Earlier this month I visited my best and oldest friend Michael in Lucca, Italy. ( He retired and moved there 6 years ago.) Michael showed me how to make fresh pasta in his pasta machine. I remembered that I owned the same classic pasta machine, pictured below, but hadn't used it for at least 30 years because I was intimidated by the process. I was also flat-out afraid of the carbohydrate/calorie load of a plate of fettuccine!
Facing my culinary fears, I returned home, pulled out my pasta machine and began making homemade pasta, buoyed by research at Weight Watchers that shows that we do best on weight loss programs when we enjoy our very favorite foods. For most of us, me included, that means, pasta, pizza and other so-called carb bombs!
This recipe, adapted from budgetbytes.com, combines pasta with tomatoes, spinach and cannellini beans for protein. The original instructions call for more olive oil and way more Parmesan cheese, which I've cut back on to keep the WW Points value reasonable.
You can change up ingredients to suit your tastes. If you don't have fresh grape tomatoes, use a 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes instead. You can add chopped cooked chicken breast or shrimp along with or instead of the cannellini beans. Make this healthful entree your own, and remember: with moderation you can enjoy your favorite foods and maintain your weight. Life is short. Eat pasta!
8 oz. dried fettuccine (or fresh, if you're brave!)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil (I used fresh)
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz. baby spinach
4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Fill a large pot with water and place over high heat. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander. Save about a cup of the pasta water to add to the finished sauce before serving.
While you're waiting for the water to boil, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and sauté for a minute, until it has become fragrant.
Add the grape tomatoes, salt, pepper and dried basil. Sauté the tomatoes until the skins burst and the tomatoes begin to release their juices. Be sure to keep the heat low enough so that the garlic does not burn before the tomatoes break down.
Once the tomatoes begin to break down, add the spinach and stir it into the tomatoes until it is about halfway wilted.
Add the drained cannellini beans to the skillet and stir until they are heated through. The tomatoes will have created a thick sauce-like texture. Taste the mixture and add more salt if needed.
Add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet. Toss until the pasta is coated in the sauce and everything is combined. Add some pasta water to the sauce, if needed, to keep it moist. Add salt and pepper to taste and top each serving with Parmesan cheese.