THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
COOKING

Bowled Over

Stick-to-your-ribs whole-wheat pasta calls for a flavor-packed sauce.

By Adam Ried
January 6, 2008

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • E-mail|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

Have you noticed the landslide of new whole-wheat pasta? Suddenly, it's everywhere. But you don't want to pair it with just any sauce. Whole-wheat pasta has a full flavor that can easily overwhelm delicate sauces based on herbs or cream, but it matches well with assertive garlic, tomatoes, capers, and tangy cheese, as well as with hearty cabbage and sausage.

When it first became available, whole-wheat pasta was generally just that - made from 100 percent whole durum wheat, full of fiber and nutrient-packed bran and germ. Unfortunately, using the whole grain gave the pasta a coarse, heavy, often gummy texture. Today's whole-wheat pasta has been improved considerably by manufacturers blending whole durum and more highly refined semolina flours. These new blended-wheat pastas offer superior nutrition compared with semolina-only pasta, plus a smooth texture and a full, appealing flavor.

WHOLE-WHEAT PASTA WITH ROASTED TOMATOES, FRIED CAPERS, AND MANCHEGO
SERVES 4 TO 6

3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste, plus 1 tablespoon
2 teaspoons sugar, or more to taste
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup capers, drained and dried on paper towels
13 1/4 ounces (1 box) whole-wheat penne or other short, tubular whole-wheat pasta
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste
4 ounces manchego cheese, shaved into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
6 tablespoons chopped parsley

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a medium bowl, gently toss the cherry tomatoes, onion, 5 tablespoons of oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the sugar, and garlic. Spread the tomato mixture in a single even layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast, without stirring, until the tomato skins shrivel slightly (tomatoes should retain their shape) and the onion slices soften and turn golden, about 35 minutes. Remove the tomato mixture from the oven and cool it for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the capers and fry, stirring occasionally, until they become crisp and dark, about 5 minutes. Drain the fried capers on paper towels and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and immediately return it to the pot. With the heat off and using a rubber spatula, scrape the tomato mixture into the pot with the pasta and toss gently to combine. Add the fried capers, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, about three-quarters of the manchego shavings, and 5 tablespoons of parsley; toss gently to combine. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve at once, garnishing each portion with a few of the remaining manchego shavings and a sprinkle of the remaining parsley.

WHOLE-WHEAT PASTA WITH SAUSAGE, CABBAGE, AND ST. ANDRE
SERVES 4 TO 6

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound (about 4) chicken sausages, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup homemade or low-salt packaged chicken broth
1/2 medium head savoy cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
6 ounces St. Andre or brie cheese, rind removed, cut into small pieces
Pepper, to taste
13 1/4 ounces (1 box) whole-wheat penne or other short, tubular whole-wheat pasta
1/4 cup chopped chives, for garnish

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the sausages and cook, stirring occasionally, until light gold and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 3 minutes longer. Add the garlic and sage and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and reduce the liquid by about half, cooking about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Add the chicken broth, return to boiling, and reduce the liquid by about half, cooking about 2 minutes longer. Add the cabbage and 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes longer. Add the cheese and pepper, stir them into the cabbage mixture, take the skillet off the heat, and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to package directions until al dente. While the pasta cooks, use a measuring cup to remove 1/2 cup of boiling water from the pot and set aside. Drain the pasta in a colander and immediately return it to the pot. Set the burner under the pasta pot to low heat and, using a heat-proof spatula, scrape the cabbage mixture into the pot with the pasta and toss gently to combine. If the mixture looks too dry, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water and stir. Repeat, if necessary. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve at once, sprinkling some of the chives on each portion to garnish.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.