Less Fat, Still Ono

By Barbara Burke
and Joannie Dobbs

Wednesday, April 7, 1999

pantry helps
busy cook

It's 6:30 p.m. You've had another hectic day. The family is hungry and you haven't even started fixing dinner. What do you do?

One obvious solution would be to head to the nearest fast food restaurant. Another alternative is to look in the freezer for a frozen pizza or microwave dinner. But what you'd like is a nutritious, hot, home-cooked meal that is so delicious your family will beg for second helpings. Is this really possible or have you been watching too many reruns of "Leave It to Beaver" ?

There's no denying that preparing meals with fresh ingredients takes planning. But if you stock your pantry with some basic items, you can make some amazing meals with less effort than you'd think.

The following recipe for Quick Chicken Basil Pasta can be made in less than 30 minutes. Fresh tomatoes, spinach and basil offer color and texture and are a good source of nutrients like vitamins A and C.The tomatoes and V-8 juice also provide a cancer-protective phytochemical called lycopene.

This basic recipe offers lots of interesting variations. For a vegetarian dish, substitute 16 ounces of firm tofu for the chicken. Use a pound of shrimp or firm fish for a seafood pasta meal. Romaine lettuce may be used instead of spinach. If you're a garlic lover, mince several cloves and add them once the onion is almost cooked.

Throw in leftover cooked vegetables, like broccoli or asparagus. Toss in a tablespoon or two of drained capers, if you have some on hand. Add a pinch of dried red pepper flakes, if you like your pasta spicy. Just for fun, try one of the many flavored pastas on the market.

All the variations are great topped with freshly ground black pepper or grated Parmesan cheese.


Quick Chicken Basil Pasta

2 quarts water
1 pound dry pasta
16 ounces skinless chicken breast meat
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
3 cups V-8 juice cocktail
2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 cups fresh spinach leaves
3 cups fresh basil leaves

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add pasta, stir and simmer until al dente. Removed from heat. Drain.

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Heat canola oil in medium-sized skillet for 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes to brown, then stir and brown for 3 additional minutes.

Add onions and cook until transparent and slightly brown. Add V-8. Simmer 5-10 minutes reducing juice to half volume.

Cut tomatoes into bite size pieces.

Coat pasta with olive oil and stir chicken mixture into drained pasta. Mix in spinach and basil leaves just before serving and top with tomatoes.

Serves 8

Approximate nutritional value per serving with chicken breast: 350 calories, 4 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 420 mg sodium. With firm tofu: 370 calories, 8.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 mg chol and 390 mg sodium With steamed shrimp: 350 calories, 5 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 90 mg chol, 470 mg sodium.

Approximate nutritional value per tablespoon Parmesan cheese: 30calories, 2 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 5 mg chol and 115 mg sodium. Each 1/8 teaspoon salt supplies 270 mg sodium.*

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who has been teaching
and writing about food and nutrition since 1975.

Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a food and nutrition consultant
and owner of Exploring New Concepts, a nutritional consulting firm.
She is also responsible for the nutritional analyses
indicated by an asterisk in this section.

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin