Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Simple Meatless Lunch or Dinner


A simple meatless lunch or dinner does not have to be complicated.  This culinary creation includes rigatoni, chopped spinach, Alfredo Sauce, parmesan cheese and toasted pignoli nuts.  If you happen to have a need for meat .. pick up a roasted chicken that is readily available in most grocery stores and gourmet markets.  At the end add some chicken pieces.

I used rigatoni pasta because I like the way it grabs the Alfredo Sauce.  After I assembled it I decided it could use another texture, so I toasted some pignoli nuts and garnished the pasta with the nuts.  I did not mix the nuts into the pasta because I knew I was going to have leftovers and I wanted the nuts to stay crunchy. 

The prep started with a large pot of water and once it started boiling I added about 2 Tbsp of Kosher Salt.  Then the pasta was slightly undercooked, I lifted it out of the boiling water with a long handled strainer into a colander.  Once all the pasta was out, I added the pouch of frozen chopped spinach and let it boil/simmer for about 10 minutes.  Once I lifted the spinach out, I made a small slit in the pouch and drained off some of the excess spinach water from inside the pouch.  


After draining the water from the pot, I lowered the heat on the burner and added the spinach and the Alfredo Sauce. The burner needs to be on low because you don't want to Alfredo sauce to break up which it would do if the heat is too high.  I added about 1/4 cup
of Parmesan cheese to the pot.  Once the cheese mixed-in I added some freshly ground black pepper and added about 3/4 of the pasta.  I didn't add all of the pasta because I don't like it too dry.  I also did not add any additional salt because the Parmesan cheese is quite salty.  Buitoni makes two versions of their Alfredo Sauce, which by the way is found in the refrigerator section at the grocery store, usually by or near the fresh pastas.  The lighter version has a few less calories.
As I previously mention, I garnished the pasta with some toasted pignoli nuts.  If you have never toasted nuts before, there are several ways to toast nuts ... the oven, a skillet, the microwave or a toaster oven.  I usually toast my nuts either in the oven or toaster oven on low (250 degrees F), turning them several times.

Pick your favorite pasta, add a package of frozen chopped spinach,
about a 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, one container of Buitoni Alfredo Sauce (either light or regular), fresh ground black pepper to taste and garnish with some toasted pignoli nuts.
Yum .. Yum !  Here are the secret ingredients ...