Since I live in Italy, every day is pasta day. But the folks at Oldways Preservation and Trust reminded me that today is actually World Pasta Day. I first celebrated pasta with them back in 2004, when they held the Healthy Pasta Meal Conference here in Rome. At the time people were going a bit crazy in terms of hating the dreaded carbohydrate. Atkins was at its height and the latest food craze blamed everything on poor pasta.
But hey folks, remember the Mediterranean Diet? People in the Mediterranean have been eating carbohydrates, combined with fruits, vegetables, legumes and olive oil for 1000’s of years. And living a healthy life while at it. Well, I knew this, but it took Oldways to bring the situation back into focus, by bringing together scientists, nutritionists and food authorities to preach the benefits of a healthy pasta meal.
Here at our house we usually eat pasta once a day, either at lunch or dinner (usually dinner). If you think that sounds boring or fattening, it’s neither. While we certainly enjoy heavy dishes like lasagna and ravioli for special occasions, the pasta I make at home every day is more likely to involve copious quantities of vegetables. Sometimes, as in this recipe, I do use whole grain pasta, (Melissa Clark just wrote an excellent piece on this option) but I am just as likely to use a high quality regular pasta like those by Cavalieri or Faella.
To keep things healthy I usually tip the scale in favor of vegetables. In other words, I use less pasta and more veggies. Italian recipes usually call for 100 grams of pasta per person. I often cut this back to as little as 50 grams. When mixed in with a hefty amount of vegetable-based sauce, you still get a satisfying plateful of goodness.
I used a mixture of red and yellow cornuto peppers in this dish. You can use any red or yellow pepper, but I think green ones don’t work well in this recipe
1 large leek
1 fresh hot pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup broth
200 grams of whole wheat penne
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan, large enough to hold both peppers and pasta later.
When warm, add leeks, which you’ve cut into 1/2 size rings.
Let cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add hot pepper, garlic and anchovies, and stir until the garlic is fragrant (2 minutes)
Add red and yellow peppers, which you have cut into 1/2 pieces.
Let the peppers cook at low heat until very soft. If things are getting too dry, you can add a bit of broth.
In the meantime bring a pot of water to boil, add salt and boil the pasta till al dente. Drain pasta and add to pepper. Heat the two together, adding anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the broth, so that it is not too dry. Top with parsley and serve.