The Picky Eater’s Red Pasta [guest post]

Posted on 05 April 2011 by Mădălina

Anjali, the blogger behind The Picky Eater, stops by Duh-licious to share one of her healthy recipes: Red Pasta.

. . .
Anjali and I met last Novemeber at the Foodbuzz Conference in San Franciscio. We’ve been talking about collaborating since, but our schedules were at a conflict; her post just confirms that good things are worth waiting for. She creates healthy, family approved, husband tested recipes– I need to take a page from her book.

Read on for Anjali’s recipe, and then head over to her website to check out more amazing (and healthy) recipes.
. . .

Hi Everyone! My name is Anjali and I blog about delicious, healthy food at The Picky Eater.

I’m so excited to be a guest blogger today on Madalina’s site! Ever since I met her at the Foodbuzz Conference last year and saw the amazing photographs on her blog, I’ve been a fan – and I’m so honored to be a part of this blog and meet all of you.

One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to make healthy versions of comfort food that taste amazing, are full of flavor and feel just like the original. Today, I thought I’d share my version of Penne Arrabiata – a traditional Italian dish that’s a favorite of my husband’s but is usually made with refined pasta, oil, and tons of cheese. I call it my “Rich, Rustic, Red Pasta”!

So what makes this version of pasta healthier than the original? I made a few quick and easy swaps/additions that amp up the nutritional punch and only add to the amazing flavor:

  • Whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta: adds a rich, nutty taste to the dish, and tons more fiber
  • Add veggies! I chose sliced red peppers, red onion and grape tomatoes in keeping with the “red” theme
  • Less olive oil, more seasonings: I added garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and oregano – and used about 1 Tbsp olive oil to sauté the veggies
  • Healthier cheese swaps – I added fat free ricotta (gives the sauce a creaminess without adding a lot of fat) and regular shredded Parmesan (because sometimes you have to stick to the original!)

Here are the ingredients I used:

I love how bright and colorful the veggies are in this dish: here are the sliced red peppers, onions and tomatoes, ready to be sautéed with garlic and olive oil

  • Whole wheat pasta (1-2 cups)
  • Prepared pasta sauce (but make sure you get really good quality pasta sauce with no sugar added and all natural ingredients)
  • ¼ cup fat free Ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 box grape tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (divided)
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

And now for the directions:

Step 1: Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, sauté the red peppers, tomatoes, red onions with 3 cloves garlic and 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat

Step 2: Once the vegetables have been cooking for ~5 min, add the oregano, 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, and salt & pepper to taste (don’t forget about the salt & pepper!)

Step 3: As the vegetables are cooking, start pressing on some of the grape tomatoes until they “explode” and their rich juices meld with the olive oil, garlic and other vegetables to make a rich, creamy base for the veggies.

Step 4: Heat the prepared pasta sauce, add 1 clove minced garlic and 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, along with salt & pepper to taste. Stir in ¼ cup ricotta cheese into the sauce until it has melted completely and combined. Toss the cooked pasta with your amazingly delicious sauce.

Step 5: Top the pasta with a healthy serving of veggies and ~1 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

How good does that look? This dish is savory, spicy and amazingly – still good for you! It was also incredibly easy to make – the whole operation didn’t take longer than 30-45 min. My husband couldn’t tell the difference between this dish and a traditional Arrabiata pasta, and he loved it (success!). We enjoyed our dinner with a glass of white wine which balanced out the complex flavors of the pasta perfectly.

. . .

You can read more about Anjali, her recipes, and her healthy living tips by visiting The Picky Eater, or by following her on Facebook and Twitter (@pickyeaterblog)


Leave a Reply