Rustic Italian Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes, Raisins & Toasted Walnuts
If you cherish pasta like I do, I think you will love this plant-based, high protein rustic Italian pasta with heirloom tomatoes, walnuts, capers and olives. A mouthful but a delectable mouthful. I especially loved the addition of the raisins because they added a sweetness that offset the earthiness of the walnuts and the saltiness of the capers and olives. I experimented with a wheat-free quinoa pasta instead of the durum wheat or whole wheat pasta I usually use. Durum is a variety of wheat that has a higher protein and gluten content than other kinds of pasta. Wheat durum also has a glycemic load of 87%, compared to quinoa, which has a glycemic load of only 18%. The average glycemic index of whole-wheat pasta is 32, compared with white pasta, which has an average of 42. If you are not familiar with glycemic load, here is how it works. The glycemic load of food is a number that estimates how much the food will raise a person's blood glucose level after eating it. Foods with low glycemic load keep blood sugar level, meaning that you avoid the highs and lows that can be caused by blood sugar. Also watching the glycemic load of the foods you eat can make it easier to lose weight, burn more calories and help prevent insulin resistance and diabetes. If you are diabetic and your body cannot deal with sugar in a normal way due to lack of insulin, this number is paramount. As far as protein goes, quinoa is about 15% protein, and wheat / wheat durum is approximately 14%. I think I'm sticking with quinoa pasta in the future.
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- 1 lb gluten-free quinoa penne or fusilli pasta
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- ¼ vegetable broth (or more for sauteing - if you prefer olive oil, I recommend a tablespoon or two)
- ½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 3 cups of chopped heirloom tomatoes and/or cherry tomatoes (or you can use 1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes or a combination of both)
- 12 pitted black olives, halved
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil (and some for garnish)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- salt to taste
- Cook pasta according to instructions until al dente. It should have a bite and never be too soft.
- Heat vegetable broth in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and cook until soft about 1-2 minutes.
- Add nuts, raisins and capers and cook for three minutes. It will smell fragrant.
- Add tomatoes and cook for another 3-5 minutes - you don't want them mushy
- Add olives, oregano and basil and cook for another minute.
- Drain pasta and reserve ¼ cup cooking liquid. Add to sauce.
- Toss with pasta, garnish with some chopped fresh basil and serve with red pepper flakes.