Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pasta L'estate

This dish sings with the bright summery flavours of dill and lemon, balanced with the briney saltiness of capers mellowed in a tangy wine sauce. Is that flowery enough for you? I can't help myself, this dish inspires poetic thoughts!

Regularly, I am not a big fan of white pasta. I wish I could get whole wheat tortellini, because sometimes nothing but tortellini will do! One day I will make a bunch myself and freeze them for future use. In the meantime, I have a shameful little bag of white flour tortellini lurking in my pantry. By weight, it's slightly lower in calories than other dried pastas, I guess because the stuffing is less calorie-dense.

This dish could be modified to use any whole wheat pasta, but today we are looking at spinach and ricotta tortellinis in all their white flour glory. I used a very small portion and and pumped the dish up with tons of shrimp and asparagus, low-cal powerhouses loaded with protein and nutrients, respectively. I wanted a sauce that didn't add a lot of extra calories or richness, something light and summery, and one of my absolute favourite flavour combinations is lemon, capers, and dill. So in they all went to create a lusciously lovely summer pasta dish. I looked up "summer" in Italian just to name this dish ;).

Sherylyn's Pasta L'estate

1/2C dry pasta (corn or rice pasta for GF)
1 clove garlic, crushed
10 asparagus spears, cut diagonally into 2" peices
1/4C chopped onion (I used spanish onions from my balcony, exciting!)
1/4C frozen peas (fresh would be awesome)
200g frozen peeled and deveined shrimp
2 Tbsp snipped dill
1/4C dry white wine
1/4C low-sodium chicken broth
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp capers
fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp parmesan cheese, finely grated

Boil pasta as directed. In the meantime, heat a wok on medium-high heat and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add garlic and onion, sauté for one minute. Add asparagus and saute for another minute. Add chicken broth and stir occasionally until broth is nearly evaporated. Asparagus should be al dente at this point.

Things are going to move very quickly from this point. Add shrimp, dill, peas, lemon, capers and pepper. Sauté until shrimp is pink, maybe one minute. Remove vegetables and shrimp with a slotted spoon to a bowl,leaving behind liquid, add half the wine and simmer. Allow the liquid to reduce to a couple of tablespoons, then add the cornstarch dissolved in the reserved wine. It will thicken very quickly, stir contstantly until it's a thick paste and add the vegetables and shrimp back in. Add the parmesan as well and toss to coat.

Nutritional values: 436 calories, 11.8g fat, 43g protein, 38.7g carbs, 7.3g fibre, 900g sodium.