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September 22, 2009

Low-carb pasta (Recipe: Broccoli, basil and pasta salad) {vegetarian}

A clean-out-the-pantry dish becomes a family favorite: broccoli, basil and pasta salad, with olives and feta.

Over the past few years, as more and more companies have jumped on the low-carbohydrate bandwagon, I've tasted some pretty dreadful products masquerading as healthy-and-delicious, so when Dreamfields low-carb pasta actually passed both the taste and texture tests, I gleefully stocked The Perfect Pantry's shelves.

Made from durum semolina flour, with no soy or substitutes, Dreamfields has all the good flavor of regular pasta. When cooked to the al dente stage, it's actually firm to the bite, with what chefs call "good mouth feel." And with just five grams of digestible carbohydrate per two-ounce serving, it's low low low on the glycemic index -- a boon to diabetics, South Beach dieters, and anyone who has to keep an eye on the daily carb count.

How does Dreamfields succeed where other alternative pastas, billed as low-carb or high-fiber or "healthy", have failed?

Thank technology and ingenuity.

Pastalong

According to the inventor of the manufacturing process by which most of this pasta's carbs become "protected" or non-digestible, it "involves molecular interactions that help block the enzyme from attacking the carbohydrate starch granule. It is not encapsulated. We have basically created the situation where there is a matrix more or less that has a tendency to attract the enzyme to the matrix and not the carbohydrate."

That doesn't sound terribly appetizing, but the result is a truly technology-forward pasta that will hold up to your most traditional recipes.

Dreamfields does cost more than other dry pastas; at my local supermarket, a 16-ounce box sells for $3.29, compared to DeCecco ($2.39), Barilla ($1.33 to $1.79), Ronzoni ($1.25), and the store's own brand ($1.20). But, in the case of carbs, I'm willing to pay a bit more to get a bit less.

Broccoli, basil and pasta salad, with olives and feta.

Broccoli, basil and pasta salad

Serves 4; can be doubled.

Ingredients

1/2 lb low-carb pasta (rotini or penne or linguine or spaghetti)
2 cups broccoli florets
6 large basil leaves
12 black olives, roughly chopped
1/2 lb feta or bleu cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts or toasted pine nuts (optional)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Large pinch of kosher salt, or more to taste
Small pinch of fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain, rinse under cool water, drain again, and place in a large mixing bowl.

Bring a pot of water to the boil. Place ice cubes and cold water in a bowl on the counter top. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, blanch the broccoli florets for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon into the bowl of ice water. (This will set the color.) Drain, and add to the pasta.

Roughly chop the basil leaves and add to the pasta, along with the olives, cheese and nuts.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Shake to combine. Taste, adjust seasonings, and add dressing to the pasta ingredients. Toss to coat everything with the dressing, and serve.


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Tex-Mex penne
Turkey-chile rotini
Falafel-turkey meatballs with pasta
Curried shrimp and pasta salad
Linguine with tomato-olive sauce

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Comments

What a gorgeous photo- so fresh and colorful. I just want to dig right in. [I could eat pasta till the cows come home. And I do. For me it's brown rice pasta these days.]

I love recipes like this. And especially just now as we are heading into our New Zealand summer :-)

frsh, simple and just perfect. these kind of recipes are honestly the best. we love our pasta and are always enjoying it new ways.

I will have to keep a look out for this pasta in our supermarkets. Thanks for the heads up.

I love pasta. I'm too on the brown rice pasta bandwagon, but this looks delicious nonetheless. I could dig in and clean my bowl, no problems!

Your photography makes everything tantalizingly lucious. I think I'll just dive in and be happy.

I'm definitely a huge fan of Dreamfields! At my store, they're carrying less of a variety than they used to, so I'm glad to see I can still get it at Amazon.com if I have to. This sounds like a delicious variation on pasta salad.

just made chicken, broccoli, ziti last night.
These days I am trying use rice pasta but I might give this a try!

Your salad looks terrific! We've become Dreamfields fans, too. Fellow-blogger Kalyn's Kitchen put me on to it (and introduced me to your great blog as well!)We haven't found it locally, so we get it from Amazon.com. Wish they had orzo. Maybe we fans can ban together to lobby for additional shapes...

Karina, Alta, Carol: Dreamfields is to me what rice pasta is to you -- the pasta that makes it possible for me to eat pasta again. I love it.

Lynne, Meeta: this has become a go-to dinner dish for us, too.

Bellini Valli, my supermarket has a limited variety of Dreamfields, but it's all available on Amazon if you can't find it in your local market.

Pauline, thanks so much. This was as luscious as it looks!

Kalyn, I'm finding the same thing. Most of the time my grocery store has linguine and elbow macaroni, and occasionally rotini (and when they have that, I stock up).

Maggie, I love that idea. An online petition to add pasta shapes to the Dreamfields line?

Very nice recipe...thanks.

Kids don't like broccoli, but this is a good recipe with pasta. It looks so fresh, colorful that everyone would love to give it a try. Adding on Dreamfields would make it even better. With a pack of vegan cheese keeping it low-carb still. Having this and then one of my favorite cigars Habanos, I can't ask for more!

I haven't seen Dreamfield's...must give it a try.

Thanks for the info on this new pasta, I will definitely keep an eye out for it.

Milton, thanks.

Jeremy, I never liked broccoli much as an adult, either, until a few years ago. Cheese makes everything better.

Noble Pig, Natashya: If you can't find this in your local market, you can definitely find it online. Worth a try; I really think it tastes just like regular wheat pasta.

It is refreshing to find a whole, healthy pasta that is lower in carbs for those people that are conscious about their carb intake. I have also tried these low carb pasta and agree with you, the texture and taste are great and you would not know they were any different.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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