Wednesday, August 5, 2009


One of my favorite comfort foods is a pasta dish paired with a good cold beer or a nice bottle of red wine, depending on the weather. I'm really working hard to incorporate more fresh veggies into our diet and eat a little less meat. I checked my newly favorite recipe site, and found her Mom's recipe for Pasta Primavera. It had all my favorite things , what I wanted(pasta and a little cheese) and what I needed (veggies and less salt). This was a big hit on all sides! Really tasty, and by using whole grain rotini, I felt even better about our healthy meal. Add an ice cold beer and some fresh fruit, and I was a happy CKS.

Mom's Pasta Primavera Recipe


4 cups of mixed vegetables, for example:
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 2x1/2-inch strips
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 small eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 bell pepper, any color, cut into thin strips

3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence
A sprinkling of garlic salt
1/4 cup of spaghetti, marinara, or tomato sauce
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound pasta (use rice pasta for wheat-free version)
Grated Parmesan (optional)


1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for your pasta).

2 Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the vegetables, stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until vegetables are just cooked. Turn off heat, but let pan stay on the burner.

3 While you are cooking the vegetables, add the dry pasta to the boiling water and follow the cooking instructions for the pasta. You want to time it so that the pasta is done soon after the vegetables.

4 Add a 1/4 cup of the spaghetti, marinara, or tomato sauce to the vegetables, along with 1/4 cup of water to thin the sauce. If you are using a prepared spaghetti or marinara sauce, you don't need to add much seasoning, just a 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence, a few sprinkles of garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. If you are using a plain tomato sauce, you might want to start out cooking the vegetables by cooking a minced clove of garlic first, and then adding the vegetables, and then add a bit more of the seasoning (to taste). Spaghetti and marinara sauce are already seasoned.

5 Once the pasta is ready - cooked but still a bit firm, or al dente - drain the pasta and put it directly into the skillet with the vegetables. Adjust seasoning. Add more sauce if needed. Gently mix in the cherry tomatoes.

Serves 4. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan, if you like. A little bit of chopped fresh basil would go nicely with this as well.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cool Pasta Salad

I don't normally gravitate toward pasta salads but I found this recipe when I was looking for things that traveled well and didn't require heavy refrigeration for a camping trip recently.

The Pesto is low-cal since it doesn't contain any dairy. That's right, no cheese. Aside from the fresh herbs, this pesto gets it's big flavor boost from freshly toasted walnuts.

The recipe works perfect for a hot summer night dinner, and also packs well for an easy lunch. I enjoy the salad much better after it has slightly chilled.

I spent about five minutes in the pasta isle at the grocery store trying to decide between whole wheat pasta and regular. I finally chose whole wheat and it was delicious. I also added yellow cherry tomatoes in addition to the red ones which added an extra element of taste and flavor. The kalamata olives are an essential ingredient complimenting the sweetness of the tomatoes and nuttiness of the pesto with their own salty contribution.

Chicken and Farfalle Salad with Walnut Pesto

Total time: 26 minutes. To make sure the walnut pesto ingredients are evenly minced, stop the food processor halfway through processing, and scrape down the sides.

2 cups uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta; about 6 ounces)
2 cups cubed cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives

Walnut Pesto:
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove

Remaining ingredient:
4 curly leaf lettuce leaves

To prepare salad, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; rinse with cold water. Combine pasta, chicken, tomatoes, and olives in a large bowl.

To prepare walnut pesto, combine basil and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; pulse 6 times or until finely minced. Add pesto to pasta mixture, tossing gently to coat. Place 1 lettuce leaf on each of 4 plates; top each serving with salad mixture.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups salad and 1 lettuce leaf)

CALORIES 374 (30% from fat); FAT 12.5g (sat 2g,mono 5.5g,poly 3.9g); IRON 3.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 60mg; CALCIUM 62mg; CARBOHYDRATE 36.3g; SODIUM 393mg; PROTEIN 29.4g; FIBER 3g