**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** Whole-wheat Penne with Artichoke-Red Pepper Sauce is seen in the Tuesday, April 15, 2008 photo. If you want to go beyond the traditional red sauce with your pasta but want to keep it healthy try this Whole-wheat Penne with Artichoke-Red Pepper Sauce. If whole-wheat pasta you have tried in the past left you disappointed give it another try as their flavor has come a long way in the past few years. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe) - AP

HEALTHY plate — Artichoke-Red Pepper Sauce

Once you veer away from the classic red tomato sauce, finding a healthy pasta sauce isn't easy.

The traditional selection of popular alternatives is a minefield of calories and fat. A typical Alfredo, for instance, can have as much as 30 grams of fat and 300 calories per 1/4 cup serving.

The healthy green color of a basil pesto can obscure the fact that between the oil, butter, nuts and cheese, 1/4 cup can deliver almost 400 calories and 36 grams of fat.

This full-flavored artichoke-red pepper sauce is naturally low in fat and high in fiber. And as a bonus, it is quite simple to prepare.

Be sure to use canned artichoke hearts that are packed in water rather than oil, which will make the sauce higher in fat. Rinsing the artichoke hearts before putting them in the food processor freshens up their flavor and helps to rinse away some of the unwanted sodium that is in the canning solution. Avoid using roasted red peppers that are packed in oil or are marinated.

Besides making a delicious topping for pasta, the artichoke-red pepper sauce can be used as a spread on sandwiches, as a dip or even as a crostini topping with some tangy goat cheese.



Start to finish: 25 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 6


Two 14-ounce cans of quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained

12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound whole-wheat penne or other small pasta shape

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the artichoke hearts, red peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Set aside until the pasta is cooked.

Add the sauce to the pasta and toss over low heat until heated through. Serve immediately, topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Nutrition information per serving: 416 calories; 63 calories from fat; 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 0 milligrams cholesterol; 74 grams carbohydrate; 15 grams protein; 12 grams fiber; 644 milligrams sodium.

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