Quick Fix: Pasta Stuffed Tomatoes with White Bean Salad

Ripe, juicy tomatoes are perfect for stuffing and are very inviting served on a platter with White Bean Salad for the simple vegetarian meal.

To speed things up, I have used the pulp and juice from the tomatoes as the base for the dressings in both recipes. By using a food processor, you can make this dinner in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.

You can chop everything in the food processor without having to wash the bowl each time. Grate dry ingredients such as the Parmesan first, and then chop the mint. Finally, puree the tomato pulp and add the lemon juice and olive oil.

This meal contains 578 calories per serving, with 26 percent of them from fat.

Helpful hints:

Red, yellow or green pepper may be used.

Red kidney beans may be substituted for the cannellini beans

Countdown:

Place water for pasta on to boil.

Make tomatoes.

Make bean salad.

Fred Tasker’s wine suggestions: Pasta and tomatoes — what could go better than a nice Italian chianti? If you prefer white, try a sauvignon blanc.

Shopping list:

To buy: 1 box acini pepe, alphabets or orzo; 2 large ripe tomatoes; 1 lemon; 1 small bunch fresh mint; 1 ounce Parmesan cheese; 1 bag washed, ready-to-eat Romaine salad; 1 small red bell pepper; 1 small can (19 ounces or less) cannellini beans (white kidney beans) and 1 whole wheat baguette

Staples: Olive oil, frozen chopped onion, garlic, salt and black peppercorns

PASTA-STUFFED TOMATOES

1/3 cup small pasta (acini pepe, alphabets, orzo)

2 medium tomatoes, about 1/2 pound each

2 Tbsp. chopped frozen onion

1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Place a pot filled with 3 to 4 quarts water on to boil. When water is boiling, add pasta and cook 8 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and stem tomatoes. Cut in half lengthwise. Take a small slice off the bottom of each tomato half so that it will sit up straight. With a serrated knife, cut around inside edges and remove pulp and seeds, leaving the shell intact. Chop pulp in food processor or by hand. Add onion, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reserve about 3/4 of the sauce for the bean salad.

Drain pasta and mix with remaining sauce. Add mint and parmesan. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Spoon stuffing into 4 tomato halves and place on serving platter, leaving space in the center for the white bean salad. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 245 calories (36 percent from fat), 10.0 g fat (2.4 g saturated, 5.7 g monounsaturated), 6 mg cholesterol, 9.1 g protein, 31.7 g carbohydrates, 4.9 g fiber, 131 mg sodium.

WHITE BEAN SALAD

4 cups washed, ready-to-eat Romaine salad

Tomato sauce reserved from Pasta-Stuffed Tomatoes

1 cup red bell pepper, cut into pieces about the same size as the beans

3/4 cup rinsed and drained canned cannellini beans (white kidney beans)

2 tsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 whole wheat baguette

Arrange Romaine in the center of a serving platter. Pour reserved tomato sauce from stuffed tomato recipe over lettuce. Add bell pepper, beans and olive oil to a bowl. Toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over lettuce. Serve with baguette. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 333 calories (18 percent from fat), 6.8 g fat (1.1 g saturated, 3.9 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 13.9 g protein, 55.5 g carbohydrates, 9.8 g fiber, 282 mg sodium.

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