Friday, October 26, 2007

Classy, Squared: Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms

(First, a very happy 30th birthday to Rachel, the Cheap Healthy Gourmet. Judy Longhair, you are truly flopacetic.)

When I started on Weight Watchers, the hardest obstacle to overcome was the strict limitation on all things white and starchy. See, while carbs are filling, delicious, and generally good for society, they’re also super-high in calories. Not good for smaller butts and such. Thusly, my Giant Bowl of Spaghetti Days were officially put on notice. Bummer.

But … but … I love rotini. I adore penne. Given the chance (and a large dowry), I would elope with a piece of linguini. Subsequently, my first dietary mission was to discover a pasta dish that:

A) Would fit into the plan,
B) Was relatively affordable, and,
C) Didn’t taste like a salad sprinkled with bits of macaroni.

WW Online yielded some good options, but ultimately, it was (*gasp*) AllRecipes to the rescue. Normally, the average AR dish contains enough butter, oil, and/or lard to make Paula Deen insane with envy. (“AH’M so JEALOUS of y’all. *cackle cackle cackle* It’s makin’ me lose MAH MIND.”) Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms was a glaringly classy exception.

Simple and even elegant, it's a filling dish that tricks you into eating almost-crazy amounts of vegetables. (Devious.) I’ve played with the recipe a bunch over the last year or two, and found that fresh mushrooms, good parm, and a heavy hand with the red pepper help immeasurably. Some of the other reviewers suggest adding onions. I tried it, and it, and … foul. Blech. No good. Don’t do it.

One slight disadvantage: if you're on WW, the serving size is perfect, and makes for a full dinner. If you're not dieting, the portions are a tad small. You might want to serve a soup alongside. Perhaps THIS ONE? Aw, yeah.

Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms
4 servings
Adapted from All Recipes.

1 to 1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus (not super-thick), trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
8 ounces thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2) While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. add broth and mushrooms. Cook another 4 minutes, or until both asparagus and mushrooms are tender. When finished, kill the heat entirely.

3) Pour pasta into skillet and toss with vegetables. Add parmesan and crushed red pepper and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with a little more parmesan

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
342 calories, 9 g fat, $1.25 each

Calculations
1 pound fresh asparagus: 150 calories, 1.5 g fat, $1.76
1/4 cup chicken broth: 22 calories, 0.7 g fat, $0.04
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms: 50 calories, 0.8 g fat, $0.98
8 ounces angel hair pasta: 811 calories, 4.1 g fat, $0.25
1 tablespoon olive oil: 120 calories, 14 g fat, $0.08
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese: 216 calories, 14.3 g fat, $1.50
TOTAL: 1369 calories, 35.4 g fat, $4.99
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 342 calories, 9 g fat, $1.25 each

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6 comments:

Anna S said...

It looks delicious, but do you think chicken broth could be replaced with something? For us vegetarians :)

Kris said...

Hey Anna - I think you could definitely go with veggie broth (or even water with a little seasoning) and still be totally fine. Hope you like it!

Taylor said...

Would it be okay if I exchange asparagus with something else like carrots? it looks really yummy but i dont really like asparagus... :)

Kris said...

Hi Taylor. I might double up on the mushrooms, or even use bell peppers or onions. Carrots might lend it a strange taste.

Sky said...

It's pretty good, definitely worth making if it sounds good, but I cannot imagine a world in which it costs as little as calculated here! I added fresh basil and broccoli, but it cost me $25.

Anonymous said...

I really loved this dish but for some reason my parm. cheese(I used fresh grated)melted in big lumps?!Did I not do something correct here?Please help,would really like to make this dish again.My hubby even liked it and he's a huge meat eater.