A healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square in NYC, Kelly Dupuis believes in eating foods without labels (an ear of corn, a ripe tomato). As a proponent of plant-based diets, she eschews packaged substitutes offering a quick fix. For Kelly, it's all about cooking from scratch. In her weekly column, Comfort Food - Refreshed, Kelly doesn't just adapt her favorite comfort foods to her plant-strong lifestyle, she reimagines them in original recipes with a wink to the past.
This week: Kelly surrenders to her pasta craving without sacrificing nutrition.
Back when I was engaged in the “Dieting War” (or the Battle to Eat Less and Not Suddenly Flip Out and Emotionally Eat an Entire Pizza), there was one thing I heard over and over again: Stay away from pasta. This made me a bit sad. Pasta is something I crave. It’s a food that has been fed to me since I was a little girl. Pasta is that inexpensive starchy staple that has made an appearance during my most budget-conscious (read: broke) periods. And pasta is that comfort food that keeps a belly full without a lot of bells and whistles. But when that “No Carbs” mantra from the diet gurus started filling my ears, I got nervous. How could I live without pasta? It’s delicious! Fortunately, I figured out pretty quickly that, for my needs and tastes, I didn’t have to. As long as I did pasta “the new way.”
What’s “the new way” to do pasta? Well, first off, I try my best to stay away from white flour pasta. You know, that straight-up semolina kind. Nowadays, I go for whole wheat pasta. There’s also brown rice, quinoa, and sprouted grain pastas out there that have come a long way in terms of taste and texture. But I’m into the whole wheat variety. It’s nutty, hearty, and (get this!) more filling than traditional white flour pasta. A bit more fiber and a toothsome bite lead to some serious satisfaction.
Secondly, I don’t just eat a bowl of pasta with a drop of tomato sauce. Or a drip of olive oil and miniscule sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Nope, it’s all about bulking it up with other sources of nutritionally dense goodness like veggies and beans. And I’m not talking about one broccoli spear or three or four kidney beans (that's a sad plate, right there). Nope, I’m digging on a 2-to-1 veggie (or bean) to pasta ratio. How does one proceed to prepare pasta in this fashion? Well, here are a few ideas to get your wheels turning:
So, that should get you started. But one of my favorites among these good-for-you pasta dishes is Simple Whole Wheat Fusilli and Tomato Sauce with White Beans, Olives, and Capers. Fusilli is one of my favorite pasta shapes. Twirly and corkscrew shaped, fusilli soaks up sauce like a pro and holds up to whatever scrumptious add-ins you bestow upon it. In this case, loads of garlic, onion, bell pepper, fire-roasted tomatoes, and briny olives and capers. (Note: A little goes a long way in the caper and olive departments!) Finish the pasta in the sauce for the last two minutes of cooking and drop in the cannellini beans (or great northern or navy beans). White beans are creamy and hearty and are a great match for whole wheat pasta.
This dish is filling, inexpensive, and hits the spot when a pasta craving hits. Embrace the craving!
Simple Whole Wheat Fusilli and Tomato Sauce with White Beans, Olives and Capers
1/2 pound whole wheat fusilli pasta (or penne, ziti, linguine, etc.)
1 small red onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
2 (15-ounce) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
8 Kalamata olives, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
3 cups cooked navy, cannellini, or great northern beans
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In the NYC area? Stop by for cooking advice!
If you're not in the area, send me a direct message or add your comments or questions below.
Like this post? See Kelly's topic from last week: Carrot and Cashew Soup.
Kelly Dupuis is a healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square who delights in transforming comfort classics into deliciously satisfying and fun plant-based dishes.
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