Mediterranean Diet For Dummies
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Pasta dishes in the Mediterranean diet are often side dishes or are served in much smaller portions than Americans are used to. Although including protein with your pasta is a good idea, not all pasta dishes have to be laden with meatballs and meaty sauce. Adding vegetables to your pasta is a great way to reduce the calories and up the fiber content.


Prep time: 8 minutes

Cook time: 23 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

One 12-ounce box penne

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes

1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions (8 to 12 minutes). Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

    Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, olives, capers, and tomato paste; increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 10 minutes.

  3. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water 1/4 cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

  4. Top with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan and serve.

Per serving: Calories 428 (From Fat 192); Fat 21g (Saturated 4g); Cholesterol 4mg; Sodium 528mg; Carbohydrate 50g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 11g.

Tortellini with Vegetables and Pesto

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1/2 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 small zucchini, cut in half moons

One 13-ounce package fresh cheese tortellini

1 teaspoon olive oil

8 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 cup pesto

  1. Bring a 2-quart saucepan of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath (large bowl with ice water). Boil the red bell pepper, asparagus, and zucchini for 3 minutes.

  2. Drain the vegetables and transfer them to the ice bath to chill for 2 minutes. Drain the vegetables and pat dry.

  3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Cook the tortellini according to package directions (4 to 8 minutes).

  4. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the blanched vegetables and tomatoes and sauté until heated (about 3 minutes). Add the cooked pasta and toss.

  5. Pour the tortellini into a serving bowl and toss with the pesto.

Per serving: Calories 272 (From Fat 128); Fat 14g (Saturated 4g); Cholesterol 23mg; Sodium 261mg; Carbohydrate 28g (Dietary Fiber 3g); Protein 10g.

Lemon Orzo Pasta

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus chilling time

Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

1/2 pound orzo

4 green onions (scallions), chopped

4 Roma or plum tomatoes, diced

1 cucumber, seeded and chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup feta cheese

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, add the orzo, and cook according to package instructions (10 to 12 minutes). Drain the pasta and run it under cold water to cool.

  2. Meanwhile, place the vegetables into a serving bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and salt.

  3. Mix the pasta with the vegetables, pour the lemon sauce over the mixture, and stir. Chill for at least 1 hour and serve with crumbled feta over top.

Per serving: Calories 131 (From Fat 73); Fat 8g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 4mg; Sodium 194mg; Carbohydrate 12g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 3g.

Pecorino Pasta

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

1 pound spaghetti

1 cup pecorino cheese, finely grated

1 cup parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon pepper

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add the spaghetti, and cook according to package instructions (9 to 12 minutes).

  2. Meanwhile, combine the cheese, parsley, olive oil, and pepper in a serving bowl. Drain the cooked pasta and transfer it to the serving bowl, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

  3. Toss the pasta to coat with the cheese mixture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid as necessary if the dish seems dry. Serve immediately.

Per serving: Calories 297 (From Fat 71); Fat 8g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 11mg; Sodium 199mg; Carbohydrate 43g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 12g.

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