Posts Tagged 'pasta'

Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins

Greens are not part of my culinary heritage. Mother didn’t cook greens – kale, chard, and collards were alien to her northern European Jewish background. She occasionally cooked spinach – not fresh but canned or frozen and cooked until vaguely slimy. I have fond memories of mixing slimy spinach with mashed potatoes to make it more palatable.

But I recently bought fresh beets, which were attached to, of all things, beet greens.

Now I have heard that beet greens are a delicacy, although I have never prepared them. Most of the recipes I found seemed to be for salad-y dishes.  But it’s getting a trifle cold for salad, and I wanted to use the greens for something heartier. This recipe, from Cooking Light, matched ingredients that I already had in the house (often a significant motivator for cooking a particular dish). I confess that the combination seemed a little odd: greens, raisins, pasta and nuts?  But it was surprisingly delicious, And also relatively quick to make.

Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins

8 ounces uncooked ditalini (small pasta).  I used mini farfelle (bow ties)
¼ cup raisins
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped trimmed beet greens
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ teaspoon  salt
1/8 teaspoon  black pepper
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

While pasta cooks, place raisins in a small bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain.

While pasta cooks and raisins soak, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic (I also added the almonds here so I didn’t toast them separately); sauté 3 minutes or until greens are tender. Stir in pasta, drained raisins, almonds (unless you have added them before), salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; toss with cooked pasta to combine. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper, if desired.  Makes 4 servings at about 9 grams of fat/serving.


Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce

My darling daughter gave me a basket of organic gourmet mushrooms for Mothers’ Day.  What a great gift!  Much better than flowers or chocolate.  There are two pounds of exotic  mushrooms.  The first thing I did was pull off a handful of them and put them under a chicken breast I was baking for dinner.  Then I started to research recipes.

But first, meet the mushrooms.  They aren’t exactly your store bought button mushrooms:

The mushrooms on the left are Brown Clamshell. Those are the mushrooms I put under the chicken breast.  Directly to their right are Velvet Pioppini, which has an intense forest flavor. Above them are Forest Namekos, which are really odd. They have a naturally shiny glaze and are gold colored.  The big mushrooms are Trumpet Royales, and above them are Alba Clamshells.  Except for the Royales, they all come in clumps.  You eat the stems as well as the caps on these mushrooms.

I used the Brown Clamshells, a few of the Pioppini, and a couple of Royales in this recipe.  If you don’t  happen to have a basket of gourmet mushrooms, you can buy exotic mushroom blends at some groceries, or try a mix of shitake mushroom caps and cremini mushrooms.  The original recipe, from Cooking Light, called for using whipping cream instead of the fat free half and half.  This would make a richer recipe, at 11.5 grams of fat/serving.  I wanted something lower in fat so that I could take leftovers for lunch. I found this preparation to still be very rich and flavorful – I think the whipping cream would make it overwhelming.

Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce

½ pound uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
½ Tablespoon butter
6 ounces exotic mushroom blend, sliced
¼ cup chopped onion
¼  cup finely chopped shallots
½ Tablespoon minced garlic
¾  teaspoon  salt, divided (I used sea salt)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup fat free half and half
¼ cup  (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, shallots, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper; cook 12 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add the cooked pasta, fat free half and half, cheese, and parsley, tossing gently to coat. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.. Serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings at about 5.3 grams of fat/serving.

farfalle with mushroom

Pasta Salad with Sweet Lime Chili Sauce

Another potluck.  This time they said bring a salad or side dish that is “dairy” – contains no meat.  To complicate things, I had to run errands before the gathering, and was going to a jazz concert after, so It couldn’t be a hot dish, and leftovers would have to be able to survive in the car for a couple of hours.  Since it is very cold, I wasn’t really worried about spoilage.   And of course, it had to meet my standard potluck principle of being something I could eat at the potluck to avoid the fatty dishes others brought, and the leftovers would be ok to eat without being too high fat.

I decided on a pasta salad with a Thai flavor so it would be a little different, but easy to transport. This was also good as a leftover for lunch, when I added little cooked shrimp to it one day, and tuna the next.

Pasta Salad with Sweet Lime Chili Sauce

1 pound small pasta (see Note)
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 colored pepper, chopped coarsely
2 Tablespoons dried flaked onions
¼ cup cilantro, chopped


1/3  cup  fresh lime juice
2  tablespoons  Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
2  Tablespoons  sugar
1/4  cup  finely shredded peeled carrot
1/2  teaspoon  Thai-style chili paste
1  tablespoon  chopped fresh mint
1  tablespoon  chopped fresh cilantro

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Rinse under cold water and allow to drain completely.   Toss pasta with remaining salad ingredients (tomatoes through cilantro). To make dressing, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour over pasta and toss thoroughly. Makes 8 1½  cup servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.

NOTE: You can use any kind of small pasta you’d like – orzo, little shells, small macaroni, etc.  I was originally planning to use small shells until I found adorable mini farfalle (bow ties), which I thought gave the salad an interesting look.

VARIATION: I made this salad milder and sweeter than I might have if I wasn’t taking it to a potluck.  If you want to give it a real Thai kick, reduce the sugar to 2 teaspoons, and increase the chili paste to 1 teaspoon – or more to taste.


Tomato Basil Noodle Bake

I have been growing basil and cilantro in pots on a high deck where the deer can’t reach them. Normally, they treat my gardening efforts as a salad bar, but without their predations my herbs have grown heartily. The Thai Basil was so beautiful that I’m not eating it, just growing it ornamentally.

Of course, now I’m drowning in basil – until I came across this recipe from Coconut and Lime. She created it to use up leftover spaghetti and an abundance of cherry tomatoes. I didn’t have leftover spaghetti, but I did have three opened bags of No-Yolks fine noodles with small amounts of noodles that could be combined (I really should check the pasta shelf before I open new bags). I also had overbought grape tomatoes, so I needed to use them before they turned into mush.

Tomato Basil Noodle Bake

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups egg substitute
4 strips of turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
3 1/2 cups (not packed) cooked fine no yolk noodles
1 cup of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 F, Spray an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together eggs, egg substitute, bacon, tomatoes, basil, parmesan cheese, and pepper. Add noodles and mix ingredients so that tomatoes and basil are distributed throughout the mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot. Cut into 4 or six servings, depending on what you are have with it to round out the meal. 6 servings is about 4.5 grams of fat/serving; 4 servings is about 6.75 grams of fat/serving

Variation: You could easily leave out the bacon, and it would make a nice vegetarian dish. This would reduce the fat gram count by about 1 gram/serving.

I’m also going to try this with low-fat Swiss cheese one day soon. The basil is still growing vigorously.

The original recipe described this as a breakfast dish, but to me it was more lunch or dinner-like. I took the smaller serving for lunch, heating it in the office microwave for about a minute.

But it really shined as a dinner dish with spaghetti sauce over it. This was a peppery sauce with virtually no fat in it, but I think any red sauce would taste great, as long as you accounted for the fat grams in the sauce in your serving..

Hint: I freeze leftover spaghetti sauce in 1 cup containers so I have small amounts when I need them.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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