Tag Archives: Parmesan cheese

Baked rigatoni: Little work, lots of servings, and just 425 calories

I’m all about doing as little work as possible to make as many servings of food I can. Soups, polenta, and especially rice and pasta dishes are good for this.

If you order pasta at a restaurant the results can be calorically catastrophic. A heavy hand with the olive oil, too many noodles or too much sauce can weigh down what would have been a decent meal if someone had paid attention to the portion control. Plus, there’s a good chance there’s a load of butter in there too. Bummer, dude.

For the baked rigatoni I make, you can use regular or whole-wheat pasta (whole-wheat is preferable). Each serving of noodles will be about 200 calories and will weigh 2 oz. Use that rule to portion out however many servings you want. The pan above, which was the next size down from the typical Pyrex rectangular casserole pan, held six portions.

You can make your own sauce, or use any bottled sauce you would like. If I’m making sauce, I go with something simple like the passata di pomodoro from the Mozza cookbook (San Marzano tomatoes, evoo, sugar, salt, pepper). It makes a great mother sauce, and can be dressed up with garlic, herbs, or whatever else you’d like to throw in it. Another Mozza sauce to try would be Nancy Silverton’s basic tomato sauce, which can be found on Bon Appétit.

And after all that build up, I used a jar of store-brand tomato basil from Sprouts. Gotta save time when you can, right? Each 1/2 cup was 50 calories, with 6 servings to the jar.

I also threw in three cheeses, garlic and half a pound of mushrooms for some meatiness.

Here’s what you’ll need for 6 portions the way I do it:

12 oz. rigatoni or penne
3 cups pasta sauce
2-3 clove garlic, minced or microplaned
1/2 onion, small dice
8 oz. crimini mushrooms
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 T unsalted butter
3 oz. fresh mozzarella, small dice
6 T mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 oz. parmesan, microplaned
2 T parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
cooking spray

To make it:

1) Follow the directions on the box to cook the pasta. Just make sure you salt the water to taste like the ocean before you cook the pasta. Make sure you reserve some of the starchy water before you strain it when it’s done!

2) Start up the sauce while the water heats up and you boil pasta. Over medium-high heat, cook the mushrooms in two batches, using 1/2 T of olive oil each time. Lightly salt the mushrooms. Next, using a dash of cooking spray, cook the onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. If anything sticks to the pan at any time, simply loosen with a little water. Start with the onions first, then add the garlic, so the latter doesn’t burn. When it’s close to done, throw the mushrooms back in and stir with the butter.

3. Somewhere in here, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. Add the sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. When the pasta is done, reserve some of the water, then drain. Add the pasta back into the sauce, with a couple spoons of the water. Let it simmer for a minute, until everything comes together.

5. If your pan is big enough, you can do this in the pan. If not, grab a large bowl. Mix the cheeses with the pasta and sauce, and drop in half of the parsley.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the parmesan. If you’ve used a microplane to create a fluffy mound of fine shreds, you’ll be able to cover the whole dish in a fairly-decent blizzard of salty cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes until the cheese on top browns slightly. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then dig in. The leftovers taste even better.

With the sauce from Sprouts, each serving was 425 calories. Had I left out the olive oil and butter, and cooked the mushrooms with just Pam, the recipe would have run about 390 calories according to CalorieKing. Add a huge handful of mixed greens and a light drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette and you’ve got a solid meal for under 500 calories.

The serving is large enough to satisfy, and the creamy, cheesy sauce and thick, chewy noodles are as sinful as anything you’d get at a restaurant, with at least half the calories to weigh you down.

Week 31, Meal 1: Health food soup

Excuse the lack of a “finished product” shot for this post, but I went three days in a row to freakin’ Sprouts for a loaf of French bread and they were sold out each time so we just ended up chipping away at this one until there was nothing left.

For the first meal of Week 31: Souper soups, Chef Brian is going Italian, throwing a whole bunch of healthy ingredients and good-for-you spices into a pot (kale, turkey, lentils, fennel, paprika) and serving  it up piping hot. It probably would have been good with the parmesan bread on the side, but at  least I saved a couple of carbs.

Prep is fairly simple and if you want to turn this one out fast, you can use store-bought Italian turkey sausage like I did. But we’ve also included Chef Brian’s Italian turkey sausage recipe in the post in case you have the time. I didn’t when I was able to cook this particular time, but I’m going  to come up with a different way to use the recipe just so I can try it.

Here’s Week 31, Meal 1: Italian turkey sausage, kale, lentil and tomato soup with parmesan croutons.

Continue reading Week 31, Meal 1: Health food soup

Real Simple magazine: Eggplant lasagna

In my continuing effort to cook most of my meals at home, I went through this month’s cooking calendar on the Real Simple magazine’s website. I put a menu together for the week and plan to link to the dishes each day, just to get back into the habit of blogging meals. This weekend I plan to pick up veggies at the Farmer’s market (SOCO Collection’s spread was incredible last Saturday) and I’ll finally knock out the remainder of the vegetarian menu.

But until then, here’s a vegetarian dish from Real Simple that I was iffy to try, but thankful I did. It’s eggplant lasagna, made with slabs of eggplant (they call for it to be broiled, but I threw mine on the grill), a simple tomato sauce and creamy, herb-spiked ricotta.

Add a side salad drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette and this is both hearty and healthy–for under 400 calories. Here’s the recipe for eggplant lasagna from Real Simple magazine.

Week 26, Meal 2: So good this has to be bad for you

Halfway through eating, Wifey Nadia turned to me and said this dish tasted so good that it had to be bad for us. Fresh, comforting and delicious. Nothing bad about that, I say.

I may have overcooked my eggs just a little, depriving myself of the maximum-possible yolk for this dish, but the cheesy polenta and loads of produce in this dish, the fanciest of our three Breakfast for Dinner 2 meals, did not disappoint.

Here’s Week 26, Meal 2: Parmesan polenta topped with asparagus, leek and poached eggs with prosciutto, tomato and basil salsa. Continue reading Week 26, Meal 2: So good this has to be bad for you

Week 26: BFD2

I live in a world where my wife thinks it’s crazy to eat breakfast — my favorite meal of the day — for dinner.

So, take it from me, it’s a big-f’n-deal when I get some BfD. It’s an even bigger deal when Chef Brian is in charge of the menu because he’s just as good at making yummy morning fare as he is at crafting dressed-up dinners.

Here’s what’s cookin’:

Week 26, Meal 1: Orange-ricotta pancakes with honey-pistachio yogurt

Week 26, Meal 2: Parmesan polenta topped with asparagus, leek and poached eggs with prosciutto, tomato and basil salsa

Week 26, Meal 3: Turkey pastrami hash and eggs

As always, each recipe makes two portions. Follow the jump for the shopping list. Continue reading Week 26: BFD2

Week 17, Meal 1: I suck at making pizza

I knew there was a reason I always ordered pizza from Rubinos. It’s because making pizza at home, if you have no prior experience working with dough, can be one of the most frustrating kitchen experiences you can have.

Where did all that flour I just put on the counter go? Why is this ball stickier now than it was before I added the flour? What is going on here?!

The worst part? I have two more pizza recipes to get through. I’m either going to screw ’em up, or go pro by the end of the week.

But first, check out how bad I screwed up Week 17, Meal 1: Fresh tomato, ricotta, Parmesan and arugula pizza after the jump.

Continue reading Week 17, Meal 1: I suck at making pizza

Week 14, Meal 3: Simple and perfect spaghetti and meatballs

Few words can describe the beauty of homemade spaghetti and meatballs as well as “simple” and “perfect.”

Though Chef Brian’s light and fruity pomodoro sauce has a handful of ingredients, the time-tested combination of carrot, onion, celery, rosemary and thyme is aromatic enough to make your head spin.

His turkey meatballs follow suit, pairing the same herbs with a couple of cheeses, egg and a whole lotta lean turkey.

Rounding out our week of making romantic meals by cooking with aphrodisiacs, here’s one inspired by “Lady and the Tramp.” It’s Week 14, Meal 3: Whole wheat spaghetti Pomodoro with turkey meatballs and shaved Parmesan. Continue reading Week 14, Meal 3: Simple and perfect spaghetti and meatballs

Week 8, Meal 2: Risotto with duck confit, butternut squash apple and Parmesan

Oh, risotto — I love you, I hate you.

I couldn’t feel my arm for about an hour after making Week 8, Meal 2: Risotto with duck confit, butternut squash apple and Parmesan, but it was so creamy, so flavorful and so worth every maddening second in the kitchen.

Continue reading Week 8, Meal 2: Risotto with duck confit, butternut squash apple and Parmesan

Week 3, Meal 3: Grilled chicken caprese panini

Counting this morning, I’ve had pesto four days in a row with lunch and dinner (and breakfast today).

I’m not tired of it one bit. Not because it has plenty of salty Parmesan in there, but because the bright basil adds so much freshness to each dish.

For Week 3, Meal 3 Chef Brian succeeds with simplicity with a flavorful grilled chicken caprese panini. Continue reading Week 3, Meal 3: Grilled chicken caprese panini

Week 3, Meal 2: Whole wheat penne pasta with basil pesto, balsamic-marinated skirt steak, portobello mushroom, cherry tomato and fresh mozzarella

I love love love beef and since we started this here blog I haven’t had any.

Surprisingly, I don’t quite feel like this guy, but I was very excited when I saw not only beef, but skirt steak — MY FAVORITE CUT OF BEEF — on the menu.

Meet Week 3, Meal 2: Whole wheat penne pasta with basil pesto, balsamic marinated skirt steak, portobello mushroom, cherry tomatoe and fresh mozzarella.

And it ain’t even my birthday … Continue reading Week 3, Meal 2: Whole wheat penne pasta with basil pesto, balsamic-marinated skirt steak, portobello mushroom, cherry tomato and fresh mozzarella

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