Saturday, May 30, 2009

Whole Wheat Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Dandelion Greens

We are going out for dinner tonight, which means we won’t be eating as healthy as we do at home. I decided to throw together a very quick whole grain pasta for lunch today. I don’t usually make 4 ingredient dishes, but that is what I made today.

Whenever I make pasta I always undercook it a little. When pasta is cooked al dente (slightly undercooked) it is a lower glycemic food. Neither my husband nor I have glucose tolerance issues. However, I see no reason to make my pancreas, or his, work harder than necessary.

This pasta is low in fat but high in flavor from the dandelion greens, sherry vinegar and sun dried tomatoes, and is packed with nutrition. The lycopene in the tomatoes is thought to help prevent a growing list of cancers. The dandelion greens are reported to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol as well as fight cancer. It is hard to tell if any of these foods will actually do what is reported, but as long as you like the taste does it really matter?

Whole Wheat Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Dandelion Greens
Makes 4 servings


13.25 ounces of Whole Wheat Rotini
6 tablespoons of sun dried tomato pesto (recipe below)
13.5 ounces of dandelion greens, trimmed and julienned
2 tablespoons of pine nuts


Cook the pasta is 6 quarts of boiling salted water for 2 minutes less than the package indicates.

When the pasta has 5 minutes remaining on the timer begin to make the sauce. Start with 6 tablespoons of tomato pesto in a large skillet. Add the dandelion greens and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook over medium heat so the dandelion greens will wilt. If the greens become too dry add a little more pasta cooking water. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce when the timer goes off, put a lid on the pan and turn off the heat. Allow the pasta to stand covered for 2 minutes so that it will absorb the sauce.

Serve the pasta hot or cold with the pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 447.03
Calories From Fat (12%)- 54.94

Total Fat - 6.44g
Saturated Fat - 0.23g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 456.51mg
Potassium - 373.86mg
Total Carbohydrates - 86.26g
Fiber - 14.64g
Sugar - 6.74g
Protein - 16.17g


The pasta has a nice sun dried tomato flavor that isn't overwhelming but is the dominant flavor in this dish. The dandelion greens lose a lot of their bitter flavor when cooked. Next time I may double the dandelion greens in this dish. I liked the textural variation that you get from the pine nuts. This dish will need a little pinch of sea salt added when serving.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Makes ¾ of a cup – serving = 1 tablespoon


½ cup of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained of their oil
¼ cup of sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons of water
2 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon of kosher salt


Put everything the food processor and puree until the paste is smooth. Store the unused portion in the refrigerator until needed.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 7.25
Calories From Fat (7%)- 0.54
Total Fat - 0.07g

Saturated Fat - 0.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 125.68mg
Potassium - 84.14mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.71g
Fiber - 0.29g
Sugar - 0.85g
Protein - 0.35g


This sun dried tomato spread has a nice background of acidity from the vinegar. I use it on pasta, pizza, and to top whole grain crackers that are spread with almond feta. It can also be thinned out with a little water or tomato juice and used to dress a salad. I also like to toss it into cold pasta or rice salads and use it with roasted vegetables.

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