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The best place for pasta in Columbia Heights

is Maple.  They make their own noodles in house and the sauces from scratch.  I’m also partial because they source some ingredients from the farmer I work for at the CoHi market on Saturdays…but pretty sure I’d be a fan anyway, anyhow.  It’s comfy and casual, yet feels elegant, has a small but diverse menu (of which everything I’ve had is delectable), and isn’t pretentiously priced – if anything, it’s one of the best values in the city for the quality of food.  I had the linguine puttanesca there a few weeks ago and my mouth has been thinking about it ever since.

Entre national pasta month

If you didn’t know, don’t feel bad…I wasn’t aware that October is pasta month either, until the RecipeRedux challenge (sponsored by the National Pasta Association – yup, that’s a thing, too) was listed.  Even though pasta isn’t a central part of my regular diet, it definitely has a place in the American diet for its versatility, ease of preparation, and potential health benefits.

Nutritionally speaking

pasta is a concentrated source of carbohydrate, our body’s primary fuel.  Because it is a plant product, it contains dietary fiber – as long as you get a whole grain variety!  Fiber content is very low in white flour pastas, and quite high in those that are fortified with wheat germ or oat – usually around 6g (out of a 25g recommended daily) for a serving.  Which brings me to portion sizing.  Many restaurants have totally ruined our eye for judging a single serving of pasta, which is only 1 c of cooked noodles.  Getting 2-4 times that amount when you eat out isn’t uncommon (another thing I like about Maple – it’s not a huge serving!) and therein lies the problem.  Over consuming carbohydrate causes a surge in insulin, which signals energy storage (ie, fat) and can lead to insulin insensitivity over time.  So the takeaway: pasta = good, too much pasta = not ideal!

Pasta Puttanesca

is a chunky, tomato based veggie sauce that is loaded with great briny flavor from anchovies, capers, and olives.  It’s easy and fast to make, and pairs perfectly with any meat over a perfectly cooked noodle.  Having a half cup (the serving size for sauce) will be hard to do…so have two!  Veggies are what we need more of.  This version will have you at the table in half an hour and absolutely delighted…especially if you can’t make it to Maple 🙂

Linguine Puttanesca (a la Sarah, via Maple)

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  • 1/2 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 3 large red tomatoes (I used one large and a pint of cherry, ~2lbs), diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 poblano (or red bell) pepper, diced
  • 1/2 whole black kalamata olives, diced
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 1/2 c flat leaf parsley, rough chopped

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Heat a large pot with water filled halfway on the stove until boiling.  Cook pasta per box directions until al dente (slightly firm).  Heat oil in a sauce pan (4qt); add onion, garlic, and anchovies.  Saute until anchovies start to break down and onions become translucent (~3-4 minutes).  Add the tomatoes, pepper, and wine, reduce heat and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the olives, capers, and parsley, cook an additional 5 minutes.  Plate pasta, scoop sauce on top.  Garnish.

Click the frog to see the rest of the pasta contest entries!