Low-Cal Pesto

The kids' portion.

Now, our family loves ourselves some pesto. Jaron just loves pasta...period...and rice. That boy is all about his carbs. Anyhoo, we love basil too...love it, love it, love it. Almost as much as garlic. But, garlic reigns supreme in this household and I doubt any other ingredient could usurp it.

I happened to be reading one of my favorite magazines (Women's Health) and was intrigued by the chef's challenge on making a low-cal pesto. I decided to try it one day and have never looked back ever since. Shoot, I don't even think I've made my regular pesto since discovering this one. The tomato-based sauce got me wondering how it compete with the traditional basil-garlic-parm-pine nut pesto, but boy o' boy was this one a winner!!

I typically use Barilla Plus pasta for everything...except linguine w/clam sauce. The main reason is because Barilla Plus does not come in the linguine shape...booooooooooooo. Anyhoo...this bad boy doesn't have the fiber-y consistency of whole wheat pasta and is loaded with fiber, protein, and Omega-3s...what's NOT to love about it?? It tastes FABULOUS!! Plus, I can feel like I'm giving the kiddies a more well-rounded meal when using it.

Anyhoo...on to the recipe! You can also find the original at this link.

Penne with Pesto alla Trapanese
Lidia Bastianich, the host of Lidia's Italy, creates a delicious dish with under 500 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 650 milligrams of sodium

  • 3/4 lb penne rigate pasta
  • 1/2 lb (about 4) Roma tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
  • 8 large, fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted roasted almonds
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano)

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente.

2. While pasta cooks, rinse the tomatoes and basil and pat dry. Cut tomatoes into large chunks.

3. Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor, followed by the basil, almonds, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine purée; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large pieces are left.

4. With the machine still running, add the olive oil in a steady stream; it will emulsify the purée into a thick pesto.

5. Scrape the pesto into a big bowl. Drop drained pasta onto the pesto. Toss quickly to coat the pasta, sprinkle on cheese, and toss again. Serve immediately in bowls.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 495 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated), 232 mg sodium, 67 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 15 g protein

This was our serving (w/a bottle of crushed red pepper...hahaha)...with garlicky brussel sprouts & salad w/garlic-balsamic vinegarette.


Unknown said...

So...when can I come over for dinner?!

Tanya said...

Whenever you want!!! Lordy knows I make enough!!! Although, the kids could eat their weight of this particular pasta. ;o)