Sunday, November 14, 2010

New ingredient obsession: Greek yogurt

Rocco Dispirito, hot celebrity chef extraordinaire, has shifted his attention in recent years from restaurants to healthy eating. I'm happy to report that his new book Now Eat This is really good, thought admittedly, I will never be completely unbiased when it comes to Rocco.

Many recipes, like the one below, call for low fat Greek yogurt, which I had never cooked with before. Once I tried though, I was hooked. It's got a great thick texture, but the best part about it is that it's all yogurt — no thickeners or gelatin (gross). I like it as a sour cream or regular yogurt substitute, but Rocco says that full fat Greek yogurt can replace butter one-to-one!

I have to say that I have a hard time finding the low-fat version that many of Rocco's recipes call for. (Only non- or full fat at my grocery store). But even full fat Greek yogurt is a much healthier alternative to sour cream or heavy cream.

Here's Rocco's lightened-up version of the classic Penne a la vodka:



12 oz whole-wheat penne
2 cups low-fat marinara
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup 2% fat Greek-style yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and ground pepper
6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, about 9 min.

Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick pan over medium, combine the marinara and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, for about 5 min, or until it is reduced and slightly thickened.

Remove the marinara from the heat. In a small bowl, stir about 1/2 cup of the marinara into the Greek yogurt until it is smooth to temper it, then whisk the yogurt mixture back into the marinara in the pan.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan, tossing to coat. Add the basil and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
Notice anything missing in the recipe? That's right. The tang of yogurt replaces that of the vodka, so Rocco omitted it. What a guy...

Oh, and he complimented my portion size, so I can now cross "one-on-one interaction with Rocco Dispirito" off the bucket list. (Shawn is incredibly jealous.)




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