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Vegetarian Black Bean Pasta with Smoked Pomodoro *As Seen On Daytime @ Nine*

I shared this dish on a Halloween foodie segment on Daytime @ Nine, our local news lifestyle show here in San Antonio. I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to make Halloween food healthy, spooky, appetizing, and fun. After researching recipes on the internet and experimenting with ingredients, I found that black bean pasta worked out perfect because it resembles stringy witch hair. The black and green olives look like eyeballs, and the tomato pomodoro can pass as blood. Cool, right? Somewhat Halloween-esque? But do you want to know something even cooler? This black bean pasta has a whopping 25 grams of protein, only 17 grams of carbs, and a mere 5 grams of sugar! Talk about healthy alternative eating!

What I love most about this dish is that the flavors pop and blend perfectly together! Of course I added a bit of sass by throwing in smoked paprika and lemon zest, even so this dish is one for everyone! Feel free to prepare it for Meatless Monday! And if you're a vegetarian, get ready to fall in love! Enjoy sassy fam!

YIELDS: 4 Servings

TIME: 25-30 Minutes

Ingredients 1/8 cup olive oil or avocado oil, divided 1 medium yellow onion, medium diced 4 garlic cloves, minced 4-5 cups of sweet grape tomatoes 2-3 teaspoons of Himalayan salt, divided 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, divided 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika 1 1/2 tablespoons of white vinegar 1/2 teaspoon of real maple syrup, raw honey, or truvia Zest and juice of one small lemon, divided 1 box of Explore Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti 5-7 black olives, sliced in half 5-7 green olives, sliced in half 4-5 fresh mozzarella cheese chunks, sliced in half 1/2 bunch of basil, chiffonade Method 1. Cook the pasta as instructed on the box, but be sure to add a teaspoon of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper in the water. It is important to add oil so the pasta doesn't stick together. It's always good to add salt and pepper in pasta water because it flavors the pasta. This pasta cooks fairly quickly so keep an eye on it so it doesn't turn to mush. After the pasta is drained and you've rinsed it under cold water, add a dash of salt, pepper, olive oil, and zest and juice of only one half of the lemon. Set aside. 2. Chop the garlic and onions as listed above. 3. Place a large saucepan (skillet) over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil. Allow the oil to spread over the surface of the pan. 4. Add the onions and sauté until very soft, fragrant, and caramelized. Be sure to stir so the onions don't burn and clump. Feel free to lower the heat just a tad. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. 5. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic. Stir the garlic around so it doesn't burn otherwise it ruins the flavor. Add another pinch of salt and pepper. 6. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stir. Add the honey, vinegar, smoked paprika, and the remaining salt & pepper. Once the pomodoro sauce boils, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes soften and eventually crush. You can even crush the tomatoes with a spoon. 7. While the sauce is simmering, slice the olives, chop the fresh mozzarella chunks, and 8. Taste the sauce and add a little more salt and pepper as needed. Take the sauce off the heat and add the other half of fresh lemon zest and juice. 9. Garnish the pasta with the pomodoro sauce, fresh mozzarella, olives, and basil!

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