Monday, June 13, 2011

PASTAbilities: Pasta Fake-Out

I love pasta as much as the next person but when the weather is hot, I want light meals, for the stomach and waistline. When I came across the technique of using vegetables to simulate pasta, I was so excited!

Why have you done a good thing?

When the weather gets hot and humid, nobody wants to turn on a hot oven, especially in an apartment. But salads get boring as a simple, no-cook meal. And kids sometimes are more likely to eat vegetables if they are interesting and more flavorful. Switching up your side dishes to vegetable varieties rather than starch based foods can help get you one step closer to making ½ your plate full of non-starchy vegetables to meet your fiber and vitamin/mineral requirement. Simple changes like this can also help with weight loss for the summer time. Eating more vegetables per meal can also help with hydration during the particularly hot days, especially if drinking water is tough for you.

Plus, as traditional pastas can add up with calories, you can eat a lot of this great pasta fake-out dish and it’s perfectly healthy. This is a great side dish for any week night supper:

Spring Vegetable Pasta Fake-Out (click here to print the recipe and grocery list)

2 yellow squash

2 zucchini

1 lb of asparagus, tips removed

2 tbsp good quality olive oil

1 small onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil

Using a vegetable peeler, shave each vegetable into thin ribbons. Discard core and seeds of squashes and zucchinis. Heat oil on low flame in large non-stick pan with garlic and onion (careful not to burn the garlic) for a couple of minutes. Add vegetables and season with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Cook until tender tossing with tongs, about 5 minutes. Remove from flame and gently toss in cheese. Serve immediately and top with basil.

Try other varieties using carrots or butternut squash/spaghetti squash in the Fall! Don’t want to give up pasta completely? I understand. Sometimes I make half this vegetable ribbon recipe and make the other half pappardelle or linguine.

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

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