Meatless Monday: Fettuccine With Creamy Red Pepper-Feta Sauce

Resolve to give up meat on Mondays, but don't give up creamy, flavor-packed, comforting pasta.
By: Michelle Buffardi
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So it's January. The month where we all swear off heavy eating and line up at the gym for our turn at the elliptical machine. We promise ourselves that we'll be good and that we're ready to atone for the sins of the past two months -- cookies, punch, stuffing, pie, lasagna, creamy dips and buttery pastries. Overindulgence is over and, for the next month at least, most of us won't touch a cookie.

Some will pronounce extreme resolutions: " I'm giving up carbs forever!" " I'll only eat raw foods!" " I won't touch chocolate till July!" But really, who wants to suffer like that? Plus, everyone knows that crazy, restrictive resolutions don't last past the first week of the new year.

If you're looking to get healthy in 2012, or if you just need a little break from the cake and cheesy appetizers you closed 2011 with, you can still eat the foods you love, just smarter versions of them. So go easy on the cream and butter and say "no thanks" to that second serving. And going meatless on Monday can help with your healthy resolutions, too -- taking a weekly break from meat can have major benefits to your health and the environment.

Celebrate the first Meatless Monday of 2012 with Ellie Krieger's creamy pasta dish that happens to be cream-free. The sauce is made with roasted red peppers (you can use store bought); it's thick and flavorful and clings to whole-wheat pasta quite nicely. And don't skip the cheese just because you've sworn you'll eat healthy in January. Top your pasta with a handful of feta cheese -- it's a lower fat choice and because it's so tangy, a little bit goes a long way.

Fettuccine With Creamy Red Pepper-Feta Sauce

Makes: 6 (1 cup) servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock (use vegetable stock to make it truly meatless)

1 cup crumbled feta cheese or a 6-ounce block
1 pound whole-wheat fettuccine
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add roasted peppers and saute until heated through. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Place mixture in the bowl of a food processor with stock and all but 2 tablespoons of the feta. Process until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss pasta with sauce, adding pasta water by the tablespoon, if needed. Sauce should cling nicely to pasta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide among pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining feta cheese.

 Meatless Monday, everyone's doing it: Giving up meat once each week is a popular resolution, according to the folks over at Meatless Monday. They've put together a round-up of people and organizations who've jumped aboard this trend, a trend that Marketwire has identified as a hot one to watch in 2012. The first step, says Meatless Monday, is to sign the Meatless Monday pledge, though we think a good first step would be making this pasta dish for dinner.

More Resolution-Friendly Meatless Meals:
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