Pasta Primavera Showcases Spring’s Bounty

Once April arrives, nature has usually gone from teasing us with hints of spring to exulting us with actual evidence of the season’s arrival. Flowers and trees are blooming, birds are chirping and the markets showcase the season’s glorious harvest. Anytime a recipe includes the word “primavera” (from the Italian and Spanish “spring”) in its title, you can be assured that its ingredients and flavors will hint of spring. This Pasta Primavera is such a dish, including, among other vegetables, two of spring’s greatest offerings—asparagus and snap peas.

Garlic may be one of the oldest medicinal foods on the planet. Thought to prevent blood clots and decrease the risk of colon and other cancers, garlic has important anti-oxidant properties. Garlic’s benefits have been documented in many studies, but it has many culinary advantages as well. It enhances other seasonings and flavors when used in dishes like this one.

All of the vegetables in this recipe are low in calories and high in nutrients. Asparagus contains calcium, potassium, beta carotene and vitamins A and B; it is also high in fiber and extremely low in calories. Similarly, snap peas and green beans have lots of minerals and vitamins. When very fresh, they are delicious raw. When cooked, they’re best steamed or boiled very lightly to preserve their crispness and nutritious value.

Pasta Primavera - Makes 6 servings.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 lb. fresh snap peas, halved diagonally, or 1 package (10 oz.) frozen
1/2 lb. asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 cup green beans cut diagonally in half
3/4 lb. whole-grain pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and saute until golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and broth and cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add basil and red onion, cover and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, fill a pot large enough to hold all the vegetables with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add vegetables and cook 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a colander. Use the cooking water to cook the pasta according to package directions.

While pasta cooks, briefly rinse the vegetables with cold water, drain and add to the pan containing the tomato mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and put aside.

Drain cooked pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl. Toss pasta with 3 tablespoons of Parmesan, then stir in the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and serve.

Per serving: 326 calories, 7 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 57 g. carbohydrate, 14 g. protein, 12 g. dietary fiber, 101 mg. sodium.

The Author:

AICR’s Nutrition Hotline is a free service that allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. Access it on-line at www.aicr.org/hotline or by phone (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers. It has provided more than $86 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is www.aicr.org.

Article Source: Aicr.org

Article Posted: April 16, 2007

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