Cook it Light: Pasta with sun-dried-tomato pesto cream sauce

Dear Jeanne,

I have to admit that I have not tried this, but it looks like something I would love. However, I can’t bring myself to make something with this much fat in it. What can you do for me? — Heather, Seattle

 

PASTA WITH SUN-DRIED-TOMATO PESTO CREAM SAUCE

1 pound pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided use

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 jar (8.5 ounces) sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil

2 to 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 cup heavy cream

 

Cook the pasta al dente and drain. Add the tablespoon of olive oil to the pasta, toss with tongs and leave in a strainer or transfer to a large bowl. In a food processor, add the basil leaves, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil, and pulse until the ingredients are well mixed. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil by drizzling on high speed to get a desired paste consistency. Add the salt and pepper to taste. In the same pot in which you cooked the pasta, heat the heavy cream and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over medium-high heat. Stir until the cheese has melted. Add the pesto to the heavy-cream-and-cheese mixture, and stir. Add the pasta to the pot and toss.

Makes 6 servings.

 

Dear Heather,

I have made a replacement for this recipe, which I love. The original recipe was just too oily. This one is much lighter, yet it still has all of those bright flavors. If you want to make it vegetarian, you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth; you also could add some chicken to it to add some protein. Vegetables that are lightly steamed can be added at the end, such as peas, asparagus, summer squash or, really, anything you have on hand. You can use whatever shape of pasta you would like, and serve it warm or at room temperature.

 

LIGHT PASTA WITH SUN-DRIED-TOMATO PESTO CREAM SAUCE

3 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

4 cups (2 bunches) fresh basil leaves

3 to 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided use

3/4 cup fat-free chicken broth

1 cup fat-free half-and-half

12 ounces whole-wheat pasta, cooked al dente

 

1. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Heat the 1/2 cup chicken broth to boiling and pour over the sun-dried tomatoes. Allow to stand until the broth is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Place the basil, rehydrated tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times, then add the chicken broth as needed while pulsing until you reach a paste consistency. Be careful not to process too long — just until there are no longer any large pieces. You will have 1 1/2 cups of pesto, but you need only 3/4 cup for this recipe, so you will have 3/4 cup left for another use.

3. In the pot in which you cooked the pasta, or another large pot, heat the half-and-half over medium heat.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir to melt. Add 3/4 cup of the pesto and mix well. Add the pasta and coat well. If you would like to add cooked chicken or steamed vegetables, you may want to add a little extra pesto and half-and-half, or some chicken broth, in order to coat them if they get dry. Each 1/4 cup of pesto has 20 calories and 1 gram of fat.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original Recipe: 733 calories; 45 gm fat; 46 mg cholesterol; 485 mg sodium; 69 gm carbohydrates; 17 gm protein; 5 gm fiber. Revised Recipe: 342 calories; 6 gm fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 19 mg sodium; 59 gm carbohydrates; 16 gm protein; 8 gm fiber.