It's New Year's resolution season. We've started small: drinking more green tea, taking the dog for an extra walk, and switching to more fiber-rich foods. The gym will come next week, we swear. Keeping with the small changes theme, we decided to try something we swore would never land on our picky palate: whole-wheat pasta.
We all know that consuming bowl after bowl of hearty linguini with a meaty Bolognese sauce and mounds of cheese is not going to help any of us reach our goals, which is why we set out to trim down our pasta. And just in case you think the results are skewed, bear in mind that our carb-loving boyfriend (who could not possibly care less about whole-grain anything) helped us judge.
We began the experiment by boiling two large pots of salted water, then adding whole-wheat spaghetti to one and regular spaghetti to the other. Both pastas were inexpensive, dried varieties that you can get at any supermarket.
We cooked each until just al dente. The regular spaghetti reached this point a bit quicker. The whole-wheat pasta was firmer even after it was done. Thus far, the two were surprisingly neck and neck. We actually enjoyed the ever-so-slightly firmer texture of the whole wheat pasta.
We put the pots back on the stove and added a few glugs of heart-healthy Spanish olive oil in one of them. Once the oil was hot, we added some minced garlic and crushed red pepper to taste. Making sure the oil was hot ensured proper infusion of the flavors throughout the oil.
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We opened up two cans of dolphin-safe tuna and added them to the infused oil. Grabbing our handy dandy Microplane, we zested a lemon and threw that in along with the juice (sans seeds), stirring gently to break up the tuna. Next came a good, healthy handful of Panko breadcrumbs, a few grinds of fresh pepper, a big pinch of kosher salt and another gentle stirring.
We divvied the tuna mixture between the two pans and added the pasta: one bowl of whole-wheat and one bowl of original white. Next, we topped each bowl with a fat sprinkle of minced parsley and fresh crumbled reduced-fat feta, adding flavor and color.
Honestly, we did not have much hope for the "healthier" pasta. But after gobbling up two big plates of it, plus a few forkfuls of the regular version, we were hooked. We love that the whole-wheat pasta puts up a bit of a fight and leaves you feeling full for a long time. And with the tuna, lower fat cheese, and gobs of spices, we did not feel the slightest bit deprived. Even our fast-food-junkie boyfriend loved the whole-wheat version, proving it by going back for thirds. He did admit that he was more partial to the moist softness of the original pasta, but said that he would happily eat either for dinner on any given day.
Bonus: This dish is great served cold for lunch the next day.