Date Night Pasta

As we all know, Greg loves to eat. Greg loves to eat well, but he doesn’t frequently talk about eating healthy. I do. I annoy Greg with talk of whole grains and vegetarian meals on a regular basis. Greg has kindly allowed me the opportunity to be the angel of healthy eating on your shoulder to his little devil of luxurious dining.

What is a healthy meal? Despite what the media tells you, people have to decide what is healthy for them. For some, fat content is an issue, but sodium is okay, others are strictly looking to lose weight and carb counting is all they care about. For us at home, it’s generally low fat, low sodium, and low carbs. We changed our eating habits at home so we could enjoy eating out guilt free. Just because a meal is without guilt doesn’t mean it has to be without taste, and just because there is no meat, it doesn’t mean it’s not satisfying.

What follows is something I cooked up for an at home date night. The recipe is great for many reasons: one, it’s simple, two; you could easily modify it to suit your tastes (like adding meat or maybe wilting some spinach in it), three, the choice of ingredients. By using black beans in the place of meat you get protein without the fat, also, the red pepper flakes add a bit of spice, which revs up your metabolism. The use of whole-wheat penne pasta makes the dish feel hearty without the carbs of traditional white pasta. (I know many people do not like the taste of whole-wheat pasta, that’s because there are many brands that taste like tree bark, at best. You will need to suck up a few less then stellar pasta nights to find the brand that suits you. Personally, I’m in love with Gia Russa’s Whole Wheat Penne Rigate, What follows is an excellent sin free meal to start an evening of sin.

Rebecca’s Healthy Date Night Pasta for Two
(the amounts given are general at best; everything used is really a matter of taste preference)

Boil up enough pasta for two servings. I used half of a box of Gia Russa so that I would have leftovers to take to work for lunch.

In a large high sided skillet heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Once warm, add in minced garlic, I like me some garlic so I did about two and a half teaspoons.

After the garlic has had a chance to cook, add in one, drained 14 and a half-ounce can of diced tomatoes. (You could use fresh tomatoes that you skinned and diced yourself. It would probably taste better, but I’m a lazy girl and canned seems to work fine when you’re just cooking it into a sauce.)

Add in red pepper flakes to suit your taste. I just sprinkled it in without measuring, but a light sprinkle over the entire pan seemed to be just enough to add some heat without killing us.

Toss in fresh chopped basil. I used 5 large basil leaves and thought it was a little wimpy on the basil once I was done, so you may want to go 7 or 8 depending on your feelings about basil.

Stir it all together and allow the tomatoes to cook down some and the flavors to mingle. I gave it a healthy dash of black pepper here too.

Once everything is all warm and mingled together, add in half a can of drained black beans, and stir them in until they’re warm.

When your pasta is done (Gia Russa, 10 minutes to al dente) drain it. Toss the drained penne into your skillet and stir to coat.
Serve it up in bowls with some nice, toasted up whole grain bread. In addition, a glass of red wine is not only a romantic and appropriate accompaniment for this type of meal; it’s also good for your heart’s health. Have a glass with some dark chocolate for dessert and not only are you setting the mood, but you’re helping your blood pressure and battling heart disease!

Hopefully this inspires you to take a fresh look at healthy cooking at home!

For more food talk visit What Greg Eats.