Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pasta with Zesty Tomato Cream Sauce

Here's a quick fix for one of those weeknights when you don't have a lot of time and you're faced with a short list of available ingredients.  This serves 2 people, but if you're dining solo you can always freeze the second serving for future enjoyment.  With just a little improvisation, you'll have a tasty tomato cream sauce that's light on calories, but not on flavor.  
Ingredients You Will Need*:

  • 4 oz. Uncooked Spaghetti or Linguine (enough for 2 Servings)
  • 12 oz. Any Variety of Tomato-Based Spaghetti Sauce (marinara works well)
  • About 1.5 ounces of Low-Calorie Spreadable Cheese (ex: 2 wedges of Laughing Cow Light Cheese, any flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cayenne Pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup of Skim Milk, Half-and-Half, or Cream (whatever you have lying around)

  • 1/2 cup Low-Fat Shredded Cheese (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. Vodka
  • Diced Fresh or Canned Veggies (Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, etc.)

*Note: All you really need are the first five ingredients (pasta, tomato sauce, cheese spread, cayenne pepper, and milk).  Additions of the other "optional" ingredients aren't vital to the recipe, especially if your fridge happens to be a little on the empty-side this week.  

Step 1: Fill a medium sized pot with enough water for 2 servings of pasta.  Heat the water according to directions on the box.  You can start the next step while this is heating up to a boil. 

Step 3: Fill a medium sauce pan with the marinara sauce.  Heat on medium-high until the sauce is warmed through. Keep an eye on your pasta water, and make sure to add the pasta when the water is boiling.  

Step 4:  Dump the cheese spread into the marinara sauce, continuing to heat it on medium-high heat.  Smash the cheese spread into smaller pieces so that it eventually melts into the marinara.  Stir until the two are well combined.  Don't forget about your pasta cooking!  If the pasta is done, drain it and put it aside, keeping it covered.  

Step 5: Add the ground cayenne pepper to the cream sauce, stirring it in so it is completely dissolved.  Stir well for even distribution.

Step 6: Add the milk or cream to the cream sauce.  You can add more to thin the sauce out.  Also, be mindful that adding skim milk won't add a ton of calories to your sauce, but other dairy options may cause a bigger caloric dent (just sayin'!).  

Step 7 (Optional): If you have some, add the shredded cheese into the sauce mix, stirring it well until it is melted.  If this makes the sauce too thick for your tastes, add some more milk or a tablespoon of vodka.  This will thin it out a little.  

Step 8 (Optional): Add the diced veggies, stirring them in completely.  

Step 9: Cook your sauce for another 2 minutes or so to make sure that your ingredients are heated throughly and well-mingled.   

Step 10: Divide out the pasta between two dinner plates and pour the zesty tomato cream sauce on top of both servings.  

For extra protein, serve with some spicy Italian sausages or meatballs.  
Buon appetito!!!

Suggested Wine Pairing: Glenora Wine Cellars Gewurztraminer.  Delicately floral and slightly dry, this clean wine won't overpower the soft cream-sauce, but will be a nice counterpart to the entrĂ©e's spicy side.  

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