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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pasta and salad a quick, nutritious dinner

By Linda Gassenheimer
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Tuna penne pasta and Italian white bean salad use ingredients likely to already be in your pantry.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Do you need a survival dinner for this frantic period?

Try quick, healthful tuna penne pasta. Penne pasta is perfect for this hearty tomato and tuna sauce, but any type of short-cut pasta such as shells or elbow macaroni can be used. Most of the ingredients are staples you already have on hand.

The Italian white bean salad is a quick side dish. It uses cannellini, the large, white Italian kidney beans sold in most supermarkets. To simplify dinner even more, use a washed, ready-to-eat salad instead of the romaine lettuce.

This meal contains 567 calories per serving with 12 percent of calories from fat.

Buy whole Parmesan cheese and chop it in the food processor. Freeze extra for quick use. Buy tomato paste in a tube. You can use a small amount and the rest of the tube can be stored in the refrigerator until needed again. Any type of bean such as navy, red or black beans can be used for the salad. Any hard cheese such as manchego or Romano can be used instead of Parmesan. A quick way to chop basil is to wash, dry and snip the leaves with scissors right off the stem.

Wine suggestion: This is pretty rich, with the zesty acid tang of tomatoes. A nice white chenin blanc, with similar virtues, would be a good match.


• 1/4 pound penne pasta (about 1 1/4 cups)

• 2 cups canned, diced tomatoes (including juice)

• 1 tablespoon tomato paste

• 2 garlic cloves, crushed

• 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

• 6 ounces canned white-meat tuna packed in water

• 10 pitted black olives, cut in half

• 1 teaspoon olive oil

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 3 to 4 quarts of water in a large saucepan over high heat. When it boils, add penne and cook 9 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente (firm but cooked through).

Meanwhile, mix tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, basil and tuna together. This can be done in a food processor. Pour mixture into a large serving bowl, stir in the olives, olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the serving bowl. Toss well.

Sprinkle cheese on top. Makes 2 servings.

• Per serving: 402 calories (13 percent from fat), 5.9 g fat (0.9 g saturated, 3.2 g monounsaturated), 27 mg cholesterol, 31.8 g protein, 55.8 g carbohydrates, 4.9 g fiber, 464 mg sodium.


• 1 cup romaine lettuce torn into bite-size pieces

• 1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

• 2 tablespoons reduced-fat vinaigrette dressing

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash lettuce and tear into bite-size pieces. Add to bowl with beans and add vinaigrette dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss well. Makes 2 servings.

• Per serving: 165 calories (8 percent from fat), 1.5 g fat (0.2 g saturated, 0.4 g monounsaturated), 1 mg cholesterol, 10.0 g protein, 29.0 g carbohydrates, 6.9 g fiber, 210 mg sodium.