Presidential Pasta

by Anne Bennett on November 1, 2012

This dainty portion is NOT a single serving. It constitutes what was left after dinner.

Are you tired of all the presidential election coverage? Well, so is a very cute but unhappy four-year-old girl from Colorado, who was driven to tears by hearing too much about “Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney”.

I feel her pain.

In honor of next week’s election, or in spite of it, here’s a healthy pasta recipe you can make on election night that comes from the White House chef, Cristeta Comerford.

Chef Comerford’s recipe calls for whole wheat pasta and lots of vegetables, a by-product, most likely, of the large vegetable garden on the White House lawn. Believe it or not, the current garden is not the first at the White House.

The first garden was planted in 1800 by President Adams and his wife Abigail. When Thomas Jefferson took office, he added fruit trees.

In 1918, Woodrow Wilson brought sheep onto the grounds to eat the grass as a labor-saving measure during the Great War. And Eleanor Rosevelt tended her own victory garden during WWII .

First Lady Michelle Obama’s 1,100 square foot garden on the South Lawn of the White House is the largest to date, and produces over 55 kinds of vegetables. What isn’t used by the First Family and their guests is donated to local soup kitchens.

Ms. Obama has led efforts to combat the national obesity crisis by educating America’s children about healthier eating. Because I was a chubby child who struggled for years with my weight, I am grateful that she is focusing her attention on our youth.

A note to the finicky: whole wheat pasta is an acquired taste. If you’re not partial, go ahead and use regular pasta.

This is a very lemony dressing but it works. And it’s also quite light: it’s half lemon juice and half olive oil. So whether your candidate wins or loses, at least you will have dined economically.

1 cup fresh or frozen corn, defrosted
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin slices
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (no need to peel it)
2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb. whole-wheat penne pasta, cooked and slightly cooled
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Dressing

Grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all vegetables on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 T. olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat and bake for 15 minutes. Place vegetables into a large serving bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients and shake or whisk until combined.

Add cooked pasta to vegetables, pour the dressing over all and toss. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

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