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Cook it light: Lots of veggie choices for pasta dish

Dear Jeanne: I like to make this when asparagus is plentiful. It is delicious, but the cream is not on my current diet. Can you tell me how to make it better?

Erin Miller, Seattle

Dear Erin: I have added lots of vegetables to this, but they are interchangeable with any vegetables you have. Just make sure they are all cut up before you start cooking, and if they take longer than 3 minutes to cook, pre-cook them, as I did with the broccoli.

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CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS WITH LINGUINE

1/4 cup butter

1 pound chicken breasts, cut into strips

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh basil

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 pound linguine, cooked

Melt butter and brown chicken in it. Add the tomatoes and asparagus, and cook until almost tender. Add the garlic, basil and heavy cream. Bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Mix into linguine; add extra cream if needed.

Make 4 servings.

CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES WITH LINGUINE

8 ounces whole-wheat linguine (or other shape)

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces

2 cups zucchini, cut into small pieces

1 cup fat-free chicken broth

2 cups broccoli florets, parboiled

4 cups fresh baby spinach

1 bunch green onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) Parmesan cheese

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions and drain. Set aside.

2. Place a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil to heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until no longer pink inside. Remove from the pan, set aside and keep warm.

3. Add the tomatoes, asparagus and zucchini. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth as needed. Add the broccoli, spinach, green onions, garlic, fresh basil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Add more chicken broth as needed, and cook just until the spinach is wilted. Add the chicken back into the pan.

4. Combine the vegetables and linguine, and top each serving with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original Recipe: 888 calories; 34 gm fat; 157 mg cholesterol; 1,111 mg sodium; 94 gm carbohydrates; 51 gm protein; 5 gm fiber. Revised Recipe: 326 calories; 7 gm fat; 54 mg cholesterol; 440 mg sodium; 38 gm carbohydrates; 30 gm protein; 7 gm fiber.

Jeanne Jones is the author of 33 cookbooks, most recently "Cooking From the Cupboard" (Rodale Press). For more information, you can go to her Web site, jeannejones.com.

© King Features Syndicate Inc.