Healthy Eating: Pasta dinner in the time it takes to boil water
This is the perfect dish for a weeknight dinner in late summer, particularly when the kids start heading back to school and family schedules get crazy again. The recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients that can all be pulled together in the time it takes to boil water.
Tomatoes are the star of this show, as they should be this time of the year. A fresh local tomato at the height of ripeness is one of those things that make life worth living.
Indeed, they're so good as is they don't even need to be cooked. Obviously, we could cook them and turn them into a sauce, but we'd be kissing off some of their freshness and all of their crunch. Instead, we salt them, lightly, which intensifies their flavor and pulls out some of their liquid. This “tomato juice” becomes part of the sauce.
After the tomatoes have marinated in salt for 10 minutes, we season them with a little freshly grated lemon zest, a single tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil (this is a dish that requires the really good stuff), and some freshly ground black pepper.
Next, it's time to reach for the goat cheese. Combined with hot pasta and a little of the pasta cooking liquid, the cheese melts into a richly creamy sauce without any additional thickener. And I'm talking about full-fat goat cheese, which is relatively lean even as it boasts big flavor.
I recommend using whole-wheat pasta in this recipe, but you're certainly welcome to explore some of the other whole-grain pastas that are now available. Kamut or spelt would be great. If you're gluten-intolerant, you can swap in quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat. (Its name notwithstanding, buckwheat isn't wheat, it's a grass.) Even so, you'll want to check the label to make sure the pasta is gluten-free.
I finished this dish with a liberal sprinkling of herbs. And truthfully, there's scarcely a fresh herb around that doesn't play nicely with tomatoes. Feel free to recruit any and all of your own favorites. You can't lose.
Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.
Fast and Fresh Summer Pasta
Start to finish: 20 minutes
Salt for the pasta water, plus Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 1-inch pieces)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
8 ounces whole-wheat penne or fusilli pasta
1 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, oregano, mint, dill, chives, cilantro and tarragon)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl toss the tomatoes with a few hefty pinches of salt and some black pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes, then add the lemon zest, oil and goat cheese and toss well.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir and cook according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain the pasta (it's fine to have some water still clinging to the pasta), then add it to the bowl. Toss until the cheese is melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta among 4 serving bowls, then sprinkle each portion with some of the herbs. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 360 calories (110 calories from fat), 12 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 15 milligrams cholesterol, 17 grams protein, 51 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams dietary fiber, 390 milligrams sodium
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Steelers still knockin’ on Canton’s door
- Review: Pittsburgh son Billy Porter shines bright in ‘Kinky Boots’
- McKeesport charter sees no problems for opening
- Mon Valley takes time out for night out to build community
- Rostraver native revisits roots on cross-country bike journey
- Pitcher Arrieta, Cubs shut down Pirates in victory at PNC Park
- Heyward-Bey looks to make impact on special teams with Steelers
- Fire displaces Kittanning family of 6
- Philanthropist and one-time GOP powerhouse Elsie Hillman dies at 89
- Kittanning’s South Water Street lane changes are permanent
- Annual Rock for Life to benefit 2 area children