Friday, May 22, 2009

Pasta with Peppers, Onions and Artichokes in Tomato Sauce

We eat a lot of pasta in our house. As I like to say, it is an Italian thing. Pasta makes such a fast dinner, and is a versatile food. About 5 years ago we made the switch to whole grain pasta and now white flour pasta seems too “squishy” and almost flavorless. Whole grain pasta is so much healthier for you that it is worth trying if you haven't made the switch yet.

This sauce is low in fat and calories and contains many vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene (a carotenoid) and have been widely studied for cancer preventing properties. It has been theorized that lycopene reduces most types of cancer. According to studies, the body is better able to absorb the lycopene when the tomatoes are cooked (as is the case for canned tomatoes) and are consumed with fat (olives, pine nuts and olive oil in this recipe).

The bell peppers are full of vitamins A and C, which are powerful antioxidants. Red bell peppers are also full of lycopene like tomatoes and consuming them is inversely related to many forms of cancer.

Artichokes are antioxidant powerhouses containing many different variants. They contain quercitin like onions, which is a flavonoid that is anticarcinogenic. They also contain rutin with is anti-inflammatory as well as helps to prevent cellular proliferation. The anthocyanins also lower cancer risk and promote urinary tract health. Besides tasting great, artichokes are very good for you.

Pine nuts are full of vitamins A, C and D. Pine nuts are also full of monounsaturated fat that is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. The vitamin D in pine nuts is known to help with the absorption of calcium and to boost the immune system

Pasta with Peppers, Onions and Artichokes in Tomato Sauce
Serves 6 as a main dish


1 yellow onion, diced
6 stalks of celery from the heart, diced
4 carrots, sliced lengthwise then cut into coins
3 red or yellow peppers sliced, 1/2" strips
1/2 cup dry white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
28 ounces diced tomato
14 ounces tomato sauce
15 ounce can of artichokes, drained and cut into 1/4's
4 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon, oregano - dried
1/2 teaspoon, thyme - dried
12 silican olives pitted and minced
1 tablespoon jarred crushed hot peppers (aka wet hots)
Salt and pepper to taste
13.5 ounce box whole-wheat penne, cooked according to package directions

For garnish - whole wheat panko, minced garlic, pine nut toasted in a little olive oil until lightly brown and mixed with fresh minced parsley, optional


Sauté onions, carrot, celery and garlic in the white wine for approximately 5 minutes, or until softened slightly. Add the remaining ingredients (except pasta and garnish) and cook covered over low for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry. If the sauce starts to become to thick add more wine, vegetable stock or water to thin it out. Toss the cooked pasta with sauce and garnish with the breadcrumb mixture if desired.


This is a light healthy pasta that is still somehow substantial due to the whole wheat. We eat a variation of this pasta at least once a month.

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