where I grew up – we would just buy a bottle at any time, and we never knew or worried about how to make it, and what goes into it.
I have been living in North America for so many years now, and I often reminisce about the flavors that I grew up with, and most of the time I cannot find them here. I have a great flavor memory, and sometimes just closing my eyes is enough to bring back the flavor, but I want to be able to share the flavors with my children, and tell them the story of my ancestors with the help of the flavors that I create – this may seem quite complex when you can’t get the main ingredients that go in the dishes.
This week though I have been feeling adventurous, and I have decided to create a dish with my childhood favorite sauce Narsharab. I thought that maybe I will try to make it myself from scratch! Now it would never have occurred to my family to do this as we would always buy it pre-made, but I really felt like I could do this. Turned out, making this sauce is easier than making a jam!
There are several recipes for making this sauce, and some involve using fresh pomegranates, which I might try doing next, but they are not in season yet, so for my recipe that I used I just needed natural pomegranate juice. I was able to purchase this in a store, and then all I needed to do was reduce it. The reduction took about 1.5 hours on low heat, and I could have reduced it even more if I wanted to, but I stopped at that point. I remember the sauce that I ate as a child was much thicker, but the flavor that I got was very close!
I find here in North America people like to eat pomegranates as a quick addition to salads, but it is rarely really used as a sauce. We used to use this sauce in small amounts as a sort of a dip, and I know it has great benefits as it is full of anti-oxidants, vitamin C and folic acid. If used sparingly, in minimal quantities, it can add a lot of flavor to food.
I have decided to marinate my chicken in pomegranate sauce that I have made, and I thought it would work perfectly just like we often use vinegar as an ingredient in marinades. My husband thought that it would work, but wouldn’t add a lot of distinguishable flavor to food after cooking, but boy was he wrong! After marinating this chicken, and cooking it on the stove to brown it, and then tasting it, I immediately was transported to my childhood. Talk about a trip back to the past right from your living room!
Using this simply prepared chicken with Barilla pasta and Barilla Tomato and Basil pasta sauce really brought back memories, and also added flavors that I learned to use later on in life – I chose making a rose sauce by adding some cream to Barilla sauce, adding some fresh chunky tomatoes, and serving it with fresh basil – what a treat!
My family gulped down their pasta, and we made it a meal – chicken that brings memories like that is bound to taste like heaven with that steamy delicious pasta, and the delicate sauce that coats penne pasta just perfectly to hold those bursts of flavor.
I really recommend trying this pasta, and here is my video of how I prefer serving it – enjoy!
Pomegranate Sauce Recipe for Marinades and Dressings
- Pomegranate juice
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 5-6 whole cloves
- 5-10 whole peppercorns
- a handful of brown sugar
- Pour pomegranate juice into a pot. Add your spices. Reduce the sauce for 1-1.5 hours of more until it has been reduced to about ⅓ – ⅔ of the original volume. If you get a more syrupy consistency, you can add some sugar to balance out the sourness, and also just use less in your recipes.
Barilla Pasta with Barilla Tomato and Basil Rose Sauce and Pomegranate Sauce Marinated Chicken
Once the chicken is marinated, this dish takes almost no time to prepare – it is quick and very simple, yet will keep your family full and happy!
- 1 lb of chicken tenders
- 3 Tbsp of pomegranate sauce
- 3 Tbsp of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tsp of cumin
- salt, pepper
- red onions (optional)
- ½ pack of Barilla penne pasta
- 2 cups of Barilla tomato and basil sauce
- 1 tomato chopped
- ⅔ cups of heavy cream
- fresh basil to add into the sauce and for garnish
- grated parmesan cheese
- Marinate your chicken tenders in the following marinade: place your pomegranate sauce, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper either in a reclosable bag or bowl. You may add sliced onions as well if you like. Make sure to marinate chicken for at least a few hours in the fridge up to 1 day.
- When you are ready to cook, fry your chicken in its own juices and a little bit of sauce until browned and cooked through – make sure to watch carefully as this sauce tends to burn quickly.
- Cook your pasta according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, you can start heating up the sauce. Add tomatoes and fresh basil to the sauce. Once the sauce has been heated through, add your cream to the sauce, and mix. Heat until just boiling over low heat.
- Serve your pasta alternating with sauce and chicken. Sprinkle with parmesan on top, and garnish with more fresh basil. Enjoy!
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