Versatile Spaghetti Risotto

     Creamy spaghetti that begins in the skillet rather than a pot of boiling water — it’s a novel idea and very tasty. And, since the spaghetti is cooked like a risotto, the creamy texture of the dish comes from the extracted starch instead of lots of added cream and butter. We’ve also used whole wheat or whole grain pasta which lends a nutty flavor and added nutrients.
     Make it plain or “dressed up with veggies” and serve as a side dish or turn it into a main dish by adding cooked meat.   
     Vegetarians can use vegetarian broth as the cooking liquid and a sprinkling of toasted nuts or the addition of  beans would boost the protein content of the pasta.

Versatile Spaghetti Risotto  . . . meaty or vegetarian / with or w/out veggies
About 2 to 3  main dish serving or 4 to 6 sides
1 quart broth or stock (chicken, beef or vegetarian)
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a drizzle
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti, broken into small pieces (whole wheat or whole grain boosts the nutritional value)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or use extra broth is you prefer)
½ to 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh herbs – parsley, basil, sage, rosemary or thyme leaves

1.  Place broth and water in a sauce pot and heat, keep warm on low.
2.  Heat a medium sauté pan or low Dutch oven with 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic to pan, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sauté until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and toast until it’s a deep golden color and smells nutty, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in wine and cook 1 minute. Ladle in broth every minute or so, stirring for a couple of minutes with each addition of stock -- evaporate almost all of the liquid before each addition of broth. Pasta will cook up quicker then rice so start tasting (mainly to check texture – should be tender) after about 8 to 9 minutes of cooking time once you begin to add stock.
3.  When pasta is cooked to al dente, stir in the cheese, drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh herbs.

Nutritional Analysis per serving (405g in ¼ serving): Calories 335, Fat 15.8g (Saturated Fat 4.1g, Cholesterol 11mg), Sodium 1543mg, Carbohydrate 34.4g (Fiber 5.7g, Sugars 2.7g) Protein 16.2g, Vit A 8%, Calcium 18%, Vit C 12%, Iron 13%.

·      Sliced mushroom, diced carrots,  red or green pepper slices – add with onions and
·      Frozen peas – throw in a handful near the end of the cooking process
·      Cooked & chunked chicken or ham – add with onions and sauté or throw in at the end.
·      Canned beans – drain and add near the end of the cooking period.
·      Toasted nuts – use as a garnish on top of the ready-to-serve pasta.

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