While there are a number of perks that come with writing a blog, one of my absolute favorites is having a platform to share my excitement about food with others who feel the same. A good example is this gorgeous bowl of Penne alla Vodka I made for dinner last week:
For those of you unfamiliar with this iconic dish, penne alla vodka is a pasta dish made from crushed tomatoes, vodka, heavy cream, butter & parmesan- not exactly your idea of a healthy dish. I call my version the K Weigh Penne alla Vodka.
Aside from being made by yours truly, my take on this dish truly embodies what K Weigh is all about i.e. finding the balance between foods that nourish your body & foods that feed your soul to ensure optimal & long-lasting results. While I’m all about indulging in the real deal every so often, some days I prefer to tweak a recipe to lighten it up and/or add some nutritional pizzazz. For extra volume, nutrients & somewhat of a meaty texture, I added in eggplant & mushrooms. Although the veggies add fibre in their own right, feel free to add some more by using a wholemeal variety of pasta. My recipe skips the vodka completely, but I promise you won’t even miss it – the dish bursts with more than enough flavor. Rather than heavy cream, butter & parmesan, this K Weigh Penne alla Vodka relies on cream cheese (i.e. my current addiction) to add richness and that delicious cheesy flavour we all love so much.
Guys I’m telling you– this is the kind of comfort food you can actually feel smug about eating. Just promise me you will use the full-fat variety of cream cheese. If you’re concerned about the extra calories, consider this:
1 tablespoon of full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese contains 49 calories, 5g fat, 0.5g carb & 1g protein whereas 1 tablespoon of reduced-fat Philadelphia cream cheese contains 35 calories, 3g fat, 1g carb & 1g protein
If you ask me, those extra 14 calories are negligible when it comes to creaminess & taste!
And if the dish isn’t beautiful enough as it is, take comfort in the fact that it only takes 20 minutes to whip up…prep time included:
- 50g wholemeal penne*
- Olive oil or cooking spray
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 baby eggplants, cut into 1 ½ -inch cubes
- 1 cup marinara sauce*
- 1 ½ tablespoons full-fat cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Chili flakes or Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley - optional
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Coat a large skillet with olive oil (or cooking spray) and place over medium heat. Once oil has heated, add in the mushrooms and eggplant. Sauté until veggies begin to soften.
- Add pasta, marinara sauce, cream cheese, garlic powder and chili flakes (or Tabasco). Reduce heat to low and stir to combine well. Once pasta has heated through & the cheese has melted, turn off heat. Garnish with parsley & serve.
- i) Feel free to replace penne with any other pasta shape. I used a mix of penne, rotelle, tortiglioni, conchiglie & radiatori.
- ii) If you’re using a jarred variety of marinara sauce, opt for one that doesn’t contain added sugar, chemicals or stabilizers in the ingredient list.