Sunday, January 28, 2007

"Pasta Light - 80 Low-Fat, Low-Calorie, Fast & Furious Pasta Sauces" - Tuna Nicoise Pasta

Date I made this recipe: January 27, 2007

Pasta Light – 80 Low-Fat, Low-Calorie, Fast & Fabulous Pasta Sauces by Normal Kolpas
Published by: Contemporary Books
ISBN: 0-8092-4177-3 © 1990
Recipe: Tuna Nicoise – p. 56

In my last post, I mentioned that winter in Minnesota means “Get out that Crockpot!” But alas, people, it also means “Watch that waistline!” For those who don’t live in a climate where it’s cold (and snowy and icy and…) 6 months of the year, shivering is one way to burn calories, but sitting in front of the TV set because it’s 10 degrees and therefore too cold to go outside, is not.

Now, I’ve been fortunate to be relatively skinny my whole life but as many women of the pre-menopausal/menopausal age know, there comes a point where fat deposits, heretofore unseen by the naked eye, move in and set up house. In my case, it was right in the waistline and so when I wasn’t shivering, I was devising ways to rid myself of that pocket, tout de suite!

And this is why, for the past several winters, I’ve worked out to several cardio DVDs after coming home from work. (In the summer, I walk around our city lakes like a civilized person should). My three favorites are part of the Crunch series: Fat Burning Blast, Cardio Salsa and Fat Burning Dance Party There’s nothing like a little cha cha cha to make your forget that you just slid your way home on a 15 mile sheet of ice.

So, I’m working out and feelin’ good (or groovy, take your pick) and then wham! Everything I read suggested that cardio was not enough. Oh no, people, now I had to lift weights in order to stay in shape and keep those darn menopausal effects at bay.

Well, for the love of Mike, like I have time for this stuff! But okay, good citizen that I am, I bought, on the recommendation of a friend, Denise Austin’s Boot Camp (Total Body Blast!) DVD because it included a weight-lifting section and Oh.My.God…I want to talk to the person’s responsible dreaming up this weight-lifting thing. (And the friend who thought this DVD was just the ticket!)

Denise is nothing else if not perky. She is perky and encouraging, all at the same time. “You’re an athlete, your training like an athlete.” “You’re a champion.” “You’re doing a great job” (Oh yeah, me writhing in pain is great). What I did not hear was “You’re an animal.” “You’re a tiger.” This would have inspired me. (Okay, I lied. A simple “great job” would have sufficed. I’m past the tiger stage).

Denise is also delusional about the average person’s abilities to follow along with this DVD (And Denise, I mean that in the nicest possible way). Halfway through one routine, all of a sudden she yelled “PUSHUPS!” and we (she) did pushups. We’re not talking girly pushups like we learned in gym. Oh no, we were talking regular guy pushups. As if.

Now people, I would have fallen on the floor laughing at this sudden changeup in the workout had I not already been on the floor trying to stop my arms spasms. And if you think that sounds scary, you just wait until you get to the Flexibility section of the DVD and do the hip exercises. Oh yeah, right, like that position is an exercise move…

At any rate…it was during one of these near blackout-from-pain moments that I remembered that I had the Pasta Light recipe book, given to me many years ago by a friend concerned about my cholesterol level (family history) rather than my weight. (And as lovely a thought as it was, there’s no way this Sicilian gal is bypassing “real” ingredients such as sausage, ricotta cheese, etc. on a regular basis. I’m just saying).

Now, I think at the time I made one dish in the book although I’m not quite sure. While the ingredients are checked off, it appears the recipe page might have just served as a repository for my grocery list, to wit: OJ, picante, chips, Das (as in Hagen Das), Chlorine (?) And Kleenex. (I was probably thinking ahead to the crying I’d do after the DVD finished). And so just in case, I selected another recipe.

This time around, I made the Tuna Nicoise recipe and to my complete amazement, it was really tasty. It didn’t involve a lot of chopping (and thank God for that as my arms were rubbery) and required only a few ingredients I didn’t already have. It was the perfect low-calorie accompaniment to a high-energy workout. At least I think it was high energy. I’ll let you know when I’m out of intensive care. In the meantime, remember people, we can all be champions and athletes in the kitchen with very little effort. It’s the champion outside of the kitchen that I’m working on. (“Okay, time for FOOTBALL DRILLS! Go, go, go…..”)

Tuna Nicoise – Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium shallots, chopped fine
1 medium garlic clove, chopped fine
1 small (3-ounce) onion, coarsely chopped
1 small (5-ounce) green pepper, halved, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 16-ounce can salt-free whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon double-concentrate tomato paste (usually found in a tube. If you can’t find a tube of double-concentrate, the author indicates to double the amount to two tablespoons of regular tomato paste)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ tablespoon dried oregano
½ tablespoon dried basil
1 6 ½ -ounce can white tuna in spring water, broken into rough chunks
1 cup (about 48) medium-sized canned, low-salt, pitted black olives, drained and broken into halves by hand. NOTE: I couldn’t find any olives whatsoever that were low-salt so I bought a can of chopped, black olives and rinsed them.
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the shallots, garlic, onion, and bell pepper and sauté until they begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands, and stir in the vinegar, tomato paste, sugar, oregano, and basil. Simmer until thick but still slightly liquid, about 7 minutes. Then gently stir in the tuna, olives, capers, and parsley and simmer until thick and thoroughly heated through, 5 to 7 minutes more.

Spoon over cooked pasta and season to taste with plenty of black pepper. The author calls for medium-sized strands, ribbons, tubes, or shapes. I used bow-tie pasta but probably could have gone bigger if I wanted.

Dietary information per serving (sauce only) provided by the author:
Calories: 206
Fat: 8g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 668 mg

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