Pasta, dear pasta, why oh why do you get such a bum rap? Especially when you are so tasty and go with most everything?? Surely you are not as bad as “they” say???
Truth be told, pasta really isn’t that unhealthy (e.g. bad). What makes pasta bad is us, both figuratively and literally. On the figurative side, many of us demonize carbs regardless of their source. On the literal side, many of us add unhealthy ingredients and/or eat too much. Yes, pasta isn’t a low carbohydrate food, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be part of a healthy lifestyle and/or a balanced diet. The reality is that pasta can be complimentary to any healthy diet, particularly when it is made from whole grains, legumes, or similar complex-carbohydrate and/or protein-rich sources; when it is complimented by healthy ingredients; and when the consumed portions are sized appropriately.
The following recipe, in part, pays tribute to my recent trip to Italy, during which I gained a renewed appreciation for pasta. More importantly, it highlights the fact that pasta can be a great, tasty, and healthy addition to most anyone’s, if not everyone’s, meal plans. Here it is, recipe numero ventinove:
SWEET PEPPER PENNE (makes ~6-8 servings)
Ingredients: 1 box whole wheat penne pasta, 4 mini sweet peppers, 1/4-1/2 sweet onion, 4 large garlic cloves, 1 lemon, 1 lime, ~1-2 tablespoons olive oil, ~1 teaspoon garlic powder, ~ 3/4-1 tablespoon lemon pepper (sea) salt (optional: leafy vegetable stems)
Preparation: Start preparing the entire box of pasta according to the listed directions.
With that underway, wash and de-stem/seed mini sweet peppers. Chop and peel 1/4 (if using leafy vegetable stems) or 1/2 sweet onion (if not using leafy vegetable stems). Chop tops and peel 4 large garlic cloves. Dice/process peppers, onion, and garlic. Place in saute pan and add juice from 1 lime (tip: cover with pan lid that fits inside pan). Saute using low flame/heat, stirring as needed. (optional: Add leafy green vegetable stems to saute. I used swiss chard, rapini mustards, kale, and beet tops’ stems because I prepared another dish using the leafy parts of those greens. Wash and dice/process/saute along with other veggies.)
Here’s my pre-saute veggie mix (finished dish is pictured above):
When pasta reaches desired doneness remove heat, strain, and replace in pan. Add juice of 1 lemon, ~1-2 tablespoons olive oil, ~1 teaspoon garlic powder, and ~3/4-1 tablespoon lemon pepper (sea) salt. Stir. Add sautéed peppers, garlic, and onion (and vegetable stems if used) to pasta and stir. Enjoy!