Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pasta at Panera

New at Panera Bread: in addition to the long-time, tried and true lineup of sandwiches, soups and salads, the chain just added three new, seasonal pasta dishes. Here's an excerpt from their announcement, along with a recipe for one of the dishes.
I can't vouch for the health profile of these pastas, but if you stick with the 8-ounce serving, you won't go overboard. The recipe below is richer than anything I would make or eat. I've added a few notes in the ingredients list where you could cut some of the fat and calories.
Pasta entrees at Panera Bread

"Each new pasta entrée is offered in an 8- or 16-ounce serving and includes the choice of a half cafe salad or cup of soup. All are served with freshly baked bread.

"Flavors include: Rustic Penne Belognese, Tortellni Alfredo, Pesto Sacchettini and a kids'  entrée of Buttered Ribbon Noodles. Long, flat noodles with ruffled edges are tossed in a simple yet flavorful sauce of creamy butter and sea salt."

RECIPE: Panera Pasta with Walnuts and Gorgonzola (Serves 4-6)

1 hunk Panera Ciabatta, about 3” square (note: you could use another type of bread)
1 pound linguine
¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (note: I would use less--no more than 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter (note: the Healthy Foodie says, substitute olive oil here)
1 tablespoon drained small capers
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

1. Tear hunk of bread into pieces and pulse in a food processor into coarse crumbs (about 1 cup)

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

3. Meanwhile, toast walnuts in a large deep skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes, shaking pan often to prevent burning. Remove and set aside.

4. Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook until toasted and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add butter or olive oil, capers, walnuts and pasta, tossing to coat, and add enough reserved cooking water so the walnuts cling to the pasta (a couple of tablespoons should do it). Season with salt and pepper.

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