Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Regular readers know that I started cooking as part of a larger effort to lose weight and get healthy. I was significantly overweight and needed to make a change. But, it wasn't as if I hadn't tried before. My previous efforts had failed, primarily, for two reasons; I felt I had to completely give up foods I loved and there was no one there to help, educate and support me. My wife and I turned to Weight Watchers and learned how to live a healthier lifestyle without giving up on the foods we loved. We learned about healthier ways of cooking, eating and living.
In the last month, Weight Watchers has changed the way they assign points to food. The points plus system uses the amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat and fiber in a dish to determine the value. You get so many points in a day, plus additional points to use whenever needed through the week. The logarithm that determines point value is weighted toward lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
In honor of the new plan, I made a Spaghetti alla Puttanesca with Chicken. I love the story behind puttanesca. As the story goes, prostitutes (puttanesca translates literally as whores) in 1950s Italy were only allowed to leave the brothel to shop once a week, as opposed to daily, so they used ingredients that would keep; olives, anchovies, capers, garlic and peppers. How valid the story is doesn't matter, it's fun. And the dish is delicious. My version fortifies it with some onion and red wine and I use a small piece of chicken instead of anchovies to satisfy the fish-opposed pallet of our son.
The dish works out to 308 calories with 28 grams of protein, 36 grams of carbohydrate, and 5 grams each of fat and fiber.
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Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Make 6 servings
8 ounces dry whole wheat spaghetti
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 3 breast halves) filleted and cut in half
1 small onion, diced
20 kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons capers, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup full-flavored red wine
28 ounces diced tomatoes in juice
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped, divided
Put salted water on to boil for pasta and prepare pasta according to package directions, minus two minutes from al dante.
As you wait for the water to boil and the spaghetti to go in, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and cook, searing each side, until just cooked through. Remove chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
In the same skillet, add onion, olives and capers. Saute until onions are just translucent, about 3 minutes, and add garlic, oregano and red pepper. Saute until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add wine and deglaze the skillet. Continue to cook until the wine is nearly evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir to combine.
The water should be ready by now, add the pasta and let the sauce reduce while the pasta cooks. Add 1/4 cup of parsley and salt and pepper to taste to the sauce.
When the pasta is 2 minutes from al dante, drain and add to the sauce. Stir the pasta in and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Plate, top with remaining parsley and serve with chicken.
Deal of the Day: This Pinzon Stainless-Steel Mandoline is on my Christmas list and is marked down from $60 to $42 at Amazon!