Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Creamy Goat Cheese and Veggie Penne

This pasta dish is actually made up of mostly vegetables and while the sauce is packed with flavor and tastes rich, it is very light. This recipe is simple, filling, nutritious, and impressive, but most of all it is super tasty.   

For Pasta:
1 Cup 100% Whole Wheat Penne Pasta (dry)
1 Cup Asparagus Spears, ends trimmed, cut into 1’’ pieces (about 10 spears)
1.5 Cups Orange or Red Bell Pepper, seeded, cut into strips (1 medium pepper)
2 Cups Zucchini, cut into 2’’ long strips (1 medium zucchini)
4 Cups Broccoli Florets (approx. 2 whole broccoli heads cut into bite size pieces)
2 Palm-fuls Kosher Salt (for pasta-cooking water)
For Sauce:
1 T Olive Oil
¼ t Red Pepper Flake
3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved (1.5 cups)
½ t Salt
6 to 8 Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
½ Cup Basil Leaves, tightly packed, torn into pieces
6 oz Goat Cheese, crumbled

For Pasta:
In a large stockpot, bring 3.5 quarts (14 cups) water to a boil. Add two handfuls of Salt and then pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions. With 2 or 3 minutes cooking time remaining, add Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Zucchini, and Broccoli. When pasta is fully cooked and veggies are tender, strain and return to pot.
For Sauce:
While water boils and pasta and veggies cook, make sauce. Preheat medium sauce pan on stove top over medium heat. Add red pepper flake and garlic to heated oil (watch carefully, burnt garlic happens fast and ruins the dish). After one minute add the cherry tomatoes and salt. Cook for 5 minutes (the tomatoes should be popping and a sauce should be forming). Add mushrooms and continue to cook for 8 minutes. Remove from heat. When Pasta is returned to its pot and while it’s still hot, add the cherry tomato sauce, torn basil leaves, and goat cheese. Stir until goat cheese has begun to melt and all veggies and pasta are coated with sauce.

Serves: 4, 1.5 cups per serving (under 300 calories per serving)

Helpful Hints:
Wash and chop veggies earlier in the day to make this a super fast dinner
Use 6oz Reduced Fat Feta for a flavor twist
Mix It Up by using any combination of approximately 6 cups raw and sliced veggies
Make the entire recipe, even if it’s just for one person. The leftovers are great for later in the week, especially when you don’t feel like cooking.

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