If you dine out and order a pasta dish, chances are you're getting a huge serving.
Americans love their pasta.
In the just released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, pasta ranks eighth among the top 25 sources of calories for Americans age 19 and older. These guidelines from the U. S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services are released every five years and offer nutritional guidance to promote health.
I checked the nutritional information for a dish of spaghetti and Italian sausage on the Web site of a popular Italian eatery and wasn’t that surprised.
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An entree serving, which of course is a generous serving, has 1,270 calories and a whopping 67 grams of fat – more than a day’s worth of fat – and 24 grams saturated fat. And its sodium content is a staggering 3,090 milligrams – more than a day’s worth under the current guidelines.
When serving pasta, consider that 8 ounces of dry, uncooked, long pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, etc.) will yield 4 cups cooked.
For today’s recipe, I used a range of 8 to 12 ounces of pasta, which will allow about 11/2 cups of pasta per serving. Pairing the pasta with the sausage and spinach helps make a filling meal.
When cooking pasta, some people add oil to the water. Others add salt. I typically add a few teaspoons of kosher salt to the water once it comes to a boil. The one thing I always do is use a large pot with lots of water. Pasta needs to swim around.
Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and stir it a few times to break it up. When the water comes back to a boil, set the timer for 9 to 11 minutes, depending on the pasta.
This Spaghettini with Sweet Italian Sausage and Spinach is adapted from an older recipe. It originally called for heavy whipping cream and regular Italian sausage. I used Italian turkey sausage. You can use sweet, mild or hot. To make the sausage easier to slice, freeze it until just slightly firm. Instead of heavy whipping cream, I used light cream, but you could also use fat-free half-and-half.
Spaghettini with Sweet Italian Sausage and Spinach
Yield: Serves 4; Preparation time: 15 minutes; Total time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet Italian pork or turkey sausage (link variety), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled, chopped
2 cans (14 ounces each) fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
8 to 12 ounces spaghettini or angel hair pasta (whole wheat or regular)
1 bag (10 ounces) fresh spinach, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half or light cream or heavy whipping cream
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage slices and cook 5 minutes, stirring, until they brown.
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes or until it is lightly browned.
Add the chicken broth and water; cover and bring to a boil.
Add the pasta and cook about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir the spinach into the pasta, cover and cook 3-5 minutes or until the pasta is al dente and the spinach is wilted. Stir in the cream and cook 2-3 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened and it coats the pasta.
Season with crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Divide into individual bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.
Analysis based on using Italian sausage made with pork. 348 calories (34 percent from fat), 14 grams fat (4 grams sat. fat), 33 grams carbohydrates, 29 grams protein, 796 mg sodium, 25 mg cholesterol, 10 grams fiber.
Source: From and tested by Susan M. Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen.