April 24, 2008  Courier Journal

Artichoke-red pepper sauce does pasta right

By Jim Romanoff
Associated Press

After the classic red tomato sauce, finding a healthy pasta sauce isn't easy. The traditional alternatives offer a minefield of calories and fat.

This full-flavored artichoke-red pepper sauce is a healthier option. It is naturally low in fat and high in fiber.

Canned artichoke hearts and jarred roasted red peppers are puréed in a food processor with olive oil, lemon juice and dried basil. The oil enhances flavors and helps the sauce adhere to pasta. You can cut the amount or eliminate it to get even lower-in-fat results.

Use canned artichoke hearts -- and roasted red peppers -- packed in water so the sauce is lower in fat.

Whole-wheat penne with artichoke-red pepper sauce

Start to finish: 25 minutes

· 1 pound whole-wheat penne
· 2 14-ounce cans quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
· 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained                                                                             
 · ·  2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

·  3 to 4 garlic cloves to taste
· 4 teaspoons lemon juice
· 1 teaspoon dried basil (try fresh when in season)
· 1/8 teaspoon salt
· Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
· ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain and return to the pot. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the rest of the ingredients except Parmesan. Purée until smooth. Set aside until the pasta is cooked.

Add the sauce to the pasta. Toss over low heat until heated through. Top with Parmesan cheese. Serves 6. (these would be BIG servings; we're going to get 8, especially if served with salad)

Nutrition information per serving: 416 calories; 63 calories from fat; 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 0 milligrams cholesterol; 74 grams carbohydrate; 15 grams protein; 12 grams fiber; 644 milligrams sodium.