Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Portobellos add oomph to pasta

August 30, 2000


Pesto is an uncooked sauce made with fresh basil, parsley, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. It originated in Genoa, Italy and is a light and refreshing choice for a summer dinner.

Saute some meaty portobello mushrooms and add them to the pesto to complete this flavorful pasta dish in the time it takes to boil pasta.

I accompanied the dish with Roasted Pepper Salad. Roasting red peppers intensifies their flavor and gives them a smoky taste. Making your own are great, but not on my schedule for a weekday meal. I find that canned or jarred roasted peppers work well with this summer salad.

This meal contains 600 calories per person with 27 percent of calories from fat.

Helpful hints

  • Buy good quality Parmesan cheese and ask the market to grate it for you, or chop it in the food processor. Freeze extra for quick use. You can easily spoon out what you need and leave the rest frozen.
  • Curly parsley can be used instead of flat leaf parsley.
  • Any type of washed lettuce can be used for the salad base.
  • If you don't have a food processor, finely chop the herbs and garlic by hand, and stir them together with the other pesto ingredients.

Wine suggestion: Pesto's herbal qualities would go nicely with an herbal sauvignon blanc.

Mushroom Pesto Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1/4 pound portobello mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)

1/2 medium onion, sliced (1 cup)

1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and dried

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, washed and dried

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1/2 pound fresh linguine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring 3 to 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a small nonstick skillet on medium high. Saute mushrooms and onions for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the basil, parsley, garlic and salt in a food processor, and pulse until chopped. With the processor running, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and the water. Process until smooth.

Scrape the herb mixture into a large bowl, and stir in the Parmesan, pine nuts and mushroom mixture.

Cook the linguine in the boiling water for 3 minutes, or until it's cooked but still firm. Drain, and toss with the pesto sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with salad. Makes two servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 371 calories, 15 grams protein, 44 grams carbohydrate, 17 grams fat, 39 percent of calories as fat, 5.4 grams fiber, 48 milligrams cholesterol, 535 milligrams sodium.

Roasted Pepper Salad

Several leaves of washed, ready-to-eat Italian-style salad

1 cup rinsed and drained canned cannellini beans (white kidney beans)

1 cup drained and sliced canned roasted red peppers

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange salad leaves on two dinner plates. In a small bowl, toss the beans, peppers, olive oil and vinegar together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over lettuce. Makes two servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 228 calories, 10 grams protein, 43 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fat, 13 percent of calories as fat, 9.2 grams fiber, no milligrams cholesterol, 813 milligrams sodium.

-- Linda Gassenheimer is the author of five cookbooks including her newest, "Vegetarian Dinner in Minutes," published by Chronicle Books. She is featured on America Online's Electronic Gourmet Guide (eGG) and can be reached via e-mail at

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