EATING FOR LIFE

Eating for Life | Argentine chimichurri sauce also works on whole-wheat pasta

Updated: 2012-08-15T01:37:11Z

By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA

The Kansas City Star

Chimichurri sounds like a Latin dance step, but it is actually the barbecue sauce of Argentina.

The olive oil-based sauce is made from finely chopped parsley, dried oregano, onion and garlic with a splash of vinegar (usually red, and perhaps more than a splash, depending on the recipe), then seasoned with smoked paprika or red pepper flakes, salt and maybe black pepper.

“It’s a must with grilled meat,” according to “Barron’s the New Food Lover’s Companion.”

But you don’t have to eat meat to enjoy the herbal pungency of chimichurri. Like pesto, the sauce works as an accompaniment for fish, chicken and seafood or just as easily morphs into a sandwich spread, a garnish for soups, a dressing for potato salad or an accompaniment for rice.

Of course, that versatility doesn’t mean it gets a green light nutritionally speaking. A traditional recipe posted on allrecipes.com figures a 3-tablespoon serving of chimichurri contains 190 calories and 20 grams of fat.

The Star’s Arugula Chimichurri Pasta cuts down the amount of olive oil, replaces parsley with nutrient-rich arugula and pours the sauce over whole-wheat pasta for a meatless dish with plenty of fiber.

Arugula is an Italian salad green with a peppery bite. Arugula is a rich source of iron and contains vitamins A and C, making it naturally higher in nutrition than many other greens.

•  Storage tip: Arugula is highly perishable, so plan to use it within two days of purchase. Arugula sold in bunches is usually fresher than plastic containers of the salad green, but bunches come with plenty of grit, so be sure to wash leaves thoroughly before using.

Arugula Chimichurri Pasta

Makes 4 to 6 servings

12 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti

3 cups baby arugula leaves

3 cloves garlic, cut in half

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons reduced-fat feta cheese crumbles

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Place arugula, garlic, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Add olive oil and pulse until smooth. (You should have 2/3 cup chimichuri.)

Toss arugula mixture with hot spaghetti. Sprinkle with feta.

Per serving, based on 4: 401 calories (25 percent from fat), 12 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 2 milligrams cholesterol, 66 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 38 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber.

To reach Jill Wendholt Silva, The Star’s food editor and restaurant critic, call 816-234-4347, send email to jsilva@kcstar.com or follow her on Facebook.

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