By Diane Rossen Worthington
Food trends come and go. Pasta got a bad rap when carbohydrates became our enemy. If you talk to nutritionists, they will tell you carbs are an important part of our diet but with some caveats. The most important one is eating pasta in moderation. Smaller size portions are one of the keys to guiltless enjoyment. And, of course, it depends upon the sauce. Heavy butter, cream and cheese sauces are not on this pasta menu. San Marzano tomatoes are recommended for their sweet flavor, low acidity and deep red color in many of the sauces.
According to authors Joseph Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, in their new book “Healthy Pasta: The Sexy, Skinny, and Smart Way to Eat Your Favorite Food” ($26.95, Knopf), pasta should be a staple in your kitchen. So how can we enjoy pasta that we crave in a healthy and satisfying way? This sibling duo has answered the question with a collection of incredibly delicious recipes all under 500 calories.
“Healthy Pasta” brings pasta back into our diet in a celebratory way. You’ll learn a lot from the Bastianichs’ book like what’s a reasonable serving size, what kind of tomatoes are best, lighter cooking techniques, different types of pasta and much more. All of their recipes use ingredients that maximize the flavor and minimize the fat content. One thing you will notice is that they use pasta water to flavor and add volume to many of their sauces. Think dishes like gnocchi with broccolini, spaghetti primavera and spaghetti with turkey meatballs.
This recipe is a prime example of how to cut calories without sacrificing flavor. A colorful mixture of vegetables and just a handful of flavorful sausage are the secret to this tasty dish. The authors advise to let the vegetables wilt slowly to bring out their inherent sweet, garden flavor. Begin with a lightly citrus dressed arugula salad with tangerines and toasted almonds.
Bucatini with Sausage and Peppers
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
8 Ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage (2 links), removed from casings
1 Large onion, sliced
1 Medium red bell
1 Medium yellow bell
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 C. dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Sicilian on the branch
• Kosher salt
• Crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. bucatini
1/2 c. fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 c. freshly grated Grana Padano (or Parmesan )
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Add the sausage. Cook and crumble with a wooden spoon until the sausage is well browned, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper and cook until wilted, about 8 minutes, adding a splash of pasta water if the pan seems dry at any point.
2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine and reduce, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 2 cups pasta water. Stir in the oregano and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until thick and flavorful, about 20 minutes.
3. When the sauce is almost ready, add the bucatini to the boiling water. When the pasta is al dente, remove it with tongs and add directly to the sauce, reserving the pasta water. Add the parsley. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce, adding a splash of pasta water if the pasta seems dry. Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with the grated Grana Padano, toss and serve.
Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at seriouslysimple.com.