The smell of pork belly tacos blended with aromas from some 20 tasting booths at the American Heart Association’s Flavors of the Heart food festival in Las Vegas on Aug. 20. Gourmet recipes were adapted for healthy living in specialties ranging from seafood and sushi to Mexican and Italian inside the Las Vegas World Market Center.
“We’re trying to change the perception that heart healthy foods are boring and bland,” said Suzette Dacuag (pictured right), the American Heart Association volunteer who helped organize the event. The multicultural food fest educated both the community and local chefs about heart healthy dishes. The recipe featured below and those used at the event were not certified by the American Heart Association as heart-healthy but illustrated a wide variety of options. Among the noted participants were Chef Anthony Vidal, who prepared the taco recipe, and Chef Mario Andreoni, who created heart shaped ravioli with roasted vegetables.
“People always worry about pork,” said Chef Anthony (left). “I want them to know they can eat pork and be healthy.” For him, the connection between healthy eating and better living is personal because he has high blood pressure and a family history of heart-related illnesses. He gets his daily exercise at his restaurant, Hash House A Go Go, since he is on his feet and on the go for most of the day. But, the New York native loves his breads and pastas.
Chef Anthony says he realized that the heart healthy food promoted by the event would be the same food that would help him get healthy. He challenged himself to make a dish that he liked and would also be good for his heart. He came up with the lean pork belly tacos, stuffed with organic lettuce and garnished by soy cheese and organic sour cream.
Chef Mario (right) of Panevino Ristorante used basic ingredients like organic zucchini, fresh spinach, sea salt and canola oil to create his Italian themed sample dish for the event – heart shaped ravioli with roasted vegetables.
“It used to be easy for us to get organic foods,” Chef Mario said of his culinary beginnings in Italy. “Why would we not do it the way it used to be? People, realize you have to eat better to feel better.” Here is Chef Mario’s tasty recipe –
Heart Shape Roasted Vegetable Ravioli in a fresh tomato sauce
Ingredients for the filling:
|½ cup||Yellow squash|
|½ ea||Yellow Onion|
|1 tbs||Chopped Garlic|
|1 ea||Roasted Red Bell Pepper|
|1 ea||Roasted Roma Tomatoes|
|1 oz.||Fresh basil|
|½ cup||100% organic Canola Oil|
For the Pasta:
|13 oz.||Organic flour|
|3 oz.||Regular flour|
|2 oz.||Fresh blend Spinach|
For the sauce:
|½ cup||diced Celery|
|½ cup||diced Carrot|
|¼ cup||diced Onion|
|½ tbs||chopped Basil|
|½ tbs||chopped Garlic|
|Salt to taste|
|3 tbs||100% organic Canola Oil|
|1 can (3lbs)||San Marzano style Roma Tomatoes|
Step #1 -- For the filling, dice and roast all of the vegetables in organic Canola oil. Put in a strainer to drain extra oil. Set aside.
Step #2 -- For the pasta, blend fresh blanched spinach in a blender with a little water and combine into a mixing bowl with the organic flour with regular flour and salt. Let the mixture rest for approximately 20 minutes.
Step #3 -- To assemble the Ravioli, roll the fresh pasta into very thin sheets, brush pasta sheet with water. Fill the vegetable mixture into a pastry bag and fill the pasta. Cut the ravioli into desired shape.
Step # 4 -- Cook the ravioli in salted boiling water, remove from the water after approximately 3 minutes.
Step #5 -- Saute the Celery, Carrot, Onion, Basil, Garlic, Salt and Pepper with the Canola Oil until vegetables are tender, add Roma Tomatoes and let simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth in texture.
Step #6 -- Combine the cooked ravioli with the fresh tomato sauce, add chopped fresh basil and drizzle with the organic canola oil.