The pasta I am making today comes from the lovely PBS food show Everyday Food. I always feel a keen sense of relief when I watch this calm and professional show, with efficient chefs demonstrating eminently do-able recipes for the home cook. It helps me recover from the trauma that I undergo when I come across some of those shows on Food Network that are so out-of-tune with where we should be headed, like Paula Deen's shows, with the sickeningly fatty recipes that are doing nothing to help America's obesity epidemic, or Sandra Lee's shows, with the wasteful shopping and unintelligent "cooking" that are hurting the eco-friendly changes the world needs to make.
What makes this dish heart-friendly...
...the extra-virgin olive oil, which is the sensible choice when one is cooking with fats,
...the lentils, which provide fiber and protein, making this a filling and satisfying meal,
...the vegetables, which provide taste, vitamins, minerals and a ton of other nutrients while adding minimal calories
What is even more special is what this dish does NOT contain...
...animal fats; there are no saturated fats in the form of meat, butter, cream or cheese
...excessive salt; I used the trick of adding some lemon juice, which brings out the flavor and lets you get away with minimal salt.
This pasta could be made even more healthful by using whole-wheat pasta instead of the regular one made with refined flour. I use both kinds of pasta in my kitchen. Regular pasta can be part of a healthy diet if it is served in small quantities, and in combination with protein and healthy fats. The orecchiette ("little ears") pasta is wonderful in this dish because the tiny shells capture the lentil sauce perfectly.
i heart pasta
(Adapted from this recipe from the TV show Everyday Food, makes about 4 servings)
1. Start boiling a large pot of water for pasta.
2. Place 1 cup lentils in a saucepan, rinse them, then cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside.
3. As lentils are cooking, do the prep. cut up 1 large onion into slices. Mince 2 cloves of garlic. Chop 1 cup canned tomatoes and set side. Chop 1 fresh tomato into slices. Clean 1 bunch arugula and chop roughly. Take a fresh lemon and collect 2 tbsp juice.
4. Heat 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a non-stick skillet, then saute onions and garlic until golden brown and aromatic.
5. To the onions, add 1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped, and some salt and pepper.
6. Stir in the lentils.
7. When pasta water comes to a boil, add salt and 2 cups orecchiette and cook until just tender. Save 1 cup pasta water. Drain the pasta and return to pot.
8. To the cooked pasta, add onion-lentil mixture, chopped tomatoes, chopped arugula, lemon juice and pasta water. Toss well and serve!
Verdict: I will surely be making this again and again! It is perfect for summer, light and juicy. It tastes good hot, at room temperature and cold, like a pasta salad. It would be the perfect addition to a lunch box.
Thanks to Joanna and Ilva for hosting this event...I'm going to try and participate every single month! Here is the HotM Pasta Round-up with wonderful recipe ideas for making heart-healthy pasta dishes.