Pasta, swordfish, eggplant — if you like all those, try this

Pasta is always a favorite for me, although these days I eat only multigrain pasta because of my heart issues. I normally make my own tomato sauce to avoid high-salt processed alternatives. But occasionally, I’ll try something without a traditional tomato sauce, like this fun-sounding dish, Sicilian Swordfish Pasta With Eggplant and Tomatoes.

Rigatoni with swordfish, eggplant and tomatoes.
Rigatoni with swordfish, eggplant and tomatoes.

Swordfish is a relatively healthy fish when it comes to the type of fat it contains, but eating large amounts of it could cause other problems since it’s a fish that can contain high levels of mercury (sorry, every food seems to have its ups and downs healthwise doesn’t it).

The recipe is fairly simple to make.

Step 1: Fry the Eggplant
Step 2: Infuse Oil With Garlic
Step 3: Add Swordfish and Cook
Step 4: Add Tomatoes, Wine, and Herbs
Step 5: Add Eggplant, Then Finish

For all the details, simply click here to go to the site where I found this recipe.

Pasta portions — the companies that sell it and Strega Nona disagree

When my children were young, I would read them the adventures of a character called Strega Nona. I loved the book because Strega Nona is Italian, the book was written by an Italian, and I hoped it would give my children a sense of their Italian side. It also had a goofy character named Big Anthony who remind me of my cousin Anthony, so it worked in so many ways.

Four ounces of pasta, before cooking.
Four ounces of pasta, before cooking.

Strega Nona had a magic pasta pot that could make as much pasta as she directed it, what Italian boy wouldn’t want one of those?

Pasta, which we actually called macaroni in my Italian-American home in Brooklyn, was a ubiquitous part of our weekly menu. It was always part of Sunday dinner and probably served at least one weekday every week as well.

Since my heart surgery in 2012, I’ve been told by nutritionists to stop eating regular pasta altogether and switch to whole grain and multigrain varieties. that’s meant almost no pasta at Italian restaurants anymore since so few offer whole grain varieties. So when I make the multigrain type at home, I tend to eat a lot of it, just like I did as a kid.

A box of Barilla whole grain penne says a portion size is two ounces, or 56 grams, of dry pasta. I can usually eat half a box which is 6.5 ounces,so I decided to measure out two ounces recently on my food scale to see how much it was.

Adjusting the scale to zero with a measuring cup on it, I started adding pasta. Two ounces didn’t even fill a one-cup container, so I ended up with four ounces on the scale, filling the cup and putting the rest on the scale itself.

Four ounces of pasta cooked. Barely filling my plate.
Four ounces of pasta cooked. Barely filling my plate.

I cooked that up and put it on my plate. What had been 4 ounces dry filled the plate, barely, but it did not really fill me. It left me wishing Strega Nona’s pasta pot was somewhere nearby.


Another tasty-looking tomato sauce recipe from Recipe Rehab

Recipe Rehab is a TV show I have recommended here. It takes grossly unhealthy recipes from American families and asks tow chefs to reimagine them in healthier ways.

Recipe Rehab's Chef Richard and show host Evette Rios watching him make this tomato sauce.
Recipe Rehab’s Chef Richard and show host Evette Rios watching him make this tomato sauce.

It doesn’t always get enough salt out, in my opinion, but at least it tries. And in the process hopefully it gets viewers to think about eating healthier foods. I’ve blogged about a roasted cherry tomato sauce (we call it gravy) recipe I tried from the show. Recently, I saw another tomato sauce recipe there I plan to try as well. Continue reading “Another tasty-looking tomato sauce recipe from Recipe Rehab”

Red lentil pasta — another gluten-free choice?

Fears about gluten, fears which are misplaced for most people by the way, are fueling a boom in non-wheat-based pastas. I’ve written about an edamame pasta I bought at Costco after sampling it there and finding it quite tasty.

Costco now also has red lentil pasta. I took the accompanying pictures of it on a recent shopping trip. I go to Costco weekly and am always on the lookout for low-salt, low-fat new products.

Red lentil pasta at Costco, trumpeting that it has only one ingredient.
Red lentil pasta at Costco, trumpeting that it has only one ingredient.

The package trumpets that the pasta includes only one ingredient, red lentil flour, a nod to the search for simple labels and simple ingredients these days.  Continue reading “Red lentil pasta — another gluten-free choice?”

Seafood and pasta, thank you Giada

Truth be told, if Giada DeLaurentiis suddenly showed up at my door and asked me to run away with her, I would, especially now that I know our families both come from the same region of southern Italy known for its food, song and limoncello.

Giada's seafood spaghetti.
Giada’s seafood spaghetti.

But since I don’t expect her to pop up here anytime soon, I’ll settle for this great-sounding recipe for seafood with pasta. I’d sub in whole wheat or Barilla Plus pasta for regular spaghetti, and leave out the salt (you don’t need it to cook spaghetti, that’s an old wives’ tale). The rest sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it.

Continue reading “Seafood and pasta, thank you Giada”

Edamame pasta? I sampled and liked it

Edamame is a favorite snack or meal side dish of mine. So I was intrigued on a recent Costco trip to see a free sampling being offered for edamame spaghetti.

A new find at Costco, I will report back when we make it.
A new find at Costco, I will report back when we make it.

The sampled variety was made simply by boiling it, with a bit of cheese and possibly olive oil on it. I found it tasty and not sticky or stiff to the palate. I tried it several times and then bought a box if it, something I rarely do after sampling products for free. Continue reading “Edamame pasta? I sampled and liked it”

Check the salt content when buying whole wheat pasta

Whole wheat pasta is supposedly better for me on my restricted diet than regular pasta.

Something to do with complex carbs and simple carbs. I don’t know if I buy it all, but to be safe, I have been eating almost exclusively whole wheat pasta in recent years.

I wrote earlier this week about a weekend my wife and I had in Milwaukee recently. One of our stops was a wonderful, long-time institution in Milwaukee’s Italian-American community, Glorioso’s Italian Market. The market has moved to larger quarters than it was in during my long-ago college days there, but it’s still a very special place to find wonderful Italian specialties, like a world of different pastas. You can buy freshly made pasta there as well as a variety of packaged options.

Glorioso's home-made linguini is extremely high in sodium.
Glorioso’s home-made linguini is extremely high in sodium.
470 mgs per 3 ounces
470 mgs per 3 ounces

We bought a whole wheat pasta that was made there and a packaged brand I hadn’t seen before, Garafolo, which comes from Naples, the area my ancestors also came from. Comparing the salt content in the two provided a good illustration of the importance of always reading nutrition labels. Continue reading “Check the salt content when buying whole wheat pasta”

Recipe: Low-salt, low-fat baked mostaccioli

I wrote recently about my low-salt, low-fat baked mossaccioli. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making it.

Start with wheat pasta and low-fat ricotta cheese, about 13 ounces of each (these once came in 16-ounce packages but food makers have cut package sizes rather than raise prices in recent tough economic times).psta building1low fat ricotta

Combine the ricotta with egg white or egg white substitutes equal to one egg to thin it a bit, making it easier to spread. Continue reading “Recipe: Low-salt, low-fat baked mostaccioli”

Low-salt, low-fat baked mostaccioli: gotta love it

Most of the Italian-American classics I grew up with, lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, are off-limits to me now because of the fat in the cheese used, not to mention the high salt content of most cheese as well. I also can only eat whole wheat pasta now to get away from simple carbs that could impact my pre-diabetic sugar levels.

I have found whole wheat pastas I enjoy and I have begun finding low-fat and even no-fat Italian cheese. The cheeses still contains high salt levels, though, so I use them sparingly and as a treat.

One recent treat I made was whole wheat mostaccioli baked with low-fat ricotta cheese covered with my low-salt homemade tomato sauce (we call it gravy in my family).

Baked mostaccioli, gotta love it, and it's low salt and low fat.
Baked mostaccioli, gotta love it, and it’s low salt and low fat.
Continue reading “Low-salt, low-fat baked mostaccioli: gotta love it”

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