Bonus: With Top Tips for Making Italian Cooking Healthier!
~ This vegetarian pasta recipe packs big, big flavor in a super-quick (less than 30 minutes, start-to-finish) package! From the new cookbook Domestic Chic by culinary star Kristin Sollenne, this Spinach Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes is the perfect quick dinner on busy weeknights (served right from the skillet), but it dresses up for dinner parties, too! Fast, easy and so delicious! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Vegetarian (see note) •
Pasta is always a hit in our homes, and Italian night is pretty much a guaranteed success. Still, we were truly thrilled with what a huge hit this incredibly simple pasta recipe was! Our families loved it!
But then, we really shouldn’t have been surprised. Just like last week’s Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach, this spaghetti recipe is from the brand-new cookbook Domestic Chic: A Fashionably Fabulous Guide to Cooking and Entertaining by the Seasons.
We like ALL of the recipes we’ve tested from this book so far, but this spaghetti recipe just might be our very favorite of all!
It’s got everything we love in a recipe: it’s easy, it’s nutritious, and it crazy-delicious!
The sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan and pine nuts offer big flavor and lots of satisfying umami notes, so you really won’t miss the meat in this vegetarian pasta recipe.
And it comes together in a flash – easily in less than 30 minutes! It’s perfect for busy weeknights, served straight from the skillet … but it’s also glamorous enough for a dinner party, alluringly piled high in a pretty bowl.
In fact, Domestic Chic author Kristin Sollenne specifically included this recipe in her California Dreamin’ party menu, along with recipes for Gazpacho with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, Pan-Seared Monkfish, and Grilled Pineapple. (Sounds like a great party, huh? Are you drooling yet?!??!)
The really fun thing about Domestic Chic is that it’s laid out in 16 sections, each with a seasonal or party-related theme. Kristin’s got recipes (and even decorating ideas!) for themes like Football Mania, St. Paddy’s Picnic, All About the D-A-D, Colors of the Wind, Rock-toberfest, and Thankful Tummies. So fun!
We really related to how flexible her book felt, though, and how welcoming. You can easily dive right in and pick out individual recipes to try, without having to recreate an entire party menu. And actually, that’s exactly what we did!
Shelley asked her kiddos to mark pages of recipes they’d really like her to make for them, and by the time her family was done, there were yellow sticky notes popping out everywhere – there were so many recipes they wanted to try!
Besides last week’s Orecchiette recipe, and this delicious Spinach Spaghetti, some of Kristin’s recipes that especially caught our attention were for Bananas Foster, Penne al Gorgonzola, Lentils & Sausage Soup, Braised Beef Short Ribs, Veal Scallopini, Arugula Pesto, Lasagna Roll-Ups, and her healthier version of French Onion Soup … we could seriously just go on and on here! There are so many recipe ideas for fabulous, stress-free parties, or for simple, cozy family dinners.
And as we mentioned last week, what we love most about Kristin is her focus on creating nutritious recipes with more healthful ingredients and techniques, without compromising on flavor.
As a certified nutritionist, she really understands the importance of good nutrition, yet as an executive chef and frequent guest on major TV shows, she also understands that people don’t want to sacrifice exciting flavors and delicious meals in a quest for better nutrition.
We were honored to be asked to review her cookbook, and we applaud her efforts at demonstrating that easy, healthy, and DELICIOUS really can go hand-in-hand!
Kristin’s Top Secrets for Making Italian Cooking Healthier
We had the opportunity to ask Kristin some questions, and, most of all, we wanted to know about her best-kept secrets for making Italian recipes healthier.
Here at THK, we’ve got some tricks of our own, but, since Kristin has a specific focus on Italian cooking, we were dying to know her secrets … and to share them with you!
Kristin told us, “I get asked a lot: ‘How can you make healthy Italian food?’ My philosophy is that it’s all about the choices you make. Of course there are the obvious answers like, use reduced-fat cheese and whole wheat pasta, but here are some other tips and tricks to help keep your waistline trim while still enjoying your favorite Italian dishes!”
- Everything in moderation! By moderating your portion size, you teach your body to savor each bite and not overindulge in unnecessary calories. Think a couple small plates instead of one large one.
- Monitor your sodium intake. Hold the salt, please! Limit the amount of sodium when you’re cooking and opt to add it in at the end. Sometimes the natural flavors of your ingredients will be enough salt to satisfy your palette.
- Stick to roasting and grilling. Stay away from pan frying or breading proteins. Center most items around lean meats, proteins and seafood. Complement the dish with fresh vegetables and whole grains.
- Watch your sauces. A good Italian meal is normally centered around a great sauce. Make it from scratch, and invest in a premium extra virgin olive oil to simmer your garlic and pepperoncini in to make a tasty base. Remember Italians lightly coat their pasta with sauce. No need to drench it! That’s just added calories.
- Craving a sweet treat? Stick to a fruit-based dessert, or even just a fruit salad. It’s refreshing and the natural fruit sugars will satisfy your craving. One of my favorites is grilled pineapple. (We mentioned above that, in Domestic Chic, Kristin specifically pairs her lovely recipe for Grilled Pineapple with this Spinach Spaghetti recipe we’re sharing today, for her California Dreamin’ party … hint, hint … you might want to grab some pineapple at the store while you’re buying the sun-dried tomatoes for this pasta recipe! Oh – and if you’re loving the grilled pineapple idea, you could also check out our own recipe here at THK, for Grilled Tropical Fruit with Almond-Ricotta Sauce! Great minds really do think alike!)
We really appreciated that Kristin’s suggestions were so practical, so sensible and easy for anyone to implement!
Next time it’s Italian night at your house, give some of Kristin’s ideas a try … a few simple little strategies can add up to a big difference!
And hey … next time you’re thinking “Italian Night” … you should definitely make this fantastic Spinach Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (and maybe that Grilled Pineapple, too)!
Then grab yourself a copy of Domestic Chic, and keep Italian night rolling all year long! (But first, be sure to enter our giveaway to WIN yourself a copy of Domestic Chic … two lucky readers will win, win, win!)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable stock
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (we sliced ours into thin strips)
- Sea salt to taste (we used 1 teaspoon)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste (we used 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 pound spinach spaghetti (see note)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (see note)
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
- Place the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat, and continuously stir until lightly toasted.
- Add olive oil and sauté garlic with red pepper flakes. Pour vegetable stock in the pan, and add sun-dried tomatoes. Continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes.
- Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Place spinach spaghetti in the pot and cook until al dente (according to your brand's cooking directions) and drain.
- Add cooked pasta into skillet with sun-dried tomato mixture and gently stir together. Mix in parmesan. Add chopped parsley on top before serving.
THK Notes and Recommendations:
Spaghetti: We were unable to find spinach spaghetti in our local stores, so we substituted spinach linguine. Alternately, you could try substituting whole-grain spaghetti, linguine or even fettuccine.
Parmesan Cheese: To make this pasta recipe truly vegetarian, be sure to select a parmesan cheese made with non-traditional enzyme alternatives from microbes or fermentation, rather than the traditional rennet.
Adjusting consistency: This pasta recipe is delicious as written, but we really loved the looser, creamier consistency we achieved by adding in some reserved pasta cooking water. Simply reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta, and stir in the desired amount of cooking water along with the pasta, prior to adding the cheese and parsley.