I like easy recipes and this one really is…easy and cheesy. It can be made on its own, of course, or as part of a week of meals all created from one master shopping list and a trip to Trader Joe’s. I’ve recommended side dishes as well to make a complete meal, but those are easily switched out for your family’s favorites.
- 16 oz. orecchiette or wagon wheel pasta
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- Half of a 3.8 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
- Half of a 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
- 12 oz. jar bruschetta topping or sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 oz. Grana Padano or good Parmesan cheese, grated
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts. I like to do this in a small (6-inch) cast iron skillet, but any small skillet will work. Toast them on low heat until lightly browned, watching very carefully to be sure they don’t burn.
- In a small saucepan, combine pine nuts, black olives, garbanzo beans, and bruschetta sauce, with salt and pepper to taste. Heat sauce to boiling; then reduce heat to low and simmer until pasta is ready.
- Drain cooked pasta and toss with bruschetta sauce and half of the grated cheese. Use remaining cheese to garnish each serving.
Recommended accompaniments: 6 oz. haricots verts (tiny green beans), 1½ oz. millet bread, 2 tsp. margarine or butter
Bruschetta Pasta Shopping List
16 oz. Trader Joe’s (TJ’s) Italian orecchiette pasta ($0.99)
8 oz. TJ’s raw pine nuts* ($7.99)
3.8 oz. can TJ’s sliced black olives* ($1.19)
15 oz. can TJ’s garbanzo beans* ($0.89)
12 oz. Trader Giotto’s Bruschetta (sauce) ($2.49)
5 oz. TJ’s Grana Padano cheese* ($3.72)
12 oz. TJ’s haricots verts ($2.99)
16 oz. TJ’s millet bread* ($3.69)
TOTAL with Accompaniments ($23.95)
*Will have some left after using for this meal
- Processed foods are high in sodium! I sort of view the way I cook as a compromise between fresh and convenience foods. However, I was a bit shocked by the sodium content of this meal, mostly contributed by all the canned/jarred stuff. I know Jeff and I generally do well with keeping cholesterol and saturated fat intakes low, but had always suspected we were pushing the upper limit on sodium. Depending on whom you ask, the healthy goal is around 1500-2300 mg/day and one serving of this recipe provides 909 mg. Suspicion confirmed.
- Half a can??? If it will drive you crazy to just use half a can of an ingredient you paid good money for, you could easily toss in all of the beans and olives. But, remember, it will push the sodium and calorie contents up a bit more.
- Pasta meals are high in carbohydrates! Vegetarians tend to eat a lot of carbohydrates which actually mirrors the recommendation that we should get 225-325 g per day, or the majority of our calories, from these nutritious foods. But, if 116 g of carb for this meal freaks you out, you could reduce your pasta portion to 1 cup or forgo the bread in place of more non-starchy veggies.
- Make half your grains whole grains. The recommendation to make half of our grains whole comes from the Dietary Guidelines and the American Heart Association. So, my intention with this meal was 50/50: regular pasta (refined grain) + millet bread (whole grain). Imagine my surprise when I read the ingredient list for the bread AFTER I got home. It has whole wheat flour as the third ingredient but is not in fact 100% whole grain. Even dietitians get it wrong sometimes, especially when we’re in a hurry at the grocery store.
- Pine nuts are expensive! At Trader Joe’s the pine nuts are basically a dollar an ounce. I’m in the habit of buying mine at Costco (as you can see from the picture) because of the great price: $16.99 for 24 oz. or $0.71 per ounce. It’s a big bag so I keep it in the freezer for fresher long-term storage.
- Leftovers. We’re a family of two (just counting the humans, that is) so the expectation of my meals is that we’ll get one good dinner out of them with at least 2 servings of leftovers that we can take in our lunches the next day. This recipe fits the bill. However, we did eat up all the haricots verts at dinner, so added in fruit on the side when we had the pasta a second time. And, there will definitely be leftover bread which could get used with another meal later in the week. I consider butter or margarine a pantry staple, so didn’t include it on the shopping list.
Let me know what you think! Buon appetito!