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Spaghetti sauce for the health conscious

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If you read my column from yesterday, I wrote about "Crunchy Chicken Salad" that contained fresh parsley. I mentioned that today, I was going to share a recipe that would enable you to use any leftover parsley you had. Parsley is easily found in bundles in the grocery's produce section. It's usually pretty inexpensive and in addition to adding color to dishes as an ingredient or a garnish, it's also a healthy food item. Fresh parsley is said to be nature's mouthwash. If you munch on a sprig of parsley after eating, it's said to be a natural breath freshener.

Unless you have recipes that enable you to use fresh parsley quickly, you may find yourself having to eventually throw out leftover parsley. Therefore, to get the good use from it, let's make a pasta dish with this commonly used herb. Let's make a sauce from it to make "Spaghetti with Pesto Sauce".

This is an interesting recipe and when I first came across it, I wasn't sure I would even like it. I examined the recipe and it's actually very healthy since it also uses garlic and olive oil, two food items that are well-known for their ability to reduce risks of heart disease. It also is topped off with another heart-healthy food, walnuts. I had my doubts when I first made this but it's redeemed itself many times over, since it's very good!

This recipe uses 2 cups of fresh parsley. I found that an average bundle of parsley that's sold in the grocery is about what you'd need. You'll strip the stems from the flower portion of the parsley and discard them. When measuring the parsley, I pack the "flowers" into the cup firmly. These "flowers" go into a blender or food processor. To this, olive oil is added, along with marjoram, basil, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder. This is pulverized into a smooth mixture. Once you have the spaghetti cooked, it's tossed with some butter, then tossed with walnuts and Parmesan. Then, the parsley sauce goes on. It's now ready to go!

When preparing this sauce, go ahead and make the full run of it, as it keeps well in a covered container under refrigeration. You can actually use as much of the sauce as you want. When I prepare it for myself, I use about 2 tablespoons of the sauce for one serving of cooked spaghetti. I then add the amount of Parmesan and walnuts I would like.

Though it calls for butter to be tossed with the cooked spaghetti before adding the sauce, I omit it. I feel the sauce provides enough richness, therefore, I don't feel it's necessary. However, feel free to use it, if you would like it on the richer side.

This is an excellent vegetarian dish and this even is great to have if you follow the Mediterranean diet. This diet, in case you're unfamiliar with it, emphasizes olive oil and fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are looking for a spaghetti that's on the healthy side, this would fit the bill perfectly.

In case you missed the recipe for the "Crunchy Chicken Salad", here's the link so you can get it:

http://www.examiner.com/article/rice-salad-with-added-crunch

Also, while I'm on the subject of spaghetti, I shared my mother's recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce, which is a very special recipe that's flavored with the traditional tomato flavor. To get the recipe, follow this link:

http://www.examiner.com/article/spaghetti-for-super-bowl-sunday

Let's don't overlook that poor bundle of parsley in you refrigerator! Prepare this recipe with it and you may find yourself keeping parsley on hand more often!

SPAGHETTI WITH PESTO SAUCE

  • 2 cups parsley, stripped from the stems
  • 1 teaspoon EACH of basil, oregano, marjoram and salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 16 oz. spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place the parsley, spices and olive oil into the jar of the electric blender or the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Blend it all at high speed, occasionally scraping sides of container with a rubber scraper. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and mix it well with the butter. Add the walnuts and Parmesan and toss. Add the pesto sauce and toss again. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Note: If serving four or five, only prepare half the amount of spaghetti and use only half of the sauce. Any remaining sauce keeps well in a covered container under refrigeration.

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