At less than 350 calories per serving, this guilt-free pasta recipe packs in balanced nutrition to leave you feeling well fed and healthy! A winning combination of carbs, protein, vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and DELICIOUSNESS...what's not to love!?
Balanced Diet over Dieting
I've always been a fan of a balanced diet over dieting. Eating healthier is not a one-size fits all. Often, key factors like your age, identifying gender, hormone levels, and lifestyle aren't even taken into consideration before people dole out dieting advice. Our bodies need things like carbs and sugars and calories to operate. I believe it's all about balance.
The Healthiest Things To Put On Pasta
So, what's the healthiest things to put on pasta to balance out those carbs? This pasta uses all my tricks and packages it in a Mediterranean flavor bomb.
- Ratio: I try and keep the ratio of equal parts pasta and vegetable. This way, I get to keep the pasta I love so much without going overboard
- Lots of Garlic: garlic boosts gut health, but it has also been associated with immunity-boosting benefits. Read more about the health benefits of garlic HERE
- Rapini (broccoli rabe): Rapini is a brassica (or cruciferous)vegetable and is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, with a high amount of Vitamins A and C. Rapini is a bitter green and so takes very well to slow and steady cooking, which mellow it's intensity. It may take a little getting used to, but bitter greens are some of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. After a while, other vegetables seem pale in comparison. Here's a great read on 6 Ways to Love Bitter Greens.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is high in a fat called oleic acid, which reduces inflammation. There have also been studies showing that olive oil, specifically, is a fat not associated with weight gain. Read more about it HERE.
- Cannellini Beans: Cannellini beans are white kidney beans popular in Italian cooking. Not only do they taste nutty and delicious, but they're also extremely high in fiber and protein. Take a look at all the vitamins and minerals they contribute as well.
The Love of Rapini Passed Down
I love the assertive flavor of rapini, slow cooked and almost stewed with garlic and red pepper flake. I learned this dish from Judy Rogers, who was the Chef and owner of Zuni Café, where I worked in San Francisco in the late 90's. Judy instilled a love of bitter greens in me that led me down a path of new flavors and cooking combinations. I always say that the most important tool you have in cooking is the ability to taste with and learn from others. To cook with the people you love and who teach you how to explore food in new ways. My love for rapini was passed down to me, and I hope this recipe is now passed down to you.
The Guilt-Free Pasta You'll Love
- Cook the pasta as per the manufacturers instructions on the box and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, start your rapini.
- Trim about 2 inches off of the ends of the rapini to rid of the woody tough parts of the stem. However, the rest of the thick parts of the stem will cook down and are a part of the dish.
- Cut the rapini into approximately 2-3 inch pieces.
- Place a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the 3 tablespoon olive oil, the chopped garlic, and the red pepper flake. Stir.
- Once the garlic starts to sizzle, add the chopped rapini, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the water.
- Stir well and cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring once in a while.
- This is NOT an al dente vegetable. Rapini is a bitter green and will mellow with slow and steady cooking. When it is done, the rapini will be very soft and falling apart. There will be no hard parts to the stems.
- Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and add in the cannellini beans. Stir gently.
- Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and stir in the pasta. I like to do this in a separate bowl so that the pasta and beans don’t mash and the vegetables can be better incorporated.
- Serve immediately with more fresh olive oil or vegan parmesan sprinkled over the top.