light PASTA dish pleasures

Transform caloric Italian pasta favourites with a flair for impressing.
Dishes re-invented within the realm of healthier choices without sacrificing taste.

'Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People' is highlighted throughout…
the writings of Dan Buettner, author of 'The Blue Zones Solution'.

I had the chance to read this book years ago and had felt an immediate connection to…
what the author experienced during his extensive travels and interviews.
Of course, his adventure in Sardinia, Italy reached my heart as well as my tummy strings.

Hubby and I were fortunate to have ventured in this part of the Europe.
Along our culinary escapade, we devoured their succulent, unforgettable pasta dishes.
So memorable...we still speak of them with watery eyes. 

North-Western coast of Sardinia, Italy

Since then, although I've considered my pasta dishes having been given a healthy execution…
I have, since then made bigger efforts to improve on some of my favourites.

Without an inkling of regret and judging from every satisfied mouthful…
here are a few of my transformed healthier recipes.

pasta 'alla GIGI' style

serves 4 main meals

(American measures)

. 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
. 1 Tbsp. e.v.Olive oil
. 1 thick bacon slice, finely diced
. 1 cup cooked ham, diced small
. 2-1/2 cups cremini Mushrooms, finely sliced
. 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
. 2 Tbsps. tomato paste
. 1/4 cup fortified Sherry wine
. 1 heaping cup frozen peas (optional)
. 1/4 cup beef broth
. 1 cup evaporated 2% milk 
. sea salt (optional-to taste only)

. about 1 lb. (450-500g) dry 'Short' pasta

fresh, chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. During the sauce making, prepare a salted pot of water to soon cook the pasta at the very 'al dente' stage
2. In a very large saucepan, heat the oil and butter on MEDIUM-HIGH heat.  Sauté the bacon and then followed by the ham.  Cook for a few minutes until lightly browned.  LOWER the heat and remove the bacon and ham with a slotted spoon into a small bowl.  Set aside.
3. Increase the heat again to MEDIUM-HIGH heat and add the mushrooms.  Cook them until the liquid has dried out and they have lightly browned.  Again LOWER the heat and remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon on top of the bacon.  Set aside.
4. Increase the heat again to MEDIUM heat and add the garlic and toss a few times.  Then, mash in the tomato paste.  Cook for about 1 minute.
5. Add back in the bacon, ham and mushrooms.  De-glaze with the Sherry wine.
6. Add the (optional) peas and toss.  Add the beef broth, followed by the milk and cook a few minutes on LOW-MEDIUM heat.  Last, add the salt (to taste only).
...Meanwhile, the pasta should have been cooking to a very 'al dente' stage.
7. Add the pasta to the sauce and coat throughout.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until desired texture is achieved.
8. Garnish with (optional) parsley and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.



North-Western coast of Sardinia, Italy

Yogurt Herb sauce Pasta
with Julienne Carrot and Zucchini

serves 2 persons

Printer version

(American measures)

Sauce base:
. 1/2 cup plain 'Greek-style' yogurt
. 2 Tbsps. 'pesto style' herb paste
. 2 Tbsps. e.v. Olive oil
. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
. 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic powder
. 1/4 tsp. each dried herbs: basil, marjoram
. 20 black olives of choice, pitted, halved
Note: vegetables below are julienned or spiralized with appropriate peeler.  Core was not used:
. 2 medium zucchini 
. 1 medium carrot

Boiling water pot:
. 1 tsp. sea salt
. 4 slices of sun-dried tomato, thinly sliced
. 1/2 lb. (250g) dry Linguini pasta

. garnish: fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese, grated

Sauce base:
1. Place ALL ingredients (except vegetables) to combine in a large bowl.  Set aside.
Boiling water pot:
2. Prepare a large pot of boiling water.  Add the sun-dried tomato slices and sea salt.
3. Add the pasta and cook for about 5-7 minutes or up to the 'al dente' stage.  Close the heat and mix in the prepared vegetables for one minute. 
4. RESERVE 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  Strain the pasta and vegetables.  Then, immediately add the hot pasta onto the sauce base.   Pour the reserved water and cover.  Wait 5 minutes before tossing the pasta to combine.
5. Make the plates by adding some fresh herbs and a generous amount of Parmesan cheese throughout.

LEMON black Olive Parmesan Parsley pasta


Just as this book has impacted the reflection of my culinary choices…
I truly hope that I will have played a small part in impacting how to…
enjoy a lighter version of more caloric pasta dishes.

Here's to being healthier and happier during the process of making better choices.

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SAVOURY creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)

. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.