Spring Training is in full swing — and to celebrate the return of summer sports, I thought I would share a great, light and healthy pasta dish that is sure to please.
Spring is a great time to go outside and do long distance exercise, whether it’s long walks, bike riding, running or cycling. Since many of my friends are marathon runners, I’ve become accustomed to their high carbohydrate dinners the night before a race. Carbohydrates have long been a favorite for distance runners because they have a “slow-burn” effect on the body, meaning, runners have more energy to go longer distances.
What we’ve recently discovered is that fortified pastas, such as multi-grain or whole grain pasta, have added fiber, which increases the slow burn and is even better for the body. The only problem is the taste and texture. Not everyone seems to enjoy the extra bite and chewiness that comes with whole grains, and some people refer to the pasta as “eating cardboard” when compared to the mild taste of durum or semolina noodles.
My Spring Training Whole Grain Pasta seeks to change that thought and attitude simply by changing the way we look at pasta dishes. Who says every plate of noodles has to be covered in tomato sauce and cheese? The truth is, if you hold onto that kind of mental block, you’ll surely notice the change in pasta. But if you leave out the acidic tomato sauce, and concentrate on fresher flavors, you may find your mouth longs to bite, while the vegetable sauce complements the texture and nutty flavor of the pasta.
Give it a try and let me know your thoughts. Here’s to the athlete in all of us!
Spring Training Whole Grain Pasta
1 lbs. whole grain pasta (such as penne or rigatoni)
1 lbs. fresh turkey Italian sausage (casings removed)
4 strips center-cut bacon (low-sodium), diced
1 small yellow onion, quartered
3 small carrots, peeled
3 stalks of celery, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Bring a large stockpot with lightly salted water to boil. Cook the noodles until desired tenderness. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
- At the same time as the noodles, use a food processor or other chopping device, and add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Pulse until there is a chunky sauce, but not paste like. You should see tiny cubes of each vegetable. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, add the olive oil and diced bacon over medium high heat. Once the bacon begins to crisp, add the sausage and break into small pieces. Cook thoroughly and drain any fat.
- Return pan to heat and add the vegetable mixture, along with the seasonings. Mix well to incorporate, and stir until the vegetables soften, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the white wine and cook until fully evaporated. Add the chicken stock and do the same as the wine.
- Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings as desired. Discard bay leaves.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce until well incorporated. If the sauce is to dry, incorporate the reserved pasta water. Serve with cheese if desired.