MM competed in his second Ironman yesterday in The Woodlands, Texas. Some quick highlights: He finished his 2.5 mile swim in 1:20, biked 112 miles in the woods at a pace of about 20 mph, and ran a marathon (26.2 miles) at 9:53/mile… all in 89+ degrees and 95% humidity. He finished the entire race in 11 hours and 26 minutes, a two and a half hour time improvement from his last race. I was able to meet him a few times on the course, and even once for a quick kiss. I’m so proud of him!
On Thursday we had a surprise appearance from his best friend (and my good friend), who we will refer to as Loosh. Initially we thought he showed up to support MM, but turns out Loosh was doing Ironman too! What a sneaky surprise. In both their honors, I cooked up a great big pasta IronMeal on Friday night for the future Ironmen and MM’s family, who is also here with us.
It’s pretty well-known that athletes like to carb load before a big race, so pasta was a given. MM also requested a big batch of croutons, so I made a simple romaine salad with carrots, tomato, yellow pepper and avocado. I dressed it in a balsamic vinaigrette (juice of 1 lemon, 1 TB Dijon mustard, 3 TB Balsamic vinegar, 2 TB olive oil – whisked) and served the croutons on the side so other people could snack on them too – plus, they didn’t fit in the salad bowl.
For the pasta, I made whole wheat rotini with an herbed turkey tomato sauce. It was a chunky sauce with lots of vegetables, and very easy to make for a big group. This was meant to serve 7, but I used a box and a half of pasta and we have a big batch of leftovers.
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1.5 lb ground turkey breast
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 14 oz can of stewed tomatoes, Italian style (if you can find them)
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup oregano, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup basil, finely chopped
- 2 cups mushroom caps, sliced
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- dash of balsamic vinegar
- generous pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large pot, then add garlic, onions and peppers and sauté until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Once the turkey has browned a little, add the crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes and red wine and let it simmer for about at least an hour, up to two.
Meanwhile, prepare the salad and dressing (do not dress until just before serving), make the croutons, have a glass of wine, chop the mushrooms, zucchini and herbs, have another glass of wine.
About 30 minutes before the sauce is ready, heat a nonstick skillet with a small amount of olive oil or spray. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and sauté for about five minutes. Add them to the pot of sauce with the fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for another 2o-30 minutes. At this time you can also boil a large pot of water for the pasta.
Add the pasta when the water is boiling and cook until a little al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pot of sauce, stirring and mixing until all the pasta is coated with sauce. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese and red wine. We selected two under $20 Cabernets that I had never tried: 2010 Educated Guess and a 2010 Angulo Innocenti Argentina Cab. Both were ripe with fruit, not too tannic or acidic, and pretty smooth for young Cabernets. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the wine was for the spectators, not MM and Loosh.
Sorry for the mediocre pasta photo… I could barely take a photo before it was all served and gobbled up. For the leftovers that we have, tonight I plan to transfer is to a ceramic baking dish and top with shredded parmesan, pieces of fresh mozzarella and Italian seasoning. You can also bury some smaller pieces of mozzarella into the pasta. Then bake at 400 degrees until the cheese starts to brown (about 30 minutes), creating of delicious pasta casserole. Should be pretty good for a post-Ironman dinner, and now I don’t feel bad about all the leftovers.