When my daughter was a toddler I created an edible masterpiece — a throw-it-together-I'm-exhausted-from-work pasta dish featuring refrigerator staples: cubes of ham, frozen peas and crumbles of feta cheese.
The dish pleased her picky little palate and was officially dubbed Bella Pasta, a nod to her nickname and her love of any noodle. So when this recipe for penne with smoked turkey sausage crossed my desk, I was eager for her to taste it and give me her verdict.
And I'm happy to report that, at age 11, she was pleased with the slightly grown-up pasta dish, noting how it was so very like her own namesake dish.
OK, so she probably didn't figure out we sneaked in a whole-grain and fiber pasta instead of a traditional durum wheat version. Or that the tasty smoked turkey sausage has less saturated fat and sodium than ham, plus more protein than if we had substituted beef or pork sausage. Or that instead of feta, a saucy combination of reduced-fat chicken broth and a few tablespoons of low-fat whipped cream cheese were the new, lower-sodium stand-ins.
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As long as she still gobbles it up, I figure I'm doing my job as both a mother and a food editor.
Shopping tips: This recipe was tested with Heartland Pasta brand whole-grain and fiber penne. The product has the taste and texture of traditional pasta, but it's also a good source of whole grain and fiber.
Penne With Smoked Turkey Sausage
2 cups whole-grain and fiber penne
1/2cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 oz. turkey smoked sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces, then each piece quartered
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons low-fat whipped tub cream cheese
1 cup frozen green peas
1/4cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt. Drain and set aside.
Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray coating. Cook onion and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Add smoked sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until nicely browned, about 3 minutes.
Add chicken broth and wine. Bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced by about one half, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until well-blended. Add peas and cook 3 minutes. Stir in pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 293 calories (29 percent from fat), 9 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 27 milligrams cholesterol, 33 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 546 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.
The Wichita Eagle—10/20/09