So, if you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time you might notice a trend. I like to cook light and healthy, but bake for real. By this, I mean that I enjoy the richness of desserts but I try to make dinners that have a lighter side. Tonight was no different. After spending the day whipping up the Granola Cookies, I decided that something fresh and healthy was in need for dinner.
I happen to love Cooking Light because despite it’s title, it still uses flavorful ingredients and isn’t afraid to add in heavy cream, full fat cheeses or even ¬–gasp—bacon. It’s all about moderation. For example, the dish I made tonight was sort of like a pesto/creamy pasta. But guess what? The entire meal was less than 500 calories!
I love pesto, and this was the first time I’ve ever made it myself. No, it’s not exactly traditional, but it tastes almost exactly like what I’ve had before. The splash of cream makes this dish rich, while all the vegetables keep it light.
It tastes like something you’d order at an Italian restaurant, but it won’t leave you feeling heavy after you eat it. It’s layers of pasta, pesto, cream and vegetables taste rich and decadent. It’s a stick to your ribs type meal, that won’t stick to your ribs very much at all, if you catch my drift. Give it a try.
What ya need (serves 4):
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cups (¼-inch-thick) slices small zucchini & yellow squash (about 1 pound)
1 cup packed basil leaves
½cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 1 large)
6 quarts water
1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
What ya do:
1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove from pan; cool.
2. Place ¼ cup cooked zucchini, basil, ¼ cup cheese, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped. (Keep mixture in processor.)
3. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until golden. Return remaining cooked zucchini to pan. Remove from heat.
4. Combine 6 quarts water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, reserving ⅓ cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to vegetables.
5. With processor on, add reserved liquid to basil mixture; process until smooth. Add basil mixture to pasta. Add cream, remaining salt, and pepper; stir. Top with remaining cheese.
Fat:17.2g (sat 6.1g,mono 6.6g,poly 2.6g)
I'm all about healthy yet appetizing pasta dishes. This recipe looks great!
I'm with you on keeping meals light and healthy--except for dessert! Your pasta dish looks great. I've largely ignored my old Cooking Light cookbook but now I might have to look through it again.
As much as I try to keep my meals light and healthy when it comes to dessert I'm going crazy, the more calories it has, the yummier it is :d
Your pasta looks so good, I'd love to have it for dinner
This looks so good! I can't wait for my basil to speed up and grow already so I can make pesto and try it out :) Love the blog! (And I always make a mess in the kitchen too. My mom was so ready to kick me out of hers when I lived at home!)
Pistou is one of my favorite things. Try mixing it in a vegetable soup as well. Divine. On crostini, yes please. Now on pasta, yes more please! Really love that last photo.
Great pasta dish...yum!
We just posted on pesto this week and it looks like almost everyone else is too! I love the seasonal trends that can be spotted in what we are all thinking and eating.
I am a pasta eating chic and this looks like a wonderful pasta dish to add to my diet!
Nicely done . . you never fail to impress me with healthy, pretty and good!
That sounds so good. I love dishes that are creamy and don't require using 2 pints of heavy cream! haha
I love this! I always find that zucchini goes great with pasta :) Yummmmy
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