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Queens Chronicle

A healthy start for your waistline and wallet

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Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010 12:00 am

With New Year’s just behind us, many people have made resolutions which involve eating healthier, losing weight and saving money. Happily, all can be done at the same time by looking into your pantry and utilizing items you probably already have on hand.

A hearty soup of lentils and vegetables will warm you during frigid days. A zesty white bean dip will lighten up your next crudité platter without sacrificing an ounce of flavor. And a dish of fettuccine with tuna, artichoke hearts and breadcrumbs dressed with a lemon vinaigrette will turn your cupboard into your new best friend.

Lentil Vegetable Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme

Salt and pepper

2 cups lentils

2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (or water)

1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cups water

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and cumin; season with salt and pepper and saute 8-10 minutes until vegetables become tender. Add the lentils, stock, tomatoes with their juices, and water; stir well and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are cooked and tender, about 45 minutes. Ladle soup into warmed bowls, drizzle with additional olive oil and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

White Bean Dip

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 large clove garlic

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 to 1/3-cup olive oil

Place the beans, parsley and garlic into the bowl of a small food processor or blender; sprinkle with salt and pepper and puree until the mixture is incorporated. Add the lemon juice and while the machine is still running, slowly add in the olive oil until the dip reaches a creamy —but not too wet — consistency. Spoon the dip into a small bowl and serve with crudite and crackers.

Fettuccine With Tuna and Artichoke Hearts

1 pound fettuccine

2 5-ounce cans tuna

1 6.5-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/2 cup (about 15) kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup breadcrumbs, preferably fresh

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook fettuccine according to package directions.

Meanwhile, place the tuna, artichoke hearts and olives into a small bowl. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together in another bowl; season with salt and pepper, and pour over the tuna, artichoke hearts and olives. Mix well and set aside.

Once the fettuccine is cooked, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, and drain pasta. Transfer the pasta to a large warmed bowl, add the tuna mixture and toss well, using some of the reserved pasta water to moisten if needed. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parsley. Serves 4.

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