Healthy Cook

Getting Sauced

by Kate Sherwood, September 2011

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There’s nothing easier than opening a jar of pasta sauce. But there’s nothing more satisfying than making your own healthier version. Here are Exhibits A, B, C, and D. Each serving will nicely cover 1 cup of cooked pasta.

Parmesan Cream

If the sauce separates, process with a hand blender or in a regular blender.

cloves garlic, chopped
2
extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs.
zucchini, diced
½ lb.
fat-free half-and-half
1½ cups
grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup
kosher salt
½ tsp.
Freshly ground black pepper
lemon zest
½ tsp.
lemon juice, more to taste
1 Tbs.

In a large sauce pan, gently sauté the garlic in the olive oil for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Season with up to ½ tsp. of the salt plus the pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Yields 2½ cups.

PER SERVING (¼ cup)

  • Calories: 90
  • Total Fat: 6 g
  • Sat Fat: 2 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Sodium: 270 mg
  • Cholesterol: 10 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5 g
  • Fiber: 0 g

Spinach Pesto

Try this variation on traditional pesto over half pasta, half steamed asparagus, broccoli, green beans, peas, or any other green vegetable you like.

roasted cashews
¼ cup
clove garlic
1
grated Parmesan cheese
1/3
baby spinach
4 cups
extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup
kosher salt
½ tsp.
Freshly ground black pepper
boiling water
¼ cup

Combine the nuts, garlic, and Parmesan in a food processor. Pulse a few times to mince. Add the spinach and oil. Pulse until the spinach is coarsely chopped. Season with up to ½ tsp. of the salt and plenty of pepper. Stir in ¼ cup of boiling water.

Yields 1¼ cups.

PER SERVING (1 cup)

  • Calories: 170
  • Total Fat: 16 g
  • Sat Fat: 3 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 300 mg
  • Cholesterol: 5 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Fiber: 1 g

No-Cook Tomato

Don’t feel like pasta? Just toss this simple sauce with 2 cans (3 cups) of cannellini or other white beans. Mmmm.

ripe fresh tomatoes, diced
2 lbs.
oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and diced
½ cup
extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs.
clove garlic
1
Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup
basil leaves
3 cups
kosher salt
1 tsp.
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss the fresh and sundried tomatoes together in a large bowl. Combine the oil, garlic, Parmesan, and basil in a food processor and pulse until well minced. Stir into the tomatoes. Season with up to 1 tsp. of the salt and plenty of black pepper. Allow to stand at room temperature while your pasta cooks.

Yields 5 cups.

PER SERVING (½ cup)

  • Calories: 80
  • Total Fat: 7 g
  • Sat Fat: 1 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 250 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5 g
  • Fiber: 1 g

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Chickpeas

My favorite way to use this sauce is to double the chickpeas and eat it without pasta.

cherry tomatoes, halved
3 pints
15 oz. can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained
1
cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
12
extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup
red pepper flakes
¼ tsp.
oregano
¼ tsp.
Freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt
1 tsp.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss the tomatoes, chickpeas, and garlic with the oil and remaining ingredients except the salt. Spread on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Season with up to 1 tsp. of the salt.

Yields 4 cups.


PER SERVING (½ cup)

  • Calories: 140
  • Total Fat: 8 g
  • Sat Fat: 1 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 260 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 15 g
  • Fiber: 4 g

Tomato Tip

If you refrigerate whole tomatoes, they'll become mealy. Store them on the counter instead.

CSPI TV

Watch Kate prepare healthy and delicious dishes at youtube.com/cspitv or nutritionaction.org/healthycook.

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