A quick trip on the Noodles Express

It’s a good thing Dana McCauley’s pregnancy didn’t bring on a craving for pickles and ice cream. Instead, she got hooked on the wonderfully varied noodle dishes she found in the many ethnic restaurants of her Toronto neighbourhood. A classically trained chef, McCauley turned her cravings into Noodles Express (Random House of Canada), a cookbook perfectly suited for health conscious folks who want to spend more time eating than cooking.

Like the multicultural city around her that has drawn a new excitement and character from the diversity within, McCauley has taken the flavour of those ethnic dishes and come up with some novel and very tasty dishes of her own. (Vegetarian purists should note that although there’s no meat in her recipes, she does use dairy products or the odd splash of fish sauce.)

This is one cookbook that will ease you into cooking with unfamiliar ingredients. Although McCauley helpfully includes alternates you can include in the recipes, it’s a good bet you’ll find what you need on your local supermarket shelves. The recipes are uncomplicated, mostly low in fat, and inviting – who could resist trying “Skoo-bi-do rapini with pine nuts and currants,” colourful “Ruby stained fusilli with lemon and dill,” or even “Plaid noodles?” If you’re a lover of ultra-cheesy macaroni and cheese, she’s also included a 15-minute recipe for “Quick skillet macaroni and cheese.”

Got a busy evening planned and little time to prepare a nourishing meal? Flip through Noodles Express and choose a recipe the fits the cooking time you have available – 15, 30 or 45 minutes. In fact, putting together a noodle supper from scratch will probably take less time than you’d need to cook a meal that came straight from your grocer’s frozen section.