Bring health to the holiday table.. let vegetables, like baby spinach, ante up the color, texture and nutritional value of your favorite pasta meals.
Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the Pasta Fits campaign as a member of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time.
In my opinion, the same could be said of pasta. If you’ve been following the the #pastafits campaign, you’ll recall it began in September, when kids were heading back to school. I shared Fusilli with Broccoli and Peanuts, an easy to prepare recipe for after those hectic school days, with a bonus (leftovers pack well for school lunches)! When we turned the calendar and fall produce filled my CSA box, I made a Warm Minestrone Pasta Salad using fresh butternut squash. This meal was so versatile it could be served at a luncheon, and with a slight variation, it was tailgate ready. Now it’s time to show you how #pastafits into your holiday spread, by teaming it with colder weather vegetables, in a dish that will usher in the comfort and joy of a homecooked meal that’s both delicious and nutritious.
The stretch from Thanksgiving to December holiday prep is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, also known as the worst time of year for your waistline. But don’t get Grinchy for fear of putting on a few extra pounds. Reseach shows there are potentially effective ways to minimize holiday weight gain, including bringing health to your holiday table with more fruits and vegetables. Here are three tips to integrate more produce into your holiday spread and keep the holiday spirit high:
1. Use fruit or vegetable purees in place of up to one-half of the fat in holiday baked goods.
2. Use fruits and vegetables as a hidden ingredient; chop, puree, grate or simply add to sauces, soups, pasta, sandwiches, dips, and spreads. Puree vegetables, like broccoli, make terrific pasta sauces. Try pureed roasted red pepper or pumpkin in a risotto.
3. Use fruits and vegetables to give an obvious burst of color and texture to sandwiches, soups, stews and pasta. Today I’m adding fresh baby spinach to create a culinary star in my makeover of linguine with clams. If it was summer, I’d add ribbons of zucchini. Colder weather creates new choices for seasonal vegetables including: spinach, kale, mustard greens, and microgreens. Any of these would work with this recipe; it’s a matter of preference or what you have on hand.
I n addition to using spinach to boost the volume, nutrition and satisfaction of this dish, I’m also substituting whole wheat pasta for refined semolina. Whole wheat pasta is a great way to incorporate more whole grains into my diet. Maintaining a healthy body weight while getting older means focusing on nutrient rich foods and making every calorie count, especially during the holidays. A one cup portion of whole wheat pasta provides up to 25% of daily fiber requirements.
Linguine with Clams and Baby Spinach
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, chopped (whites only)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups, dry white wine
- 1-2 pounds( about 2 dozen) small littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 1/2 pound whole wheat linguine
- 4 cups raw spinach
- 1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook one additional minute. Add white wine to the pan. Bring to a boil and add clams. Cover and cook until clams open, about 3 to 5 minutes .
- 2. Transfer steamed clams to a bowl ; tent with foil to keep warm. Continue to cook wine mixture until it is is reduced to about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of liquid. (This will take about 2o minutes). Add salt to taste.
- 3. Prepare pasta according to package directions. When pasta is done, drain and add to pan with wine sauce; toss. Add in fresh spinach and toss again. Transfer to a large shallow platter. Top with clams. Serve immediately.