A chef and a dietician walk into a cookbook…
Chef David Omar and dietitian Emily Mardell are each used to plying their culinary and dietary skills to worthwhile, community focused ends. Mardell has used her professional knowledge to help young mothers and this August will mark Omar’s third-year cooking with Feast on the Field.
Cheap, nutritious, and above all tasty recipes are what you can expect to find in a new and distinctly Canadian digital cookbook.
Omar and Mardell are two of the 15 top chefs and dietitians that have contributed to Out of the Box: Healthy Family Pasta Meals on a Budget, as part of Catelli Foods’ Feed the Hope initiative.
“It’s not just about emergency food relief,” says Mardell. “Food is a right, not a privilege. It’s recognizing that food should be appropriate both nutritionally, culturally, in terms of affordability, and it should be accessible for all.”
For every download, Catelli is donating a serving of pasta to a family in need through Canada’s food banks, with the goal being to reach one million families served.
Edmonton’s contribution comes from the team of Omar, Executive Chef at Zinc in the Art Gallery of Alberta, and Mardell. Their recipe combines Greek yogurt, asparagus and zucchini into a vegetarian bowtie pasta dish.
“I think it’s geared toward families, but pretty much anyone can use it,” says Omar. “I think it’s really beneficial to younger families, maybe students. People who are just looking for some cool new ideas. But of course, it’s a free download and it’s available for everybody and anybody who wants to download it.”
All 15 of the dishes contained in the book can be prepared for under $15, and are intended to feed a family of four.
A recent industry study, conducted on behalf of Catelli Foods, found that in the last five years, 93 percent of the 251 food banks surveyed had increased their focus on nutrition. With that in mind, the new cookbook has been rolled out both for a cost-effective meal, and part of an educational campaign. Omar and Mardell will be speaking with some of the city’s high school students in order to promote more nutritional food bank donations and more nutritious eating.
“I would say that it gave me an opportunity to shine a light on just the need for our foodbank,” says Mardell. “Usually everyone kind of thinks about the foodbank around September onward, kind of through the Christmas season there’s a big push. But the spring is such a big opportunity because we’re able to highlight nutrition as a part of that healthy food basket, and make the food baskets that are at the food bank more healthier [and] more enriched with local affordable, accessible food.”
If you plan on trying out their vegetarian bowtie pasta with Greek yogurt recipe for a family dinner or an in-home date night—Omar has some helpful advice.
“Sautee that onion and the garlic nice and slow, so the aromas come up and the onions soften up and become translucent. And then your harder vegetables in first, and softer vegetables to finish,” says Omar.
As for pairing, “Juice; I’d go a cranberry, soft cranberry or grape. Wine, I’d probably go with a crisp, cold chardonnay. If you like red then like a light pinot.”