Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Simplicity and intense flavor characterize this week’s recipe. Featuring whole-grain pasta combined with sun-dried tomatoes and crunchy pine nuts, it’s an unexpected and welcome change from the usual spaghetti with red sauce. With a touch of red pepper, this hearty dish is the perfect choice to warm you up on a cool autumn day. It also makes great leftovers.

Although the true origins of pasta are as slippery as spaghetti itself, one thing is certain: Italy’s climate provides the perfect setting for growing durum wheat – a hard wheat that produces semolina, the primary ingredient for dried pasta. Dried pasta became popular in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as it could be stored easily on ships, including those setting out to explore the New World.

Those long arduous journeys of early explorers are also credited with introducing the tomato, native to South and Central America, to the Mediterranean coast. The plant was thought to be discovered by the Spanish explorer Cortez in the early 1500s. Conventional wisdom is that he brought seeds back to Europe where they were planted as ornamental curiosities, but not eaten. The first indications of tomatoes as a food source only date back to the first half of the 18th century. Sun dried tomatoes, which now line the shelves at gourmet supermarkets, were originally introduced as a means of preservation.

This week’s dish features fettuccine or “little ribbons” in Italian. These robust pasta strips are thick enough to hold the hearty sun-dried tomato sauce. Be sure to choose a whole-wheat variety as they typically have two to three times the fiber content of regular enriched pasta.

Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes - Makes 5 servings.

1 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed dry – not in oil
1 cup boiling water
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 pound whole-grain fettuccine
1 oz. freshly ground Parmesan cheese

Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat in small skillet. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned. Place in small bowl and set aside.

Place tomatoes in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over them and let them soak until tender. Drain tomatoes, reserving the liquid Coarsely chop tomatoes and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, chopped tomatoes, salt, red and black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir frequently until garlic is browned. Add the reserved tomato liquid to the mix.

Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta and gently, but thoroughly, toss with sauce and stir until liquid is absorbed. Top each serving with equal amounts of pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Makes 5 servings.

Per serving: 300 calories, 12 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 38 g carbohydrate, 12 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 450 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: October 8, 2008

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