Featured Recipe: No Cream-No Cry Penne Alla Vodka
The dirty little secret about Penne alla Vodka is not the vodka but the hefty amount of heavy cream. Vodka is colorless, odorless, and without much flavor—not really attributes of a superstar ingredient. It’s the combination of cream and tomato sauce that gives this dish its signature flavor. The traditional cream is swapped here for low-fat Greek yogurt. --Rocco DiSpirito
- 8 ounces whole- wheat penne
- 2 cups Rocco’s How Low Can You Go Low-Fat Marinara Sauce (page 206 of Now Eat This!) or store-bought low- fat marinara sauce
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- One 7-ounce container 2% Greek yogurt
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, about 9 minutes; drain.
2. While the pasta is cooking, bring the marinara sauce and crushed red pepper to a simmer in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Cook the sauce, stirring it occasionally with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, until it is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the saute pan from the heat.
3. Stir about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the yogurt until smooth (this tempers it and prevents the yogurt from curdling). Then whisk the yogurt mixture back into the marinara sauce.
4. In a large serving bowl, toss the sauce with the drained penne and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and serve.
Whole-wheat pasta has a dense texture that makes it a little tougher than regular pasta. Some people like that chewiness; some don’t. If you’re in the latter category, overcook it a bit. Toward the end of the cooking time, keep testing it until it’s as tender as you like it.
Fat: 4.8 g Featured Recipe: Seared Tuna With Green Beans, Lemon, And Wasabi
Protein: 18 g
Carbohydrates: 55 g
Cholesterol: 11 mg
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 416 mg
This dish isn’t a makeover, per se. But there are so many beloved--and believe it or not, unhealthy--seared tuna dishes out there in the restaurant world that I thought I should offer at least one healthy version. The tuna is never the problem. Tuna is rich in nutrients, low in fat, delicious, and just a good bet all around. It’s the stuff that’s put on top that’s the problem--anything from seared foie gras to deep-fried tempura crispies. Sure, it tastes great, but those additions turn a healthful dish into an artery-clogging one. --Rocco DiSpirito
- 4 sushi-grade tuna steaks (3 ounces each)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 12 ounces haricots verts or slim green beans, trimmed
- Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons wasabi paste
- 4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced thin on the diagonal
- 3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat.
2. Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper to taste, and spray them lightly with cooking spray. When the grill is hot, add the tuna and cook for 1 1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the tuna to a platter and allow it to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the haricots verts in the boiling water until they are just tender, about 3 minutes; drain.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and zest, garlic, and wasabi paste. Add the haricots verts, scallions, and sesame seeds. Toss to coat, adding salt and pepper to taste.
5. Thinly slice the tuna. Fan each portion onto each of 4 plates. Pile a mound of dressed haricots verts on top of the tuna, and serve.
Fat: 3.8 g
Protein: 23 g
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Cholesterol: 38 mg
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 211 mg
Popular television chef DiSpirito’s latest cookbook retools diet cookery in hope of convincing even the most stubborn gourmand to cut calories yet still maintain a regimen of delicious, satisfying foods not immediately perceived as diet food. To accomplish this, he takes up underused ingredients such as Greek yogurt, whole-wheat pasta, cauliflower, and reduced-sugar ketchup, whose benefits go beyond mere calorie trimming to add fiber and enhance nutrition. DiSpirito’s goal is to reduce calories in popular “comfort foods” to less than 350 per serving, and his methods yield some astonishing calorie reductions. Onion rings fall from about 1,800 calories to 342. Fried chicken loses more than half. In addition to building in lower fats, DiSpirito does his best to lower cholesterol, carbohydrate, and sodium levels as well. The frustrated gourmet compelled to address weight loss will thrill to DiSpirito’s novel approach, but it requires thorough pantry restocking. --Mark Knoblauch