Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pasta Perfect

This was my lunch today. Pictured are the leftovers which might become Neil's dinner tonight. He would have had this portion but decided to go out for lunch.
This is a favorite recipe of mine handed down from a friend who made this for us one night while having dinner at their home.
And, as usual, I have "tweeked" it using what I have on hand.
The original recipe calls it "Tuscan style Tortellini with asparagus and I believe it might have come from a Donna Hay cookbook which my friend collects.

It is made without meat but I have added chicken to her recipe, as Neil is very fond of meat dishes. I on the other hand, do not mind enjoying a meatless meal once in awhile.
This time, I used what I had on hand, that being some zucchini and as well as asparagus.
So here is the "tweeked" version.

Pasta with Asparagus.
Measure out 2 oz. dry pasta per person.
I used small bow tie simply because I like to use funky shapes for this dish but you can also buy a package of tortellini and use that.
(just a note, the box indicated 2oz. is equal to 200 calories, in case you are interested)
Cook as directed, drain. Set aside in a large bowl.
Take 1 lb. asparagus, trim ends and cut into 1" pieces and blanch in boiling water. Drain and add to bowl with pasta.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. butter. ( I just want to interject here that if you should decide you need meat, this is where you add your chopped chicken breast and do cook it well before you add your veg. )
Otherwise, add to the pan, one green and one yellow zucchini chopped into 1/2 " slices. Saute for 2 minutes. Then add to it, the zest from one lemon, along with the juice, 1/4 tsp. red pepper, salt & pepper and 6 0z. of milk.*
(again, the original recipe used cream and so you can but I used organic 1 % milk and once it boiled down the flavor was just as good.) ( sometimes I use cream :-) it does make it better.)
Once the milk has boiled down, thickening the sauce, stir in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Dump the sauce into the bowl that holds the pasta and asparagus. Stir to combine.
Serve on plate with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Serves 2 for dinner.
Serves 4 for a side (which then means that you are consuming only 100 calories instead of the 200 calories from the 2 oz. portion of pasta.
There you go.

This is a great meatless dish.
Portioning out the dry pasta before cooking it has really been a vast lesson in learning portion control.
We do not eat pasta that often at least not like we used to in the University day when it was a cheap meal. We learned sadly that this is one carb you really need to control and I have gotten much better. For instance, I have learned to use only a few sheets of lasagna noodles for one pan instead of the amount the recipe calls for.
I often use slices of eggplant and zucchini as an alternative or in addition to the noodles.

This is also a quick dish to make and if you do not have asparagus on hand, then use some other kind of veg. Peppers for instance, tri-coloured, green, red and yellow.
Makes a nice lunch dish for Autumn.
Yeah, I am still thinking Autumn.

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