Pasta: dieter's friend or foe?

Q: I recently ate at a restaurant that offers a low-fat pasta primavera with a lemon-flavored sauce. It was delightful! How would I recreate this sauce? When I experiment, it turns out too thin and bland. I am trying to avoid the fatty cream sauces and eat a healthful diet.

A: Whenever I scan a restaurant menu and see cream in the pasta primavera sauce, I want to scream! When are chefs going to realize that primavera catches folks’ attention because it is – or can be – a low-fat pasta? The cream sauce is an automatic turn-off, because it heaps a ton of fat onto an otherwise healthful meal.

From your question, it sounds like you found an enlightened chef who knows how to pour on flavor with little fat. Personally, I love to cook pasta primavera with aromatic broths. But if a lemony touch is what you’re after, I’ll give you a speedy version of lemon-scented pasta and vegetables, adapted from a recipe that I have been cooking.

Yes, this is a broth recipe. But the boiling and steaming concentrates the flavors and starch from the cooking pasta naturally thickens the broth to a texture that nappes, or coats, the vegetables and angel hair.

Fresh basil and garlic broth can create a heady bowl of pasta. For a quick tomato broth, combine vegetable broth with a can of diced tomatoes. Some brands of canned tomatoes feature flavors like “roasted garlic.” Use these for a quick weeknight pasta primavera without much fuss. A few drops of extra-virgin olive oil to sauté the vegetables will prime the flavor.

Experiment with fat-free canned broths, fresh herbs, flavored fat-free sauces and seasoning mixes. And don’t be afraid to mix fresh vegetables with frozen vegetables for convenience; frozen sugar snap peas are a perfect primavera candidate.

Have fun and enjoy pasta and vegetables the way they were meant to be – luscious and low-fat.

Lemon-Scented Pasta Primavera

  • 2 1/2 cans (14.5 oz) fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh or frozen lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt-free lemon-pepper seasoning mixture
  • 1/4 tsp Spanish saffron (optional)
  • 1 c (heaping) peeled baby carrots
  • 1 c (heaping) fresh or frozen whole green beans
  • 1 c (heaping) frozen broccoli florettes
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut 1 1/2 inches
  • 4 fresh plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
  • 12 oz angel hair pasta, broken in half
  • 2 tbsp shredded Romano cheese

In a large skillet, combine chicken broth, lemon juice and lemon pepper. (Add saffron, if using.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add carrots, beans, broccoli and scallions to broth. Stir, cover and cook 4 minutes. Add tomatoes. Stir, cover and cook 1 minute. Remove vegetables to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep warm.

Add broken angel hair to simmering broth and stir. Cover and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a pasta fork, remove pasta to a serving bowl. Spoon vegetables over pasta. Pour hot broth over vegetables and pasta. Top with Romano cheese.Serves 4.

What is your thought?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.