- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta, cut into ¾” pieces
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small carrot, minced
- ½ medium onion, minced
- ½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 1 (28-oz.) can peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, undrained and puréed
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti
- 1¼ cups grated Pecorino Romano
1. Heat oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Add pepper; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Increase heat to medium-high; add garlic, carrots, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add chile flakes; cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and flavors meld, 20–25 minutes. Season with salt; keep warm.2. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just al dente, 6–8 minutes. Reserve 1⁄2 cup pasta water; drain pasta. Heat reserved sauce over medium heat. Add pasta and reserved water; cook, tossing, until sauce clings to pasta, 2–3 minutes. Add 1⁄2 cup Pecorino; toss. Divide between serving bowls; serve with remaining Pecorino.
The fibrous flesh of spaghetti squash resembles long noodles after cooking and shredding. Although the squash noodles differ in flavor from traditional flour-based pasta noodles, you can use them in much the same way as pasta. The squash has a mild, nutty flavor that complements lighter pasta sauces, making it a healthful low-carbohydrate replacement for spaghetti in your favorite dishes. Use the squash as the focal point of a light meal or as pasta-like side dish.
Cut a washed spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out of the center.
Lay the squash cut side down on a baking sheet. Poke the rind all over with the tines of a fork. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the flesh is tender enough to pierce with a fork.
Flip the cooled squash halves over to reveal the flesh. Scrape a fork down the length of each squash half, separating the spaghetti-like strands from the rind.
Toss the squash strands in a tomato-based pasta sauce to create a meal similar to spaghetti. Alternatively, coat the strands in melted butter with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and crushed pepper. Most pasta sauces, except heavy cream sauces, complement the squash noodles well.
Pasta is a global favorite, but not all pasta is alike. Whole-grain pasta has a chewier texture than regular pasta, but it’s also more nutrient-rich. Whole-grain pasta wins out over regular pasta every time as your healthiest choice. If you’re having trouble making the switch to whole-grain pasta, start with a half-and-half blend of the two pastas and increase the percentage of whole-grain pasta each time you cook it.
All grains are whole before they are milled or refined. Whole grains contain an inner layer called the germ, a middle layer called the endosperm and an outer layer of bran. When whole grains go through the milling or refining process, the nutritious bran and germ are removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm, which is what regular white pasta is made from. Check the ingredients list on the pasta food label to ensure the words “whole grain,” “whole wheat” or another whole grain is listed as the predominant ingredient.
Whole-grain pasta beats regular pasta when it comes to fiber content. A 1-cup serving of cooked whole-grain pasta contains 3.9 total grams of fiber, while the same amount of white pasta contains 2.3 grams. Fiber is the part of a plant food that your body can’t digest. It is crucial to a healthy diet because it helps move food waste through your digestive tract, reducing constipation. It helps lower blood pressure and also helps keep your body’s blood sugar levels stable.
Regular pasta may be fortified with iron and other nutrients, which means that certain nutrients like B vitamins and folate that were removed during the refining process are added back into the pasta. While the carbohydrate and fat content of both pastas is similar, whole-wheat pasta provides the most protein, and the calcium content for whole-wheat pasta is double that of regular. While a 2-ounce serving of regular pasta contains 108 milligrams of phosphorus and 30 milligrams of magnesium, its whole-wheat counterpart contains 147 milligrams of phosphorus and 82 milligrams of magnesium. Phosphorus helps build and protect your bones and teeth. Magnesium is crucial for many chemical reactions in your body.
When certain starch-rich foods, such as pasta, are cooked and then cooled, their starch changes form, making it more resistant to digestion. Resistant starch, which is a form of fiber, helps maintain good colon health and low blood cholesterol levels. To get the most benefits from nutrients and resistant starch, it’s best to choose whole-grain pasta instead of pasta made from refined white flour. A cold pasta salad makes an excellent resistant-starch choice.
While the glycemic index, which refers to the effect food has on your body’s blood sugar levels, ranks both regular pasta and whole-wheat pasta in the low range — under 50 — the whole-wheat variety still comes out the winner with a GI of 37 compared to regular pasta with a GI of 41. Overcooking your pasta swells and gelatinizes its starch grains, making them more available for digestive enzymes. This increases the food’s GI. Serve your pasta al dente — firm to the bite — so that it is digested more slowly, so about 7 mins.